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.

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.

Noctis: The Loneliness of Night

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Astronomy, Digital Media & Videogames, Travel & Exploration, Visual Art

If there is one thing astro­nomy has taught us, it is the rea­li­sation that a planet like Earth, with its abun­dance of life, is incre­dibly rare in the vast­ness of the uni­verse. We do know that there are bil­lions of gala­xies each contai­ning bil­lions of stars, so it is pro­bable that life is to be found some­where else in space; yet we are lonely all the same. We could - in a man­ner of speak­ing - travel for an eter­nity in any direc­tion without encoun­tering any sign of life. That over­whelm­ing sense of lone­li­ness on a cos­mic scale is what strikes me the most while play­ing Noc­tis.