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One of the unique aspects of video games is that you can control the characters. But game developers are often torn between wanting to give the players as much freedom as possible, and wanting to guide the players through a strong story. Adam Hines tries to crack the code with his indie game Oxen Free. Ryan Kaufman and Alyssa Finley discuss why the Telltale games were more like Choose Your Own Emotions. And Jamie Madigan of The Psychology of Video Games explains how clicking dialogue options can help strength our sense of morality. 
Reimagining the Gods

Reimagining the Gods

2019-01-1031:00

Madeline Miller received critical acclaim for her novels The Song of Achilles and Circe – which reimagine The Iliad and The Odyssey told from the perspective of minor characters in the original texts by Homer. As someone who grew up loving Greek mythology, Madeline wanted to capture the sense of wonder she felt about gods and monsters, and the raw emotional truth inside those very human tales of immortal beings. But she struggled for years to find a modern voice for these classical characters, and rewriting Homer was daunting task. Luckily her fear of being caught by the "classics police" didn't come to pass, and her novels tap into a bigger debate happening in the culture at large. Who gets to tell their story?And please fill out the survey at https://www.podsurvey.com/imaginary -- which will help my new network find advertisers for the show.
In a special stocking stuffer of an episode, Stephanie Billman and I discuss why A Christmas Carol set the template for SF stories to come -- from Back to the Future to X=Men. Plus, we have a special announcement about the future of Imaginary Worlds!  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Board Games Go Indie

Board Games Go Indie

2018-12-1326:59

We all grow up playing board games and card games, and now those games are growing up as well. I check out BostonFIG (festival of independent games), where a new generation of indie board game designers is reimagining what we can do with dice, cards and plastic game pieces. I also talk with Shari and Jenni Spiro of AdMagic -- the company that can make unorthodox games like Cards Against Humanity and Exploding Kittens into household names. Plus, Dylan McKeefe at NYU's Game Incubator, and Luke Crane at Kickstarter explain why this is the perfect time for indie games to thrive.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
How I Won the Larp

How I Won the Larp

2018-11-2940:08

In my 2017 episode Winning the Larp, I looked at the history of larps (live action role plays) and how the larping experience is deeply personal for each of the players. But I hadn’t done any larps myself. So this year, I delved deep into larping, where I discovered the thrill of stepping into someone else’s world, and the out-of-body experience of feeling emotions that aren’t yours. Featuring Ashwick Planation, DexCon and Sinking Ship Creations, along with readings by George Morafetis, Nicole Greevy and Luisa Tripoli. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Long ago, before we found out about new movies from tweets about teaser trailers that advertised full-length trailers – the first glimpse of a new movie would be the poster. Movie posters used to be hand-drawn illustrations, and many of them became iconic. Not so much anymore. But a growing movement of artists, galleries and print companies are creating alternative movie posters that re-imagine ad campaigns for current and former blockbusters of sci-fi, fantasy and horror genres. I talk with Rob Jones and Eric Garza of Mondo, author Matthew Chojnacki and artists Matt Taylor, Sara Deck, Tracie Ching, and Tim Doyle about the art of alternative movie posters, and a business model that has become controversial.  Here is the link to the episode page with a slideshow.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Faith in Fantasy

