Walking the Planes 3: Pluralities

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

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!

Let’s Play Whale’s Voyage

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Space & Spatiality, Travel & Exploration

I’ve star­ted a Let’s Play of the 1993 sci-fi role­play­ing game Whale’s Voy­age over on my You­Tube chan­nel. I’ll col­lect the epis­odes on this page. Check back soon for new instal­ments, and/or sub­scribe to my You­Tube chan­nel to be noti­fied when the new epis­odes come online. Also, feel free to leave any com­ments here or on twit­ter. Hope you enjoy!

Walking the Planes 1: Introduction

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Astronomy, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, Mythology, Religion, Space & Spatiality, Travel & Exploration

As prom­ised, my series about Plan­es­cape and the Planes in Dun­geons & Dragons kicked off this month. The first in­stalment is only an intro­ductory piece, in which I set out my ideas for the future of the series. Hope­fully it will whet your interest; check back here or on The Onto­logical Geek soon for the second piece!

Time for a Story (On Papers, Please and Gone Home)

Posted 3 CommentsPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Gender & Sexuality, Literature & Narrative, Politics, Travel & Exploration, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

Islands & Worlds

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Literature & Narrative, Memory, Psychology, Travel & Exploration

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.

What It’s Like to Play Planescape: Torment

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Mythology, Psychology, Travel & Exploration

Video­games can some­times be a very arcane medium, and it can often be dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend what they’re all about for people who never or sel­dom play them. Of course enter­tain­ment is often the main ‘use’ of a video game, but many of them have elab­or­ate themes and stor­ies, and the way in which video games deliver those nar­rat­ives and themes is often unique to the medium. Today my own piece on Plan­es­cape: Tor­ment was pub­lished, and I try to explain how the game uses explor­a­tion and con­ver­sa­tion to allow you to recon­struct the protagonist’s tor­tured past.