The World of Creepypasta !

Yes, it’s a stupid name. Creepypasta is a play on the term ‘copypasta’ which, according to knowyourmeme.com is defined as: ‘internet slang for any block of text that gets copied and pasted over and over again, typically disseminated by individuals through online discussion forums and social networking sites’. So it’s nothing to do with fusilli then, but still, a pretty stupid name.

But what exactly is a creepypasta? For the uninitiated, a creepypasta is a short horror story posted online. They’re written by amateur writers, anyone can upload a story to the creepypasta wiki, one of the most popular destinations for creepypasta aficionados. The suggested reading page is a good place to start, and they also have monthly spotlighted stories and creepy art contests.

The infamous ‘Jeff the Killer’

Creepypastas are presented as non-fiction, often containing supposed found journal entries or blog posts. Here are some highlights:

Candle Cove

This pasta is set out like a forum with the posters trying to piece together memories of a mysterious children’s TV show, the titular Candle Cove. It has gained somewhat of a cult following inspiring sequels (vastly inferior ones in my opinion however), mock episodes, this amazing, kind of disturbing unofficial theme song and there’s even a Candle Cove Wiki! It’s a fairly short pasta and is a good place to start.

The Devil Game

This one is really interesting. It’s essentially a set of instructions informing the reader how to get in contact with the devil.  The pasta does a really good job of building intrigue, mystery and an un-nerving atmosphere. It gives us a really un-conventional portrayal of the devil, not the clichéd man with a spiky pitchfork and a maniacal laugh but instead a much more insidious entity.

http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/creepypasta/images/6/65/The_slender_man_by_lolhoracio12d49yepy.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20120213185041

The Slender Man. Found him yet?

Gateway of the Mind

A very interesting and deeply unsettling pasta. It’s about a team of scientists who conduct a series of experiments working on the theory that if a person has all of their senses cut off they would be able to perceive the presence of god. The scientists find a test subject and surgically sever the sensory nerve connections to their brain.

What follows is a horrifying decent in to madness that builds to a grisly climax. The last line of this pasta is chilling indeed. Don’t expect to get much sleep after reading this one, find it here.

(Screenshot from the Creepypasta Wiki)

The Creepypasta Wiki

An Egg

A bit strange this one. It’s not really scary; An Egg is a fairly short pasta with a really neat and thought provoking concept. To say too much more about it would spoil it; just check it out for yourself!

Penpal

Penpal was written by a man called Dathan Auerbach who on reddit goes by the name of 1000 vultures.  The story was originally posted to the subreddit r/nosleep. It is extremely long creepypasta, made up of six parts. Penpal was adapted in to a novel of the same name and film rights have been optioned by documentary film maker Rich Middlemas.

The pasta follows the story of a boy who is obsessed over throughout his childhood by a mysterious stalker. With it’s foreboding, creepy atmosphere and truly heart-wrenching ending, Penpal is not to be missed.

That was a whistle-stop tour of the cream of the crop of pastas, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface.

Remember that like all horror, creepypastas are best enjoyed alone at three in the morning with the lights off. 

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An Interview With Bulby – The 8-Bit Remix Guy

Mike Stoney is 23, from Hampshire. By day he works in a warehouse, but by night he’s one of the biggest composers in the 8 bit, retro gaming music scene. On YouTube he goes by the name of Bulby and has over 44 thousand subscribers. I got the chance to ask him some questions:

Q: What’s the first game you remember playing?

A: Although I don’t particularly remember that well, I think it was the original Super Mario Bros. on NES, either that or Super Mario Bros. 3 or Snake Rattle ‘n’ Roll. The NES belonged to my mother at the time.

Q: What is your all-time favourite game and why?

A: Diddy Kong Racing on the N64. This game basically defined my tastes, not only in video game genres and soundtrack, but just as a person as well. The soundtrack plays a huge part in why I like it so much. It is capable of being happy and enjoyable when it needs to, but also serious and tense for the player, while still maintaining the child-like theme throughout. I particularly enjoy the way David Wise re-uses the same motif that he establishes as the main theme throughout the game to convey different emotions or compliment different scenarios. One point at which this is done very well is in the Wizpig races, where he uses the main theme motif, but puts an epic, minor spin on it, rather than the happy-go-lucky feel established throughout the game. That, in conjunction with the sudden shift in tone these races provide aesthetically, made it an all-around incredible experience as a child. On top of that, all the courses are memorable and I go back to revisit it when I can. The only thing I can’t praise the game for is the hint of a sequel with no delivery on it (yet!).