Faith in Fantasy

2018-11-0130:41

Science fiction has not always been compatible with religion -- in fact many futuristic settings imagine no religion at all. But sci-fi and fantasy have long fascinated people of different faiths because the genres wrestle with the big questions of life. I recently moderated a discussion between Minister Oscar Sinclair, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Alwaez Hussein Rashid about why SF worlds intrigue and inspire them. List of References: "Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. TolkienX-Men comicsDoctor Who Season 6 Episode 13 “The Big Bang”  “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley  Isaac Asimov, novelist“Speaker for the Dead” by Orson Scott Card  “Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke“Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein “Record of a Spaceborn Few” from The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers“Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett Octavia Butler, novelistStar Trek: Deep Space Nine-  Broken Earth series by N.K. Jemisin Monstress comics by Marjorie Liu “Lucifer’s Hammer” by Larry NivenMelancholia, film by Lars von Trier The Dragonlance series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman The Bloodprint Series by Ausma Khan“City of Brass” from The Daevabad series by S.A. Chakraborty  Sabaa Tahir, novelistNarnia series by C.S. Lewis  "Seven Commentaries on an Imperfect Land" by Ruthanna Emrys"The Sparrow" by Mary Doria RussellFirefly TV series “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” play by Jack Thorne Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Forget Tinkerbell or those Victorian paintings of spritely pixies with wings. Traditional fairy folklore is much darker and weirder. Irish storytellers Philip Byrne, Helena Byrne, Eddie Lenihan, and professor Martha Bayless explore how fairy folklore dominated Celtic culture for centuries, and why belief in fairies is not an unreasonable way of understanding the world.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Movies for the Mind

Movies for the Mind

2018-10-0429:45

There has been a renaissance of audio drama podcasts over the last several years, so picking up where I left off in the previous episode, I bring the history of audio dramas up to date with the help of Ann Heppermann, creator of The Sarah Awards for audio fiction. I also talk with Jonathan Mitchell of The Truth about the quest for realism and the pitfalls of fake interviews. Plus we hear the third audio drama that I wrote with The Truth, called "Nuclear Winter," about a pair of missile launch officers working in a silo that may be haunted. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Theater for the Mind

Theater for the Mind

2018-09-2029:11

The "golden age of radio drama" may have been a stellar period for storytelling -- but the stories weren't all golden bright. Science fiction and horror were the ideal genres to explore the deep anxieties people felt from the Depression through the Cold War. And these radio dramas set the stage for fantastical stories that couldn't be told yet without advanced special effects. Dallas Taylor of the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz co-hosts this episode as we hear from radio historians Neil Verma and Richard J. Hand, and radio drama veterans Dirk Maggs and Richard Toscan. Plus Emory Braswell recalls the day he thought Martians had invaded New Jersey. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Fantastical Feasts

Fantastical Feasts

2018-09-0524:11

What is the role of food in worldbuilding? Characters usually have to eat to stay alive -- but food is also culture, and if you're creating a fantasy culture, food will be an expression of those values. Chef Chelsea Monroe-Cassell talks about the origin of her fantasy cookbooks while chef Jenn de la Vega makes us a dish based on the novel "The Lies of Locke Lamora." Authors Elizabeth Bear and Fran Wilde break down the tropes and cliches around SF foods. Chef and author Jason Sheehan talks about his favorite dystopian food. And writer Scott Lynch reveals the fantasy beverage he's always wanted to try.Here's the episode show page with Jenn's Pears and Sausages recipe: https://www.imaginaryworldspodcast.org/fantastical-feasts.htmlLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
D&D Revisited

D&D Revisited

2018-08-2332:54

Stubborn Lippi a.k.a. Stubbs is a halfling, a bard, and a sorcerer. He's also the character I've been playing since I produced my 2015 episode "Rolling the Twenty Sided Dice," where I learned how to play Dungeons & Dragons. This week, I discuss the epic and surprisingly personal journey I've been on over the past three years with my co-player Adam Boretz and our Dungeon Master Arlin Foley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Last year, I interviewed Francesca Coppa for my episode Fan Fiction (Don't Judge.) She's the author of the book "The Fanfiction Reader," and one of the founders of the fanfic site Archive of Our Own. Francesca was such a great source of information that I always regretted the fascinating parts of our interview which ended up on the proverbial cutting room floor. So this week, I'm featuring a full version of our conversation -- ranging from the ancient roots of fan fiction (or fanfiction, as it's also spelled) to the reasons why a TV showrunner might anonymously publish fanfic of their own show.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Do You Speak Conlang?

Do You Speak Conlang?

