Just posted some thoughts on whether a different implicit contract between a videogame and its players might foster new forms of game narrative. You can read Implicit Contracts and Game Narrative over on ihobo.com.
I'm a long time sceptic of Kickstarter for videogames, a grumpy cynic who fears many gamers will soon be cursing the vagaries of the development process when the project they backed transpires to be vapourware. But it is not that I am against crowdfunding - on the contrary, it has already achieved wonders for both comics and boardgames. It is just that videogame development is far from a clean cut proposition, and it is the vast minority of projects that run smoothly and on time. Kickstarter gives the illusion of offering you an incredibly extended pre-order capability, while it actually makes you into an investment broker motivated by products rather than profits. This is a difficult point for some gamers to wrap their heads around.
It has long been a commonplace that we can draw a clear line between games as ‘interactive’ media on the one hand, and narrative media such as books, television, and movies on the other. Indeed, this distinction is supposedly the reason that ‘videogame’ works as a category. I have long found this segregation misleading because it underestimates the interactivity of supposedly ‘static’ media and it overestimates the agency in most digital games.
Getting ever-closer to a final manuscript, and have finally sorted out three potential endorsers for the book. One of them, I’m proud to report, is Michael Moorcock, whose work has been extremely influential on me, and indeed forms an important part of the story of Chaos Ethics. I’ll be thrilled to have his endorsement for this book – assuming that he is inclined to do so after reading it! However, Mike can’t fit it in until he returns to Texas in October, so this will slightly delay production. Still, I can submit the manuscript to Zero Books in early November and still have the book out for May 2014.
Pleased to announce that a piece from Only a Game has finally been offered a chance to be in a book (not including all the bits I steal from the blog to put into my own books, of course). My interview with Joanna Zylinska, the very first interview I did, will appear in the tongue-twisterly-entitled Biotechnological World: Bio art and technoscience art in an age of posthumanism and transhumanism. This will also be the first time that I’ve been translated into Polish, so my work will now have appeared in seven different languages!
The Institute of Art and Ideas have just released a new online talk with Mary Midgley entitled “Are Selves Unreal?”. At 93, Mary is still an incredibly sharp thinker and a delight to listen to. Check it out!
Over on ihobo today, my thoughts about the best and worst aspects of Level 5’s Japanese RPG Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. If lavish but traditional JRPGs are your thing, you should check out my commentary over on ihobo.com!
Finally reading the last part of Michael Moorcock's epic Colonel Pyat quartet, The Vengeance of Rome, which is an absolutely incredible Victorian-style novel sequence exploring the circumstances leading up to the holocaust. It has the most self-deluded, unreliable narrator ever written, and manages to find humour in the most horrific of situations - there's really nothing like it. This quote struck a chord:
People judge you too readily. They think you deliberately choose your fate. They do not understand how you gradually slide into situations from which escape becomes impossible. What seems a temporary diversion on your life's road looks, in the perspective of history, like a culmination, an example of your inner evil!
Deep into the final edits of "Chaos Ethics", and caught between the mental image of the manuscript I was writing and the gradually emerging book I am editing. This is not quite a caterpillar-to-butterfly metamorphosis since it is mostly remaining the same - it is more akin to the change a woodland makes when it ceases to be wild and becomes instead a curated park. The most significant adaptation I am making in this respect is specifically geared at making the book easier to tackle by its future readers, but in the process it destroys something I had thought valuable: the flow of the text.
A consistent theme from the pre-reader feedback is that it's easy to get lost in parts of the book. Partly this is because it has a rather wide scope (taking in 4 billion years of moral chaos, albeit mostly focussed on the last three centuries), but partly it's because the chapters don't always explain their purposes. As a result, I'm adding a lot of 'this chapter' paragraphs as guides - even though adding them prevents the prose from flowing melodically from section to section. The chapters I had thought had the best rhythm were simultaneously those most difficult to orientate within. So like the national parks, I'm trying to add signposts that aid in navigation without marring the landscape.
It's been nice to have feedback from several people this time around - but taking it all into account makes me feel the previous books were somewhat rushed. Still, I am on target for 'the treble' - three philosophy books in three years - a meaningless achievement I'm keen to claim. Now, back to the editing!