Flame Con is the world’s largest convention dedicated to LGBTQ+ fandom. It returned to New York City’s Times Square last weekend and celebrated its fifth year of existence with Fire Ball, a Smörgåsbord of performances referencing some of the most popular properties in nerd culture.
Drag. Burlesque. Superheroes. Airbending. Jigglypuff. It’s a classic recipe for the best night out in ages—the Long Island Iced Tea of queer fandom, if you will. The ball was hosted by Ginger Rodger, who also did a hilarious Captain America/Bucky Barnes tribute we just loved.
Check out the video above for some of the standout acts! There’s Abel Rey’s Legend of Zelda striptease, Blvck Laé D.’s drag take on Daenerys Targaryen (complete with S&M dragon backup dancers), an extremely acrobatic interpretation of Agent Smith by Twinky Boots, and an absolutely magnificent 10-minute Avatar: The Last Airbender tribute led by Megami as Aang. It was definitely an energizing night.
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Game Of Thrones recently ended and while not everyone loved the final episodes, no one can deny how huge and popular the show has become. Millions of people around the world watched each episode. But back in 2007, the TV show didn’t exist, George R.R. Martin was still working to release the latest book in the series and Second Life was popular. All of this led to a strange moment in time when the famous author attended an event in Second Life and answered questions from the virtual audience.
A fan website, The Citadel, posted a transcript of the entire event and reading through it is very strange. It appears Martin’s avatar was dressed as the famous character Tyrion. The crowd featured a very odd mix of people and beings, which is pretty standard for Second Life. Some of this can be seen in one of the only surviving video clips of the event.
During the hour-long event, Martin read a few excerpts from his upcoming books and answered questions. This was part of the publicity tour for his then upcoming book Dreamsongs, a collection of Martin’s earlier works of fiction, screenplays, and other things.
But he also teased fans by reading an excerpt from the then-unreleased fifth entry in the Ice And Fire series, which is what Game Of Thrones is based on.
Interestingly, this event took place in 2007 and the book wouldn’t release until July 2011, nearly four years later. One angry fan in 2010 posted a comment on the YouTube video of the event saying “So he has time to ponce about in shitty online games to a motley assortment of furries and losers, but not write the damn book he was supposed to finish years ago? Fucker.”
During the event, fans asked him various questions. Some of his answers are very funny to read 12 years later after the show has ended and the sixth book in the series has still not been released.
When asked if writers like Martin wait around for inspiration before writing he answered that professional writers can’t really wait around too long. “There is a necessity to produce the work. You can sit around waiting for inspiration for decades if you go that route, and you wind up not writing anything at all,” explained Martin.
Later on, towards the end of the event, the creators of the HBO show actually popped into the virtual event. The announcement of Game Of Thrones had just happened and they were here to more or less tell fans “We will be faithful to the books.” But after they appear a final question from a fan asks Martin about the future of the books and what to expect. The author explains that he is excited about the next book and is busy writing it all. Finally, he talks about the show and books.
“I know it’s taking longer [to finish the book] than I thought, but I’m working on it guys, that’s what I can say, I’m working on it. I’m going to have to stay ahead of David and Dan, it would be awfully embarrassing if the television series caught up with the book.”
After the end of Game of Thrones, I was mostly OK with how things went down. Like many fans, though, I still had complaints. After I’d run my course tweeting about them, I decided to open up Reigns: Game of Thrones and try my hand at sitting on the Iron Throne.
Reigns: Game of Thrones, written by my friend and former Kotaku writer Leigh Alexander, is basically regular old Reigns, which is a mobile game with Tinder-esque mechanics released in 2016, with some Game of Thrones flavor on top. You’re given a deck of cards, and you make choices about the fate of your kingdom by swiping them left or right. Each choice affects your money, power, faith, and love of the people. If any of those get too high or low, it’s game over.
The game is framed as Melisandre looking into the fire to find the Azor Ahai, the prince that was promised to defeat the Night King and rule the realm. You start off with Daenerys on the throne, and in my first game, she was killed by sellswords in seven years. From there, I tried Tyrion as ruler. He made it 17 years. Then Sansa—only three years in my first attempt, then 23 in my most recent. Jon Snow didn’t make too bad of a leader, either, with 16 years.
Because these are all hypotheticals, the end of the show is not referenced at all, and Reigns: Game of Thrones instead depicts much more optimistic endings for Westeros. When Dany is on the throne, the White Walkers have not yet reached Winterfell, and she can send all the forces of King’s Landing to aid them. If Jon sits on the throne, Dany is building a new nation across the sea with those aligned with the Dothraki. Sansa, my favorite character, can become so beloved by the North that it no longer matters how much power she amasses—the people will still support her anyway.
It’s nice to return to Winterfell in this way. The ending of the show is pretty bleak, all things considered. Although the people of Westeros can rest assured that this particular civil war is over, most of our favorite characters are traumatized and most will never see each other again. In Reigns: Game of Thrones, everyone is alive and mostly well.
Being king or queen isn’t easy, however. The realm is constantly in crisis, and having a new ruler doesn’t necessarily unite the people. When I played with Tyrion as king, Sansa ended up destroying the Twins, the castle of House Frey, under a flimsy pretense. She later told Tyrion that she did it to ensure that the South could never invade Winterfell. When Sansa was Queen, King’s Landing was constantly at war with the Iron Islands. My biggest problem in all playthroughs was running out of coin. It turns out feeding the people and keeping your military strong is expensive.
I wouldn’t envy anyone on the Iron Throne. History has shown that ruling an empire will hardly leave everyone happy, and that’s in a world without dragons. I do still wonder how well I can rule Westeros. Just like the fans unsatisfied with the show’s ending, I’m sure there must be a magic formula for making everyone happy.
Modern video games are more complex and narratively rich than past video games. But sometimes you don’t feel like talking and just want some action, except the game, REALLY wants to talk to you. A lot. That’s the basic setup from last night’s SNL skit “New Video Game.”
The skit features Kit Harington from Game Of Thrones as a member of a group of survivors in the zombie apocalypse VR game EARTHWAR 3.
The skit starts off a little slow, including a bad Mario joke. But eventually, as the skit KEEPS pushing the two talkative survivors in the player’s face I was laughing. The dialogue choices were a nice touch.
I wish more games had a “No Drama, Please” button.