I was banned from my local trans organisation for being too political. As you might expect, I have some thoughts on that.
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!
Recently, I had the honour of being guest editor on Memory Insufficient, the games history ezine. I edited the special issue on Language and Games. You can read the editorial from the issue below, but really you should just go and download the whole issue here [pdf], because it’s free.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.
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!