Saturday, January 28, 2012

Geralt of Rivia: A Terribly Mis-Understood Character

Geralt of Rivia, the protagonist of The Witcher franchise, is a character known far and wide amongst lovers of fantasy novels and RPG videogames. Those who have read the books or played the games know just what kind of a character he really is. However, several writings and videos I have seen advertising the Witcher series seem to have the wrong impression of Geralt. Most of them refer to Geralt as an "irresistible anti-hero" and describe him as being nothing more than "the ultimate bad-ass". In doing so, they paint Geralt in the wrong light, showing him off to be something he is not.

Geralt of Rivia is one of the most complex and internally-conflicted characters I have ever seen in a work of fiction. He is a man (or in his case, a mutant) who often experiences dilemmas of all kinds and is constantly questioning the purpose of his existence. This side of his character is almost never displayed in various things that advertise him, which prefer to show him off as a simple sword-swinging, one-man slaughterhouse. It frustrates me to see such a well-developed character be seen in the wrong light.

Before I can go on, a character description is in order.

Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a genetically mutated human who is trained for the sole purpose of eradicating monsters from the world he inhabits. It is safe to say that witchers are a type of mercenary, almost always demanding payment for the services they perform. As a mutant, Geralt is capable of performing super-human feats such as: wielding a sword with blinding speed, casting a small variety of spells called "Signs" using specific hand gestures, having access to animal-like instincts and reflexes, being able to maintain (ahem) "enthusiastic" relationships with various women (or maybe that's just Geralt as a person), etc. However, being a witcher comes with a few negative qualities such as: infertility, unpredictable physical changes (in Geralt's case, his pigmentation was destroyed, turning him into an albino), etc. Witchers are often branded social outcasts and are treated with scorn and contempt by the general public because of their origins. So while Geralt's mutations make him a very capable individual and allow him eradicate monsters with deadly effect, they have also ruined any chance he might have had at a normal life. It is his position as a witcher that has a major effect on his outlook on life and the world he lives in.

This is where his complexities come into play. Life as a witcher has made Geralt a very cynical individual. Time and time again he openly describes how he has resigned himself to his fate. That fate being that he will remain a killer for hire for the rest of his days, that he will live for battle and eventually die in battle. However, do not mistake him for a person depraved of morality. Geralt often  shows great sympathy for the unfortunate and never shies away from critiquing the dark, cruel world that his stories take place in. A world of corruption and chaos, where acts of injustice and violence breed like rabbits. As Geralt's close friend, the bard Dandelion, puts it, "The Northern Kingdoms resemble a brothel on fire."  An accurate statement if I've ever heard one; the Northern Kingdoms are ruled by ruthless people who never shy away from feeding their lust for wealth and power at the expense of others, and all the while being to ignorant to realize the chaos that dominates their realms. Geralt is very familiar with these kinds of people as his clientele is mostly made up of them. As Geralt continuously hunts dangerous monsters, who are driven by natural instinct and the need to survive, he remains completely aware of the people who would sell their souls to fuel their ambitions, Because of this Geralt is constantly asking himself a certain question: "How can I go on like this?" "How can I keep killing these monsters knowing that the true monsters are the ones who pay people like me to do their dirty work?"

Sadly Geralt never receives, nor gives himself, an answer to this question. Instead he brushes off his concerns for his moral being and opts to continue existing in his bleak society rather than try and change it. Occasionally he is given the chance to rid his world of the bitches and bastards who cause more death and destruction than any big dragon could. However, these chances come rarely, as Geralt only acts upon these chances to protect the interests of those close to him rather than for the common good. Because he's not a crusader, he's not a patriot, and he's certainly not a hero. But he's also not some amoral killer-for-hire who takes money and kills without a second thought. Geralt of Rivia is a witcher, a fact that he regrets sometimes.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Aspergers: How It Affects People

As I make my way through the crowded locker bays, I spot of group of my class members chatting about everything from what kind of car so-and-so has or how so-and-so screwed up his chance with a girl. A merge into their little circle, listening to their conversations. All the while I'm looking for a chance to jump into the conversation, a chance when someone brings up something that I can relate to. But it never comes. I could say something that diverts the conversation towards a subject that I can relate to, but what if I say something stupid? What if I attempt to socialize with them and end up making a fool of myself. As these thought run through my mind, none of the guys even seem to acknowledge my presence. They've met me, they know me, yet they don't deem me worthy of having a simple conversation with. With a sense of failure, I leave the group. As I leave, none of my peers seem to notice that I have gone. It is as if I'm a ghost to them. A student known and accepted by others, but with the behavior of an outcast.

