“I’m not a number, I am a free man!” It’s a line that would, right now, only be spouted by idiots who may still be frolicking in parks or on beaches, as they wilfully flout the distancing rules because it doesn’t allow them the satisfaction of a proper high-five. But in the late-60s, the phrase was shouted on a weekly basis on television by a man running for his life from a huge gelatinous white ball on a sandy estuary beach in Wales, while sporting a rather natty jacket with piped lapels.
Everybody calls Rob Kuntz last, he says. Those who want to know about the history of Dungeons & Dragons start with co-creator Gary Gygax’s kids, one of Gygax’s biographers, or D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast. As they’re wrapping things up, they might get around to dialing up Kuntz, a 63-year-old game designer. And once they call him, he tells them the same thing: Everything they know about the creation of the tabletop role-playing game is, in his opinion, sorely mistaken or flat-out wrong.
Qiaobiluo Dianxia, also known as “Your Highness Qiaobiluo,” was racking up followers and donations on DouYu, a Chinese live-streaming platform. The photos she uploaded and the short clips she posted showed a young woman, leading her growing number of fans to think this was her.
The day before we met, László Nemes went to see a superhero movie. He didn’t last long. “I found it unwatchable and false, boring and self-referential, a world of ideal people who don’t behave as humans but more like machines.”
He smiles. It’s tea-time in the Islington, north London branch of Caffè Nero and Nemes gently explains that such films infantilise viewers in two ways. The plots let them defer responsibility for the fate of the world to demigods; the way they are shot – lots of signposting, everything carefully controlled – offers a false sense of omniscience.