Some brief notes on hunting in
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, War, Violence & Terrorism

Hav­ing recent­ly fin­ished Dra­gon Age: Inqui­si­tion — the main story­line and pretty much all of the sin­gle pla­yer side­quests, that is — some as­pects of the game’s ap­proach to hun­ting ani­mals and beasts keep stick­ing in the back of my mind. I’ll try to dis­en­tan­gle them here, brief­ly.

Ontological Geek Podcast: Episode 3 — Moral Bodies (+ Bonus)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, Music, Politics, Psychology, Religion, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

When My Ship Comes In

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Film, Religion

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.

On Norbert Wiener’s God & Golem, Inc.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Ethics, Evolution, Magic, Poetry & Prose, Religion, Science, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

The Possibilities of Horror in Games

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Psychology, War, Violence & Terrorism

My latest blog post on games is my third for The Onto­lo­gical Geek, and my first as a reg­u­lar con­tri­bu­tor to that fine collec­tive. In it, I explore some of the ways in which games can tap into the tools and trap­pings of the hor­ror genre. I use the the­ory of art hor­ror as pos­ited by Noël Car­roll and dis­cuss how games can evoke fear and dis­gust in play­ers, not just by using mon­sters, but also light, dark­ness, and spaces. The art­icle is part of a series of art­icles on hor­ror in games, and con­nects to many other recent and older wri­tings on the genre, so there’s a lot to read.

Islands & Worlds

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Literature & Narrative, Memory, Psychology, Travel & Exploration

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.