I was banned from my local trans organisation for being too political. As you might expect, I have some thoughts on that.
Ursula K. LeGuin’s ‘The Eye of the Heron’ is an engaging novella about oppression and resistance in a new world.
Some Seeleelee are not happy. Because they are xenophobes.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.