2018-07-2626:20

Sci-fi fantasy worlds often use constructed languages (or conlangs for short) as a worldbuilding tool that can make us believe the characters come from an ancient or alien culture. But art can take on a life of its own once it's released into the world -- and so do languages. Marc Okrand, inventor of the Klingon language, and David J. Peterson, inventor of the Dothraki language and The 100's Trigedasleng, talk about the surprises they encountered. I also talk with Lawrence M. Schoen of the Klingon Language Institute and Robyn Stewart, the language consultant for Star Trek: Discovery, about why the Klingon culture spilled over into the real world. And Jen Usellis -- a.k.a. Klingon Pop Warrior -- will give you a serious case of earworms, and we're not talking about the mind-controlling earworms from Star Trek II. To hear Matt Fiddler's episode from Very Bad Words on cursing in conlangs:http://www.verybadwords.com/shows/constructed-curses-in-sci-fi-fantasy Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Imaginary Deaths

Imaginary Deaths

2018-07-1228:40

Have you ever mourned the loss of a fictional character? It can be tough to get over, and difficult to convince people not caught up in that fictional world that your sense of mourning is valid. I talk with Tim Burke, Dawn Fancher, Maria Clara Santarosa, Megan Knox, Stephanie Billman, Leigh Foster and Daniel Skorka about how they've grieved the loss of their favorite characters from video games, novels, TV shows and movies. Plus Professor Jennifer Barnes explains the psychology behind why we feel a deep connection to make believe people. To hear more of Leigh Foster discussing the death of Tara and other LGBT characters on her podcast: https://lezhangoutpod.com/blog/2018/4/2/episode-15-bury-your-gaysTo watch Jennifer Barnes give a TEDx Talk on parasocial relationships: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22yoaiLYb7MLearn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The writer Neil Gaiman first became entranced with Fahrenheit 451 as a kid, but he says the novel is the kind of masterpiece that seems like a different story every time you read it depending on where you are in life, or in history. I also talk with novelist Alice Hoffman and various Ray Bradbury scholars about why a book written in the McCarthy era still has a lot to say in the age of "fake news." And we hear from students at a high school in Texas about how Fahrenheit 451 reflects their own struggles fighting hate speech while honoring freedom of speech. A version of this episode originally aired on PRI's Studio 360 as part of their American Icons series.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Gathering the Magic

Gathering the Magic

2018-06-1425:57

At its core, Magic: The Gathering is a card game and your goal is to knock your opponent down to zero points. But Magic: The Gathering also has a deep mythology about an infinite number of parallel worlds. As Magic celebrates its 25th anniversary, I look at why this handheld card game has survived the onslaught of competition from digital games, and how the designers at Wizards of the Coast create a sense of character and worldbuilding within a non-sequential card game. Featuring Mark Rosewater, Brady Dommermuth, Alii Medwin, James Wyatt, Liz Leo and Nataniel Bael. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
To promote season 2 of Westworld, HBO recreated the fictional Wild West town from the TV show just outside Austin at the SXSW festival, and they hired actors to play androids who think they're living in the Old West -- just like the androids on the TV show. The SXSW Westworld Experience was advertised as "Live Without Limits." Unfortunately, some of the guests took that slogan to heart. Featuring actors Alan Nelson, Liz Waters and Courtney Rose Kline. Also professors Noson Yanofsky, James South and Kim Engels discuss why an ancient Greek philosophical debate ties back to Westworld, the New York Yankees and whether you chose to buy a Cinnamon Danish. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Jack Kirby's Marvels

Jack Kirby's Marvels

2018-05-0330:56

Avengers: Infinity War brought together characters from across the Marvel universe, but many of them already shared a common bond -- their creator Jack Kirby. While Kirby is best known for his intense drawing style, he was also a great storyteller who worked with Stan Lee to redefine what a comic book character could be. But their relationship was fraught. I talk with comic book experts Charles Hatfield, Mark Evanier, Randolph Hoppe, and Arlen Schumer about where we can see Jack Kirby's influence on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And I explore Kirby's childhood at the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Living in Space

