Podcast

223 – Games as Plots

The Mythcreant Podcast

We storytellers like to play games, and so it naturally follows that the characters in our plots would like to play games too. But what happens when the game becomes the plot? Is a great time had by all, or is everyone’s good day canceled on account of rain? Listen to find out the answer! This week, we discuss why it’s difficult to build a plot around games, how games should be used in stories, and why you shouldn’t try to argue with your audience.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Podcast Transcription!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Triwizard Tournament.

Quidditch

The Hunger Games

Battle Royale

Space Opera

Get Schwifty

Legend of Korra

Pro-bending

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Transcript

Generously transcribed by Bellis. Volunteer to transcribe a podcast.

CHRIS: You’re listening to the Mythcreants Podcast with your hosts Oren Ashkenazi, Wes Matlock and Chris Winkle. [Intro Music]

CHRIS: You’re listening to the Mythcreants Podcast. I’m Chris and with me is…

OREN: Oren.

CHRIS: And Wes is unavailable, we decided to try it with just the two of us.

OREN: Oooh.

CHRIS: So let us know what you think. Just us. It’s not about justice though. It should be, but it’s not.

OREN: That would be a good topic for next time [Batman voice]: Justice.

CHRIS: [chuckles] So we also want you to know that we’re looking for transcribing volunteers. We’ve gotten a lot of requests to transcribe this podcast and we can provide an automated transcript, but they’re a mess. And so in order to do this, we really need volunteers to clean it up. So if you would like to give the gift of the Mythcreants Podcasts to somebody who is hard of hearing, please go to mythcreants.com/transcribe. We have a little volunteer form that you can fill out and you can either transcribe your favorite episode or you can transcribe a future episode if you would like.

OREN: Also It’s kind of funny because you get to see what the AI thinks we’re saying and it’s hilarious.

CHRIS: [laughs] It is pretty funny.

OREN: The way that they misattribute lines is just very funny. It’s like this technology is clearly still in its infancy.

CHRIS: Right. We’re being told, “Oh, the AI, they’re coming for us!” – Uh huh? Well, [laughs] they still clearly have a way to go… Again, that’s mythcreants.com/transcribe.

All right, now we’re going to talk about games.

OREN: Ooh, I score 50 points.

CHRIS: But does that 50 points matter? I think there needs to be a consequence if you fail.

OREN: Is the failure that I did not win the game? Cause I don’t like losing. So that seems like a good failure.

CHRIS: Isn’t it normal for every time you sit down and play a board game, like whoever wins gets whipped or something, isn’t that how you play games?

OREN: Yeah. If you die in the game, you die for real. Like, I’ve lost a lot of friends that way. [Chris laughs] That’s why I don’t like losing. Cause you know, I don’t want to die.

CHRIS: [laughs] So this is the big problem with this. There’s a lot of stories that like to use a game as their main plot or part of their plot. And the lack of stakes is one of the biggest problems of doing that. And there’s so many stories that try this and the plot is bad. And it’s really the fact that it’s about a game or any other kind of competition that is really dragging the story down.

OREN: Yeah. There are only so many plots that actually function with a game as their core. And a game in this case can be anything, any kind of contest of skill. We’re using the term kind of loosely. It can be chess or it could be a sport like basketball or it could just be any random contest where in theory it’s supposed to be a contest of skill to see who’s better. Like the Triwizard Tournament, which we’ll definitely talk about later.

CHRIS: [laughs] We’ll definitely talk about the Triwizard Tournament.

OREN: Right. And so there’s a reason that so many sports movies are so similar because there are only so many good ways to use games as the core of your plot. And the most obvious one is as a physical reflection of the main character’s arc and in a sports movie that can kind of work cause sports movies have a very specific appeal. They show you a growth arc of either the character or the team, the entire team sometimes. And then also you get to watch people play a sport. And if you like that sport, then you’re being lured in to watch the thing.

