A Xenophobe’s Lot in the Interstellar Seelee Directorate

galaxy

Some Seelee­lee are not happy. Be­cause they are xeno­phobes. […Read more…]

Walking the Planes 3: Pluralities

bytopia

The third art­icle in my series Wal­king the Planes has just been pub­lished over at The Onto­logical Geek. It’s about the Plane­scape set­ting and how its em­pha­sis on diver­sity and plu­ra­lity has affec­ted me, both in dis­cover­ing the set­ting as a teen, and now­adays. I’m not really sure yet what the next epi­sode is going to be about, as I have mul­tiple half-finished ideas boun­cing around in my head. You’ll have to wait and see! […Read more…]

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

gladiators-and-lion-1927

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. […Read more…]

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

papersplease

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

steamtradingcards

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

wicker

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; the […Read more…]

From Dust: Playing God

A dramatic landscape

Video­games 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. The game was de­signed by Éric Chahi and deve­loped by Ubi­soft Mont­pellier, and it essen­tially re­volves around being a god and over­seeing the fate of ‘your’ people. […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 here […Read more…]