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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
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Do we possess a genuine capacity to choose, or is our sense of agency always an illusion? Or to put it another way: is it free will or just a cheap trick? “Your conscious life”, neurologist Vilayanur Ramachandran declares, “is... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Only a Game
Hi Dave, Thanks for your thoughtful comment! At times, I'm not sure if you're thinking my philosophy only deals with games and videogames... if this is your primary interest, you might do better at this site's companion blog, ihobo.com, which only deals with games. But if you're interested in my philosophy outside of games, you can get both here, since I always cross-link when I post at ihobo. "If it's a game, ethics play no part in it. How can you have an ethical stance if you play the part of a German SS officer in WW2?" Why would you think that a (historical) German SS officer had no ethics? We can certainly vilify all manner of aspects of their particular ethical practices, but to suggest there was no ethical system in play in Nazi Germany seems to me to misunderstand the Third Reich. It was, as Alain Badiou puts it, an ethical disaster - but precisely because so many thought they were behaving according to their own, internally justified code of ethics. Now, in the case of playing a German SS officer in a game, I would say this is a potentially interesting opportunity for ethical reflection. Indeed, while coming down a slightly different setting, doesn't "Papers Please" explore a not unconnected space? "This is because such role play is considered a taboo subject. There are lots of PVP players who like to play the bad guy (pirates or stone cold killers), but the real after effects of their actions are glossed over." This is a fascinating remark, and I know exactly what you mean about the suppression of role-play. This is an aesthetic conflict which also has moral dimensions. If this sort of topic does interest you, then you might connect well with my game philosophy, whatever you make of my 'vanilla' philosophy. Here's a piece on game aesthetics from last year, although this might be a case of 'throwing you in at the deep end'! http://blog.ihobo.com/2015/02/the-aesthetic-flaws-of-games.html If you're interested in the relationship between games and ethics, check out this conversation I had with Miguel Sicart over at ihobo back in 2010: http://blog.ihobo.com/2010/07/sicart-bateman-3-game-ethics.html "Sorry but the world has had it's fill of religion and religious tenets." In the first place, it seems rather unlikely that you are 'sorry' about anything here. :D In the second place, your proposition seems to be false. If by 'the world' you mean 'the humans of our planet', then the 6 million practictioners of religion outnumber the non-religious 6:1. If by 'the world' you mean 'the non-religious world', then your statement is a tautology. If by 'the world' you mean an anthropomorphic projection of our planet (which seems doubtful!) then I think the world has had its fill of unlimited industrialisation far more than it has religion. I also dispute your claim that "Most of the wars that have raged across the world started over two conflicting religions", that's a common view, but it's also an inadequate description of the history. It might be fairer to say: historical religion has been successfully manipulated by the powerful to prevent domestic conflicts by throwing the populace against another nation. And if you replace 'historical religion' with the wider claim 'People's beliefs', it would be even more applicable - in this, I utterly agree with you that the "problem still continues to this day." "One day we may all live together in peace but until people leave behind their religious beliefs and all the baggage those beliefs bring with them, it will never happen." I share your dream here (of peace) but not your faith that a widespread metaphysical conversion to [Belief System X] is the required method. It wasn't very plausible when X was Christianity, I find it no more plausible when X is non-religion. In this regard, see my rather grumpy rejoinder to John Lennon's "Imagine": http://onlyagame.typepad.com/only_a_game/2010/07/imagine-theres-no-imagine.html Honestly, I tend to resonate with Mary Midgley's remark that "It turns out that the evils that have infested religion are not confined to it, but are ones that can accompany any successful human institution." If our hope is to get to a place where we can all live together peacefully, we should be careful of attempts to identify an 'enemy' and blame them for our problems - and that is just as true when the 'enemy' is 'religion' as when it is 'a different religion'. We're all rather more human that we like to admit! :) "It should be constantly reinforced that it is ONLY A GAME." It seems as if your invocation of this phrase is intended in part to be a request that we let our imagination run free, that we not be constrained by convention. In this regard, I can certainly support you. But I'm wary of the justification that something is "just a game". I wrote about this back in 2013: http://blog.ihobo.com/2013/06/just-a-game.html Your comment about the work that is required in fashioning wood is an interesting one... I don't personally object to the magical world of ease that games frequently portray, but I agree with you that there is something worthwhile in games that bring home the complexities of real situations (as per your example of the effort to work wood in Wurm Online). There is a terribly fine line here, though... commercial games need to make money to exist, and players - you seem to be an admirably rare exeception! - like being pandered to regarding ease. Minecraft springs to mind as a game that you can build a castle in minutes. Great fun, of course - I enjoyed my time in Minecraft immensely. But not as interesting, in many respects, as a game that entailed some of the authentic challenges of castle-building. Right, I believe I've replied to almost all your points there. If you're as obsessive as me, you may feel obliged to reply to all of them. But I encourage you to pick a thread and let us focus on one topic at a time, ideally by following one of the links above and moving the conversation there (this page is intended as an entry point for this blog - it would be good for everyone to focus our discussions in specific places). Don't feel in a rush to reply, although you can if you wish. I am a diligent comment-writer, but I would prefer a discourse that developed over time to just a brief collision of minds, which the internet causes all-too-often. You clearly have things worth saying - you owe it to yourself to think about what you want to say, rather than giving in to the impulse to reply in haste (which, alas, is heartfelt advice I give but am bad at taking!). Welcome to the Game! I hope that you enjoy your time here, whether brief or protracted. Chris.