CHRIS: Admittedly it is a little easier in speculative fiction. Cause if you want, you can have a premise where the entire team will die [laughs] if they don’t win the competition.

OREN: You can…

CHRIS: It’s hard. It’s hard! We’ll talk about that, right.

OREN: Let’s talk about it now, because it’s on my mind. I actually would really recommend not using that premise.

CHRIS: Oh yeah?

OREN: In most cases. I’m not going to say it will never work, but it’s pretty cheesy and it’s very difficult to come up with a scenario in which it makes sense. Because if you’re playing a contest of skill and the consequence of losing is dying, it’s like, “Okay, who is enforcing this?”

CHRIS: Well, it has to be in a dark story. And I think one of the biggest problems is a lot of these stories, they’re not prepared for that kind of world that’s that cruel. So I think one of the few successful examples of this is actually the Hunger Games, because the Hunger Games, the world is just that messed up.

OREN: Yeah. I would also say that in most cases–the Hunger Games is a weird exception and I’ll explain why I think so in a minute–but it’s true that this is inherently a very dark premise, but it’s also an inherently absurd premise. It’s like “Play this game and if you lose you die”, it’s like, well, why would anyone do that? And so the explanation is usually just like, “Oh, well, this is just a wacky universe that way.” So it’s a weird premise that requires a combination of wackiness and darkness.

And the Hunger Games gets to be a special exception because in the Hunger Games, they are just trying to kill each other. The Hunger Games is almost even bending the rules of what a game actually is by our definition. Cause at this point it is a contest of skill, but it’s a contest of physical conflict. It’s like, they’re trying to kill each other.

CHRIS: It’s like a gladiator arena, which, the Romans did that. There was…

OREN: They did.

CHRIS: But there’s definitely not just darkness. There’s a lot of pointless cruelty where you literally have people who are watching this game that not only are they willing to put people to death, but they’re doing it just for their own amusement. So there’s a pointlessness to it.

OREN: Right. And the setup of the Hunger Games is questionable. Honestly, if you’re trying to get your provinces to rebel against you, the best way to do it is to televise you taking their children. I’m hard pressed to imagine a faster way to get them to rebel. But, you know, whatever, that’s a world-building detail.

CHRIS: I do think it definitely works a lot better as the idea of a gambling competition, where we’re not actually looking at a deeper meaning or reason behind this. [laughs] Which, the Hunger Games is kind of ambiguous in that part. It says it’s in part to keep them down. It’s true, that would totally not work. At all. But there are some, like Battle Royale. I think the idea in Battle Royale is that there are people betting on it.

OREN: Battle Royale also has a very different context. In Battle Royale, they aren’t trying to keep distinct political entities from rebelling, at least as far as I remember, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book. But the way I remember it is that this is largely, one, a way of expressing extreme contempt for the youth. Like this is supposed to be kind of an adults versus kids thing, which doesn’t make a huge amount of sense, you know, it’s kind of like a grimdark version of Kids Next Door, but that premise at least avoids the issue of like who you’re trying to get to rebel because kids can’t rebel, that’s impossible. And then at the same time, it’s also designed to kind of make people not trust each other, I think is supposed to be the idea. I don’t entirely remember why that’s supposed to work.

CHRIS: Yeah, or if it did work. [chuckles]

OREN: But regardless, in the moment, the Hunger Games works fairly well, as does Battle Royale, because they don’t have the thing that a lot of these other game plots do where the idea is, you play a non-lethal game and then if you lose, they like execute you. It’s like that extra step just makes it feel entirely more absurd. Like why would anyone do that?

CHRIS: Yeah. So let’s talk about some of those stories. Do you want to start with Space Opera?

OREN: I mean, I have to…

CHRIS: [laughs] So we both just read– listened to Space Opera, which is a Hugo nominated book.

OREN: It is.

CHRIS: Yeah…

OREN: For reasons.

