Islands & Worlds

Not one, but two new articles by my hand were published today in the fourth issue of Five out of Ten, a lovely mag that pays its writers according to a very honest model: the writers split the revenue evenly. The first article is a semi-close reading of three games published recently: Dear Esther, Miasmata, and Proteus. If you’re familiar with the games, you’ll realise they have a common theme, and that is that they are all set on an island. As I try to argue, there are more similarities between the games than at first appears, but interesting differences too. In the article, I try to get at what kind of places the islands in these games are, and what that means for the overall meaning and experience of the games. On the way, I cover themes like isolation (and its etymology), memory, and death. The other article contributes to the issue’s central theme: storytelling in games: how do they do it, and are they any good at it? My perspective deals with the concept of virtual worlds and spatial presence, and how that relates to story in a game, and to our experience of games in general. Long story short: I try to rehabilitate the concept ‘world’ as occupying a central position in the study of games, with reference to some smarter people who’ve written great things about this subject. […Read more…]

Hot Wet Air Trading Cards

Steam has tra­ding cards now, as all my gaming rea­ders will pro­bably know. The whole thing is a pro­found­ly vacu­ous capi­talist enter­prise of the kind that cynics gobble up for break­fast. You can get the cardies for free just by playing your games, but that’s be­cause they don’t have any sub­stance apart from a data­base entry some­where. Sure, games are just a bunch of bytes too, but at least some crea­tive people have spent their brow­sweat de­sign­ing the things, whereas the cards are just cropped bits of art from those ac­tual­ly usual­ly pretty sub­stan­tial games. You can’t even play with the damn things! […Read more…]

The Future of Videogame Logging

In an inte­resting self-reflec­tional turn, blog dis­cus­sions about the nature and future of blog­ging have recently been re­open­ed in certain cor­ners of the inter­net. I con­tri­buted a little bit to the dis­cus­sion with my earlier musing on the nature of online con­ver­sation, and Chris Bateman has sum­marised some of the thoughts ga­ther­ed in our ‘bloot’ (blog-moot) in his wrap-up post. In short: I’m con­vinced that mea­ning­ful online con­ver­sation is possible, about any subject, but that it requires investment of time and attention, as well as convenient technology.What I want to focus on this time is videogame blogging in particular. This month’s theme on Blogs of the Round Table (hosted by Critical Distance) is “Blog­ception: What is the future of video­game blogging?”. Before I want to say some­thing about the possible fu­tures, we should turn to the cur­rent state of video­game of blogging. […Read more…]