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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
Recent Activity
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It is time once again for my autumnal social media break, a chance for me to exercise my cyber-restraint, pay less attention to my pocket robot’s distractions, and peer more deeply into the world around me. When I come back... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at Only a Game
“The future is coming at us fast, and Chris Bateman is a masterful guide to the most urgent questions we face there. How will we do good in a future where nearly every action we take is in partnership with a machine, a robot, or an artificial intelligence that shapes,... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Virtuous Cyborg
Over on ihobo today, an extended comment replying to some very interesting challenges raised by Bart Stewart in connection with Are Videogames Made of Rules? Here’s an extract: For a tabletop game, the rulebook this set of practices eventually becomes... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2017 at Only a Game
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This is an extended reply to a comment raised in connection with Are Videogames Made of Rules? If you haven’t read this earlier piece, you might want to start there. Dear Bart, What is it that we take a rule... Continue reading
Posted Nov 8, 2017 at ihobo
Hey Matthew, Thanks for stopping by, and glad that you have enjoyed this discussion! I have to say, when you ask about applying bold to CB and BB, I'm a touch confused as it is already formatted in bold... It's coded as [strong]BB:[/strong], you seem to want it coded as [b]BB[/b] - so I'm guessing whatever browser you are using is not interpreting the strong tags as bold text (which is standard). I'm curious as to what device it is that you're using... Amazing that you worked with Avalon Hill and SPI - of all the companies you list here, those are the two that are burned into my memory thanks to iconic boxes and truly inventive designs. It's not an exaggeration to say that all the strategy videogames owe a debt to this era of tabletop design. And then again, Ral Partha and Citadel, who made the greatest lead miniatures of the 1970s and 80s (and that I still possess a box of my favourites, squirreled away until my sons are old enough for tabletop RPGs). Not to mention TSR, ground zero for tabletop role-playing... a truly impressive CV! This was the industry I had hoped to work in myself, but by the time I was ready for employment the money had all gone into trading card games and I ended up settling for a career in videogames instead. I confess my envy at your own career path! As for bone-picking - I am always open to discussion, correction, or argumentation, so if you find the relevant bone I will be standing by to unpick it with you. Be aware that my autumnal social media break is coming up at the end of the week, however, and I will be 'offline' from then until December. Once again, thanks for commenting! Much appreciated. Chris.
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Hey dmf, Thanks for these further links! I don't know Tufekci, but Katherine Isbister is a long standing industry pal of mine, and indeed wrote a chapter for my Beyond Game Design collection. Many thanks for your support of this serialised dialogue! All the best, Chris.
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Prime Time was a five part dialogue between veteran Nietzsche scholar Babette Babich and ‘outsider philosopher’ Chris Bateman, looking at the relationship between music and priming, Nietzsche’s books, and life within social media. The dialogue originally ran from October 3rd... Continue reading
Posted Nov 2, 2017 at Only a Game
Hey Ryne, Sorry, I totally took a shortcut there by invoking Taylor, and I see now that you hadn't mentioned him at all so that didn't actually work out! But there's a nice summary on the imminent frame right here at this blog: http://onlyagame.typepad.com/only_a_game/2008/10/a-secular-age-7-the-immanent-frame.html Many thanks for getting involved! Chris.
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Last week, a discussion of media control span into the Emmy Awards. This week, philosophers Babette Babich and Chris Bateman pick up the discussion where they left off. Contains one word some readers may find offensive. Babette Babich: Last week’s... Continue reading
Posted Oct 31, 2017 at Only a Game
Hey Ryne, Firstly, you certainly don't 'know nothing'! Everyone knows more than they think they do, and the biggest cause of ignorance at our time is simply relying on robot-run aggregators to exchange facts, excusing us from 'knowing' (strictly: remembering) anything. Your comment is shot through with knowledge and factual statements that show that your position cannot simply be dismissed out of hand, and I would chastise you - in as friendly manner as possible! - for dismissing yourself in this way. Secondly, far from 'dreading' your allegedly long comment, I welcome it (and all polite comments)! Frankly, you don't even hit 1,000 words here, and thus it doesn't hit the top ten of long comments that have been offered as part of Only a Game's long history. ;) Now to your more substantial points. You raise several of these, and they intermesh with one another, but at the core of your concerns are what Charles Taylor calls 'the imminent frame', which is to say, the belief system produced by adhering to what I have called 'the science megatext'. What is significant about the imminent frame, and Taylor is clear on this, is that it is shared by the vast majority of people