Two things are to blame for my failure to socialize in this situation. These being: myself, for not having the courage to speak up, and Aspergers Syndrome, which makes it incredibly difficult for me to socialize with others.

Aspies often have trouble understanding facial expressions and/or non-formal uses of language. A neurotically person is able to naturally adapt to their social environment as they grow, learning how to read voice tones, facial expressions, slang's, etc. For people with Aspergers, this process of adaptation is more difficult. They have trouble learning these social characteristics as time goes by, because of this they must be told what each expression, slang, and/or tone means. Now I'm not saying that Aspies are incapable of learning how to adapt socially into their environment. If an Aspie has learned enough about the characteristics of their condition and about various social traits (for example: How people don't like it when one person talks to much, or how people enjoy it when you pay attention to them when they are talking.), then that Aspie could learn how to adopt these traits of socializing and learn how to suppress the quirks and ticks of their condition.

Though possible, the process of learning to socialize with others remains difficult. Because of this, people with Aspergers are not likely to have many friends. Also the possibility of getting married and starting a family is minimal. This is not just because of their trouble with socializing, but also because the responsibility of maintaining such a lengthy commitment imposes a great deal of stress  and pressure upon the Aspie, often more than the Aspie can handle.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that I consider us Aspies as a group who's lifestyle and personalities are designated for us because of our disorders. Every man and woman with Aspergers is still their own person. Their lives and choices are still theirs to make, they may be affected by the Aspergers but they are certainly not determined by Aspergers. I stated above that one of the reasons for my failure to socialize was because I was to shy to say anything. That is because my decision not to speak may have been influenced by my condition, but it was still my choice to not engage in the conversation. Like any human being, an Aspie  has control over their lives. Meaning that they, if they work hard, can learn how to live with, and perhaps even overcome, their Aspergers Syndrome.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Aspergers: How We Cope With It?

Having Aspergers matters little when we are children. We act without thinking, we do what we want, and we care little for what others think of us. But things change with age. As we grow older we become more conscious of our condition and how it affects us. We also learn the importance of having a stable social life. Yet for someone with Aspergers, maintaining a social life can be a challenge. Aspergers introduces a number of issues. Issues that we have to cope with.

But how can we?

How can you have more than just a couple of friends when you can only relate to a couple of different people? How can we be happy with the prospect of never having a proper social life? How can we look into the future and see it in a positive light?

How can those with Aspergers learn to cope with their condition?

There is no "cure" for Asperger Syndrome. Those who are born with it are stuck with it for the rest of their lives. The best possible treatment for it is therapy or counseling. However, I have gone through therapy before and I know that it does help, but only for a short time. In the end, we Aspies must learn to cope with our condition on our own.

The best possible way to do this is by looking at the benefits that Asperger Syndrome gives us. People who have Aspergers often excel at certain subjects that they find personal enjoyment in, things such as: writing, mathematics, science, engineering, etc. Anybody can tell that some of life's greatest enjoyments come from succeeding at something that you're good at. I've said before that while Aspergers  can be a curse, it can also be a gift. So Aspies should revel in that gift and use it to make their way through life.

Learning to cope with Aspergers can also be achieved by being helped from others. As an Aspie, nearly every conversation I participate in, every moment of socializing that I experience, is special to me. I look back at them with pride and feel good knowing that I am at least capable of connecting with others on a certain level. For us Aspies, it means a lot to know that, despite our condition, we are not outside of social interaction. And it means even more to know that there are people out there who understand who we are and what we go through. So for all you people out there who take pleasure in helping out a fellow human being, if you know someone who has Aspergers, please do what you can to make them know that they are part of their society to, no matter how socially withdrawn they may seem.

I'm not asking you to feel sorry for us, but I am asking you to understand us.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Non-Linear Storytelling: An Underrated Art or a Confusing Mess?

