Walking the Planes 1: Introduction

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Astronomy, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, Mythology, Religion, Space & Spatiality, Travel & Exploration

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!

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.

Sanctifying Games

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

This April was a reli­gion-themed month over at video­game blog The Onto­lo­gical Geek. I wrote the final arti­cle in the series, and mused a little on how con­cepts of reli­gion, God, and par­ticu­larly The Holy, can be in­cor­po­rated into video­games. For per­haps ob­vious rea­sons, it’s easy for games to tackle and re­pre­sent the more mun­dane sides of reli­gion and faith, but they seem to struggle some­what when it comes to mat­ters more tran­scen­dent. In “Sanc­ti­fying Games”, I try to ex­plore why that might be.

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.

What It’s Like to Play Planescape: Torment

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Mythology, Psychology, Travel & Exploration

Video­games can some­times be a very arcane medium, and it can often be dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend what they’re all about for people who never or sel­dom play them. Of course enter­tain­ment is often the main ‘use’ of a video game, but many of them have elab­or­ate themes and stor­ies, and the way in which video games deliver those nar­rat­ives and themes is often unique to the medium. Today my own piece on Plan­es­cape: Tor­ment was pub­lished, and I try to explain how the game uses explor­a­tion and con­ver­sa­tion to allow you to recon­struct the protagonist’s tor­tured past.