CHRIS: For re– Well, the reason is that Catherynne Valente has a very initially entertaining voice, very distinctive. It’s like if you took the beginning of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where we’re talking about this obscure third planet from the sun where people think wristwatches are kind of neat and then just made that the entire book, [laughs] that’s what Space Opera is. And I’m sure there are some people who are entertained by the playful language throughout. But the book is lacking in most other areas.

OREN: Here is just a handful of problems with the actual game part of Space Opera: So the premise of Space Opera is that in the future, all of the aliens have gotten together and decided that the way that they’re going to test to see if another alien species, like a new one they’ve just met, is sentient is by making them compete in a galaxy-wide music contest. And it’s like, okay. And if they lose their planet gets des– no, no, the planet’s fine, they get wiped out. If they lose their species is wiped out. And it’s like, okay, that’s obviously really absurd, right? That’s like basically the same plot as the Rick and Morty episode Get Shwifty, which is an absurdist comedy that is… okay. I’m not going to say it’s great, but it at least recognizes what it is. So that’s your basic premise. It’s like, “Yeah, somehow being able to score a certain place in the music contest–cause you don’t have to win, you just have to not come in last–that proves that you’re sentient… somehow?

CHRIS: [laughs] I mean, first of all, that’s not what sentient means.

OREN: No.

CHRIS: And Catherynne Valente spends a lot of time in the book basically redefining the word sentience. Because a lot of people get this mixed up, the difference between sentience and sapience. Sentience is self-awareness and sapience is higher reasoning. So animals are sentient, like the average mammal would be considered sentient.

But she also doesn’t mean sapience. She means… It’s really not clear. Sometimes she seems to mean, are you going to be violent? Sometimes it seems to revolve around emotion a lot.

OREN: Yeah. It’s mostly… They say sentience all the time, but what they actually mean is, “Is your species worthy of survival?” Because even the word sapient doesn’t really have a very strong definition. There are at least some arguments that dolphins could be considered sapient. So that’s a very hazy question. But there’s really no question that every alien species in this story is both sentient and sapient. Like they easily fall outside the gray area. So what we’re actually talking about here is a contest to see if your species gets to live.

And the justification for this is “If we let species that are bad at music survive, they might conquer the galaxy”, which is fascinating. Like, you know, the idea that a species’ skill at music is inversely proportional to their conquest desires. I feel there are some famous European composers that might disagree with that notion. But you know, whatev. So that’s the premise. It’s an inherently absurd premise. Which could be fine if this was an absurd book where everything is funny.

CHRIS: Right, like in Rick and Morty. The premise is absurd, but it’s supposed to be absurd. We’re not pretending that there’s any fairness to the universe here. It’s just, this is what this arbitrary super powerful alien species wants and we really have no way to fight back, so we have to participate in this very, very silly competition.

OREN: Right. But then you get into Space Opera, which is, you know, a novel, it’s not a super long novel, but it’s way longer than a 23 minute cartoon. And the book spends a lot of time trying to convince you that the music contest to determine if your race exists, makes sense. Both of the characters in the story and the narrator itself, the omniscient god narrator, explain that this totally makes sense and you’re wrong for questioning it, like over and over again. It’s weird because at some point the characters aren’t even questioning it anymore and the book still is arguing with you.

[Chris laughs]

OREN: Because it knows! Somehow the book knows that you haven’t accepted this premise. And just wants to convince you that this is a just system that makes sense. And when I discussed this with my book club, they just couldn’t believe that that’s what it was saying, because it’s so absurd.

CHRIS: But it’s everywhere. It’s very annoying.

OREN: That’s definitely what the text says. If it’s not trying to say that, it’s just a bunch of wasted text.

CHRIS: Right. I mean, to be fair, this book has a lot of wasted text.

OREN: It does.

CHRIS: But there’s just continuingly arguments about, “See, this is why it makes sense. See, this is why it makes sense. See, this is why it makes sense.” And I don’t know why somebody would write that unless they were trying to convince beta readers or something.