In the state of Illinois, the year is 1972, a man is sitting in his sleazy apartment room sulking over his friend, Ernie, who has just died. One can easily tell, just by looking at the guy, that he is a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, a man who leads a life of misery. Suddenly the man gets a call from his girlfriend, Rachel, and he agrees to meet her at a park to discuss his problems. He puts on his coat and exits through the door leading to the hallway....

....and appears in his Vietnam outpost. The year is 1970, the man is wearing a soldier's uniform and has an optimistic look on his face. He is greeted by Ernie and the two friends embrace one another. Ernie welcomes his friend to Vietnam by giving a tour of the army outpost. While looking around the medical tent, the man bumps into a nurse named Rachel. Though the two have never met before, the two seem to share a connection with one another. After meeting Rachel the man goes to...

Wait a minute! Wasn't this optimistic man just sulking like a sad sack? Wasn't this story just set in 1972 in a sleazy apartment instead of 1970 in an army outpost? Wasn't Ernie dead? How could the man and Rachel be strangers when they are supposed to be in a relationship?

The answer to all of these questions is the fact that you are reading a non-linear story, a story with a structure that defies the chronological structure that inhabits so many other works of fiction. A non-linear story allows the plot to jump to anywhere at any time. One minute you could be reading about a woman's funeral. Another minute you could find yourself reading about that same woman, who had just been killed-off earlier in the story, as she moves into a new house. Perhaps you are watching a film about an aging mob boss on trial, and then the film suddenly jumps back thirty years earlier when that same man was just a low-life hoodlum.

The idea of a storyline with an unpredictable plot structure may seem confusing, perhaps even chaotic. Many people enjoy stories that depict events in the order of which they occur so that they may keep up with the characters and their actions. Many people can easily find it frustrating to read or watch a story unfold in a way that is so unpredictable.

However these people fail to see the artistic potential a non-linear story provides. People who enjoy fiction also enjoy speculating and asking questions.  A non-linear storyline is created for just that purpose. It starts off in a way that doesn't make sense to the natural order of storytelling, causing people to wonder about events that have transpired but were not shown. Only until the story's conclusion do we understand. All of the events have been told to us and we are able to place them in a chronological order ourselves. In the end, not only are we feeling relieved that all of our questions have been answered, we also feel satisfied with the enjoyment of having experienced a story that affected our minds and hearts in such a way.

Here are some well-known works of non-linear storytelling.

Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino's magnum opus tells three loosely connected short stories set in L.A.'s criminal underworld. After the film's opening the plot breaks the chronological pattern by jumping back before the restaurant heist takes place. From then it continues its non-linear pattern by telling only half of the first story, jumping into the beginning of the second story, and then continuing into the third story. While a chronological film would have ended with Butch and his girlfriend, Fabiene, riding off on their newly acquired chopper, Pulp Fiction does no such thing. Instead it jumps back to where the first story left off. We are suddenly taken back to witness the mis-adventure of hitmen Jules Winfield and Vincent Vega (who had been killed off earlier in the third story). By the end of the first story, we learn the purpose of the film's opening scene, why Jules and Vincent appeared at the beginning of story 2 wearing dorky clothes, and why Jules no longer accompanies Vincent for the duration of the film.

Less than a thirds way into the movie, the film has us asking questions. Who were the people in the opening scene? What happened after Jules and Vincent killed Bret? Why wasn't Jules there to back Vincent up at Butch's apartment? Why in God's name were they wearing dorky clothes when delivering the brief case!?

These questions plagued us as we sat back and enjoyed the events of the second and third stories. However they all came together as the film wrapped up by depicting the conclusion of the first story. By telling its story in a non-linear fashion, the film is able to give a more satisfying conclusion than it would have given if it followed a chronological structure. Because I think we all can agree that Jules' and Vincent's exit from the diner stand-off was much more entertaining than Butch's escape from L.A.


This anime series depicting 18th-century immortals interacting with a variety of delinquents and Prohibition mobsters can have you tearing your hair out while screaming, "What the f!@# is going on!"

