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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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

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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...]

Re: Virtuous Discourse; a letter to Chris Bateman

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Dear Chris, It is an honour to be the recipient of the first entry in what I hope will become a long series of digital letters, a reinvigoration of online conversation, rather than the exchange of only the briefest of thoughts and comments. That we, and Alan Williamson with us, share much of the feelings on [...Read more...]