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Recommended: Salman Rushdie on Video Games and the Future of Storytelling

Recommended: Salman Rushdie on Video Games and the Future of Storytelling (photo)

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Novelist Salman Rushdie’s no stranger to the power of the fantastic. He won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1981 for “Midnight’s Children,” a novel that followed 12 children who basically had superpowers and were born the night that India became independent. In 1988, then-Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatolla Khomeini famously called down a fatwa by for Rushdie’s death because his “Satanic Verses” dared to radically re-imagine the prophet Muhammad. One of his best books is “Haroun and the Sea of Stories,” a grown-up children’s story about a boy who journeys to a mythical land to heal the source of all tales.

Rushdie’s newest book is a sequel to “Haroun” and concerns itself with video games. “Luka and the Fire of Life” follows the title character–who’s Haroun’s younger brother– on an archetypal hero’s quest, as tries to steal the Fire of Life to wake his mysteriously dormant father. Website BigThink has Rushdie talking about how video games have influenced this latest work written for one of his sons:

Luka and the Fire of Life.jpg

…My 13 year-old boy Milan and his friends all seem to be playing right now is this wild west game called “Red Dead Redemption” and one of the things looking over… I mean I don’t even pretend to understand what is going on really, but one of the things that is interesting about it to me is the much looser structure of the game and the much greater agency that the player has to choose how he will explore and inhabit the world that is provided for you. He doesn’t… in fact, doesn’t really have to follow the main narrative line of the game at all for long periods of time. There is all kinds of excursions and digressions that you can choose to go on and find many stories to participate in instead of the big story, the macro story. I think that really interests me as a storyteller because I’ve always thought that one of the things that the Internet and the gaming world permits as a narrative technique is to not tell the story from beginning to end–to tell stories sideways, to give alternative possibilities that the reader can, in a way, choose between.

I’m a big Rushdie fan and have winced when he’s painted video games as lowest-common-denominator consumer culture. So, what’s most admirable about his observations is that he at least admits that there’s a palette of possibility around video game creativity. It’s something a lot of literary old-media types tend to gloss over, the idea that something inherent to games as medium allows for a different type of human connection or transmittal of ideas. I think a lot of gamers don’t feel too far from Rushdie’s point-of-view and want games that tell stories in interesting ways. Here’s hoping we get them sooner rather than later.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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