OREN: Yeah. It does feel like a bunch of beta readers raised questions and then the novel was like, “Oh, well, I’ll show you.”

CHRIS: Yeah. Sometimes when writers don’t like what they hear from beta readers, it’s like, “Maybe I’ll just put in more arguments in the book against what the beta readers think.” And that doesn’t usually work. I mean, sometimes if clarity is the problem, it can work to explain more. But most of the time that doesn’t.

OREN: Yeah, like one of the people in my book club thought that the idea was that it was supposed to be parodying the various bad ideas that humans have had to try to judge who’s worthy of existence and who isn’t. But like, if that’s the case, it just completely fails to do that.

CHRIS: You’d have to at least bring up a comparison and then draw that comparison.

OREN: Right. And at the end you would have to show that they’re wrong.

CHRIS: [laughs] That’s true!

OREN: Right. That would be the way that you tell– What you would do is you would spend the book being like, “Yeah, this music contest makes sense and it’s like how back on earth you humans once said that these people didn’t really own the land because they didn’t plant a specific kind of crop.” And we would be like, yeah okay, that was a bad way to decide who owns the land. Point well-made. And then at the end we would be like, “Oh yeah, it turns out all these aliens are wrong and we’re going to make them realize that” or something.

That would be the point, but that never happens. We don’t get those kinds of comparisons. All we get is weird moral equivalency about how it’s fine to destroy humans because colonialism happened, and it’s like, you understand that the victims of colonialism are still alive, right? And they are going to be destroyed too. It’s like, what the heck is going on here?

CHRIS: Yeah. And this has almost the opposite of the stakes problem where normally stakes are too low. In this story, it’s set up so that the main characters have zero chance of winning because they’re going up against a bunch of aliens that the book shows over and over again are basically winning through technological superiority. Like they have, you know, this song has a space worm that goes into the ear of the audience and makes them feel the emotions they’re supposed to feel in response to the song. It’s like, okay, well, humans don’t have weird space worms. And it’s like that over and over again. So we’re now up against such steep competition that the stakes are no longer functioning because there’s simply no way to turn it around.

OREN: It definitely has that problem of, yes, it’s really obvious that humans are going to lose for the entire book, there’s really no reason to think humans would ever win, but the author keeps doing that thing where it’s like, “And now I’m going to do a twist that takes away your hope”. And it’s like, I didn’t… have any hope. Like we were already at a 0% chance of winning and now we, like, oops, now our singer has lost his voice. So now we’re at minus 20 and it’s like, that’s actually the same. That has the same chance of ever happening.

CHRIS: So, not great.

OREN: But wait, it gets worse! Just on top of all of this, then you get into this weird thing about the book just completely contradicts its own rules, where we find out that the teams are all basically allowed to hunt each other for sport before the actual music competition starts. And if you fail to show up because you died or were captured during the hunting for sport section, you forfeit and come in last place. So we actually found out that all they need to do to win is not die. And as far as I can tell the book never acknowledges that.

CHRIS: I’m pretty sure the premise is that despite the fact that they claim that everybody is trying to kill each other and we see that everybody is sabotaging each other, somehow it never works? So, yeah… And I think this is just to make it so that even if they live, they’re not necessarily going to win. But then we have the question of, okay, well, in this case, I do think it is a moral decision to just kill another team. [laughs] Because their entire species isn’t going to die. Only humans are on trial with this competition. So the entire human race against one other team. Mmh, yeah, it’s…

OREN: Yeah, obviously you should pick that option, but instead they’re like, no, that’s the bad option. If you would’ve picked that you would have been automatically disqualified. Which is kind of like being thrown into the Hunger Games and then told that you shouldn’t have been playing the Hunger Games, that makes you a bad person, but everyone else there is actually playing the Hunger Games.

CHRIS: Everybody else is trying to kill you. But if you try to fight back, “No!”

