Walking the Planes 1: Introduction

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As promised, my series about Planescape and the Planes in Dungeons & Dragons kicked off this month. The first instalment is only an introductory piece, in which I set out my ideas for the future of the series. Hopefully it will whet your interest; check back here or on The Ontological Geek soon for the second piece! [...Read more...]

When My Ship Comes In

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I had been wanting to write something about Cameron Kunzelman’s little game On August 11, A Ship Sailed Into Port for some time now, but recently I sat down to do it and it turned into a vague textual and audiovisual meditation on death, choices, and getting by. It’s a bit of a loose, experimental column, but maybe you’ll enjoy it. Please do check out Kunzelman’s game, as it takes only five minutes, and if you’ve never seen Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu before, here’s your chance to see some scenes. [...Read more...]

Ontological Geekery

Since early last year, The Ontological Geek has been my main outlet for writing about games. The site is the brainchild of Bill Coberly, who stepped down as Editor in Chief this week because he’s going to law school. Congratulations, Bill! You can read his goodbye post here. Our new helmswoman is Hannah Duvoix, who has been a [...Read more...]

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)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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...]