Re: Virtuous Discourse; a letter to Chris Bateman

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Letters, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

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

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Astronomy, Digital Media & Videogames, Gender & Sexuality, Literature & Narrative, Psychology, Social Interaction & Networks

[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.

Hot Wet Air Trading Cards

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Politics, Social Interaction & Networks

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!

The Future of Videogame Logging

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

Always +1

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Languages & Linguistics, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

Ludus Linguarum (This Is (Not) a Game)

Posted 10 CommentsPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Social Interaction & Networks

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.

The (Im)possibilities of Communication

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Psychology, Social Interaction & Networks

Communi­cation is the weird­est thing. It just kinda works, unless it doesn’t. In prac­tice, it works not because the connec­tion be­tween thought, in­tention, and lan­guage is per­fect. It isn’t. It works be­cause we usu­ally share large parts of our world­view and know­ledge with the people we’re spea­king with, and because our minds are really good at fil­ling in con­cep­tual gaps wherever we see them. In cases where there are minor hitches in communi­cation, we’re also very good at pre­tending there aren’t any. We ig­nore them, or we aren’t even aware that some­one else might not under­stand exactly what we’re say­ing in the same way that we do.

The Iterations of Punxsutawney Phil

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Film, Gender & Sexuality, Memory, Posts by Topic:, Psychology, Social Interaction & Networks, War, Violence & Terrorism

Remem­ber Ground­hog Day? It’s that 1993 film about Bill Murray’s char­acter, Phil, who keeps reliv­ing the same day, Feb­ru­ary 2nd, in the Penn­sylvania town of Punx­sutawney, where on that day, the ground­hog Punx­sutawney Phil will pre­dict when win­ter’s going to end. […] It’s an awful lot like the way we tend to play video games these days. Faced with chal­lenges in a game, we have the quick­save and quick­load but­tons close at hand, ready to revert to an earlier point in the game to try again. If you get to replay a sec­tion of a story over and over again, any chal­lenge inher­ent in the ori­ginal situ­ation quickly morphs into a mat­ter of trial and error. Like Phil in Ground­hog Day, we get to try out every inter­action, every conver­sation option the world allows us. More im­por­tantly, in a typ­ical collap­sing together of char­acter and player, Phil – like us – retains (meta)­knowledge of every­thing he did earlier.