Any Other Business
7500+ Responses (BrainHex)

Strange Tides

My life has been swept up in currents beyond my control recently, and I am letting the spate take me where it will. There are many things in doubt going forward, and one of them is my blogging. Back when I had my mornings to myself, I used to enjoy blogging to wake up, but now I have to find time elsewhere in the day to blog, and it has begun to feel more like a chore than a joy. I either need to scale it back, or cut it out.

It doesn't help that my head is completely stuck in thinking about videogames in market terms (as a dutiful professional), whereas almost everyone who wants to read about videogames is a dedicated gamer, unwilling or incapable of thinking in market terms. Discussion of game mechanics seems pointless to me now except in the context of neurobiology of play, and when I write on this it seems that only the academics listen. If that's the case, why don't I just switch to writing papers instead of blogging?

As for my philosophy writing, how much longer can I continue to throw my writing into the void of the internet? It was enormously entertaining when I first started, but now I feel that I'm boring people with the same tropes and failing to reach the audience who would most enjoy my writing because the majority of my readership has come to me via games. As I get ever-closer to becoming a professional philosopher (next year looks to be the year I finally get paid for it), Only a Game is starting to sit a little uncomfortably with me, as if I don't know what I should be doing with it any more.

November is fast approaching, and as usual I will take this off for the Wheel to let myself listen to the silent hum of the universe and attempt to divine direction and meaning. In the meantime, you could help me out by letting me know your thoughts about the Game, in order to help me to judge how best to go forward with it.


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I enjoy reading all parts, but find I don't always have enough background or understanding of a piece to make a meaningful comment. This is particularly true as your own research into philosophy and neurobiology proceeds - the audience you've picked up and carried with you so far is sometimes at odds with the current content. The pace of publication was also high - I've been swamped at times by the volume of posts that invited detailed comments, and hence haven't commented where I could have done.

If it were me (and I'm well aware it's not), I'd use this blog as a space for thoughts that didn't (yet) fit in a paper and for ad-hoc random musings. The things that most of the blogging world use their blogs for, in other words. I suspect you want to maintain this as a professional column to a regular schedule; I suspect you don't have the time and available energy to dedicate to doing that any more.

The question is, as it always is, what is your purpose? Is it to write about things cool to you? Is it to get adoration? If so, from what audience?

I'm a professional game developer and I've been following your blog for a while. It's not the type of blog where I can just pop on, throw a bit of perspective in, and give the writer a warm fuzzy feeling that someone was paying attention. Personally, I'd love to see more neurobiology stuff since it's not a field I'm deeply immersed in. Learning from others who have a passion for an area is something that smart game developers do.

Personally, I also see blogs as a bit longer term. Your posts and blog archives are around to peruse, so the stuff you write doesn't just go into a black hole. On my own blog, I've tried to make sure I cross-reference older posts so people can see a complete thought rather than what's on my mind at the moment. I also make sure to engage people in my comments since that's where the interesting stuff for me is.

Anyway, as I said, figure out what you your purpose is. Make sure the blog is suiting that purpose. It's not particularly realistic to expect fame to come from just writing on a site like this, though. So, I think you probably need to be happy about what you are passionate about and hope to attract others that feel the same even if it's some time later.

My thoughts as a fellow game development blogger.

Hey Chris,
I'm still here, although I've been pretty quiet due to several Real Life(tm) factors.

I'm with Peter on the amount of content -> when you start, you pump out an incredible amount and I also don't always feel up to commenting.

I do enjoy what you write - even when I disagree, and I appreciate the thoughtfulness and respect for other views you put into your work.

I've only been following your blog for a short while, but have read much of your older content, as well as, the new entries as you post them.

I've really enjoyed reading this blog, as there are not too many like it. I definitely enjoy the philosophy side of games; although, I'm not in it as deep as you.

I hope that you can keep the blog going; otherwise, I will sorely miss it. I realize that life happens and things must change. So whatever your decision, I'll understand. Thanks for your enormous contribution!

I just discovered your blog literally last night, and I'm still working my way through the Moorcock and Religion in Sci Fi serials but I'm very much enjoying the act of catching up. If you need to step away from the blog, do what you have to do, but I do hope you won't turn the whole blog off just because you've decided to close up shop.

I've written and rewriting several comments and not been happy with any of them.

What it comes down to is that I will be sad if you stop writing (in an accessible medium).


