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Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
Back in residence, for what it's worth. Looks like I will only have time for two posts before I am once again away, this time travelling to the United States for the Winter Festival. The first one goes up on... Continue reading
Posted 21 hours ago at Only a Game
Dear players of the Game, As with every year since the Game began, I shall be taking a break from blogs and social media for a minimum of twelve days in November for the Wheel of Fortune. I had hoped... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Only a Game
As usual, I'll be taking a short break from blogging and social media in November. Even though I'm away, I still welcome comments on any of the posts here (no matter when they were written!), and I'll be back some... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at ihobo
Over on ihobo today, a piece expressing my joy and adoration for the incredible voice cast of Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms! Definitely worth checking out – but especially if you’re a fan of Doctor Who, Blake’s 7, or Dark Souls. You... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2014 at Only a Game
Tom Baker (pictured left), Sally Knyvette, Stephen Greif, Nicolette McKenzie, Robert Ashby – on my latest game project I’ve been working with some truly outstanding actors and actresses. But who are they, and what might TV shows, films, and games... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at ihobo
The publisher has a special promotion for the Chaos Ethics e-book this November - it's $0.99 on and 99p on If you’re interested in the role of imagination in morality, take advantage of this offer to get my... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2014 at ihobo
Peter: It's a quasi-end, because it is an end set within a fictional world. Now of course, some fictional worlds we take to be part of our shared political world - but that does not seem to be the case here. And as such, it does not qualify for the coercive protection of rights at the level of everyday politics. My key point in this piece about quasi-ends is precisely that there is no prima facie reason for thinking that the coercive protections of rights extend to the ends we set in the fictional worlds of games. That said, I think there's an interesting question here about whether the community that players in a multiplayer fictional world is not *also* a political entity, and thus that quasi-ends might lead to quasi-rights within that world. But this is a politics of virtual worlds question that I think remains intriguingly open. A big question here is: if these quasi-rights do not qualify as rights in a wider political sense, then what could players do to bring them about in their chosen fictional worlds? And here, we have come interestingly parallel to the situation of rights in the everyday world. ;) All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Nov 4, 2014 on Can Players Have Rights? at Only a Game
1 reply
Hi Peter, This is an interesting point, actually, because I suspect that from Kant's perspective the quintessential moral problem of the 21st century is that our will has been depleted (what others would call widespread apathy). But I think that you do and have had ends - you completed your degree, you pursue your company, you are committed to your wife. I think the 'reasonable' you have added probably belongs in my original definition as 'all reasonable steps within your power'. Kant never advocated irrational action! As for transience, I am wary of making the act of remembering as the criteria for the obvious point that amnesia would not seem *not* to be relevant to working out an end, but does affect this definition. But you are definitely gesturing in a sensible direction here: I might be tempted to say that an end affects the story you tell of yourself, but this reflects my rather poetic bent on such matters. :) Thanks for continuing our discussion! Chris.
Toggle Commented Nov 3, 2014 on Can Players Have Rights? at Only a Game
1 reply
The publisher has a special promotion for the Chaos Ethics e-book this November - it's $0.99 on and 99p on If you haven't picked up my latest book, now's a good time to do it! Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2014 at Only a Game
It being Samhain today, decided it was time for a bit of Autumnal cleaning here at the Game. So I’ve resequenced the side bar, added a search box that someone asked for a while back, and update the bio and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2014 at Only a Game
Hi Peter, Thanks for your challenge here - I appreciate it! Drinking a cold beer is not an end because it is transient and impossible to 'will' (in Kant's sense). Ends are states that you will, and this implies an ongoing (future) state of affairs. You *could* will to drink a cold beer everyday, I suppose - that could qualify! :) I also thought long and hard about the movie "Ice Cold in Alex" while I was writing this piece. In the film, the characters who are lost in the desert dream of having a cold beer in Alexandria when they finally escape and reach their destination... Is this an end? They certainly will it fervently, but it appears to be transient. But then I compare it to my willing that I wrote "Chaos Ethics" - is that not transient? In the case of the book, the book persists even though the act of publication was transient (as does the university degree, for that matter). I think the beer in "Ice Cold in Alex" *could* qualify as an end along parallel lines, but because surviving the desert and going onto do other things is an end with persistence conditions - the beer, in this case, is only symbolic of that continuing state. However, I do concede that there is a difference of degree entailed here. For Kant, it is the difference between (merely) wanting and willing something. To will something is to commit to taking all steps in your power to bring it about (as far as Kant is concerned). It is not clear you can 'will a beer' in this sense - except, perhaps, in the case of something like "Ice Cold in Alex"! :) (Christine Korsgaard has dug into this issue more than I have, but I think my understanding here is not far from the sources). As for your Blizzard example - developers often thwart player's quasi-ends, but because what we are dealing with is a game (I am suggesting) it would not qualify as something to be protected by rights i.e. something that could be coerced. This could change if the culture we lived in began to take the actions in game worlds more seriously than they do - I can imagine a world in which what happened in a game could be willed in a way that the culture would consider worth permitting coercion in its connection. (For professional sports, this might already be the case, actually!). But this is not our world - and for this, I think we should be thankful. :D I have to say, I have experienced the problem you outline here in almost all games that I have played as services, and have made the decision that I am very reluctant to continue supporting games that are run as services. This is a tricky decision, as almost all games are now run this way! Still, this is the way my will is turning now... But of course, this is a moral question for me as an ethical being, and not something that could be coerced, and hence not a question for rights. I welcome further challenges if you have them! :) All the best! Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 31, 2014 on Can Players Have Rights? at Only a Game
1 reply
Could there be a viable concept of ‘player rights’, and if not, are there any grounds for legally restricting games? Find out over on Only a Game today. Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2014 at ihobo
If you’re on RSS and just saw that post about player rights, my apologies – that is supposed to run tomorrow morning. You may have got a sneak peak… Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Only a Game
Could there be a viable concept of ‘player rights’, and if not, are there any grounds for legally restricting games? There have been several attempts to propose a ‘Player’s Bill of Rights’ (e.g. Graham Nelson in 1994, Raph Koster in... Continue reading
Posted Oct 28, 2014 at Only a Game
Having a new PC installed, which has delayed this week’s post – it’ll be ready next week, and takes a sceptical look at the idea of a player’s Bill of Rights. Stay tuned! Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at ihobo
Having a new PC installed, which has delayed this week’s post – it’ll be ready soon, and takes a sceptical look at the idea of a player’s Bill of Rights. Stay tuned! Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Only a Game
Hey Peter - so thrilled to have finally written something that has enticed you out of the woodwork! :D The dichotomy you speak of is palpable - and of course, the centralised money keeps the momentum towards centralised content. I *love* the idea of a decentralised system that could unite existing content with the non-hierarchical benefits of the internet architecture itself and the access-agnosticism of RSS. If you ever write up anything in connection to this, I would be happy to post, cross-post, or otherwise publicise your ideas. I am feeling (as you can see) an increasing need to break away from corporate-managed 'conversations' and a desperate longing for more substantial discourse, of the kind I used to get out of the blogosphere. Anything that leads in that direction - whether successful or not - is something I want to support! All the best to you and your lovely wife, Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2014 on A Social Intelligence Network at Only a Game
1 reply
Thanks for the comments! I was getting lonely here... :) Bart: I love Fuller's World Game, and looked at making a digital version of this not that long ago, although the project floundered on funding (as is so often the case). Regarding collisions between disagreeing parties, the SIN conception above is intended to separate participants by worldview into competing clusters so that (by default) you are communicating with people who share your perspective, while those with alternative perspectives are still accessible. It's intended to be a foam of bubbles, each one a separate 'reality', if you will - you can cross realities, but of course, at your own risk! I'm not sure this would work - but it's an interesting concept, at least. The VSN, on the other hand, is cellular, but allows for many different cells. So you would hopefully get the diversity of perspective from bridging between cells, although I didn't really discuss this idea here (I only hinted at it). So if you imagine that you might belong to two cells of 20 people discussing a topic, you allow for propagation of ideas between those cells. In that way, the network is much larger than your cell. Again, this is a blue sky idea - but I find it promising on paper. These are definitely hard problems - I suspect made even harder by most people not really caring about their solution. :D Michael: apologies for problems logging in. I have a TypePad account that I use for logging in; could you not set up a (free) TypePad account if you don't like using Facebook to connect? Many thanks for the description of other experiments in similar areas - this is all new information to me! As for 'who watches the watchmen?', the idea of the SIN is that it is a combination of manual and automated systems. It is this which is most speculative in how it functions, but I think there is a possibility here for automated agents that respond to information gathered from users. Of course, robot police is a dangerous idea in any community... but I think for this kind of situation, it might just work. --- Many thanks for both your comments! It is much appreciated.
Toggle Commented Oct 15, 2014 on A Social Intelligence Network at Only a Game
1 reply
Could a social medium be designed for leveraging collective intelligence, rather than entertainment and advertising? We currently have social networking media, but we do not yet have social intelligence media. Existing social media is effective at building networks based upon... Continue reading
Posted Oct 14, 2014 at Only a Game
In Part II: Allen Wood on Tolerance, Professor Allen W. Wood argued against my concept of ‘intolerant tolerance’. This final part explores the contemporary political situation in the United States, and asks what hope there might be for peace. Chris:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2014 at Only a Game
In Part I: Against Chaos the conversation focussed upon Professor Allen W. Wood’s arguments against my association with liberal movements and chaos. In this second part, the discussion switches to tolerance, and the political implications of intolerance. Allen: I resist... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2014 at Only a Game
Good on you Ren! I don't think Terra Nova's problems are to do with the topic, it's blogs themselves that are struggling to survive against the onslaught of temporal erosion - shorter form communications (i.e. various forms of social media) have forced out the long-form blogs. My Republic of Bloggers idea is an attempt to push against this: It's quite possible this is a quixotic tilting at windmills. But I was never afraid of windmills. Long live Terra Nova! Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 29, 2014 on Arise TerraNova at Terra Nova
Earlier this year, I exchanged emails with Professor Allen W. Wood after sending him a copy of the page proofs for Chaos Ethics which I described as “the least Kantian book of Kantian ethics thus far written”. To my surprise,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2014 at Only a Game
Doug (@doougle) replied via Twitter as follows: "Whoa cool thanks for the link. I don't really do much writing anymore, and that feels like so long ago... re: treacherous play, I'd say Schechner's concept of "dark play" gets to the heart of it for me (and Miguel?) re: your textbook - I guess this discussion hinges on whether one is focusing more on biz dev or aesthetics Which is to say - I don't think Miguel or I were ever too concerned about sales or industry (for better or worse) I guess I feel like the nature of play is such that *any* textbook maxim will always beg for subversion That doesn't mean that game textbooks are fruitless. But maybe they're *supposed* to be foils for subversion."
Toggle Commented Sep 18, 2014 on Treacherous Play at ihobo
1 reply
Over on ihobo today, a new blog letter addressing Miguel Sicart and Douglas Wilson. Here's an extract: Treachery has long been an important aspect of competitive boardgames, but in videogames there seems to be far less betrayal between players. When... Continue reading
Posted Sep 17, 2014 at Only a Game