Memory Insufficient: Language and Games

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Languages & Linguistics, Poetry & Prose, Social Interaction & Networks, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

Some brief notes on hunting in
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, War, Violence & Terrorism

Hav­ing recent­ly fin­ished Dra­gon Age: Inqui­si­tion — the main story­line and pretty much all of the sin­gle pla­yer side­quests, that is — some as­pects of the game’s ap­proach to hun­ting ani­mals and beasts keep stick­ing in the back of my mind. I’ll try to dis­en­tan­gle them here, brief­ly.

Ontological Geek Podcast: Episode 3 — Moral Bodies (+ Bonus)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Ethics, Music, Politics, Psychology, Religion, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

A Chaotic Gift (for Chris Bateman)

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Languages & Linguistics, Letters, Mythology, Religion, War, Violence & Terrorism

Dear Chris,

You have recently returned from patern­ity leave, and have wit­nessed the birth of your second son, on which again my con­grat­u­la­tions! As you wrote on your own blog, you’d like noth­ing more from your read­ers as a gift than an open let­ter, so who am I to refuse?

After I fin­ished read­ing the final draft ver­sion of your upcom­ing book, Chaos Eth­ics, some­where last year, I wrote to you in an email that I thought it would be an inter­est­ing idea to start a let­ter series on the topic of Chaos, in the broad­est sense. It is not some­thing you touch upon extens­ively in your book—understandably so, since it is about eth­ics first and foremost—but know­ing you slightly, I sus­pect you will have some addi­tional things to say on the concept.

Ontological Geek Podcast Ep. 2 — Asylums

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Digital Media & Videogames, Music, Psychology, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.

On Norbert Wiener’s God & Golem, Inc.

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Ethics, Evolution, Magic, Poetry & Prose, Religion, Science, War, Violence & Terrorism

While read­ing Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the his­tory of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Eng­lish­ers) who had intro­duced the term Cyber­net­ics as “the study of con­trol and com­mu­nic­a­tion in machines and liv­ing beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Com­ment on Cer­tain Points Where Cyber­net­ics Impinges on Reli­gion, and that title imme­di­ately caught my eye. Stud­ies of the inter­ac­tion between sci­ence, tech­no­logy, and reli­gion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jew­ish folk­lore, so Wiener had sold it to me eas­ily.

The Possibilities of Horror in Games

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Death, Digital Media & Videogames, Psychology, War, Violence & Terrorism

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.