I would certainly miss it if you stopped blogging. Yours is one of the most consistently thoughtful and interesting blogs around. I realize it must take a lot of time and energy to do what you do. In fact I don't know how you manage it. But you do have an appreciative audience out here. And something of a little community too.

Perhaps you need to scale back and reclaim some time for other things, especially other things that you get paid for ... but don't give up the blogging altogether. I would be very sad if you did.

And good luck on the paid academic work. God knows that's hard to come by these days.

I do enjoy reading many of the posts on this blog, but I'm going to mirror Peter in that I don't often comment on the post for lack of good commentary on my part.

You mention that you don't want to bore us with the same tropes; I have yet to see this your blog (though I have not read all of your posts.) If you meant broader tropes in the realm of philosophy- well, many philosophers have been discussing the same tropes ages now but there's still an audience for it.

It's up to you on whether you want to continue updating. Do you think you are getting anything worthwhile out of your blog here?


if you decide to stop this blog (this would make you the third on my list of favorite long time bloggers who's stopped recently after 3 or so years of blogging - c'est la vie, I guess) I would certainly like to see your blog turned into an online archive for future reference.

With regard to the Game I have to say that your blog despite its outstanding qualities (almost) never moved from the "metaphorical" sphere (in which all written texts reside) to something richer, more game-like - and perhaps ultimately more rewarding to you and the other players.

So perhaps, after reflecting on your accomplishments as well as shortcomings here on this blog you may reconsider the question which type of Game you would like to offer to people in future and on semantically and emotionally richer online-platforms (think republique de lettre ;-)

Looking forward to whatever you come up with!

I am here as well, and even though I may not always comment, I want you to know that I also appreciate everything you do.

I would be sad if this blog ended too, but I completely understand where you're coming from. I know something that was fun at first can turn into a chore after years of doing it, and it doesn't help when it's thankless and doesn't pay the bills.

I've said it before but it really amazes me how you can write so much good content. And not only that, but also respond to just about every comment no matter how inane or useless (e.g: mine).

You're also possibly the nicest guy I've ever seen, to the point where sometimes I've wondered if you're just toying with people. At the very least, I suspect such high levels of civility can't be real, but watching you, I can see how useful it is, as I've witnessed how disarming it can be.

Anyways. Even if you quit, I think everything you've done here is something you can be proud of.

Hey Chris,

I just found your blog today, through a link at io9 on Science Fiction and Religion (, and I've been unable to step away from the screen since.

The intersection of Games, SF, and religion & philosophy is more or less my driving passion, and I count myself very lucky today to have found your site.

If you do have to move on, I'll understand, but I hope that it's only temporary; or at least, that you'll keep the site up as an archive.

Take it from a fellow agnostic-Sufi-Buddhist-etc.: you've created something really awesome here!

Thank you all very much for the kind words of support; it's truly appreciated, and I'm especially pleased to see old familiar faces pop up - Peter, RodeoClown, Theo, translucy, Sirc, you've all been here for a long time, and that means something to me that is difficult to express in words. It is very much like the kinship I used to feel in my tabletop role-playing groups, neither community nor tribe, yet with echoes of this sense of fraternity.

I also appreciate the new voices - and I'm glad to know that the serials are being enjoyed. They take a lot of work, but they are also rewarding. Being able to write the Moorcock serial felt like paying Mike back for literally a lifetime of literature.

Let me start by saying that I don't think I'm going to give up blogging, but that I am going to have to scale it back somehow, so the challenge I am facing is how to tackle this process.

The reason I've been able to crank out so much in the past is quite simply because my wife works at a hospital and leaves at (say) 7 am, while I don't have to be at my desk until 10:30 am. That gave me roughly three hours a day each working day to write. I've loved this time, but it was an artefact of circumstances.

Now, my wife's hours have changed and Boomer needs to be walked every morning (which I love doing - it's great to have an excuse to get out of the house, and wonderful to finally have a dog after decades of pet envy!) But this means I no longer have the morning time I once did. I have time at the end of the day - but I can't use this to blog, as experience has showed me this causes my insomnia to flare up. (I could go into a sideline on the neurobiology behind this, but I'll try to stay focussed!)

Brian challenges me... what is my purpose here? I believe it is to share who I am in words with the world, and thus to share the world in words with others, for I am the world I live in. But knowing this purpose does not help me solve my problem, which is pragmatic in nature... I've lost the 12 hours a week I used to use for this.

The simplest solution is simply to scale back, but my problem is knowing how to do this and maintain the systematic foundation that provides the momentum to drive the process. Knowing I need to fill 4 posts a week for roughly 42 weeks a year is what pushes the Game onwards... just as, back when I was Games Mastering, knowing I had role-playing sessions coming up drove me to prepare the material for each week. Can I reduce the frequency and still maintain the momentum? This is what I just don't know.

(It really doesn't help that I am now inundated with spam for some reason! I've complained to TypePad but seriously, I'm getting more spam than comments most days! Sheesh...)

Part of my problem is that I cannot square in my head any concept of blogging in an ad hoc fashion - I am too organised for this to work for me, I suspect.

I suppose the main choices going forward are between keeping a weekly rhythm versus a time-on, time-off approach (i.e. increasing the duration and frequency of the breaks).

In the case of the former, a new weekly rhythm would have to be slowed down (perhaps to only one post a week; I might alternate between games and philosophy/religion/nonsense, with a regular slot when I have a serial drafted). In this set up, I could always post extra material here and there, but I would be anchored on a regular schedule. (Choosing which day to use may seem trivial, yet I cannot help but overthink this problem, which complicates things unnecessarily!)

In the case of the latter, I would post intermittently during most of the year, but plan months where I would pursue larger 'projects', perhaps four times a year. Although, it must be said, I'm uncertain how this would work in practice. It seems to be less systemic, and thus more problematic for my habits.

I worry, in both cases, about the players evaporating because of the lack of regular reason to visit the site - perhaps this is an undue concern, I'm uncertain.

Additionally, one of my nagging doubts is that I am hiding in the blog. That I should be pursuing magazine articles, but I don't because it's so much easier to post here - where I can say whatever I like. :) This is all very well and good, but I feel like I'm not fulfilling my potential in some way. Although, to be fair, many of the things I want to write about simply don't have an appropriate magazine...

Well, such are my rambling thoughts on the matter. :)

I appreciate any discussion on this - it would help me iron it out in my head to be able to bounce the ideas off the players.


But knowing this purpose does not help me solve my problem, which is pragmatic in nature... I've lost the 12 hours a week I used to use for this.

My point was that you could figure out how to prioritize your time. Obviously other issues have become more pressing than posting on here, as you point out, at least in the morning hours. So, when you look at other things to sacrifice to regain your blogging time, you should consider how important is this blog compared to those other elements? Perhaps there is some other regular task that you could replace with writing here. Or, perhaps this truly is the lowest priority for you right now, so it should languish for a bit.

I worry, in both cases, about the players evaporating because of the lack of regular reason to visit the site - perhaps this is an undue concern, I'm uncertain.

I think most people who read blogs for content have an RSS reader by now. When you post, people will be notified and they will come; its what I use and it allows me to visit sites much more regularly. Without it, I'm sure my blog would languish a lot more. The trick is to provide quality enough content that it becomes worth putting you into the RSS reader and make visiting a higher priority than another random blog.

BTW, Wordpress and the Akismet plugin handles spam wonderfully. It will probably be a pain in the ass to convert, but if spam is truly eating up a lot of time then it might be a worthwhile time investment. Drop me an email if you want more information.

Happy to help.

Hey Chris,

"Although, to be fair, many of the things I want to write about simply don't have an appropriate magazine..."

I think you answered yourself there. Some of the stuff you write just doesn't fit elsewhere, precisely because it's a strange cross between multiple topics, making it all the more appealing for people with overlap on several of them.

I always enjoy your articles, even if they happen to be mainly about a topic I don't know well. The inquisitive stance behind your writing is what keeps me coming back.


Although I am late to the Game (ah couldn't resist that one), and you've obviously had time to reflect upon the future possibilities of writing your blog, I just want to say that this is the most important thoughtful writing from any single blogger I've read on the Internet. And I do not say that easily or cheaply, as there are many thinkers out there that I respect. Your writing hooked me on to the idea that it was reasonable, and even necessary, to think in philosophical terms when games were under consideration. And I took that to heart, and haven't shied away from writing in a more thoughtful, considering, mode when writing on games.

And besides, who the hell else reviewed all of Charles Taylor's A Secular Age out of sheer interest? Even my colleagues, one of whom reviewed the book for a publication, could barely handle the monumental task. And as a Taylorite (is there a word for us Taylor-influenced thinkers yet?), I thought you reviewed it damned well.

