Like my own Shahrazad, I’ve told myself 1,001 stories to keep myself distracted from (doing) bad things.
For as long as I can remember I have been having a vision. Not always, not every night, but recurring throughout my life. The vision always appears at the crepuscular boundary between waking and sleep, when I settle down in my bed and prepare to leave the day behind.
On mental health, the discovery of being trans, and reclaiming my writerly self.
In which I ramble a tiny bit about Quake’s symbolic world and its mommy issues, along with a tenuous comparison to Dark Souls.
A personal piece about waking dreams, mysticism, and verticality in Scandinavian theatre and videogames. I discuss Henrik Ibsen’s The Master Builder and When We Dead Awaken, next to a special level from Nifflas’ Knytt Stories.
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.
On the second Ontological Geek podcast episode, Aaron and I are joined by Amsel von Spreckelsen and Rowan Noel Stokvis to discuss the portrayal of mental health asylums in videogames, as well as some other related topics. Among the games discussed are Amnesia: the Dark Descent, the Thief games, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dark Souls, Outlast, Brothers: a Tale of Two Sons, and To the Moon.
[From a friend who wishes to remain anonymous, I received the original version of the message below, which was picked up using radio observation of signals from outer space. For the reader’s convenience, I have rendered it in contemporary English, rather than the early modern English in which it was written.]
Archive: Desbaresdes belt > Giraud γ > Orbit of Giraud γ 3 > Wreckage of Sigil, orbital torus space station
File: Anonymous journal entry, textual, untitled, dated 2321÷12÷16
Description: This log entry, retrieved during the salvage of Sigil station in 2456, appears to be an assessment of a particular type of interactive experience available to users of the station at the time through use of holocommunication transmitters. Remnants of the software which is referred to in the entry have been found in the data logs of Sigil station, and various other stations throughout the galaxy; see > T. Beach Projector.
My latest blog post on games is my third for The Ontological Geek, and my first as a regular contributor to that fine collective. In it, I explore some of the ways in which games can tap into the tools and trappings of the horror genre. I use the theory of art horror as posited by Noël Carroll and discuss how games can evoke fear and disgust in players, not just by using monsters, but also light, darkness, and spaces. The article is part of a series of articles on horror in games, and connects to many other recent and older writings on the genre, so there’s a lot to read.
Not one, but two new articles by my hand were published today in the fourth issue of Five out of Ten, a lovely mag that pays its writers according to a very honest model: the writers split the revenue evenly.
The first article is a semi-close reading of three games published recently: Dear Esther, Miasmata, and Proteus. If you’re familiar with the games, you’ll realise they have a common theme, and that is that they are all set on an island. As I try to argue, there are more similarities between the games than at first appears, but interesting differences too. In the article, I try to get at what kind of places the islands in these games are, and what that means for the overall meaning and experience of the games. On the way, I cover themes like isolation (and its etymology), memory, and death.
The other article contributes to the issue’s central theme: storytelling in games: how do they do it, and are they any good at it? My perspective deals with the concept of virtual worlds and spatial presence, and how that relates to story in a game, and to our experience of games in general. Long story short: I try to rehabilitate the concept ‘world’ as occupying a central position in the study of games, with reference to some smarter people who’ve written great things about this subject.