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…]