Mark (left) and Ethan (right) sit on a set that is split in black and white with a countdown timer between them.
Mark (left) and Ethan (right) sit on a set that is split in black and white with a countdown timer between them.
Mark Fischbach (left) and Ethan Nestor (right) discuss the end of Unus Annus as the timer ticks down during the final live stream. Screenshot by the author.

On November 15, 2019, YouTube was introduced to something very strange.

On a brand-new channel, popular YouTubers Mark Fischbach and Ethan Nestor, dressed in white and black suits respectively, stood on a backdrop of a black and white spiral and made the most interesting channel introduction I’ve ever seen.

Mark and Ethan described how the channel would work. There would be daily uploads for exactly a year, 365 days. These videos would be of anything they wanted, made with reckless disregard of the YouTube algorithm. This wasn’t the most shocking part, however.

“In one year,” they explained in turns, “this channel and everything on it will be deleted.” …


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Image for post

What set Darkwood aside from other horror games this year?

It’s getting dark. You’re ages away from your base, low on ammo, and it’s just started to rain when you find a house to hide in while you catch your breath. In another room, a radio plays, and a rhythmic banging is accompanied by a woman’s voice, cracked with disuse and empty of any reason. Will she stay there forever, stuck in her cycle, or will you be forced to put what was once her out of its misery, like all the others?

Welcome to The Woods

Darkwood is a top-down survival horror game, released in 2017 by Acid Wizard Studio after three years of beta testing. It’s available on Steam and, surprisingly, the Nintendo eShop. The game has sky-high ratings across the board, with raving reviews from players that match the weirdly high download numbers it’s seen in recent months. …


A pencil drawing of a teenage girl in a tanktop and jeans. Multicolored paint splotches cover and surround the whole drawing.
A pencil drawing of a teenage girl in a tanktop and jeans. Multicolored paint splotches cover and surround the whole drawing.
Typical “Mary Sues” are young, overly sweet, and universally loved. Image by matthew bowen from Pixabay

When Rey was introduced as the protagonist of the new Star Wars trilogy in December of 2015, the internet’s reactions were, predictably, very mixed. Many little girls were absolutely thrilled to see someone like them up on the screen. Others were…less pleased.

True fandom die-hards came out of the woodwork to scream their frustration at the writing of the new trilogy, the poor treatment of the characters they loved, and, most of all, the new protagonist, who quickly gained one of the most infamous titles in fandom: Mary Sue.

The moniker is frequently thrown around for female leads in fiction, and it's one of the most universally hated character types. …


A campfire burns orange on black and red coals.
A campfire burns orange on black and red coals.
Bonfires are a popular way to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Image from Wix.

On any normal, chilly November 5th, my family would be gathered around a bonfire. Sometimes, this is with family and friends, a roaring thing on a bigger property, kicked off with fireworks, and finished with hot apple cider. Others, it’s a simple backyard campfire over which my brother and I argue about who gets the best spot to roast marshmallows for smores.

Guy Fawkes Day is a distinctly British holiday celebrated on November 5th. It’s a celebration of a famous plot to assassinate the king and replace him with a Catholic head of state, which failed spectacularly, and is named after one of its instigators. The plan, brought about by the group’s discontent with the Protestant church leading England for so long, had been to use hundreds of pounds of gunpowder to blow up the Houses of Parliament, killing the legislators and the king, who were to meet inside that day. …


Two dictionaries, one standing that reads “Merriam-Webster’s Fandom Dictionary”, one lying open and flat in front of it.
Two dictionaries, one standing that reads “Merriam-Webster’s Fandom Dictionary”, one lying open and flat in front of it.
Image altered by the author.

As with any subculture, fandoms have their own language for referring to the things that their community interacts with or creates. Fans coin terms to refer to the things that come up most often in their discussions about their base media.

There are many terms and phrases that are specific to individual fandoms, but given that there are quite a few of these, I think it’s best that, for now, we stick to the terms most often used in wider fan culture across media.

Let’s define some terms.