Full Diddy Kong Racing OST: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mz8pXp_JsIE

Q: So Diddy Kong Racing has your favourite gaming soundtrack?

A: If you asked me a few years ago, I would’ve said Diddy Kong Racing again, but Mario Kart 8’s OST has surpassed it in every way possible. I was adamant DKR’s OST would remain my favourite for all time, but the original music in Mario Kart 8 is super memorable and well written, and all the remixes sound terrific on real instruments rather than MIDI samples. I don’t think I’ll get bored of its soundtrack.

Mario Kart 8 [Full Soundtrack]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH1LYGj6aNY

 

Q: What kind of music do you like outside of gaming?

A: I don’t particularly listen to too much outside of video game OST’s, as I’m just a fan of instrumental/soundtrack music in general. Though there are a few mainstream artists I like, such as Gorillaz, Jamiroquai, Paolo Nutini, Daft Punk, Jake Bugg and Michael Bublé. I like a lot of other albums, but don’t particularly follow the artists, examples being Lower than Atlantis and Noel Gallagher. If I had to choose a genre, it would be Big Band, Electro Swing, or any form of Jazz.

Q: On average, how long does it take to produce a remix?

A: Prior to animating my videos and just creating pictures, they would take around a week to make, two weeks at the most. Now with the animations, they can still take this long if I work hard enough, but they may start taking around three weeks to a month, depending on the scale and ambition of my idea. I aim for the two week mark at most though, where possible.

Q: Which remix are you most proud of?

A: Probably my 8 bit remix of World Bowser from Super Mario 3D World. I am super happy with the outcome, and it was received very well as well, being used by top YouTubers in their videos such as ProJared. It also didn’t take too long to make due to the small loop of the original. 

World Bowser 8 Bit – Super Mario 3D World: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soHWZeVTx_A

 

Q: When did you start making music?

A: I started writing music at an early age, though I can’t particularly remember when. I play trumpet and so started out as a performer, but at some point I felt like I wasn’t enjoying the constant practice and the need to perform well on a specific day, so I decided to go for the more (relatively) relaxed route of writing music. I decided to take it more seriously when I went to university for Music Composition & Technology.

Q: Have you written music for games?

A: I have written a bit of music for indie games and remixed a few songs for relatively bigger games, but nothing huge just yet. Most commissions that come my way are remix based or one-off’s for YouTube channels or podcasts.

 

Q: Do you one day hope to earn enough from composing to make a living?

A: Of course the dream is to make a living off of composing, my YouTube channel, or pro gaming, but these things take time, and I’m not going to stress myself out over forcing these possibilities to arrive sooner. I still put enjoying what I do and, hopefully, allowing others to enjoy what I do over anything else.

Q: Are you working on any more original music after your Bite The Bullet EP?

A: Not at the moment, though I wish I could. I just don’t have the time at the moment; I’m focused on my channel, gaming, one-off commissions, other video content and streaming at the moment. If I ever get bored of any of these things, or I do eventually live off of one of them, I will definitely be writing a new EP.

Bite the Bullet [EP OUT NOW]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIDBT4mi8Ig

 

You can find Bulby’s YouTube channel here. He’s also on Patreon, Twitter, Twitch and SoundCloud.

The Life and Times of Gaz Openshaw

Most people know me as a barman in a pub in Leamington Spa. However, I have so far lived my version of the Life of Riley, being involved in the music industry. I first picked up a guitar when I was 16 because I was bored of playing sports and wanted to do something different and something which may help me to pick up the girls!

I particularly remember being inspired by a Birmingham band called Ocean Colour Scene who were the first band to really touch me in a musical sense. I was brought up listening to a lot of music as my dad was a massive fan of, bands like AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

My music career really kick-started when I met a group of lads at music college and we formed a band called the Antics (quite an apt name for a band with me in it, I think). We did some UK based tours with bands such as The Enemy and White Lies and because of those a lot of people know who I am within the industry, which is a good thing especially when I’m bored and looking for a way to earn a bit of extra money. I can just ring up one of my mates and they can get me playing a few gigs with their band. I have got these opportunities by just being myself and not trying to be someone I’m not. The key is to just be nice to people and that way you can get whatever you want in life. Sorry if I am beginning to sound like a motivational speaker by the way.

