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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
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I have little patience for exploration mediated by puzzles, but Gregory Weir’s 2010 Looming offers a minimal, elegant space that positively hums with charming meditations on the different meanings of existence we all render from experience. More than anything else... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at ihobo
Over on ihobo today, my capsule critique of pure exploration game Looming (2010). Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at Only a Game
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If dramatic change requires a brazen statement as its motivation, how can any movement avoid falling into dogmatic excess? An arcane title such as this is off-putting; it reduces the chances of anyone deciding to look into it further. Yet... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at Only a Game
Because my readership is partly in Europe, partly in the US, and partly scattered across the globe, I am experimenting with new posting times. I previously ran all posts on Only a Game and ihobo.com at 10:30 am GMT. For... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at ihobo
Because my readership is partly in Europe, partly in the US, and partly scattered across the globe, I am experimenting with new posting times. I previously ran all posts on Only a Game and ihobo.com at 10:30 am GMT. For... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at Only a Game
Once upon a time, I did a snippets every week. I'd like at least to get back to doing them every month if I can. So without further ado, here are my idle thoughts: Reading my second Whitehead book, his... Continue reading
Posted Jan 23, 2015 at Only a Game
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This post is a reply to a Republic of Bloggers letter written by Chris Billows (@Doc_Surge) entitled Rooting for a Republic of Bloggers, over on his blog Journals of Doc Surge. Feel free to join in with our discourse via... Continue reading
Posted Jan 22, 2015 at Only a Game
Over on the website of the incomparably wonderful Institute of Art and Ideas right now is a piece I wrote for them back in December about multiculturalism, ethics, and imagination. Here’s an extract: The mythos of ‘multiculturalism’ is something that... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2015 at Only a Game
The orchestra has finished tuning up its instruments, and the overture has begun. Soon, I will start blogging again, and I'm going to be carving out some set times during my week for it so that I can give and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2015 at Only a Game
Hi Yehuda, Sorry for the delay in replying - I was going to be off blogging, but then I had to post something anyway. I really like your reading here - I think this is consistent with Nolan's intentions; it's a view that any positivist-humanist is going to support. I still have my issues with it, of course, but I recognise that I do not have a 'master reading', only a critical reflection to offer. Hope you had a great Hannukah! Chris.
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Hadn't been planning on blogging over the Winter Festival, but I wrote this comment on another blog and then realised it meets the criteria for the Republic of Bloggers, so I've echoed it here in case anyone else might find... Continue reading
Posted Dec 26, 2014 at Only a Game
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 Dec 15, 2014 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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