Can video games be considered art?

It’s a tough question to answer. Certainly in this day and age they are not considered ‘high-art’ but when programming backgrounds and beautiful scenery, its hard not to consider them as such.

Let’s consider Skyrim for a moment… someone (me) goes through hours upon hours coding, re-texturing, and updating the graphical properties of the game, using some mods he downloaded and some that he created on his own to create scenery that is on par if not superior to new releases. Could the imagery he comes up with be considered art?

Let me give you a few examples to look at:

Given the extreme detail and the amount of hard work that goes into such things, no two modded Skyrims are exactly the same. Could imagery like this not be considered art?

I think it can, and eventually video game designers will soon be considered the artists that they deserve to be, but I’ll open it up to the floor.

Readers, would you consider this art?



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Another Song On My Writing Playlist.

Nothing about this isn’t absolutely epic. This was a video I discovered online long ago and was instantly hooked. I’ve since seen them live in concert and admit to being a huge fan. How do I describe their music? Slipknot if they hired Rihanna as their lead singer.

When to listen to this song? Climax buildup, or perhaps during the final battle!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

‘Good’ Writing.

Hi Jim,

I was wondering if you could tell me what makes up a good fantasy story?

Thanks,
Sarah.


Ahem…

download

Hi Sarah,

That is such a subjective… subject… that I’m not sure I can give you a definitive answer, but not for not trying.

So I’m going to give you a few suggestions based on what I’ve seen work effectively.

  1. Anti-Hero. Include an antihero in your story. These are usually very dynamic characters that are really getting a solid following. They aren’t usually bad and they don’t really fall into what we typically consider good. Basically they wind up being good guys because of the situation or narrative.
  2. Show don’t tell. Use metaphor and comparison to describe what characters are seeing, what’s more, keep the descriptions to a minimal. Let the reader put the pieces together or have the characters react to what’s around them instead of just describing it.
  3. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T PREACH! This cannot be understated. It is a major turn off for me and 100% of the time causes me to throw the book across the room and demand a refund. If you’re trying to insert a political viewpoint, include it in your writing. Make it situational and show how said stance affects the characters. Having someone break the 4th Wall and go on a preachy soapbox monologue will take readers out of your writing. This is especially damaging in this day and age where politics is literally FORCED into every asset of our lives. See my previous post on this topic.  
  4. Make your story interesting, and keep it that way! At the very least, you should establish your hook within the first 3 pages if not the first few lines, and then go through the motions. Just remember to finish strong! A strong, satisfying ending can make or break your book. If your book has an incredible ending, any boring parts that basically feel like filler, will soon be seen as build-up with an awesome pay off, so it works to your advantage on many levels.
  5. If you’re going to focus on one character, make it the villain. There are many ways to do this… you could create an anti-villain instead of an anti-hero or a tragic villain. People love a good villain and I even have stated that a good villain can mean the difference between a good story and a bad story. See my previous post on villains. 
  6. Focus more on substance, less on word count. This pretty much speaks for itself.
  7. Make your characters dynamic. Your characters need vices, people need to be able to relate to them. If you make them cookie cutter, they’ll be stale and uninteresting.
  8. Create rules to your universe and STICK TO THEM! If magic exists in your world, set limits on it. Make sure that it’s clearly established what magic can and CANNOT do. The same must be said for other plot devices and character behaviors. God characters and deus ex machinas equals a loss of readership.

So hopefully this helps Sarah. Readers, anything else you feel helps a story? Let her know in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

 

Musical Inspiration

Need a good song to listen to when writing either a victory, royalty entering the room, or a new order taking over in the ashes of an oppressive power? Well normally the metal head in me would recommend Dragonforce… literally anything Dragonforce, but today I’m doing something a little different:

If the sheer sound of this doesn’t send chills down your spine, take your pulse. You’re likely dead. Composed by Dennis McCarthy, this theme to Star Trek Generations is unbelievably bombastic and one of the most incredible musical numbers that literally no one remembers. Give it a listen and let me know what you think for today’s recommendation!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

For the Kids!

Hi All,

As most of you know, I am very much so a big child care and protection advocate. I’ve spent a lot of time working with children and though I don’t lay that aspect on in my novels (I don’t like preaching at people), I still like to try to raise awareness for different issues where possible.

As the Holiday season comes to a close, I wanted to let everyone know about a few great charities if you’re looking for a good new years resolution or a charity for next Christmas…

#1. St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital:

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This Hospital is an absolutely wonderful organization. Founded in 1962, St. Jude’s is a research Hospital tackling childhood illnesses and diseases in the hopes of finding a cure. One of their big focuses has always been Leukemia, and since the hospital’s inception, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia has gone from just 4% in ’62 to over 94% today. That is absolutely amazing.

81% of every dollar donated to the hospital goes directly help people. Roughly half goes to patient care and half goes to research. This is a hospital that is a 503c charity and is one of a few pediatric research organizations in the United States where families never pay for treatments that are not covered by insurance, and families without insurance are never asked to pay.

So if you’ve got a little money to spare and want to give to a cause that continuously helps countless people on a daily basis, this is truly one of the best.

Check out their website above if you’d like to get involved, and click here to donate.


 

#2 Toys for Tots

That commercial always warmed my heart around the Holiday season. Yes it’s more of a Christmas organization, but it’s still worth mentioning. This is a charity organization that is run by U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and delivers toys to less fortunate children whose parents otherwise couldn’t afford presents. Over 97% of your donations goes to our mission of providing toys, books, and other gifts to less fortunate children. Less than 3% go to operating costs.