Baccano's use of non-linear storytelling is just plain chaotic. Three separate storylines are depicted over the course of three years. The story's events are depicted without any clear order. Even the show's first episode shows the ending scene to one of the storylines before the story has even started. The show switchs between years unpredictably during episodes, so a character that may be in a certain place in one scene may be in an entirely different setting in another scene. For example: One scene shows Jaccuzzi's gang dragging their wounded leader off of a train as it rolls into a station; in the next episode, the gang is shown boarding that same train as it departs from its original station. Though entertaining, this can be very confusing.

However if you keep your wits about you, you will be able to look past this and be able to enjoy this well written and wonderfully animated television show. Everything from Firo beating up a gang of thugs to Ladd ranting about mass murdering, from Clair dragging people across trains tracks to Isaac and Miria performing some stupid heist while wearing even stupider disguises will have you cringing with disturbance and laughing your head off at the same time.

Once Upon A Time in America

Another story about Prohibition gangsters is depicted in Sergio Leone's masterpiece. The film opens with Mafia goons on a manhunt for protagonist Noodles (no that's not his real name) who is hiding in an opium den as he is plagued by a memory involving a ringing telephone. The film has just barely started and it already has us asking questions. Why are these men after Noodles? Why does Noodles keep hearing a telephone ringing? Who were the dead guys that Noodles saw? What was supposed to be in the briefcase in the locker? The questions plague us over the course of the film, and the only way to find answers to to let the film roll on.

The story jumps forward to the late sixties. An aged Noodles returns to his old neighborhood having received an invitation to a politician's party. As he waits for the party's date he explores his old neighborhood and remembers his dark past. The flashbacks first take us back to Noodles' childhood is the Jewish ghetto growing up as an immature street punk. Later flashbacks depict Noodles and his friends working as bootleggers in the final years of Prohibition.

As the flashbacks detail Noodles' life and experiences, all of the questions that have racked our brain are answered and all of the earlier scenes begin to make sense. We know how Noodles rose to power as a criminal. We know how Noodles became associated with his beloved friends, and how he lost them. The only thing we don't know is what exactly happened during the garbage truck scene (which I wouldn't dare spoil for those who have not scene the film.). It should be noted that this is the only question presented to us by an event that IS told in a chronological order. The film's use of non-linear storytelling makes it a beautiful work of art that should be missed by any movie fan.

So whether you love non-linear stories or hate them, think about what I have written here. Think about what kind of questions they may present you and how these questions may be answered. And when your done pondering, go out and explore the wonders of non-linearity.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

 Dragon Age: Origins vs. Dragon Age 2

Before you jump to conclusions let me explain.

 While the sequel is flawed, I still thought it to be a very enjoyable experience. Though I agree with the majority of gamers who thought that the first one was the superior game, I stilll thought that the sequel did some things better than its predecessor. With people already talking about the third entry in the series (despite the fact that it hasn't even been announced yet), I decided to compile a list of categories of gaming elements that fit into both games. In the list I describe which game handled that element the best.

Category 1: The Story

In almost every review for DA II, the reviewers state that there is little drive to the main plot, and they're right. Though the plot does pick up during the 2nd and 3rd acts, the game tends to put more focus on interactions between party members and side quests. Not that this is a bad thing, since DA II's story is meant to be a character-driven plot. However, when things that are meant to be sub-plots over-step the main plot, we've got a problem.

DA:O had a story that was very typical  of a fantasy game and it followed the traditional Bioware story formula. The story revolved around saving the world from an evil, demonic force, and you do this by traveling to various locations in order to perform some task that gears you up for the big climax. Is this a bad thing? Not at all! The story is very well written and emotionaly engaging. Though you spend most of your time gathering allies and helping them with their problems, the game constantly reminds you as to why you are doing this, which is to build an army to combat the darkspawn. Also, while Bioware's typical plot formula has gotten a little tedious, it is still enjoyable, and as the old saying goes: "If it ain't broken, don't fix it."

DA:O: 1    DA II: 0

Category 2: The Setting

While Kirkwall is an interesting city, I still wonder to myself....WHAT THE HELL WAS BIOWARE THINKING?!

Placing a Dragon Age game in a single city was a terrible idea. You feel restrained from exploring the rest of the country that the game takes place in. Plus the Free Marches sounds like an interesting place. Why restrict us to such a small portion of it? And don't get me startet on the recycled maps.

