Greetings, early adopters, and thanks for signing on to this patently un-realistic idea! There's already 22 of you, before I've even sent out a single email, which is encouraging! Of course, I have been At It doing a whole variety of games-adjacent stuff since... 2014 (which is gaspppp 7 years ago), but this is the first time I've been conflicted enough about what my next life steps should be to try to spin it out into a more formalized thing/practice/monetization scheme. Thank you for your support already.
I finished my dissertation towards the end of 2019 and then had to deal with a bunch of immigration stuff to be able to stay with my partner and settle down in Glasgow. For the past few months I’ve been applying for academic jobs but also trying to pull together relevant freelance work because, well, the situation is still not great in terms of permanent hiring. A lot of the time, I am way too wiped out from the paperwork and admin involved in this to keep up with these projects as much as I’d like to, or even catch my breath to sit and think about them.
Freelance jobs and temporary roles are also notoriously tricky to plan around! So hopefully by fostering a set amount of money via this newsletter each month, I can actually justify to myself setting aside time specifically for these projects, and maybe even making some small purchases to support them (I need to come up with an actual storage solution for the zine library, for example).
As for the format, I like using Buttondown because it doesn’t have any dubious dark money deals going on or reactionary editorial stances, and lets me write out my newsletter in HTML and not include any tracking! I’ve also been using it to coordinate the Plaintext Distro mailing list and have been really pleased with it.
Now, on to what will be the more standard sections for this newsletter…
Since this is a new newsletter my partner has encouraged me to toot my own horn a little extra and highlight some pieces from my blog over the last year I’m particularly proud of, fine: the one about cars in videogames, the one about gamedev tools, and the one about moon: Remix RPG Adventure.
I published a piece on Competitive Catacombs of Solaris with Rock Paper Shotgun recently that was fun to research!
Plaintext Distro just wrapped up its first digital tabling experience at GZF which generated a lot of interest in the zines! I’m working on printing+assembling the zines and sending out the orders now.
I am working on another extended piece about visual novels to complement the other one I wrote last year. The ideas for this one have been kicking around in my head for a while, kind of connected to the ideas I was pondering about first-person perspective as well.
There’s “first-person” in the videogame-specific sense that implies moving around a perspectival 3D space, usually to shoot something, but aren’t visual novels often “first-person” in a sense as well, since what you see on the screen is usually a schematic of a particular character’s perception, and what happens or what the other characters say is usually addressed directly to you? I’m thinking through this in light of The House in Fata Morgana, which I’ve finished recently, and how it does some very ambitious things with structure and perspective in VNs, but also trying to do a similar move to what Erkki Huhtamo does with automation as a prehistory of videogames, looking for a prehistory of videogames not in like, chess, but in this particular mode of mediated direct address.
I’m also playing more RPGMaker stuff to be able to write an article about more recent work in that engine! (see recs) Throughout May, I’m also doing some interesting production work and more freelance writing that I’ll hopefully be able to share the results of soon :)
The Magic Mountain has been my main squeeze for pleasure reading over the last few weeks, and I’m now on the downward slope of it. It was pitched to me as kind of an ideological dating sim and it’s really not wrong at all. After I finish it I also have a copy of The Dancing Face I’m excited to get into after a fascinating review at The White Pube.
In terms of articles, Robin Wall Kimmerer’s mediation on Serviceberries made me hungry and eager for berry season. I also enjoyed Phil Salvador’s recent blog post on lesser-known MECC titles. I’ve been revisiting the classic Italo Calvino story, “The Burning of the Abominable House,” to try and sell an article about the thematic connections between computation, gaming, and financial instruments like insurance, but no luck yet!
That’s all I’ve got for now! I hope this gives you a good idea of what future issues will be like. I’m glad so many people hopped on to support me so soon, and I hope you find these messages interesting/valuable!
Thank you again for your support,