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My translation: Edith Södergran - “Framtidens skugga” (1920)
For as long as I can remember I have been having a vision. Not always, not every night, but recurring throughout my life. The vision always appears at the crepuscular boundary between waking and sleep, when I settle down in my bed and prepare to leave the day behind.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.