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Chris
Outsider philosopher, game designer and author
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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 2 days ago 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 7 days ago 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
Over on ihobo today, my interview with the legendary 8-bit programmer-game designer, Steve Crow! Here's an extract: CB: Do you miss the way the videogames were back in its 'infancy'? SC: Looking back I consider myself so fortunate to be... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Only a Game
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Steve Crow not only made amazing games like Wizard's Lair and Starquake in the '80s, he went on to have a long and successful career, and today is at Blizzard working on World of Warcraft. I recently had a chance... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at ihobo
Hi Bart, It's funny: the sciences are full of researchers who understand the limitations of their methods, and yet few are willing to push against the mythos of 'the scientific method' that is invoked to explain their successes, even if quite a few must realise at this point that this in no way describes the way successes in the sciences are attained. But you highlight, I fear, the nature of the problem in this regard: that the humble and patient researcher is not one to draw attention to their work, and is thus consistently eclipsed by the vocal self-promoter. In an era when seeking funding requires scientists to make all manner of compromises, this exacerbates all manner of problems. For me, this brings into focus that part of the problem with our relationship with the sciences is not the scientists, per se, but their relationship to the news services, who leap upon every 'new discovery' to report as news, which is obsessed (as the name implies) with 'the new'. As you say, 'we are all self-publicists now'. I feel this acutely. Thanks for your wonderfully written, thoughtful comment, Chris.
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2016 on Sounders of the Depths at Only a Game
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What is the role of the philosopher? Discovering the truth? Forming theories? Conceptual plumbing? Or perhaps something more subtle, more humble. Perhaps the philosopher is the sounder of the depths. I’m reading Philippe Pignarre and Isabelle Stengers’ Capitalist Sorcery: Breaking... Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at Only a Game
Sunrise, sunset… one paper falls as another rises. My piece The Aesthetic Motives of Play will appear later this year in Springer’s Emotion in Games: Theory and Praxis, edited by Dr Kostas Karpouzis and an old colleague of mine, Professor... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at Only a Game
My piece The Aesthetic Motives of Play will appear later this year in Springer’s Emotion in Games: Theory and Praxis, edited by Dr Kostas Karpouzis and an old colleague of mine, Professor Georgios Yannakakis. Here’s my abstract: Why do people... Continue reading
Posted Jan 18, 2016 at ihobo
Seems the British Journal of Aesthetics rejected my recent submission, "Can a Rollercoaster Be Art?", and for quite bad reasons this time. There's no sign of the high quality peer review I received last time, indeed, no sign of any... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi TLars, Thanks for your comment! You say 'orthodox Christian', but that just makes me wonder which orthodoxy you are alluding to. :) I think his specific theology is difficult for some protestant Christians to accept, not too tricky for Catholics - no idea how it would sit with Greek Orthodox Christians to be honest! I wrote this piece as a push-back, as much against myself as anything, since Campbell's borderline hostility to Christianity is something that I hadn't seen dealt with, and the suggestion that he 'had no theology', which was sometimes banded about, was clearly a mistake. Panentheist is not a bad label for his position; certainly, his influences come more from Vedic Hinduism, which has clear panentheistic threads, rather than from any of the Abrahamic religions. I still love his work... I use it in my teaching on numerous topics. And I'm always glad to hear from Christians - or indeed, anyone! - who connect with his approach. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2016 on What Did Joseph Campbell Believe? at Only a Game
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A premise of modern thought is that there is only one real world. Against this are various forms of relativism that would claim that there are no worlds that could justifiably be called real. But there is a third option... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2016 at Only a Game
Over on Google+, Jacek Wesołowski posted such a wonderful comment on my previous post, Open Minded? that I had to share it here. Could we define open mindedness as a form of disciplined reasoning that acknowledges and accounts for one’s... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at Only a Game
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I’m starting to doubt the logic of the phrase ‘open minded’. Who is it supposed to apply to? Some folks out in the bustle of the internet tell me that being open minded is being willing to revise your beliefs... Continue reading
Posted Jan 7, 2016 at Only a Game
Great to see Nick Yee getting back into player modelling over at Quantic Foundry. However, it seems he hasn’t looked into the similar work International Hobo was doing with BrainHex five years ago. In a recent post, Gaming Motivations Align... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at Only a Game
Great to see Nick Yee getting back into player modelling over at Quantic Foundry. However, it seems he hasn’t looked into the similar work International Hobo was doing with BrainHex five years ago. In a recent post, Gaming Motivations Align... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at ihobo
Back to blogging, and have three posts racked up already, with more to come. Hope folks are up for a chat about random nonsense! Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at Only a Game
Hi Patrick, The imputation that pursuit of harmonious configurations between different people's beliefs is pursued for our own comfort is presumably what undergirds your comparison with apologetics. This is not my motive. I am pursuing what might be called metaphysical diplomacy. I would be happy to expand upon this point, but I get the sense you're not actually that interested in it. Thanks for sharing your views!
