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September 2013
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November 2013

Chaos Upgrade


Apparently, there was an insufficient degree of carnage in my life, so we’ve arranged to escalate the nonsense by an order of magnitude. The level up will be complete around 21st April next year. Our most sincere wish is that this one is a good sleeper!

Four Questions

Over the past four weeks on ihobo, I’ve been asking some questions that push against contentious issues in games. These were all written with a dash of bluster to try and provoke discussion – in at least one case, I may have overcooked it. Here are the questions:

  • Is Gordon Freeman a Character? (25th September): this concerns what we mean by a game character, and what we want out of characters in games. The contested camps are arranged around narrative vs. agency.
  • Is a Jigsaw Puzzle a Game? (2nd October): this one concerns our understanding of both games and puzzles, and the relationship between the two. The disputes concern different conceptions of ‘game’.
  • Is Fiction Just a Wrapper for Games? (9th October): a new rant on an old chestnut, it’s akin to the classic narratology vs. ludology battle (or fiction vs. function) and also player-centric vs. object-centric game studies (or player vs. system). Great reply by Danc on this one!
  • Is the Interface the Game? (16th October): this concerns the importance of the interface in games, something Graeme Kirkpatrick has championed. But do we really appreciate how wide reaching the effects of game interfaces are?

Hope you’ve enjoyed these rant-flavoured ponderings. I’ll be taking my usual break from blogging in November but there’ll be more nonsense at ihobo from December.

Cross-posted from

Is Fiction Just a Wrapper for Games?

Over on ihobo today, I ask whether we can seriously understand games by treating the fiction as a mere wrapper to be thrown away:

A popular view of the role of fiction in games is that it is just wrapping paper, enticing the player to start playing before later being discarded as the 'real' game supersedes the mere trapping. This utterly misrepresents the experience of a great deal – perhaps even the vast majority – of players.

You can read all of Is Fiction Just a Wrapper for Games? over on