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Welcome to Only a Game, the philosophy blog of game designer, outsider philosopher, and author Chris Bateman. Originally dealing with videogames as well as philosophy, most games-related material now appears at ihobo.com (but is also cross-linked here). All sincere –... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2016 at Only a Game
Owing to the move to the new template, older posts with 40 pixel indenting around quotations no longer work. I am in the process of fixing these as I find them (I just fixed the entire ten-part A Secular Age... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi Chris, Thanks for your comment, and glad you are enjoying the new manuscript. Yes, I am going through something of a transition at the moment... although not for the first time! The discussion of 'knowledge as a practice' began as an idea that I'd not fully developed, but the further down this line I go, the more I'm getting out of my rebellion against the dismissal of 'subjective'. I feel I have more to do in this space. I'm very tempted by the free e-book option, but I think I must first try and get it into an academic press. Since I expect rejection on this front, it will probably end up in the same place, but if nothing else I have to keep playing the publishing game. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2016 on Free Your Book And What Will Follow? at Only a Game
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Hey Col, Thanks, glad it was useful. I've really got a lot out of Charles Taylor's work, and indeed my new book draws against his recent work with Hubert Dreyfus. Nice to know this serial is still being read eight years after it was written! Cheers, Chris.
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For the first time in my life, I find myself contemplating releasing my new book for free. This is an odd thought, but it could make sense for where I'm up to in my career as a multi-class author with... Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at Only a Game
Thanks Ian! I might say the same to you as a regular here! :D
Toggle Commented Apr 12, 2016 on 1500 Shades of Nonsense at Only a Game
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This post marks the fifteen hundredth slice of nonsense I’ve posted at Only a Game in the eleven years I’ve been blogging. Not sure if that’s an achievement or if it’s rather horrifying, but there you have it: one thousand... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2016 at Only a Game
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To speak of ontology is to speak of being, to say what exists, or how it exists, or how the things that exist are related, while to speak of gods or God is what is called theology. Every theology is... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi Ian, Always great to hear from you! It's going to be six weeks before my first-choice publisher makes a decision, and then at least nine months after that before publication (and if they turn it down, it will take even longer to get into print). So if your situation improves, do let me know. As a shorter manuscript that usual, you could fit it in whenever (or if-ever) your demands ease up. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Mar 17, 2016 on Wikipedia Knows Nothing, the Book at Only a Game
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It gives me great pleasure to announce that I have finished the draft manuscript of my latest philosophy book, Wikipedia Knows Nothing. Based upon content I’ve been writing here on the blog over the last year, but substantially revised and... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2016 at Only a Game
Hey Rob, Yeah, I've been on a weird journey in epistemology, and I'm at the point of thinking: if we can call it 'knowledge', what is the 'subjective' giving us? Especially since 'objective' knowledge seems to have a particularly clear scope for usage. I like this scheme... it's intuitive, but helpfully avoids contrasting different kinds of knowledge against each other as if they were opposites. Great to hear from you! Chris.
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2016 on The Subjective Knowledge of Squirrels at Only a Game
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Hi Ben, I've now launched a new template... let me know if this is more mobile friendly! Many thanks for taking an interest, Chris.
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2016 on The Subjective Knowledge of Squirrels at Only a Game
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To celebrate the arrival of Spring, I’ve created a new responsive template for Only a Game, the first change I’ve made to the appearance of the blog in many, many years. I’ve tried to keep some of the elements of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi Ben, Thanks for your kind words! And yes, I know what you mean about TypePad not being very mobile friendly... I have thought about moving to another provider, but it's not clear where I would go or how much work would be involved in switching. So I end up staying put. I'll have a quick check to see if there's anything I can do to support mobile access in the TypePad settings, though. Thanks for commenting! Chris.
Toggle Commented Mar 13, 2016 on The Subjective Knowledge of Squirrels at Only a Game
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If you startle a grey squirrel who is foraging on the ground, they will immediately dash towards the nearest tree, run up and around it until they cannot be seen by you, then climb upwards as much as needed to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2016 at Only a Game
This week’s post wasn’t ready in time – I only just finished it, and I don’t want to post precipitously without adequate time to mull upon its wording to an unhealthy degree that borders upon the obsessive. Suffice it to... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi Pat, Still not seeing the publication showing up on any lists, so it's probably at least six months away. Thanks for taking an interest! Chris.
Toggle Commented Mar 1, 2016 on The Aesthetic Motives of Play at Only a Game
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Hey zenBen, That's freaky, I was just thinking about you earlier this week, then I noticed you'd published a new paper to one of the cobweb aggregators - and now here you are posting a comment like it was 2007. :D And yes, although I had speaking gigs long before then, that AIIDE was my first keynote - and I was a right pissy bastard about that at one point in the prep stage, for which I feel fairly ashamed. It was a great event, though, and I remember it fondly. If you want to look at DGD you should be my guest - but make sure you read "Player Typology in Theory and Practice" first, if you haven't already. It sets out my position quite clearly. Perhaps also "Empirical Game Aesthetics". And feel free to email me - I'd be happy to hear from you by any means. I don't think I've seen you since (of all the bizarre things...) we went clothes shopping in Manchester together. :p Great to hear from you, Chris.
Toggle Commented Feb 26, 2016 on Confessions of an H-List Celebrity at Only a Game
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Hey Victisvincimus! Thanks for the kind words... I was really proud of the work that we did on this game (especially with it's tiny budget), and it's always great to hear from someone who found and enjoyed it. Have you tried "Shadows: Heretic Kingdoms" yet? It's out on Steam right now, although it's only half complete at the moment... All the best, Chris.
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On my better days, I like to flatter myself with my celebrity status. But at the same time, I’m acutely aware that I have about the lowest grade of celebrity that could be imagined. A good friend and I used... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at Only a Game
Hey Lauryn, Thanks for your comment! This post is from over ten years ago, and to be frank I had completely forgotten about it... but putting my head back into the Myers-Briggs game, so to speak, and I can see where I was coming from here. It's chief limitation is its dependency on MBTI, which I rarely use for any formal work any more. (I still think this is a useful way to discuss personality, though). If you ever see this comment, please do let me know how you even *found* this piece, which is pretty obscure at this point! :) All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Feb 8, 2016 on A Model of Game Designers at Only a Game
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Hi Bart, The idea that the desire to end a discussion is the root problem is a fascinating one, with a lot of merit to it. I will definitely ponder this, and I think you might be correct that this is the core of the problem I'm attempting to discuss here. I was trying to be careful in wording this, in that I didn't want it to seem that I was 'against' facts. That isn't my target at all - it is a piece about how facts are used and received, and not targeting facts as such. But I do think there is a political problem relating to the use of facts that we aren't very good at owning up to. So let me use your example: "'GDP grew by 0.3% in Q4' is the product, even if imperfect, of a generally objective observational methodology that others can review for relative quality." Absolutely. But GDP as a conceptual measure depends on all sorts of presuppositions that don't get the discussion they need or deserve. The idea that we should be judging political success or otherwise on an economic metric forces a particular meaning into usage that should be open to both scrutiny and debate. I for one am highly sceptical that this is a healthy form of politics - I doubt that these facts are politically virtuous. They frame discussion in a way that has presupposed what should have been up for debate. Take the US, for instance. Highest GDP in the world - political success story, therefore. But of course, GDP is about the money the nation generates, and says very little about any other aspect of life there, nor for that matter the effect of that nation on the world as a whole. Trading in 'the facts' about GDP supports a mythology that doesn't question the assumptions by which GDP is deployed as a measure. That's toxic politics right there. (Re: Simon vs. Erhlich, don't they both make this same narrow assessment of the meaning of resources i.e. as standing reserves for exploitation? My point about limited resources was not particularly about what is available for humans, but about what we are losing by having such a narrow conception of 'resource'.) It seems to me that US politics and news coverage is full of this kind of gerrymandering of meaning, and the situation is only marginally better elsewhere. I remain shocked at what has been offered on US healthcare thus far given what I have learned about the US healthcare system fist-hand. In particular, statistics that assume insurance-funded high tech healthcare as the model lead to very disturbing political outcomes where 'facts' are used to obscure meanings by assigning all decision-making to a medical industry that has set itself up to serve its own needs - but don't get me started on this sideline or I'll never shut up! :) I chose 'climate change' as an example because it seems the clearest example where 'facts' have not possessed the weight to tip the scales either way, except where people have already committed to a particular interpretation. And the problem here is that we aren't discussing the meaning of the facts in question. We are locked onto the narrative surrounding climate scientists with phrases like 'climate deniers' that remove any possibility of discussing the meaning of what's going on. It's totally focused on whether or not there is climate change as a phenomena. This is teeth-grindingly unproductive politics to my eyes! It seems we are in agreement that facts have a place in politics. And I think we are also in agreement that the way they are currently being used in politics is unacceptably counter-productive. I think our only disagreement is that you seem to favour continuing to focus upon facts in politics, whereas I think we must supplement those facts with an urgently-needed discussion of their meaning. Many, many thanks for your comment - I truly welcome these kind of thoughtful interjections. All the best! Chris.
Toggle Commented Feb 3, 2016 on The Seduction of Facts at Only a Game
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Who doesn’t love a good fact? There is an entire genre of games dedicated to our ability to recall them, aptly entitled ‘trivia contests’ in English. Setting this form up in a box led to one of the most successful... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2016 at Only a Game