OREN: “If you try to fight back, that’s wrong.“

[laughter]

CHRIS: Okay. I think we should move on from Space Opera, unless you have one more thing. Okay.

OREN: No, no.

CHRIS: Nope. All right. Should we talk about Goblet of Fire?

OREN: Yeah, that’s the other big one.

CHRIS: It’s such a tragedy because a lot of the Harry Potter books are really well plotted. I think one, two, three, five, and six are really well plotted generally, but Goblet of Fire is such a mess and it’s all because of the Triwizard Tournament, really.

OREN: Goblet of Fire also is Hugo related. It actually won a Hugo.

CHRIS: I’m pretty sure though, that what happened is it wasn’t that they really wanted to give a Hugo to Goblet of Fire. It’s just that they’d already missed the first three. And so they really just…

OREN: Yeah, I think so too.

CHRIS: …wanted to give a Hugo to Harry Potter. This is– We’ll probably another time, maybe next year, we’ll talk more about the Hugo’s, but this is one of the issues with the Hugo’s is that it takes longer for a book to become notable than the Hugo’s allows. Let’s just say that.

OREN: Yeah, that’s true. All right. So anyway, let’s talk about this Triwizard Tournament and how the best part about it is that the second and third events happen entirely out of view of the audience.

CHRIS: [laughs] Everybody’s just staring at an empty lake.

OREN: A lake, and then a hedge.

CHRIS: And then a hedge…

OREN: And I assumed at first that the audience could see down into the hedge because they were on elevated seats, but the book specifically tells us that’s not what’s happening. And it’s actually very important to the plot because if people could see what was happening, they would see Harry get kidnapped, right? So they have to not be able to see him.

CHRIS: Right. And with the lake too, we have this whole big deal about how Ron is kind of making up what happened after the fact. And he wouldn’t be able to do that if people could see him. So we really just canonically do have the entire school with representatives from two other schools staring at a lake for an hour, and this is supposed to be exciting.

OREN: Yup. I cannot imagine. I just really want a two hour movie set in those stands as people slowly start to lose it as they’re just sitting there and being like… And then we can make some jokes about how this is marginally worse than watching baseball, ba-dum-tshh!

CHRIS: Oh no, oh no. But yeah, trying to combine this game with some kind of plot involving Voldemort makes no sense. That’s the big problem. I mean, it’s also the reason why they can’t see inside the hedge, cause then Voldemort wouldn’t be able to be up to his old tricks. But it also means that for some reason, Voldemort is invested in… [pained voice:] Harry winning this game?

OREN: [sarcastic] Mhm!

CHRIS: [laughs] Yeah. There’s just no way that this could ever actually make sense. There’s no way that there couldn’t be an easier way for Voldemort to kidnap Harry than having him win this game. Like they’re telling me that in Hogwarts, with all of its ancient rooms, there is no other artifact that you could potentially turn into a portkey and then have Harry touch. Or even the same artifact. Hey, I turned the Goblet of Fire into a portkey. “Hey, Harry, want to pick up the Goblet of Fire? It’s going to be used in this cool tournament.” I mean…

OREN: Right. Or here’s another option that doesn’t even need us to do any weird magic stuff because the tools are already right there. So Moody in this story is actually Crouch, Harry Potter’s most tragically underused villain, and in the plot of the story, he’s trying to get Harry to win so that Harry can touch the portkey and get teleported to the graveyard. Or–because he has lots of times when he has Harry by himself for long periods of time, because they’re doing special extracurricular studies–he could stun Harry and put him in a bag [Chris chuckles] and carry him out of the castle in a bag. And if for some reason the bag doesn’t work, he could put him in that giant Tardis chest that he keeps the real Moody in.

CHRIS: Yeah, just throw Harry in there and just grab the chest.

OREN: And we already know that that chest can get past whatever non-existent security precautions they have at Hogwarts because he got in with it fine. So it’s just like, just stun Harry and put him in a bag and then in the chest, if you’re worried, but I really want it to be a bag. I’m really in on this idea now.

