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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
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Hi Yehuda, Thanks for continuing this. The core problem with "Interstellar" as inspiring future astronauts is that the 'interstellar' aspect of its premise is only possible because of a plot device - the homo ex machina, mentioned above - that permits trans-solar travel but which is certainly not going to happen. That's the nub of the problem: if it is selling itself as scientifically rigorous *and* intending to inspire us back to space travel, it has a serious practical problem in that it's promising the impossible. And if it only intends to inspire, what value in the claim to rigour? "Star Trek" would do the same job. I see this as fatal to its intentions; I think your position is that I am applying a rigour to it that it doesn't need, and that may actually be unfair (the 'silly questions' problem). You may be right, but I don't see this as reducing my argument to speciousness. My argument remains valid. Furthermore, since I do not misrepresent Nolan's position, it's not a 'straw man' argument either. It's just that it's also perfectly possible to reject my premises, as you do. As for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, aye, I completely appreciate your problem - and as someone who is consistently bored with action scenes, I sympathise. What I get out of these movies is entirely megatextual i.e. my enjoyment comes from the cross-links to the comics I read in the 1980s and 1990s, and seeing how the stories have been reworked for the screen. It's low brow entertainment, to be sure, but it works for me in some minimal sense that most action movies fail for me. I think, perhaps, it's the patent ridiculousness of everything that helps. All the best! Chris.
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Alas, not even enough time for my traditional well-wishing to each and every religious festival of the season. Off to stay with my wife’s family in their ‘log mansion’ outside of Nashville for three weeks. Since my wife is still... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Only a Game
Hi Yehuda, Thanks for dropping by to defend "Interstellar" - I appreciate the argument. Many of your points here reflect the 'silly question' problem: if you buy into the movie, you can fix the silly questions. If you do not, you will not. I could reflect these issues back on you in respect of the Marvel movies, which you do not buy into and therefore excoriate. I think in such areas there is no basis for debate - we buy into some movies, and not into others. Which is part of the fun of them, really! :) You say that the movie doesn't claim much other than "hope", "love", and "physicists can do some good", but you are forgetting the extra-diegetic elements here i.e. Nolan expressly intends the movie to inspire humanity back towards space travel. That is external to the movie, but it is not excluded from being considered in assessing the movie. My claim is presented in the context of that motive - which the movie does not provide good reasons for supporting. That's the core of my argument. Regarding seeing it as a travelogue allegory, that is a tangential claim that helps put the film in the context of its worldview, namely positivism. As for who makes such claims - well me, for a start, but also New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/05/movies/interstellar-christopher-nolans-search-for-a-new-planet.html?_r=0 I think it's worth pointing out that for Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress", the 'life' in the allegory was individual human life. The 'life' in "Interstellar" is all human life. But such is the difference of their respective groundings. So I reject your 'straw man' defence because it is based on the assumption that I am incorrect in presenting "Interstellar"'s guiding philosophy. But Nolan has made this explicit in interview. Here, I merely critique the film in the light of his stated position. See: http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2014/07/24/director-christopher-nolan-causes-a-stir-while-promoting-interstellar-at-comic-con/ So I reject that this is a straw man argument, and invite you to assess Nolan's stated motivations and then re-read my critique. I stand by it. Thanks for the challenge! We become intellectually lazy when we are not confronted. All the best, Chris.
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Pleased to announce that I’m part of the team behind a new conference provisionally entitled The Player Experience: The Emotions and Worlds of Digital Games, due to launch in the Summer of 2016. An inter-disciplinary event, we are intending to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at ihobo
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Pleased to announce that I’m part of the team behind a new conference provisionally entitled The Player Experience: The Emotions and Worlds of Digital Games, due to launch in the Summer of 2016. An inter-disciplinary event, we are intending to... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2014 at Only a Game
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Contains spoilers for both Sunshine and Interstellar. Recent decades have seen a rise in popularity for non-religious allegory films. But the latest, the Nolan brothers’ Interstellar, provides its own strong reasons for rejecting its message. The religious allegory has long... Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2014 at Only a Game
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 Nov 25, 2014 at Only a Game
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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
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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 Amazon.com and 99p on Amazon.co.uk. 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
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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
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The publisher has a special promotion for the Chaos Ethics e-book this November - it's $0.99 on Amazon.com and 99p on Amazon.co.uk. 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
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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
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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
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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
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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