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May 2017

Interview for Pop Philosophy

PPh logo

Delighted to report that the Russian website Pop Philosophy has an interview with me, in both Russian and English, talking about games, philosophy, Discordians, and cyber-squirrels. Here’s an extract:

There are those who suggest we are living in a golden age of videogames, and if you look at the volume of titles today there is certainly a huge amount out there. But for me, really interesting or engaging titles are few and far between. On the one hand, the upper end of the market, AAA console games, feels constricted by the size of the audience they need to court. It is amazing what is being made now, but we’re deeply into iterating upon the existing player practices. If you wanted to find original concepts, AAA would be the wrong place to look. But then I look at what the indie community delivers and, unsurprisingly, they are making the games they want to play, which are mostly just iterating on the existing player practices too but with less budget and so more rough edges. There’s greater emphasis on puzzles, some ugly violence in the corners, a lot of half-executed retro sensibilities…it’s not lacking inventiveness so much as it has no aesthetic ambition. It’s too safe. It mostly bores me.

Check it out over at the PPh website!


Cyberamicable Game Design

FriendsIs it possible to design videogames to encourage friendships? This is a question about whether cyberamicable games are a possibility, and it’s one that

Earlier this year, Dan Cook published a long report from his November 2016 Project Horseshoe visit, entitled Game Design Patterns for Building Friendships. This is precisely a discussion about what I have been calling cybervirtue, in the context of games, and I want to suggest that games that are designed to encourage friendship would be cyberamicable, since we call ‘amicable’ a person who gets on well with others, or who forms friendships easily.

Here’s an extract from Dan’s piece:

Games that lack the tools for disclosing personal info between two people will never facilitate deep relationships. They may never even facilitate shallow relationships since players see that there will never be a long term future for any relationship they form in the game. However, disclosure is a highly risky action and teams will often try to cut it from their designs. Sharing information before a relationship is strong enough can result in broken or antagonistic relationships.

There’s a ton of useful and thought-provoking ideas here, and it’s well worth a look for anyone working in the space of multiplayer games. Check it out!

Cross-posted from ihobo.com.


The Cybervirtues of Elections?

Ballot BoxWith a General Election here in the UK this Thursday, I have been wondering about the cybervirtue of the election process. This question could be framed: does as any good come out of the mechanisms we currently use to vote? This seems strange at first blush, but the point is that different technologies (including something as apparently simple as paper stuffed in a ballot box) has moral influence upon us both individually and collecively.

In terms of virtues, the typical election process supports our anonymity and thus as the cyborgs engaging in voting we display something akin to cybertact in so much as our political position is kept to ourselves. Yet the bluntness of the process sometimes seems to push away from any virtuous engagement with the electorate. It has the sharp terminal quality of a game of bingo, which terminates abruptly and delivers a victor in a manner approaching random.

Could there be a technology (paper or digital) that encouraged more virtuous engagement with politics during the election process? What would that look like? Which countries have developed electoral processes that seem least likely to be enmired with the debilities of the ‘winner takes all’ systems? Or is there some hidden merit to First Past the Post, a system that invites every election to be reduced to hot button issues, and buries any sense of political nuance?