Canon — Something that is “canon” happens on-screen or in the text of the original work. It’s something that was officially stated, written, or condoned by the licensed creators. It’s a reuse of the larger literary term academics use to describe the “proper” or “official” bodies of literature, the “literary canon.” …


Left, the logos for Twitch and Stadia. Right, Hutchinson, smiling.
Left, the logos for Twitch and Stadia. Right, Hutchinson, smiling.
Stadia has since distanced themselves from Hutchinson’s remarks, saying that they do not represent the company’s views and values.

In two Tweets on October 22, Alex Hutchinson, a Creative Director for a company recently acquired by Stadia, expressed his opinions on streamers and their relationship to video game studios.

This was met with nearly instant backlash from many popular streaming personalities, including Sean McLoughlin (Jacksepticeye), Imane Anys (Pokimane), and Philip Burnell (dspgaming), other game creators such as Notch (the creator of Minecraft), and from fans.

Philip Defranco weighs in on Hutchinson’s take on streaming, arguing that his comments were derisive, uninformed, and disconnected.

I personally find Hutchinson’s remarks to be wildly hypocritical given that he stole his Twitter banner art from a fan artist's piece done in celebration of Jacksepticeye’s stream of Journey to the Savage Planet. …


The Upwork logo, green and grey text on a white background.
The Upwork logo, green and grey text on a white background.
Image from Upwork

Working on Upwork means that you come across bad job postings all the time — “clients” looking for free work, “companies” looking for free credentials, and fronts for MLMs if you’re particularly unlucky.

I’ve had my fair share of strange and unusual propositions and conversations — my favorite of which I wrote about recently — but if you’re brand new to the field, you might not know what you’re looking for when it comes to weeding out false listings. I’m not saying that I’m an expert on navigating false listings. I’m just saying that I’ve been there. I’ve fallen for it. …


Mark Fischbach, in all black thief’s gear, stands over a mysterious box, spotlit and sitting on a museum pillar.
Mark Fischbach, in all black thief’s gear, stands over a mysterious box, spotlit and sitting on a museum pillar.
The object of the Heist: the mysterious box. What’s inside? That all depends on you. Official Screenshot from aheistwithmarkiplier.com

The concept of interactive or “choose your own” media is nothing new. In fact, there are examples of it dating back to the 1930s, with Ayn Rand’s The Night of January 16th, which let the audience be the jury that decided the fate of the character on trial in the show. It was popularized by the children's series Choose Your Own Adventure from Bantam Books, which started in 1979 and has more than 150 titles whose main mechanic is allowing the reader to decide how the story progresses. …


A woman’s hand is shaking a blue, pixelated hand coming out of a laptop screen.
A woman’s hand is shaking a blue, pixelated hand coming out of a laptop screen.
Image by kiquebg from Pixabay

There are a thousand ways to interact with your audience when you’re creating a piece of fiction. You can give them an ambassador character to follow, or throw them in blind. You can tell them what’s going to happen, but not tell your characters, so that they have to watch as a character walks right into the maw of danger. You can even give them someone to root for before revealing that the character knew something all along that the audience didn’t.

My favorite iteration of story-audience interaction, though, is breaking the fourth wall.

Welcome to the Fictional Room

In order to understand what breaking the fourth wall means, you have to understand where all four walls are first. Imagine that you are watching a play that is set in a single room. The stage is quite literally set with three walls, one in the back and one on each side. Where the fourth wall would be is an opening through which the audience is seeing the action take place. …


A human stands beside a monster. Text reads “Long ago, two races ruled over the Earth: HUMANS and MONSTERS.”
A human stands beside a monster. Text reads “Long ago, two races ruled over the Earth: HUMANS and MONSTERS.”
Screenshot from the Undertale Press Kit

“Legends say that those who climb the mountain never return.”

One human, alone in a world of monsters, trapped far beneath the earth at the end of a long and bloody war. One human, with nothing but their wits and a sense of determination.

This setup isn’t unusual for an adventure RPG, but Undertale is anything but your typical adventure. Visually stunning with retro 8-bit style and technically simple, relying on arrow keys and a 3-key command system, Undertale is an indie game created by Toby Fox. …

About

Cat Webling

Hello! I’m Cat, an author and amateur fandom historian based out of Georgia. I write about literature, theater, and gaming. Personal work: catwebling.com.

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