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


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, […Read more…]

Time for a Story (On ‘Papers, Please’ and ‘Gone Home’)


Two recent indie release (Papers, Please and Gone Home) inspired me enough to pen a little article last week. Today the piece found a home on The Ontological Geek. In the article, I explore how Papers, Please simulates the way in which bureaucracies can force us to treat people like cattle, like numbers, like items on a list. Through insidious systems the player — inhabiting the mind of a border official — is forced to spend as little time on immigrants as possible, while still following all the rules imposed by your government. I contrast this to the experience of Gone Home, where we can take all the time we want to dig into the personal lives of an American family, and experience their touching stories. […Read more…]

Hot Wet Air Trading Cards


Steam has trading cards now, as all my gaming readers will probably know. The whole thing is a profoundly vacuous capitalist enterprise of the kind that cynics gobble up for breakfast. You can get the cardies for free just by playing your games, but that’s because they don’t have any substance apart from a database entry somewhere. Sure, games are just a bunch of bytes too, but at least some creative people have spent their browsweat designing the things, whereas the cards are just cropped bits of art from those actually usually pretty substantial games. You can’t even play with the damn things! […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…]

Haunted by the Past: Retromania and Fear


Ein Gespenst geht um… Hauntology is one of those buzzwords that get thrown around in an attempt to put a finger on certain cultural trends. Deriving ultimately from Jacques Derrida, in reference to the opening sentence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ Communist Manifesto, the term nowadays is used to refer to the ‘ghosts’ haunting our culture; […Read more…]

From Dust: Playing God

A dramatic landscape

Video games by their very nature often make interesting arguments on the things they portray. This struck me quite powerfully while playing a recent digitally distributed title called From Dust [wiki]. The game was designed by Éric Chahi and developed by Ubisoft Montpellier, and it essentially revolves around being a god and overseeing the fate […Read more…]

What Sleeps Within

In my personal experience, the attacks of July 22nd by Anders Behring Breivik on Norwegian civilians are shaking the cultural and political discourse of the Western world. Some events simply leave an indelible mark on people, forcing them to confront a new reality, to re-evaluate their beliefs and political stances, and to think about the […Read more…]

The Red Circle

Take a look, and think about it: There are several horrible questions that arise from this footage, some with obvious answers; to name a few: why was this footage not made public immediately? At least the US government would have prevented looking like they wanted to cover it up. Why does the killing that occurs […Read more…]

The Veins of the City

Subways and Metropolitan railway systems are fascinating things. In a very real way, they reduce the almost incomprehensible complexity of a modern metropolis to a generally slightly less complex system of coloured lines and dots. They also reflect, to a large degree, the major flows of traffic in a city, forming the conduits through which […Read more…]

You can’t trust *them*: governments and secret societies as malignant forces

The government that is a threat to its subjects, or even openly hostile to them, is one of the more deplorable recurring facts of history, and one that has been an important topic for a great many thinkers in the past. Also in countries that have enjoyed a relatively high degree of peace and safety […Read more…]