Where to donate? Click here to give money or buy a couple of toys and keep an eye open for places with this logo around the holidays where you can go to drop them off:
C0xJFp_XUAQN_OZ.jpg


#3 The Ronald McDonald House Charities:

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I don’t even know where to start with this one… Globally, there are currently 322 locations in 63 various countries. Ronald McDonald Houses act as a place to stay for families with hospitalized children who are receiving treatment and is only accessible to families who reside within a prescribed distance from the treating hospital as determined by the board. Ronald McDonald’s Houses provide over 7,200 bedrooms to families around the world each night, with an estimated value of $700 million in lieu of hotel costs. That doesn’t include the number of family rooms and mobile homes that they also have available!

If that weren’t enough, in 1997, The Ronald McDonald’s Learning Program was formed in Australia to help children who had suffered serious illness and returned to school. The stated mission of the program is to provide educational support to these children who have fallen behind in their education. It’s the only one of its kind in that country.

Where to donate?

Visit pretty much any McDonald’s restaurant around the country. There are drop boxes and donation bins or click here.


#4 The Home for Little Wanderers:

C0xJFp_XUAQN_OZ.jpgThis is one that I’ve spoken of before. I worked here for 3+ years right out of college as both a direct care worker and a teacher. It is a wonderful program, especially around New England that offers a safe haven for children that have no home, are no longer capable of living at home, or are taken from broken homes due to abusive or neglectful parents. These kids deserve all the love and care in the world and have barely been given a chance at life.

It is also one of the oldest programs of… well any kind. Originally founded as an orphanage in 1799, The Home today plays a huge role in delivering services to thousands of children and families each year through a system of residential, community-based and prevention programs, direct care services, and advocacy.

Um Jim… Harrington house???

Yes, in case anyone is wondering, the Boston location was dedicated to my grandparents after my family helped secure and renovate the property for the The Home For Little Wanderers. So I guess you could say that child advocacy runs in the family.

Where to donate:
Click Here or if you live in the New England Area, keep an eye open for fundraiser events!


Last but CERTAINLY not least:

#5. Children’s Hospital Boston. 

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Ugh… Excuse me… I need a moment…

That is a hard image for me to look at without tearing up… I fail each time and yes, I’ll admit to a little bit of emotional blackmail on the part of the charity with that picture, but it is damn effective… especially if you have had a child that was in a position like that (which I have).

This is one of the most famous and most venerable children’s hospitals in the world. They’ve had issues over the years politically, but that is far overshadowed by the immense work that they’ve done. With more than 680,000 square feet of state-of-the-art laboratory space, Children’s is home to the world’s largest research enterprise based at a pediatric medical center. Its discoveries have benefited children and adults since 1869.

Two scientists working at Children’s have won the Nobel Prize and 5 have won the Lasker Award which is given for major contributions to medical science.

It is truly an amazing organization with connections to Dana Farber and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.

I remember when my son was here, never once were we asked to leave the room during his care, we had doctors, nurses, and even a priest come by to ask if we need anything. We were kept in the loop constantly whether on site or not, and still feel we owe a lot to the wonderful care our boy received. Today he is a healthy five-year-old whom, excepting a scar on his stomach, you would never know had been through such a traumatic ordeal.

Where to donate:
Click here.



I usually put a little shameless self-promotion down here. Not today, go back up!

 

 

 

 

Writing on High

Hi Jim,

I often find myself writing a great deal when I’ve either had a lot to drink or right after smoking weed. Do you find either helps or do you know of anything else that helps spark your creativity? You don’t have to openly admit to anything illegal, but I read a while back that some of Stephen King’s best work was done when he was drunk.

Thanks,
Duroz


 

Oh boy… all right, well Duroz (if that is your real name). 😉

You’re going to be somewhat disappointed. I write sober. Stone cold sober. I’m a half blood Irish, so that pretty much ensures that I’m going to be a social drunk, but I started writing a new chapter in one of my stories when I was completely plastered and… to this day I haven’t been able to finish the book because I can’t figure out for the life of me where I was going with what I wrote.

As for marijuana… I’ve honestly never touched the stuff, so I can’t comment on how it would affect my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with people who do smoke it and I’m happy for those people now that it’s legal… I just find the smell completely offensive. To me, it smells like a combination of skunk spray and dog shit someone stepped in. I’m also worried that one day marijuana will suddenly end up like cigarettes. Like the Surgeon General will come out with a statement, ‘Here’s a disease smoking this causes that we didn’t know about before because we didn’t have the research.’

Anyway, as for anything else… I want to make it clear that I have never and will never do any sort of narcotics, street drugs, or anything that impairs me unless its prescribed by a physician.

Let me be very clear about this, whatever inspiration or wacky writing such drug-induced hazes produce, it comes at a very high price. A VERY high price. So smoke up that weed all you want and have your beers (without keys in reach), just stay away from the harder stuff.

As to your question about anything else that sparks creativity… that’s easy for me:
Strong Emotions and Heavy Metal.

Hope this helps!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Another Song Added to the Writing List:

I’ve listened to this song for a long time. I love Edguy. Often I find myself listening just to the end where the music drops off and all we hear are the incredible metal harmony!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

You can also add me on Twitter!

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim