Welcome, or welcome back, to Only a Game, the weblog of professional game designer and fledgeling philosopher Chris Bateman! The game has been somewhat off the menu for the last ten weeks, on account of my wife and I moving internationally from Knoxville, TN, back to Manchester, UK, but now normal service should gradually begin to assert itself over the days and weeks to come.
I treat my blog as a non-fiction role-playing game, an insider joke that consistently entertains me. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, there are a number of major topics that I like to ramble about, and chief among them are game design (which about 90% of visitors are here for) and philosophy (which about 50% of visitors are here for, presumably with some healthy cross over). I personally find the philosophy more interesting than the game design, but I have yet to find a way to make any money at it.
Despite having worked on more than two dozen videogame projects (including Discworld Noir, Ghost Master, Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition, Attack on Pearl Harbor and Play with Fire), not to mention some tabletop games and a novel or two, I am frequently mistaken for an academic – although in fact I escaped from academia into industry more than a decade hence. The reason for this confusion is probably that some of the pieces I write about game design can get very technical: I like to look at the connections between psychology (and increasingly neurobiology) and play because I feel that there are valuable things to learn here that can transform the way we make games, for the betterment of everyone.
I’ve been writing a ferocious volume of philosophy over the three years the blog has been running, and the best pieces are all available to read (and comment upon) in the sidebar – simply scroll down past the games content and pick something that looks interesting. I am happy to take comments on older posts – in fact, this is part of the essential dynamic of the game, and helps new players get involved. My main interests in philosophy are metaphysics and ethics (which I’ve already written substantially about), as well as philosophy of language, mind and religion. Of those three, it is philosophy of mind that I haven’t covered much on yet, simply because I have been too busy with other things.
I’m told my philosophy is of an excellent standard, yet I am still unable to make any money from writing it. Publishers tell me there’s just no market for the kind of thing that I write, and I haven’t found the will or interest to pursue magazines for an outlet, nor indeed to confirm that such an outlet exists. In the interim, I publish my philosophy here so that I can share my thoughts with others, and enjoy reading theirs in return.
I also like to write total nonsense every once in a while. I find it strangely irresistible!
I do have nefarious schemes that I pursue secretly behind the scenes, such as pushing my core value of freedom of belief, publicising my videogames, convincing people that players are far more diverse than we might tend to think, and encouraging dialogue between theists and atheists in the hope of bringing an end to the “religious cold war” that seems to have been the background of metaphysical discourse in society for pretty much the whole of my life thus far. But as diabolical as these evil plans may be, I usually don’t hide my purposes to any great degree (or at least, regular players can spot my hidden themes all too easily now).
That’s about all you need to know about the game, really. The current weekly schedule is near the top of the sidebar, after some introductory fluff, and I am entirely agnostic about the existence of silly questions so by all means ask me what’s on your mind and we can see if we can find one.
Let the games begin!