I absolutely love the idea of touring simply because, if I’m being honest, I would never visit these places off my own back, so to have the opportunity to experience different places and meet lots of new people is fantastic. I am currently on tour with The Enemy and my favourite gig was Manchester because I have always wanted to play at the venue and the Manchester Ritz is renowned throughout the industry as being an amazing place to perform at. In fact, the coolest aspect of the Ritz is that they have a spring based dancefloor which keeps the motion of the crowd constantly moving which gives us as a band a really good vibe and makes us keep wanting to perform.

You may have read all sorts of weird stories about how bands prepare for gigs and trust me when I say that The Enemy are no different. I don’t know whether it’s simply nerves but about 15-20 minutes before we go on stage there is an eerie silence in the dressing room which is when adrenaline starts pumping and it is really hard to put into words. We all have our own little personal things we like to do before the start of a gig. For example, Andy Hopkins, the base player, does press-ups and Tom Clarke, the lead vocalist, is usually singing something to get his voice warmed up whereas I am usually just smoking out the back, which a friend of mine who is a regular at the Cricketers described as ‘not a bad way to get yourself ready’.

So it turns out that I’m not just a barman in a pub in my local area and am living proof that there can be more to life than pulling pints for the same people every day and occasionally having a laugh with the landlord! As they would say in the business, I have been Gaz Openshaw and thank you very much for listening.

By Dave Watkins

5 Games with Christmasy levels !

Merry Christmas! This year why not dust off the old consoles and revisit some classics. If you need an excuse, this lot have got some awesome festive-style stages!

Ristar – Sega Genesis

 

Developed by Sonic Team, Ristar could be considered as Sega’s answer to Kirby, acting as the Genesis’ secondary mascot. Ristar is well worthy of that title!

You play as the titular Ristar, on a quest to rescue the ‘planet leaders’ and stop the evil tyrant: Greedy! (Be fair, it did come out 20 years ago.)

It’s not a hard game to get to grips with: d-pad to move, one button to jump and one to grab. The main mechanic is the grabbing: you’ll be grabbing enemies and smashing into them to defeat them, grabbing poles to swing around them and swinging around ‘star handles’ which you can launch off and fly around the level! Great fun! The control is good, you can grab in any direction you want and the physics feel right, you get a real sense of speed when flying around.

The Festive Level – Planet Freon

To finish the game you must navigate through six planets, each containing two levels and two bosses. Round Five is where the festivities begin: Planet Freon. In the snowy tundra of Freon you get to ski, slide around on the ice and have a snowball fight against the mini-boss! It’s one of the best Christmas themed levels I’ve ever played.

 

While it is a crime there haven’t been more Ristar games and he was sidelined to a mere flagman in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the game has been included in several compilations over the years and is available on Steam. With its gorgeous art-style, toe-tapping soundtrack and fun mechanics, Ristar comes highly recommended.

Sonic Adventure – Sega Dreamcast

 

3D Sonic games can be good! Sonic Adventure is a prime example of that. Initially released in 1994 for the Dreamcast, Sonic Adventure had a more open world and a bigger focus on story than previous games (it started out life as an RPG). There are six playable characters all with their own story arcs and differing gameplay mechanics, though some of them are questionable (I’ll stick with Sonic, Knuckles and Tails thanks).

 

 

The Festive Level – Ice Cap

 

In the fourth action stage; Sonic and Tails must scale a mountain, moving in and out of icy caves. The level culminates in a snowboard dash from an avalanche, smashing through ice and doing tricks off ramps. Gotta go fast!

Enhanced ports have been released for the GameCube, Windows, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Sega please give us either another Sonic Adventure game or Sonic Generations 2.

Super Mario 64 – Nintendo 64

 

There’s not much that can be said about Mario 64 that hasn’t already been said; it set the standard for 3D platformers and is one of the greatest games of all time!

The Festive Level – Cool, Cool Mountain

 

There are a couple of snowy levels in Mario 64, but I went for this one as I think it’s the one fans generally remember most. Highlights include racing the penguin down the icy slide and rolling the snowman’s head down the hill.

 

While all the suckers are getting shot at in Fallout 4, you’ll be transported back to a simpler time. Hunkered down in a winter wonderland! (I’m not jealous of not having Fallout 4 or anything, honest.)