today, regardless of whether they belong to a religious tradition, and it is precisely this element of contemporary thinking that is obscured when something like your archetypal internet clash between the "Christian fundamentalist and the edgy internet atheist". One of my purposes in writing at Only a Game was to try to offer a different kind of encounter between these and other factions - although the two you mention are most easily detected on the English-language internet because of the heat given off in every clash. Now the dissolution of metaphysics has, partly for the reason I outline here, been part of my mission here... and it's no coincidence that the first of my 'campaigns' (in the tabletop RPG sense) was the Metaphysics Campaign. Because one of the unfortunate consequences of the imminent frame is that we tend to think that it discredits metaphysics and in so doing fail to recognise the role of metaphysics in maintaining it. Hence we get to this weird place whereby scientific research has an artificially inflated respect that it sometimes deserves and oftentimes does not, while everything 'outside' (and philosophy is bundled with religion in this regard) can be dismissed. This leads to a number of crises, many of which are not perceived as such, and which in my role as 'outsider' philosopher I have tried to patiently engage. In the middle, you bring up the neuroscience issue, and this is of interest to me since I dabble in this material myself from time to time. But it's really important to distinguish between the biological underpinnings of a phenomenon and the phenomenon itself - and not all discussions of this kind manage it. There is this faith in the explanatory power of reduction - you say "These feelings and emotions are scientifically measurable when analyzed on a molecular level"... and this is actually not the case! Indeed, having tried to get into these measurements, it's really striking how difficult to measure the neurochemicals are (with a few exceptions - testosterone, for instance, has a handy spit-test) compared to the emotions, which Paul Ekman was able to lay out as micro-expressions. Measuring epinephrine doesn't tell you if fear or excitement is experienced; for that, you'd need to also scan the amygdala... or, you know, just ask the person in question. So here, just within science, we have a wonderful example whereby the lowest scale 'explanation' is the least useful as an explanation... there are relationships here, but they do not act as master explanations or anything of the kind. And this subtle point is all too easily lost. Hence love, which is not explicable in terms of either emotions (there is no micro-expression of love) or neurochemicals (because it is a phenomena of mind that entails extremely complex and indissoluble relationships between elements of brain, memory, etc.). Now you bring in a contrast about Plato's words for love, or Freud's use of ego, superego, and id, and the thing about these is that the desire to justify them in terms of purportedly scientific explanations (i.e. to fit them neatly into the imminent frame) obscures the key point here about the role of hermeneutics (i.e. interpretation practices) both inside and in relation to the sciences. Because it will not do to try and dismiss all these things that require hermeneutics (like Plato's categories of love, or Freud's terms) because they require interpretation since so does everything in the sciences. And this is precisely why the split between 'scientific' and otherwise is typically wielded unscientifically - as a means of using a tacit, unrecognised metaphysics to defend itself. The text of mine that most interconnects with these issues is The Mythology of Evolution, which has the dubious honour of being my most-praised, least-read book! I fear coming shortly after the Darwin bicentenary was a major issue, as was the fact that the word 'mythology' put off the athiests, and the word 'evolution' put off a fair number of Christians. :) I'm still proud to have written the book, and the endorsements from Mary Midgley (philosopher) and Francesco Ayala (scientist) really add to the sense of having accomplished something, even if it is essentially unknown. I hope these thoughts are useful to you in thinking through the connection between 'belief' and 'philosophy', and the other issues you read, and encourage you to have a go at my work of epistemology, Wikipedia Knows Nothing since it is available for the generous price of free, and it questions the distinction between 'belief' and 'knowledge' in a way that you might find both helpful and interesting. (I lack time to cleverly put a hyperlink in for the book - but there's a cover picture in the sidebar you can click on). Many thanks for your thoughtful comment, and you are always welcome here - as is anyone else who is willing to spend the time to write their mind out and share what they are thinking. All the very best, Chris.
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Thanks for continuing to throw in these additional references, dmf! Much appreciated. Chris.
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Hey Francis, I wrote the serial on A Secular Age for my own benefit, to help me get to grips with Taylor's ideas (which had an indelible impact on me). But it's extremely gratifying to find other people have found it useful that this summary is out there. Many thanks for letting me know this was something you valued! All the best, Chris.
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Thanks for that link, dmf! It's nice to know there's some appetite for this kind of thinking, to be honest, since that's what the new book approaches.