Writing philosophy posts may be a thankless job (as they are often difficult to respond to in a protracted way), but I sure as hell appreciate it. So whatever you choose to do from here on, I would hope it is in your family, finances, and your (psychological) health's best interests.

Take care,
- (the other!) Chris

Thanks for more supportive comments.

Brian: I appreciate your help here. Part of the problem is that the morning suits my blogging all too well - at other times of the day, when I am weighed down with work, it can be difficult to get into the right frame of mind.

But I think in this regard it is more a case of picking a structure going forward. If I scale back the frequency, I can find the time.

As for the spam, I blog with Wordpress on another site and I really don't like it. Even with the spam problems, I'll stick with TypePad for now... I'm comfortable here, and the spam, while annoying, is a lot less than I get through my email.

Vitor: nice to hear from you! Glad you are still making your fractal art, which I always enjoy.

Chris L.: great to hear from you, too! What is the appropriate name for a Charles Taylor fanboy... Taylorist? Talorite? Taylie? Taylian? They all sound like races from Star Trek. :p


I think I've reached the point now that I just need to settle on a new frequency to aim for. I'm weighing up between once a week (alternating games and philosophy) versus twice a week (one day for each). I shall mull...

Chris, simply let the winds of change blow. You seem like a man who structures everything he can, let go of structure in your blogging, and the beast will reshape itself.

zenBen: Well, the Wheel is the one time of the year in which I allow myself to be swept away by chaos... But on the other side of it, I think it's fair to expect that I will begin erecting structure once again. :)

I simply don't know how I would pursue blogging without some framework to guide me. To pursue it without any structure would be almost certainly to let it wither and die. As my wife will attest, spontaneity is far from my strong suit. :) The blog, like a house plant, requires tending... and much like the house plant, if I don't have a routine that ensures the minimum standard of care, it will die.

I appreciate the sentiment, though. I will definitely tear down the current structure, but I will need to find a new one to move forward. The very least I will need is a minimum posting schedule and a minimum comment responding schedule. If I can secure this, I will feel free to post additional material whenever, or to respond to comments on the fly.

Thanks for sharing your viewpoint!

I enjoy this blog more than most. All systems are 'only games'. Everything is a system. The world is your oyster. Anything with rules is 'fair game'. I am just waiting for you to break through to cybernetic epistemology proper.

Thanks for your comment, Brennan! I've read some Bateson now, and while I find the cybernetic perspective interesting I'm a long way short of adopting the terminology. :) I found it interesting that Bateson acknowledges the distinction between epistemology and ontology, but that he brushes the latter under the carpet. :) Looking forward to reading more in the future.

I'm new to your blog, so I don't have any history. I came to it via research for a graduate Interactive Media Writing course I'll be teaching in the spring, so I was initially attracted by the gaming stuff. But when I saw the philosophy, I was happy... b/c I have a kind of eclectic blog too with no clear audience (and no audience to speak of at all, really... talk about "writing into the void"!!).

A couple of questions/comments.

1. how do you get to be a professional philosopher and get paid for it (unless you're getting a degree in philosophy and are pursuing a university teaching job)?

2. i think it's okay to have multiple strands/topics/foci. that's what "tags" are for. People can follow the tags they're interested in...

Richard: thanks for your comment! I'm not as convinced as you are that's it's okay to have one's focus split in multiple strands - but this rather does depend on what one wants out of blogging. If my goal was purely readership numbers, the multi-threaded form wouldn't work. But I think, perhaps, that since I am trying to popularise philosophy the multiple strands might be a requirement! :)

If you'd like more readers, incidentally, the best thing you can do is find other blogs discussing topics you discuss and link to your relevant pieces in their comments. This may seem self-serving, but it's an accepted practice and an important means of the blogosphere cross-pollinating. As long as what you link to is genuinely relevant to what you link from, it's fair game.

Regarding your other question: how do you get to be a professional philosopher and get paid for it (without going into teaching)... the answer is getting paid to write books on philosophical topics. I've been striving towards this for some time, and reached "semi-professional" this year. Now I have been invited to submit a proposal which if it is accepted will mean I will get paid for a philosophy book - at which point I will be professional (fingers crossed!)

This doesn't mean I can live off my philosophy, of course - I think it's a safe bet that I will not be able to do so very easily - but it's still nice to see this strand of my life and thought move forward. :)

Cheers for sharing your perspective!

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