Living in Space

2018-04-1932:04

People have fantasized for ages about what it would be like to live in space -- whether it's living on the moon or Mars or on a space station. And if Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos achieve their goals with Space X and Blue Origin, life in space might not be science fiction anymore. I look at two different dreams of living outside the Earth and how close they are to becoming reality, from the impossibly curved space habitats of Gerard K. O'Neill to a city on the moon that might split apart. Featuring Robert Smith of the Space Studies Institute, artist Don Davis, and performers Jose Gonzales and Camille Hartmetz at Emerge, an annual event from Arizona State University's Center for Science and the Imagination.Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Comments (22)

Cheriet

Rather boring and has become preachy instead of informative.

Aug 17th
Reply

Bagas Kembar

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Jun 20th
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April

this doesn't age well

Feb 8th
Reply

Mitchell Knutzen

Remember the days when this podcast was interesting? I miss those days. It's been a long time.

Nov 28th
Reply

Lori C.

wow .... this is an online quiz you'regetting so upset about? online quizzes are notorious for inaccuracies in people. it's not like a real world diagnosis or anything. if you're a Hufflepuff, go be one! wow

Jul 29th
Reply

Philip McCann

Great podcast, easily one of my favourites.

Jul 25th
Reply

Viande Moisie

This is basically my favorite podcast, great job Eric keep up the good work 👍

Jun 30th
Reply

Mitchell Knutzen

There's not enough lipstick to put on this pig.

May 13th
Reply

Carly Strickland

Whenever I notice there's a new imaginary worlds episode out I stop what I am doing and put in in my ears immediately and I say, oh yeah, Eric, talk nerdy to me.

Jul 13th
Reply

Big Black Booty Daddy

Stories on fake ass wwf wrestlers? Boy are we scraping the bottom of the barrel

Jul 11th
Reply (1)

Clau Schwa

I clicked on this episode because I thought it would deal with Deaths. Pratchett and Gaiman kind of thing. I wasn't prepared for the Peter Parker reminder. THANKS FOR MAKING ME CRY.

Feb 3rd
Reply

Jose Carlos Ferreira Junior

So it begins...great show but limiting content for free users is not cool

Jan 27th
Reply

Aida Vainer

Being a dresser in a local theatre and i go by the name "hi-i-don't-have-socks" (if they see me in the hallway) or "DRESSER!!!" (if they don't see me in the hallway) 😊so i can relate)) Awesome episode. (most of them r though)

Jan 11th
Reply

Tiffany Slauter

There's a couple people making a podcast called Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. It's about what this fantasy text can teach us if we take it as seriously as we do religious texts. It's very much what the panelists are discussing here.

Nov 3rd
Reply

Joshua Young

This episode and the D&D episode were really entertaining (and informative)!

Jun 15th
Reply

Dany

pp

May 4th
Reply

Prachi Singh

there is a film on one of her works. the Tales of Earthsea is a Ghibli film.

Apr 6th
Reply

Iberius Polonius

Great show, thank you

Mar 16th
Reply

iTunes User

From his opening explanation of what led him to creating Imaginary Worlds, I felt a strong relation to Eric Molinksy. I work in art in games but often feel I’m living through personas on public radio talk shows. Well now I’m living through Erik’s show, which covers all the angles and avenues of telling stories from the imagination. The stories and history he covers are giving me a great push to create more outside of work, and to keep exploring.

Aug 30th
Reply

iTunes User

I just learned "Imaginary Worlds" podcast from listening to 99% invisible latest podcast. I love this podcast! It's not 2 guys just talking about comics or Sci-Fy films. This is done in a professional "This American Life" style podcast. I'm glad I'm late to the party because now I have hours of listening ahead! Please keep new episodes coming! I'll donate $$ when possible

Aug 30th
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