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...]

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...]

On Norbert Wiener’s ‘God & Golem, Inc.’

wiener_godandgolem

While reading Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the history of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Englishers) who had introduced the term Cybernetics as “the study of control and communication in machines and living beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion, and that title immediately caught my eye. Studies of the interaction between science, technology, and religion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jewish folklore, so Wiener had sold it to me easily. [...Read more...]

Future Nostalgia (A Fictional Review of ‘Bientôt l’été’)

bientot

[From a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, I received the original version of the message below, which was picked up using radio observation of signals from outer space. For the reader’s convenience, I have rendered it in contemporary English, rather than the early modern English in which it was written.] Archive: Desbaresdes belt [...Read more...]