CHRIS: [laughs] Really into the bag.

OREN: Yeah. It kind of reminds me of that one Sherlock Holmes story where it’s like, “There’s just no way that that lady could get this painting out of the house without us seeing, it must still be hidden somewhere!” And when it’s described, it’s like the size of a book. And it’s like, they have bags in this setting, you know. They could carry it out in a bag.

[laughter]

CHRIS: There’s just so many spell-like ways for Moody to shrink or transform Harry or do any number of things to sneak him out of Hogwarts.

OREN: Right. And then for some reason the books don’t have a real reason for Harry to want to be in the tournament. So they have to try to force him into it. And then it gets even weirder.

CHRIS: Right, yes. No, I think that Rowling probably just didn’t want Harry to be glory seeking? I think it’s partly that she needed to generate conflict and generating conflict around a game, as we’ve talked about, is really hard. And so a way to do that earlier and have him be more of an underdog is to make sure that he didn’t want to enter. And then everybody hates him for entering.

OREN: And then you get into this weird thing where it’s like, “Well, someone put his name in the Goblet of– Someone got past our incredibly good security system”, which they pretend it’s like, “Oh, well he had an adult, a teacher did it”. It’s like, yeah, or someone could have just folded his name into a paper airplane, and then tossed it in. It would not have been hard. But then they’re like, “Okay, now that that’s happened, he has to compete.” And it’s like, what?

CHRIS: What happens if he doesn’t compete? They never–

OREN: Yeah, what would happen?

CHRIS: Rowling never tells us what happens if he just doesn’t. He has to. What happens, does he die? Like, what are we…?

OREN: I’m pretty sure Dumbledore can take whatever this mug is going to throw at us. [Chris laughs] I just don’t think this mug is stronger than Dumbledore. It just seems unlikely. Or what if he just forfeits every competition. He participates and then is like, “Okay, well I’m not doing it.” And then doesn’t.

CHRIS: Right. And then after the first trial, there’s a big question of, how do we make each of these trials feel tense when Harry has literally had months to prepare? And he just randomly becomes a serious procrastinator because otherwise it’s not tense.

OREN: Yep. That’s just what he’s going to do.

CHRIS: So, “Yeah, no, I’ve got plenty of time in this egg.” We’ve never seen Harry do anything like this before in any of the other books when it comes to–it’s not that he loves schoolwork, but when it comes to serious challenges where he’s in danger, he’s usually really proactive.

OREN: Is this the book where he throws his badge at Ron because he and Ron are mad at each other?

CHRIS: Yeah, I’m pretty sure, yeah.

OREN: Yeah, that’s in this book, right. This is also the book where Harry and Ron become assholes to each other for no reason. Cause again, got to generate conflict over this game that everyone’s mad at Harry for entering, for some reason? Uhh. It’s not like it’s impossible to make everyone hate Harry. There are ways to do that, but entering this game that no one’s ever heard of until now is kind of more of a curiosity than like a, “Oh, that Potter, he’s the worst!” Right?

CHRIS: Yeah. And of course, this is all on top of the normal Hogwarts problems, like why are they putting kids in danger all the time, this is a school?

OREN: Yeah.

CHRIS: Yeah. So just a whole bucket of problems that Goblet of Fire has because Rowling changed up her normal formula. She has a really good formula, generally. Or she did. She did. Used to.

OREN: Yeah, back in the day.

CHRIS: Back in the day. Oh, the good old days. But this one, she did something different and it just did not work out because again, games are really tough.

OREN: Right. So actually I want to take a minute to talk about an example of a game that actually does this pretty well, at least in theory. Because we only have a few minutes left. And that is actually pro bending from Legend of Korra– which I hate, don’t get me wrong. I hate pro bending. It’s the worst game that anyone has ever invented. It’s so boring and it’s impossible to tell who’s winning and I hate it.