DA:O, on the other hand, takes place in a vast country racked by a Blight and civil war. The country of Ferelden offers a number of unique locations that you can't wait to explore. You get to know the country's cultures and wish to help the country with its problems. Lets hope that the next DA game takes place in a setting that doesn't involve us going to the same places over and over again.

DA:O: 2  DA II: 0

Category 3: The Protagonist

As much as I enjoyed picking my character's origin, I cannot help but feel that my warden is an emotionless avatar. When I play a game I want to control a character, not an avatar based off of my personality. When playing as Hawke and getting to develop his/her personality through dialogue, I felt like I was controling the actions of a true dynamic character who I felt connected with. I found more entertainment in controlling the fully-voiced, personality developing, origin and race restricted Hawke than I did the silent Warden who displays little to no personality.

DA:O: 2   DA II:1

Category 4: Characters

I know you're going to hate me for this but.....

DA II's characters weren't just part of the storyline, they WERE the storyline. During Hawke's time in Kirkwall, he/she becomes involved in the lives of several unique characters who's backstories are as interesting as their personalities. I felt truly connected with the party members of DA II as I helped them get away from their dark pasts. Also the increased party banter allows the party members to develop relationships with each other. For example: Isabella acts like a big sister for Merril while deliberatly playing the slut to annoy Aveline. Fenris shares a friendly rivalry with Varric and a light flirtation with Isabella while being a complete asshole to Merril and Anders due to his prejudice against mages.

Don't get me wrong, DA:O has a wonderful cast of unique characters to interact with. Unfortunatly their backstories don't reach the same level  of depth as DA II's characters do.

DA:O: 2    DA II: 2

Category 5: The Antagonist

DA:O has two major antagonists. The first being the Archdemon leading the darkspawn horde. The second one is Teyrn Loghain, a former war hero who's paranoia of Orlias (a country that once ruled Ferelden with an iron fist) and contempt towards the Grey Wardens (the organization of which your character belongs to) drive him to madness. While the archdemon doesn't do much aside from breathe fire and look like a bad-ass dragon, Loghain is a different story. Loghain is not only a formidable foe to be reckoned with, he is an interesting character who's fall from grace can't help but make the player sympathize with him as well as hate him. Loghain is the kind of villian we want to see in every RPG. My only problem with him is that we rarely get to see him as he spends most of the time opposing the player from the backround rather than being in your face all the time.

DA II also had some interesting antagonists. However they usually don't oppose the player until the end of each act. Antagonists like the Arishok and Knight-Commander Meredith would have been awsome if they set themselves up as the player's main foes earlier in the game.

DA:O: 3    DA II: 2

Category 6: Combat

DA:O's combat system revolved more around strategy and traditional RPG tactics. While DA II's combat system was more fast-paced and responsive. Personally I like both combat systems  and hope that, for DA III, Bioware creates a combat system that combines the two. However this is supposed to be a list of which game triumphs over the other so I am forced to make a choice. As much as I liked the faster, more responsive combat of DA II, I have to admit that it gets boring mashing the attack button again and again. Also the numerous waves of eneimies as well as the exploding corpses are a bad touch.

DA:O: 4    DA II: 2

Category 7: Atmosphere

The atmosphere of DA:O is one that could be found in most RPGs. A sense that your doom could around at any moment while a few jokes come around to brighten the mood a little. A sense that your enemies have all the advantages and you'll have to put a lot of effort into defeating them. Basically it was a typical good vs. evil atmosphere.

DA II's atmosphere was much more morally ambiguous . Both sides in the two major conflicts (those conflicts being the Qunari vs. Kirkwall and the Mages vs. Templars) had their ups and downs. I was constantly asking myself things such as: Are the Qunari a savage race who will massacre people because they don't share their beliefs, or are they a solitary race being constantly provoked by Chantry fanatics and racists. Are the mages being unjustly oppressed by the templars, or are they truly so dangerous that the only option is to lock them up in the Circle. An atmosphere that has you asking such questions and giving you tough choices to make is always a plus in my book.

DA:O: 4   DA II: 3

Category 8: Leveling-up system
The leveling-up system virtually works the same for both games. While DA II added a new artistic respresentation of the system, it also unnecessarily dumbed down a lot of its components. DA:O had a lot more things that you could upgrade and enhance.

