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What Are Little Games Made Of…?

Wooden Game PartsGenuinely surprised and delighted by the response last week’s Are Videogames Made of Rules? produced. I really expected it to sink without a trace. The discussions, which you can follow in the comments, have exceeded my available time – but I am not done talking about this by a long shot! I am planning some follow up pieces to explore some of the issues raised, but they will have to wait until later in the year.

Briefly, however, I’d like to stress that this is one of those pieces where I am arguing against myself – I had previously advanced a view that the fundamental building blocks of games were rules, and this included videogames (the algorithms of which can be understood as rules). Now that people such as Paul Gestwicki, Raph Koster, Chris De Leon, Patrick Davis, Bart Stewart, Petri Lankoski‏, and others have thrown in on the issue, I see there is much further to take this argument – both in terms of clarifying and solidifying its original direction, and in terms of important tangents as well.

A new serial is about to start over at Only a Game, but once that is wrangled I’ll definitely return to this issue and take it further. Many thanks to everyone who has waded in thus far!

Cross-posted from

Are Videogames Made of Rules?

Over on ihobo today, some thoughts about whether we can say (as I once was happy to claim) that games are made of rules. Here’s an extract:
It makes a certain kind of logical sense to say a boardgame is ‘made of rules’ and that understanding can be extended to videogames. As I have suggested many time before, the game design practices of early videogames descended directly from those of tabletop games like Dungeons & Dragons or the Avalon Hill strategy games. But there is a cost to this description: the material components of those tabletop games are not made of rules... rules may constrain what appears on a D&D character sheet up to a point, but there is much that goes on in that regard which cannot reasonably be considered ‘rules’ – the description of the character for a start. An attempt to make rules the ‘atoms’ of games will come up against these loose ends, as well as the unavoidable fact that a polyhedral die is not a rule, for all that rules can be related to them.

You can read the entirety of Are Videogames Made of Rules? over at

The Virtuous Cyborg - Coming Spring 2018

The Virtuous Cyborg.2-1Banner
How would you know if you were a good cyborg? My latest philosophy book explores this and other problems of contemporary cyberethics. The Virtuous Cyborg will be published in Spring 2018 by Squint Books, the cultural and political imprint of renowned poetry micro-press Eyewear Publishing.

You can read the blurb, and a short introduction for the publisher and author, over on the book blog at

Check it out!


Just need to update that book announcement, since the date has changed and I’m using it as my pinned Tweet on Twitter. Nothing more to report, I’m afraid… still busy – but Babette Babich has my edits to the new dialogue, so we are getting closer to another fascinating adventure of Babich and Bateman. Stay tuned!

The Virtuous Cyborg: Spring 2018

Giacomeli TreeThrough a mutual decision between myself and the publisher, The Virtuous Cyborg has been put back to early 2018. This is mainly because I am too busy with both consultancy and teaching commitments this Autumn, and will not be able to get fully behind promoting the book before January-February 2018.

We are now listing the release date as ‘Spring 2018’.

Opening image is Abstract Modern Tree Landscape by Amy Giacomelli, which I found here on Fine Art America. As ever, no copyright infringement is intended and I will take the image down if asked.