Toggle Commented Jan 4, 2016 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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Chris/Doc Surge: Thanks for extending our discussion here. I never fancied myself as a diplomat, I just sort of woke up and found myself doing it. :) What got me started was the failure to communicate between Christians and Positivists, but there's no end to the contemporary issues that can, at least in principle, be addressed by my general methods. Of course, nobody might listen. I try not to let that discourage me! ;) All the best! Patrick: Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. You say: "Your interpretation reminds me of religious apologetics as well- you're presuming that these concepts are capable of being harmonized, and that apparent contradiction just suggests a greater need for efforts at determining how to harmonize the ideas at issue. But perhaps the apparent contradiction is actually just a contradiction." Your use of 'actually' implies some privileged perspective that we could switch to in order to find out what's 'really' going on. But that's precisely the reason that these issues remain muddy: no such gods-eye-view is available to us. In its absence, as you later recognise in your comment, we have tremendous freedom of movement within our thought. To put this another way, you cannot simultaneously defend the validity of 'actually a contradiction' at the same time as 'any will do as well as any other'; these claims are built upon rival premises. My presumption that concepts can be harmonized is based on my premise that all human thought can be understood via abstraction. That premise might be false, but I haven't found a countercase yet! :) That the 'apparent contradiction' is functionally a fault line has little bearing on whether it could or would be resolved, and is less my concern. My interest is in bringing the issue into a different light. Your description of apologetics, in my view, better describes the way fans of science fiction franchises such as Star Trek deal with the inconsistencies of their 'texts' than it does my analysis here. That says something about the changes in the interests of nerds in the last few centuries. ;) Best wishes, Chris.
Toggle Commented Dec 23, 2015 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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An open letter to Jeroen Stout responding to his blog-letter Discourses: Reflecting on the A Word with Chris Bateman at his Tumblr as part of the Republic of Bloggers. Further replies welcome from anyone! Dear Jeroen, If setting aside the... Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2015 at Only a Game
Hi Chris/Doc Surge, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. There is a fine line involved in discussing this topic - one reason I'm wary about wading in - since I would never want to imply that we would be better off without the feminist movements. But we have hit a point whereby we need to be more willing to discuss the associated issues since the movements can paralyze themselves when they get caught up in bottlenecks like the one I describe here. It is interesting to hear you compare feminism to pacifism... I have been a pacifist for part of my life, but I was influenced in changing from that position by Peter Gabriel's remark that pacificism is a luxury that only those of us in the wealthier nations can afford. Now my position is more nuanced, and far less certain. I view that as a gain. I still want peace, but - as you intimate here - I no longer expect that we can get there solely through a hardline stance such as pacifism. (That said, I do feel that if, say, Palestinians had adopted the practices of Ghandi they would have not dug themselves so deeply into their hole). The general problem you point to here - of systems that can only talk to themselves - is a growing crisis of our time. As long as the movements cannot align, the status quo remains in effect, with all of the problems that entails. A lot of my work in philosophy is engaged in the (potentially intractable) problem of how to encourage dialogue in cases where people's metaphysics (what I call 'mythologies') do not align. The most famous clashes of these kinds occur around religion. The point of this piece was to show how it also occurs around gender. All the best, Chris.
Toggle Commented Dec 19, 2015 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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Hi Ernest, Thanks for your comment, although I feel you have missed the point of this piece. The 'challenge of actually getting things done' seems to me a way of ducking the issue at hand - it presupposes that what needs to be done can be pursued without a willingness to discuss the issues with the people concerned. There are grave dangers here, as I discuss in "Chaos Ethics" and Isabelle Stengers addresses in "Cosmopolitics". This point is especially important in the case of, say, drivers licenses in Saudi Arabia, since having US feminists dictate moral certainties to Saudi Arabian women is precisely the kind of failure that the intersectionality critique points to. I'm afraid I became far more sceptical of the motivations of certain folks who identified as feminists when their apparent bigotry against Muslims motivated them to support the US-led invasion of Iraq... something went catastrophically wrong there with the notion of 'getting things done'. Earlier feminists, like Germaine Greer, were always against war as a solution. Indeed, I concur with Dr. Greer's assessment that "all modern warfare is carried out at the expense of civilian populations." This, to me personally, feels like a more important issue than anything that you mention. Whatever I think about literacy in India is dwarfed by the indiscriminate murder of mothers, husbands, sons and daughters in a seemingly endless robotic apocalypse conducted by the CIA. Perhaps this is just me, but it seems like if there ever was a case where we should all band together to 'get something done' it ought to be in stopping this atrocity being done in our names. Personally, I support women in Saudi Arabia via Amnesty International. What I like about this arrangement is that it is the women in Saudi Arabia who get to decide what they need, and it is not in my power to attempt to enforce anything upon them. That leaves, for instance, questions of gender still open to negotiation - which is quite a key point here, since while Saudi Arabian women would certainly like better treatment by their government, they are keen to stress that Islam is their closest ally in attaining this, and Islamic perspectives on gender are very different to our own. This is a point that seems to have been lost by at least some feminist movements. As long as it has been lost, I feel there is enormous need for the intersectionality critique to be taken seriously. Where we are perhaps in agreement is in the overall premise of this piece, that turning on the feminists who allowed contemporary movements to get where they are today is not in any significant way 'getting things done', and that the questions surrounding transgender people (while important in their own right) might not be the most serious gender-related issues at this time. Many thanks for wading in! Chris.
Toggle Commented Dec 17, 2015 on Gender in Feminism at Only a Game
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Over on ihobo today, an examination of the relationship between player practices and commercial success. Here’s an extract: Excluding young children, all players come to every game with their own pre-existing player practices already well-established. Defender (1981) was difficult for... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at Only a Game
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Traditional game design is based upon the practices of tabletop game design, that is, writing rules (now generally called ‘game mechanics’) that are implemented into programmed systems. This method works. But it misrepresents the practical aspects of the process by... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2015 at ihobo
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Earlier this year, Cardiff University had to vote whether to cancel a planned lecture by Germaine Greer at the request of their woman’s officer Rachael Melhuish, who advanced a threat of ‘No Platform’ against the second-wave feminist icon. The issue... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2015 at Only a Game