The past future tense in eSports casting


A brief note on using the fu­ture tense to de­scribe recent events during eSports­casting. […Read more…]

Memory Insufficient: Language and Games


Recently, I had the honour of being guest editor on Memory Insuf­fi­cient, the games his­tory ezine. I edited the spe­cial issue on Lan­guage and Games. You can read the edit­orial from the issue below, but really you should just go and down­load the whole issue here [pdf], because it’s free. […Read more…]

Cake Salad (a reply to Cameron Kunzelman)

Jan Toorop - Design for Delft Salad Oil (1893)

This open letter is a reply to Ca­­me­­ron Kun­­zel­­man’s piece “On Video Games, Con­tent, and Ex­­pres­­sion”. It is about cake (layer­ed and un­layer­ed), salad, music, opera, ana­lo­gies, and about games. Anyone is free to reply here or on their own blog. […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)


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…]

Always +1


On Sub Specie I don’t write about lin­guistic mat­ters all that much. To kick off, I’d like to start with what is a rela­tive­ly ob­scure pheno­menon in the Dutch lin­guis­tic land­scape: the use of +1 (or as a pro­nounced phrase plus één) as an ad­jec­tive in predi­ca­tive posi­tion. Basic­ally, it’s used to sig­nify appro­val or that some­thing is better than some­thing else, as might be ex­pect­ed. […Read more…]

Ludus Linguarum (This Is (Not) a Game)

It is a dis­cus­sion that crops up from time to time: what is a game? This would be a fairly aca­demic defin­i­tion ques­tion, were it not that it finds a much larger battle­ground mostly out­side aca­demia, where con­sumers and critics of video games are the par­ti­cipants. The direct cata­lyst for the most recent iter­a­tion of this dis­cus­sion was the release two days ago of Pro­teus, a game developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga. This work, as I briefly explained in my piece on Noctis, is all about free explor­a­tion of an island and its flora and fauna, about building a soundtrack by moving around. It is lim­ited in its inter­activity com­pared to many other video games, and this has sparked the dis­cus­sion on whether or not Key and Kanaga are right to refer to Pro­teus as a game. […Read more…]

The (Im)possibilities of Communication


Communi­cation is the weird­est thing. It just kinda works, unless it doesn’t. In prac­tice, it works not because the connec­tion be­tween thought, in­tention, and lan­guage is per­fect. It isn’t. It works be­cause we usu­ally share large parts of our world­view and know­ledge with the people we’re spea­king with, and because our minds are really good at fil­ling in con­cep­tual gaps wherever we see them. In cases where there are minor hitches in communi­cation, we’re also very good at pre­tending there aren’t any. We ig­nore them, or we aren’t even aware that some­one else might not under­stand exactly what we’re saying in the same way that we do. […Read more…]

2012: A Year in Books

Lori Nix - 'Library' (2007)

What did I read in 2012? I’ve found looking back at my last year in books helps me chart some themes and devel­op­ments in my (mental life), so I’ve decided to do it again this year. I read 92 books in 2012, a little fewer than in 2011, but they were bigger books, and my page total ended up higher. This doesn’t count all the art­icles I’ve read, but we’ve got to draw the reading ner­dage line some­where. It’s all slightly arbit­rary anyway. […Read more…]

Cryptological Escapades in Frisia


This week, a call went out from the pro­vin­cial lib­rary of Fryslân, Tresoar, announ­cing the start of a ‘cold case’ pro­gram. Selected pieces from the archives are to be shared with the public, to see if they can shed more light on some unsolved mys­teries. The first one is a manu­script from the 17th cen­tury, and it’s a corker! The manu­script is thought to be a letter, as it is only a single page and appears to be signed in some way, so I will refer to it as the Sminia Letter, for that’s the Frisian family out of whose archives the piece comes. The letter is written in a hitherto unknown script, and as such the lan­guage of the letter is unknown as well. […Read more…]