The Landscape Painter by Kevin Brooke

Fed up with the bleakness of the winter months, cheesed off with the endless blank canvas of the snow covered countryside, Joseph made a decision. His heels clicking with excitement, his mind a kaleidoscope of intention, he set off with some brushes and pots and proceeded to paint the landscape – literally.

He began by painting the leaves on the trees, then the trees in the enchanted forest, the shrubs, the pathways and the fences that stood to attention, his multi-coloured paints splashing on the ground as he went. The addition of as many different flowers as he could think of followed until they could be seen at the foot of every tree, by the side of every path and on the edge of every stream.

Something was missing however. Joseph’s coats of many colours included all but the one he favoured most. He looked back to where his heavy footprints had trodden a whirling, swirling path through the snow, sensing an opportunity. Some careful manipulation plus a huge imagination later and a yellow brick road was added to the landscape, painted all the way back into town.

After one final sweep of green across the golf course Joseph’s work was almost done. An hour later, he was seen in the high street with a brush at the ready – complete with both an enormous bucket and a wish to celebrate his achievements.

Tempted to use his favourite colour, he decided instead, to paint the town red.

By Kevin Brooke

Professor Green’s documentary about suicide – A review by Seraphim Bryant

Photo copyright of BBC

Photo copyright of BBC

We watched this documentary together in the Pear Tree of the student union.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 45. A fact that myself and many others found particularly harrowing. I think this is because women will talk about their feelings whilst men always “say I’m fine” When asked. It is often the misconception that crying, especially in front of others, is “girly” and not socially acceptable for men.

6000 people take their life in Britain every year, 80% of those are male and it’s getting worse.

When Stephen Manderson was only 24 his dad Peter took his own life, just two years before Peter’s own brother also took his own life.

Stephen has often suffered from depression and still has feelings of anxiety. He now knows that he was always an anxious child. This was due to growing up with absent parents. Stephen was cared for by his grandmother, Nanny Pat.

Doing the documentary was the first time he had spoken openly about his father’s suicide. Stephen struggled to understand the loss. he wanted to know what led up to this and why his dad felt this way. When he found out that his dad hung himself Stephen was extremely angry and then very upset. This has stayed with him and he has not found closure since.

Stephen was used to not having his dad around. His nanny Pat brought him up. They lived on an East London estate. As a child he would often find himself waiting for his dad, who was inconsistent in visits. Stephen was born when his mum was only 16 and his mom left a year later. He loved his dad’s visits, having his dad around made him very happy.

Suicide is an especially common trait in those born in the 1980s and 1990s. They are what known as a buffer generation, this is because the generation before them was the “stiffer upper lip” type whilst the generation below them are ‘open talking youth’ who are used to discussing their feelings. Children in schools now are permitted more freedom of emotion and intuitive behaviour.

Open dialogue of the age and class group which both Steve and I have grown up in is very difficult. when speaking to his father’s best friend Ken. Ken described his father Peter as a quiet and placid natured man, a ‘bloke’s bloke’. Talking about other stuff with deep meaning or feelings and emotions was unlikely. “Why didn’t he say something; why didn’t he just tell me he was hurting?” said Ken when talking about Peter

Men often carry hidden demons. They mask this by working hard, never taking breaks and always keeping busy. Men want to rationalise the feeling – they want answers and logical actions to deal with them. Men are particularly hyper aware of the pressure behind talking to people about suicide.

Stephen spoke to his father’s older sister Debbie, about the life that they had and what it was like being one of six children. He found out that his uncle David committed suicide in 2006. Steve’s auntie Sue had died of leukaemia in the following year. Stephen learned that Peter had cared greatly for Sue and had been looking after her. Sue’s death particularly hurt his father badly. Many terrible things came together for Peter in that time.

Steve wanted to know about the help that would have been available if his dad could have found it. So you took a trip to the May tree retreat in East London. This place looks like a normal home but is actually a safe haven for those who are feeling suicidal. They are permitted to stay for five days at the time, and it is an open house where they are able to talk about the things that bother them and about the taboo issue of suicide.

Charities like CALM try to deal with the stigma of suicide and preached that befriending can save lives even in awkward situations.

So please if you are feeling down talk to a friend. Reach out, and if the feeling of consistence is tiredness and frustration, seek help. Talk, there is always help out there.

By Seraphim Bryant

Creative Writing – Academia’s biggest con? By Karen Cartwright

Creative Writing – Academia’s biggest con?  

