In this piece, I wanted to briefly discuss some ways in which players create subgames in videogames, and what they say about the nature of various types of play and game spaces. I’ll start with a discussion of approaches to ‘ghost’ and pacifist playstyles in stealth games, and how these playstyles have become incorporated or re-appropriated in the rules of various host games. Afterwards, I’ll discuss how roleplaying in multiplayer videogames is practically always a subgame enacted outside of the digitally arbitrated game rules. Finally, just to mess with you, I’ll attempt to stretch my own model by talking about particular subgames I’ve tried to play within the roleplaying subgame.
A personal piece about waking dreams, mysticism, and verticality in Scandinavian theatre and videogames. I discuss Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder and When We Dead Awaken, next to a special level from Nifflas’ Knytt Stories.
This one took a bit longer to write, but finally the second article in my planar series is out, in which I give an overview of the planes in the history of Dungeons & Dragons. Next time, I’ll be diving into Planescape properly for the first time.
After a hiatus, we’re back with Ontological Geek podcasts again. This time, Aaron Gotzon and I had former editor-in-chief Bill Coberly and Amsel von Spreckelsen as guests, and our main topic was bodies as a locus of morality in games, particularly sections where control in taken away from bodies and they are destroyed in a spectacle, which at the same time is the outcome of a moral judgment, such as at the end of a duel, like in Mortal Kombat’s ‘finish hem/her’ sections. Besides that, we talk about Darren Korb’s music in Bastion and Transistor, and a variety of other games.
I’ve started a Let’s Play of the 1993 sci-fi roleplaying game Whale’s Voyage over on my YouTube channel. I’ll collect the episodes on this page. Check back soon for new instalments, and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when the new episodes come online. Also, feel free to leave any comments here or on twitter. Hope you enjoy!
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!
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.
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 contributor to the site for a long time as well. She wrote some words of introduction as well.
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.
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.