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Last week, the culture industry. This week, philosophers Babette Babich and Chris Bateman turn to the psychological effects of contemporary media. Babette Babich: Noam Chomsky basically rewrites this theme of culture industry [the subject of last week’s discussion] in his... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2017 at Only a Game
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Last week, Nietzsche. This week, philosophers Babette Babich and Chris Bateman turn to priming and the culture industry. Chris Bateman: Before we started our dialogues, I had just recently finished your marvellous book The Hallelujah Effect, which is (among other... Continue reading
Posted Oct 17, 2017 at Only a Game
Hey dmf, Regarding the objection that there needs to be procedures for determining the quality of work... this is no defence of blind peer review, which is incapable of determining quality and indeed has the opposite effect by establishing procedures for acceptance (in terms of the required suite of references...) that do not pertain to quality but rather to conformity. I should be clear: I support peer review. I believe I do good work in this area myself. It is making it blind that I object to, because this makes peer review by definition impossible. (Argument in the aforementioned book...) Regarding 'quality', in the UK where bureaucratic assessment of academic work is in itself a full-time job (literally in many cases...), we have developed a number of metrics for 'measuring' academic success. Some, indeed, are not too crazy - such as getting testimonials for the impact of work. This is, I think, much more plausible than citation indices, which have a nest of associated problems. Whichever way you cut it, blind peer review does not do the work that it is claimed. Where is the ANT-ish research into academia is a great question! But of course, science studies provides it for the sciences but not for the humanities. And there is, I think, a gap here precisely where you gesture. Thanks for extending the discourse, Chris.
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Hey dmf, Just to add to this... my attack on blind peer review in Wikipedia Knows Nothing (one of the side-arguments) is targeted specifically at the idea of the clique as a model for what academic study should be. My wider position (beyond the argument about knowledge in that particular book) is simple: people who are working in the same areas ought to operate as a community, and anything that blocks that is fundamentally misguided. Blind peer review serves to reinforce the cliques, bar entry to new voices, and - as if this wasn't bad enough - it prevents researchers with common interests from communicating. I find it worse than useless for the purposes of academic flourishing. But then, we have an academy that exists for the purposes of industrial flourishing. And where to begin with the problems with that concept! Many thanks for being a stalwart here at the Game. You are always welcome. Chris.
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Hey Andy, Frankly, your link to players in Hong Kong gives you a strong platform for making your case here, and the idea that the processing of the rules is easier on this understanding is the kicker. I still think Tony's view is consistent and logical... but I am going to accept your practice from now on as 'official'. I suspect my wife and I will still play 'Tony-style', but at least I will know that we're using a 'house rule' when we do. Thanks so much for being involved in this discussion! I shall now stand back and wait to discover that Tony learned the game from an old master in Qinghai... ;) All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Oct 16, 2017 on Big Two: Rules at Only a Game
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I'll ask!
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Hey Andy, Thanks for continuing the argument. From whom did you learn to play the game, if you don't mind me asking? I picked it up from the internet so I don't consider my practices to have any authority. I'm rather on the fence about flushes. The nature of the flush as a hand is that the suit is the key element... it doesn't seem out of the bounds of possibility that Tony's argument would hold. Honestly, I appreciate the arguments both you and Tony have made and what I'd really like to deploy to settle the disagreement (which I don't think can be solved from any written version of the rules) is an appeal to the established practices. If there's anyone who learned to play first hand from Chinese players, I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for continuing the discussion!
Toggle Commented Oct 12, 2017 on Big Two: Rules at Only a Game
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Last week, the trouble with Nietzsche. This week, philosophers Babette Babich and Chris Bateman take the discussion further and consider the questions Nietzsche raises, and the relationship between an author’s books and the writer themselves. Babette Babich: Analytic Nietzsche scholars... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2017 at Only a Game
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In this latest dialogue between philosopher and Nietzsche scholar Babette Babich and ‘outsider philosopher’ Chris Bateman, we discuss Nietzsche himself, the difficulties of some of his texts, and the challenges his philosophy raised – and continues to raise. Chris Bateman:... Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2017 at Only a Game
Hey Ken, Not quite sure who or what you are responding to here... technically, alligators and crocodiles aren't dinosaurs since the former are the order Crocodylia, while the latter are Dinosauria. But you're right, of course, that the crocodilians survived the end of the Cretaceous (as did other reptile species, of course, most obviously snakes). Personally, I do tend to think of the crocodilians as dinosaurs, as well as the pterosaurs (which are similarly 'not dinoaurs' on a technicality), but only because I like to take 'dinosaur' in a broader way than its technical usage. Thanks for commenting!
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Hey Mirage, I am thrilled by the love your community is showing Ghost Master, and I want to help out as best as I can. I have found the Haunter Digest (v4.94) and the Script Table (v4.90) for the game, which contains the power allocations for many of the cut haunters, as well as some (but not all) of the Epitaphs. Please contact me using the contact link at ihobo.com and someone will pass them along to you. All the very best! Chris.
Toggle Commented Sep 30, 2017 on Post Mortem: Ghost Master (Part Two) at Only a Game
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Genuinely surprised and delighted by the response last week’s Are Videogames Made of Rules? produced. I really expected it to sink without a trace. The discussions, which you can follow in the comments, have exceeded my available time – but... Continue reading
Posted Sep 27, 2017 at ihobo