But in terms of its role in the story, it’s actually used the way that a game probably should be used in most stories, which is that it is a side plot where we get to watch it as part of Korra’s growth arc, where she has this conflict, where she wants to do pro bending, which is like the hot new cool thing that all the kids are doing. And her mentor is like, “No, you need to learn bending the traditional way that you don’t find very interesting, but you have to do it for tradition.” And that is a very tried and true formula. And by playing the game, we see Korra gain confidence and then lose confidence.

And like I said, the game itself really detracts from it because it’s a bad game. And we only ever see them do really basic bending stuff. So the idea that this is some kind of cutting edge modern bending technique, that Korra says it is, it’s just kind of nonsense. So the execution is bad, but the way that it is used for the rest of the plot is actually pretty good. And then when the actual big fight happens, they all stop playing pro bending because yeah, now we have a fight for our lives and we’re not going to do pro bending anymore.

CHRIS: Well, I think that depends on how much of the plot is this game supporting. Because pro bending is one plot element, supporting some scenes in a show that is not about pro bending. And I do think some of the Quidditch games also work in this way. In a lot of the Quidditch games, Rowling clearly wants higher stakes and so we have things happen on the Quidditch field that really shouldn’t happen on the Quidditch field. But some of the Quidditch games are legitimately just about, do we win? Do we lose? That kind of thing. And that works okay. But it’s lower stakes, so it has to be a smaller part of a bigger story that has higher stakes. And it’s supplying the kind of emotional stakes for that scene, for instance.

OREN: Yeah, I actually thought particularly in book three, which I think is the best book, The Prisoner of Azkaban, I actually thought the Quidditch matches in that book worked really well. Because, so first of all, they really deemphasize how dangerous Quidditch is. Quidditch is not supposed to be super dangerous on its own. The only reason their Quidditch game becomes dangerous is because a Dementor shows up, which is an out of normal thing. And Dumbledore is really mad and didn’t want it to happen. And when Harry falls off his broom, Dumbledore of course is there and stops it. And presumably some other teacher would have, if he hadn’t, as opposed to earlier where we find out if Harry had fallen, he just would have died. In book one, if he had fallen off his broom, it’s critical to the plot that no one would have caught him. It’s amazing.

[laughter]

OREN: And in that book, it’s all about Harry being like, “Okay, we haven’t won the last two cups for various plot reasons and I’m like really good at Quidditch, so I should be able to win this.” And it’s also tied into the side plot of Wood, cause this is his last game. And it’s interesting. And they do sort of a similar thing in book six when Harry becomes the Quidditch captain.

Now Quidditch itself still has a very serious problem with the snitch. But I think if you take the snitch out, Quidditch is actual– or not take the snitch out, but take out the 150 points the seeker gets for catching it.

CHRIS: Right. So it ends the game, but that’s all it does.

OREN: Right, it just ends the game or maybe gives a small boost of points, but not like–

CHRIS: 10 points.

OREN: Yeah, like 10 points, but not the equivalent of 15 scores. If you take that out, Quidditch is actually one of the better fictional games, partly because it’s just fairly simple and it’s based on…

CHRIS: Based on real sports, right.

OREN: Yeah. Real sports. The bludgers are still a little weird, but again, if you take out the idea that Quidditch is dangerous and you just assume there are safety charms in place to stop anyone from dying, and then it’s fine, right? It’s a fine sport, I can see why people like it.

So we are pretty much out of time, so I will draw this topic to a close. Before we go, I want to thank two of our patrons: First is Kathy Ferguson, who is a professor of political theory in Star Trek. Second is Ayman Jaber, you can find his stuff on thefantasywarrior.com. Otherwise we will talk to you next week.

VOICEOVER: If you have a story that’s not quite working, we’re here to help. We offer consulting and editing services on mythcreants.com. [Outro Music]

P.S. Our bills are paid by our wonderful patrons. Could you chip in?

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Comments

  1. Oren Ashkenazi

    Behold, a transcript!

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