Hello! The newsletter keeps chugging along now... for those of you who'd like more of an intro to what precisely is going on here, you can check out the first issue before reading on.
I feel like I’ve been falling behind in my writing lately, so sorry if you signed up for this expecting a ton of new stuff! This week was delivery for a big event production job I had, which went well but also meant that most of my working hours were devoted to helping people set up, making sure the platform was working in an orderly fashion, and being on hand as people needed help during the event. It was really tiring. But all that’s left to do is write up a brief report and wait for the invoices to process, so I feel alright about it! Over the next few weeks I have some further interviews lined up, plus some grant writing and workshop related work… well… if you need that I can do it!
One nice thing is that my interview with Alenda Chang is now up on the Critical Distance podcast. I’ve enjoyed doing these because it gives me an excuse to get my hands on copies of (sometimes rather expensive) books and keep up with recent ideas in game studies even though I’m not currently in an academic job. I picked out some of the ideas from Playing Nature that I enjoyed, which I mentioned in the last issue. Some past episodes I also recommend are my chats with Rob Gallagher and Sonia Fizek.
The sale period for the itch.io bundle funding Palestinian Aid just ended, but I assume a lot of the people who read this newsletter probably got it. I haven’t had a ton of time to dig deep on it yet, but I have started using JRNL, an interesting journaling program to better gather notes for this newsletter as well as to keep track of boring stuff you have to care about when you’re over thirty, like what you eat and when your back hurts. It’s nice! 10 Beautiful Postcards is also included, which is mainly Stephen’s game but the titular postcards are my own work, so I feel a sense of partial ownership over it.
On the personal blog, I also wrote a brief post about my birthday and getting vaccinated. Basically it was a pretty chill time once I cooled off from having to walk up an enormous hill to the vax center (how long will I live in Scotland until I learn to expect that all destinations are uphill?).
The House in Fata Morgana was briefly the greatest game of all time (on Metacritic), so surely releasing my piece about it into this context will go over just as well if not better than writing yet another close read of OOT or something, right? Haha. I’m still working on this piece but it’s slow going (for the reasons detailed above). I’m still trying to wrap it up before the end of the month just so I stop psyching myself out about putting up new stuff on my main site.
I suppose I could also write some more about Playdate’s onboard Bitsy clone, and I probably will eventually, but I always get kind of burnt out on the huge chasm of attention between my reactive, more negative posts and the posts I make about stuff I actually like or find interesting. I don’t really want to argue with people who think that closed platforms somehow don’t have a negative impact on creativity and preservation or don’t see this as a case of a commercial entity swooping in, claiming and monetizing the work of a fairly spontaneous community. It’s depressing! So for now, in a more positive sense, I will just link to my talk on identifying the vital qualities of mass art tools that I gave last year as well as Freya Campbell’s inspiring zine on alternate futures for videogames.
I finished up The Dancing Face! It was really impressive to me in that it used the “container” of a thriller to put characters and situations together which produced really interesting commentary on cultural ownership, history, and our relationship to art objects. Basically it was totally up my alley. It also reminded me a lot of the things I enjoy about Suda51’s work, where he’s not afraid to let characters represent and act as ideas and concepts, and even monologue a bit, so long as it’s compelling. Naturalism is overrated for sure. Next I’m planning to get into some short fiction by Japanese sf author Izumi Suzuki. I also really enjoyed this reprinted short story, which made me curious about the author’s other work.
I read a lot of interesting stuff about the internet, tools and platforms in the meantime. candle’s flickgame study post is a really interesting approach to making modular, editable tools and toolboxes more of a norm. I also found this piece about the differences in a culture that originates on mobile internet versus desktop internet to be interesting. It’s specific to how mobile internet platforms were adopted across China but I think it can also relate to how things shift as mobile-only social media apps become more central in general. I also liked this paper on “refracted publics,” as communication on highly regulated and algorithmic platforms has to become more coded and referential. This episode of Game Studies Study Buddies made me really interested in checking out Open World Empire sometime soon.
I think that’s all I have this bi-week! Some nice news is that there are now 30 of you kind subscribers, which I am very grateful for.
Thank you again for your support,