Memory Insufficient: Language and Games

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Poetry & Prose, Social Interaction & Networks, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

Cake Salad (a reply to Cameron Kunzelman)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Analogy, Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Letters, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

Centers and Peripheries of Games Criticism

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

A Chaotic Gift (for Chris Bateman)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Languages & Linguistics, Letters, Mythology, Religion, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

Always +1

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Languages & Linguistics, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

Ludus Linguarum (This Is (Not) a Game)

Posted 10 CommentsPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

The (Im)possibilities of Communication

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Psychology, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

2012: A Year in Books

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Astronomy, Languages & Linguistics, Magic, Mystery, Mythology, Poetry & Prose, Politics, Religion, Science, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.