Centers and Peripheries of Games Criticism

Remedios Varo - Center of Universe

Last week, Rami Ismail made a brief but important call for a bit of awareness concerning the status of English as the lingua franca in (the major part of) the games industry. I had been gathering thoughts on a discussion of the role of language in games criticism, specifically, for a while, so I figured now would be a good time to make things a bit more concrete. I had written a paragraph calling for awareness of linguistic diversity in games last summer, but didn’t really take the argument anywhere, so let me build on what I wrote there. [...Read more...]

A Chaotic Gift (for Chris Bateman)

contrast-order-and-chaos

Dear Chris, You have recently returned from paternity leave, and have witnessed the birth of your second son, on which again my congratulations! As you wrote on your own blog, you’d like nothing more from your readers as a gift than an open letter, so who am I to refuse? After I finished reading the final draft version of your upcoming book, Chaos Ethics, somewhere last year, I wrote to you in an email that I thought it would be an interesting idea to start a letter series on the topic of Chaos, in the broadest sense. It is not something you touch upon extensively in your book—understandably so, since it is about ethics first and foremost—but knowing you slightly, I suspect you will have some additional things to say on the concept. [...Read more...]

An Ode to Objects

thief_ghost-girl

Over on The Ontological Geek, I’ve written a small column about the little things that can make games come alive to me. I love it when designers take some time to put in some details, even if they aren’t essential or functional in the ‘core’ of the game. [...Read more...]

Ontological Geek Podcast Ep. 2 — Asylums

c

Vincent van Gogh – Corridor in the Asylum (1899) On the second Ontological Geek podcast episode, Aaron and I are joined by Amsel von Spreckelsen and Rowan Noel Stokvis to discuss the portrayal of mental health asylums in videogames, as well as some other related topics. Among the games discussed are Amnesia: the Dark Descent, the Thief games, Batman: [...Read more...]

Ontological Geek Podcast Ep. 1

riskofrain

With my fellow writer at The Ontological Geek, Aaron Gotzon, I’ve been working on setting up a regular podcast dedicated to games, with a particular focus on music and drama in games. Our first episode went up last month, and we’re aiming to make the podcast a regular feature. The first episode focuses on the music of composer Chris Christodoulou, specifically his soundtrack for the game Risk of Rain. We also discuss the musical trope generally known as the ‘one woman wail’ and deliberate a bit about where it came from and how it works. [...Read more...]

Runic Escapades: The Ribe Cranium

ribecranium_clipping

I wrote the introductory post for a new history blog founded by four colleagues/friends and myself. It’s about the Ribe cranium, an 8th century skull fragment with a runic inscription. The inscripion is (most likely) a healing spell to defeat a dwarven spirit causing illness, possibly a headache. The article is part of an ongoing series “Runic Escapades”, in which I will present runic inscriptions in their cultural and historical context. [...Read more...]

A Guest Beyond the Final Frontier

space-engine

For The Ontological Geek, I wrote a short piece on different ways games can represent space exploration. I take a look at Star Control 2, MirrorMoon EP, Noctis, and Space Engine, and try to explain why the last two make me feel most at ease. [...Read more...]

Sound, Space, and Play: an interview with Jessica Curry

Early art for ‘Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture’
© The Chinese Room

I recently interviewed composer Jessica Curry of videogame studio The Chinese Room about her music, its relation to (virtual) spaces, and her current work on the upcoming game Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture. Check out the interview over at Evening of Light. [...Read more...]

The Xenophobic Face of the Netherlands

metro_nazis

On my way to work, early this morning, I read a newspaper article that made me very angry. I suppose it’s a culmination of pent-up frustration with what I feel is an increasingly openly xenophobic and racist climate dominating Dutch public discourse. This article was the last straw that made me decide to devote a [...Read more...]

Re: Virtuous Discourse; a letter to Chris Bateman

chris_re_virtuous_stuff

Dear Chris, It is an honour to be the recipient of the first entry in what I hope will become a long series of digital letters, a reinvigoration of online conversation, rather than the exchange of only the briefest of thoughts and comments. That we, and Alan Williamson with us, share much of the feelings on [...Read more...]