DA:O:5  DA II: 3

Category 9: Graphics

This one was a no-brainer.

DA:O was awsome, but it had rather dated graphics, especially on the consoles. DA II introduced a new art style that really looks good and is a vast imrpovement of its predecesor.

DA:O: 5  DA II: 4

Category 10: Inventory Management

DA:O's inventory allows players to customize their character and party members in a variety of ways, and it was easy to mange all of the weaponsm armor, and other things that you pick up.

DA II's inventory system was outright confusing. While you were allowed to customize Hawke, there was little you could do to customize you companions. Personally I didn't mind this, I never really cared about customization. However other people take customization very seriously and DA II denies them this.

DA:O: 6    DA II: 4

Category 11: Romance

Both games provide a god set of interesting romance options for the player. However I felt that DA:O put more effort and diversity into its romance sub-plots. In DA II you can romance any of the party members with little restriction. In DA:O the player has to really has to relate to his/her romance option, or "options" if your the philandering type :). You have to get to know the character you are romancing and earn their aprroval through actions and conversations. Unlike DA II, it's not easy to bed just anyone, well except for Morrigan.

DA:O: 7   DA II: 4

Well that's all she wrote.

DA II was good, but it was trumped by its predecessor. However it still did make a few improvements. When Bioware makes its next Dragon Age game, I personally hope that it has more in common with the original game. However, from what I've heard, Bioware intends to mesh "the best of both games" into DA III. If they do a good job at this, they should be able to produce a top quality rpg that all of its fans can enjoy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Aspergers: What is it?

Asperger's Syndrome is a type of autism spectrum disorder. However Aspergers is not as bad
as autism,mainly because those with Aspergers preserve their capabilities for linguistic and cognitive
development. However they still retain a few autistic tendencies, things like: physical clumsiness, social communication difficulties, atypical use of speech, etc. So a simpler way to put it would be that Aspergers is a lesser form of autism.

People with Aspergers (called Aspies for short) experience difficulties communicating with others on a social level. The main reason for this is the fact that Aspies tend to be interested in a small variety of subjects and find it difficult to engage in conversations not related to their favored subjects. As an
Aspie, I too have a limited interest in subjects including: films, video games, literature, history, etc. The things my peers at school like to talk about are things like: who's going out with who, who's wearing what, who said this about who, etc. Basically they talk about everything I could care less about.  Because of this I am usually the quiet guy sitting in a corner reading a book.Whenever I talk to someone I usually only say a few words of courtesy. An Aspie usually only gets a few opportunities to become heavily involved in a conversation. This can be incredibly frustrating for anybody. We see other people interacting with each other and being able to enjoy the presence of each others' company, we understand why they enjoy socializing with each other, yet we Aspies don't have the notion of how to become involved in their social interaction.

Asperger's Syndrome may not be as severe as autism, it affects the lives of many people, not always for the better. While Aspergers hinders people's social abilities, it can also enhance people' talents. As I said above, Aspies tend to be interested in certain subjects, because of this they often excel at these subjects.

So it may be our curse, but its also our gift.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Hello Everyone.

For all of you who are confused about my blogs title, "Fiction, Facts, and Aspergers", let me explain it to you. The words in my blog's title are the subjects my blog posts will talk about.


The art of fiction and storytelling has been my passion for as long as I can remember (hence the name fiction fan). If there's one thing I love, it's looking over a work of art that may take us to a world that is not our own, move us to tears, make us laugh our guts out , or captivate us with its
imaginative concepts. Whether it be a book, a movie, a videogame, or a television show, if it tells good story I'll be all over it. My blog posts related to this subject will talk about various works and elements of the wonderful world of fiction.


You don't need me to tell you that it's a crazy world out there. Even as I type this down there are all
kinds of extrordinary things going on in the world around us. Aside from things going on in the present, there are plenty of historical things I intend to talk about. I've always been a bit of a history nut so the events my piost will cover could go all the way back to the middle ages or even Ancient Greece.


I was born with Asperger Syndrome. I have always had trouble learning to connect with others. Though I mostly keep it to myself, occasionally I like to talk about it. So I will make post things related to Asperger Syndrome and about people who have Aspergers.That about covers it. So be on the lookout fr any new posts I put up. Thanks for reading my blog!