Cake Salad (a reply to Cameron Kunzelman)

Jan Toorop - Design for Delft Salad Oil (1893)

This open letter is a reply to Ca­­me­­ron Kun­­zel­­man’s piece “On Video Games, Con­tent, and Ex­­pres­­sion”. It is about cake (layer­ed and un­layer­ed), salad, music, opera, ana­lo­gies, and about games. Anyone is free to reply here or on their own blog. […Read more…]

Games within games (within games)


In this piece, I wanted to briefly dis­cuss some ways in which players create sub­games in video­games, and what they say about the nature of various types of play and game spaces. I’ll start with a dis­cussion of ap­proa­ches to ‘ghost’ and pacifist play­styles in stealth games, and how these play­styles have become in­cor­po­rated or re-appro­priated in the rules of various host games. After­wards, I’ll dis­cuss how role­playing in multi­player video­games is prac­tically always a sub­game enac­ted out­side of the digi­tally arbi­trated game rules. Finally, just to mess with you, I’ll at­tempt to stretch my own model by talking about parti­cular sub­games I’ve tried to play within the role­playing sub­game. […Read more…]

Centers and Peripheries of Games Criticism

Remedios Varo - Center of Universe

Last week, Rami Ismail made a brief but important call for a bit of awareness con­cerning the status of English as the lingua franca in (the major part of) the games industry. I had been gathering thoughts on a discussion of the role of language in games criticism, specifically, for a while, so I figured now would be a good time to make things a bit more concrete. I had written a paragraph calling for awareness of linguistic diversity in games last summer, but didn’t really take the argument anywhere, so let me build on what I wrote there. […Read more…]

Re: Virtuous Discourse; a letter to Chris Bateman


Dear Chris, It is an honour to be the re­cipient of the first entry in what I hope will be­come a long series of digital let­ters, a re­in­vi­gora­tion of on­line con­ver­sa­tion, rather than the ex­change of only the brie­fest of thoughts and com­ments. That we, and Alan William­son with us, share much of the feelings on the current state of the ex­change of ideas on the inter­net suggests to me at most that there is some­thing amiss in our little corner of the web—games, philo­sophy, history—and what we want from it. […Read more…]

Future Nostalgia (A Fictional Review of Bientôt l’été)


[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. […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…]

The Future of Videogame Logging


In an inte­resting self-reflec­tional turn, blog dis­cus­sions about the nature and future of blog­ging have recently been re­open­ed in certain cor­ners of the inter­net. I con­tri­buted a little bit to the dis­cus­sion with my earlier musing on the nature of online con­ver­sation, and Chris Bateman has sum­marised some of the thoughts ga­ther­ed in our ‘bloot’ (blog-moot) in his wrap-up post. In short: I’m con­vinced that mea­ning­ful online con­ver­sation is possible, about any subject, but that it requires investment of time and attention, as well as convenient technology.What I want to focus on this time is videogame blogging in particular. This month’s theme on Blogs of the Round Table (hosted by Critical Distance) is “Blog­ception: What is the future of video­game blogging?”. Before I want to say some­thing about the possible fu­tures, we should turn to the cur­rent state of video­game of blogging. […Read more…]

Always +1


On Sub Specie I don’t write about lin­guistic matters all that much. To kick off, I’d like to start with what is a rela­tive­ly ob­scure pheno­menon in the Dutch lin­guis­tic land­scape: the use of +1 (or as a pro­nounced phrase plus één) as an ad­jec­tive in predi­ca­tive posi­tion. Basically, it’s used to signify appro­val or that some­thing is better than some­thing else, as might be ex­pect­ed. […Read more…]

On Blogging & Online Conversations


How has the ad­vent of social net­work­ing sites changed the nature of (online) con­ver­sation? A reply to Chris Bate­man, and a rumi­nation on whe­ther or not the pro­blems sur­roun­ding in-depth con­ver­sation have changed all that much. […Read more…]

Ludus Linguarum (This Is (Not) a Game)

It is a discussion that crops up from time to time: what is a game? This would be a fairly academic definition question, were it not that it finds a much larger battleground mostly outside academia, where consumers and critics of video games are the participants. The direct catalyst for the most recent iteration of this discussion was the release two days ago of Proteus, a game developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga. This work, as I briefly explained in my piece on Noctis, is all about free exploration of an island and its flora and fauna, about building a soundtrack by moving around. It is limited in its interactivity compared to many other video games, and this has sparked the discussion on whether or not Key and Kanaga are right to refer to Proteus as a game. […Read more…]