When a famous author and university lecturer declares that Creative Writing degrees are a waste of time and that paying for such courses is madness, you wonder if he is disillusioned with teaching or if he has a point. Hanif Kureshi, the author of The Buddha of Suburbia (winner of the Whitbread award) is a prolific author and playwright. He was also professor of Creative Writing at London’s Kingston University, and when first appointed he expressed delight at the prospect of teaching people full of “talent, energy and bright ideas.” However, in 2014, visitors to Bath’s Literature Festival were shocked by his claims that students were talent-less and creative writing cannot be taught.

Some might suggest that, as in any subject, the success of a Creative Writing degree is down to the quality of teaching.

The fastest growing area of undergraduate study, Creative and Professional Writing is being offered by UCAS for 2015 entry at no less than 98 establishments. Available as a single or joint honours degree, often alongside English language or literature, courses are oversubscribed in many institutions.  With post-graduate debt increasing, value for money and post-qualification job opportunities are important.

Universities, careful to avoid misleading students into dreaming that such courses would turn them into bestselling authors, stress the benefits of transferrable skills. The need for creativity in writing spans a myriad of professions: some may write for magazines which require both light-hearted and serious pieces, some will take up careers in public relations or marketing communications. There is also great demand for imaginative, competent writers in digital and audio visual production.

At the University of Worcester , with modules covering everything from travel and feature writing, children’s fiction, environmental writing, poetry and playwriting, the choice of careers is wide reaching. Students also gain specialist academic writing skills whilst on the course and this provides them with the skills needed for report writing, proposals and case studies.

Anneka Lowe, International Marketing Manager for SP Services Ltd. and Director of Vanilla Fox Marketing, has experience of working with several high-profile organisations writing press releases, marketing literature and website content. She believes that the skills gained in a creative writing degree are those which form the foundation of sales and marketing strategies for all businesses and are highly regarded. ‘Verbal communication skills are key but those who can also engage through the written word, understand the principles of composition and can critically analyse their own work, have the edge,’ she says.

Kureshi isn’t alone in his view of the pointlessness of a creative writing degree. Lucy Ellman, author of several novels and formerly a lecturer at the University of Kent, doesn’t mince her words, describing the subject as “academia’s biggest con”. She suggest that universities duoe students by using teachers who have never published a novel but from my perspective. Ellman is blinkered. A creative writing degree does not exist to help students write novels. From the first day of our course here, our lecturers have urged us to submit work for oublication: to date nine students have secured publication in The Guardian, simply as the result of an exercise set in class. We write for literary competitions, women’s fiction, newspapers and  for journals.

Course leader Julie MacLusky’s research has looked at ways that writing can be used to increase engagement and drive up standards throughout education. She says, ‘I have seen students who were predicted, because of their previously poor academic record, to secure only the most minimal pass degree, suddenly become inspired by writing classes to submit work that is first class. I teach writing at university because I believe in the power of writing to transform the academic careers of our students.’

Lecturers are chosen for their experience, not necessarily as novelists, but also for their success in screenwriting, publishing and other peripheral writing careers, and many have published poetry or academic textbooks.

Fortunately, for students hoping to convince their parents of the validity of their study choice, not all novelists dispute the merit in gaining a degree in creative writing. Many notable authors, including the critically acclaimed Ian McEwan, studied on writing programmes, whilst the author of several books for both adults and children, Matt Haigh, likens Creative Writing classes to music tuition and reminds us that no-one suggests that musicians do not benefit from guidance and feedback. As he says, “Guitar lessons wouldn’t turn me in to Hendrix but I’d be a lot better than I am now!”  Similarly, actor and writer Ben Crystal extols the benefit of acting lessons and voice coaching, advocating them as the mechanisms which turn would-be actors into professionals.

A Creative Writing degree cannot, of course, turn every aspirant writer into the next JK Rowling but it provides students with the skills and confidence toenter a workplace that values their understanding of publishing and editing.  One recent graduate from the University of Worcester who benefitted from studying Creative Writing here, Ruth Stacey, was invited in July this year to launch her first collection of Poetry, ‘Queen, Jewell, Mistress’ at the prestigious Ledbury Poetry Festival, a rare honour for a new author. Others have gone on to work in social media, and run workshops for children in libraries.

Clearly there are strong opinions about the value of a creative writing degree, both educationally and in terms of finance, but demand continues to grow and, at least in the University of Worcester, students report high satisfaction  with the teaching.

By Karen Cartwright