Every now and then I find myself obsessed with a particular collection of things, which all come together to feed into whatever I'm working on at the time. That's what happened with this month's piece. It's driven by:
100 gecs' saturated, dayglo pop music.
glaive's rapid-fire, angsty hyperpop ballads.
Blake Andrews' vivid MSPaint/Click & Play-style games.
The Xenofeminist Manifesto (the source of the title).
Natalie Olah's Steal as Much as You Can (the title of the music).
It's a 1min 16s burst of noise, colour and a bad CRT shader. If I've got it right you should reach the end and instantly want to replay it, in the same way you want to instantly re-watch a really good music video.
I don't know if it's a generally accepted term, but I think of this type of game as a Music Video game; i.e. a game that gets its structure entirely from a single piece of music.
What I mean is: usually in games the music reacts to what happens on screen. The player is in control of the pacing and the music has to be designed to accomodate that. In a Music Video game, that relationship is inverted: the music determines the pacing and the player has to react to it. So rather than e.g. the player walking through a door to trigger a new scene, instead a new scene is triggered when the music hits the chorus, etc.
This is how Claire's prototype worked. It's also the structure for a game I made years ago based on Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time (a book I loved, though see here for a depressing postscript on Piercy's views about trans folk).
I wish more people would use music to structure their games rather than the other way around. I'd love to see more game developers drawing from music video instead of cinema.
(note: while developing this one I discovered that Windows Defender considers it a virus (it's not; you can audit the source code yourself to verify). It's a pain to whitelist applications in Windows Defender, so if you don't want to go to the trouble, here's a full playthrough of the game on youtube)
Controls: escape: quit; space: start; cursor keys: move
The file at this link will be deleted 1 month from now (06/02/21).
All downloads are zipfiles containing a Windows executable.
As long as you abide by those licenses, you can do whatever you want with the download.
I'm reading Nadine El-Enany's (B)ordering Britain at the moment, and the thing that has struck me most is how strongly it articulates the message that colonialism is theft:
"The spoils of colonialism are located within the borders of Britain and manifest in the form of infrastructure, health, wealth, security, opportunity and futures. Such losses as a result of colonialism can be more difficult to discern due to traditional understandings of property as being fixed and immobile."
Derrick Austin: The Lost Woods as Elegy for Black Childhood
Palaces for All: An incredible piece of writing by Natalie Olah, touching on social mobility, domestic violence, and abandoned stately homes.
Sarah McCarry writes about Heinke, her laconic ship's cook.
This is the first year since I started at Abertay that I haven't had marking to do over the holidays, so I've been trying to catch up on the games I missed when they came out this year. I think I'd been saving If Found... because I'd been looking forward to it for so long, and yeah, it was worth the wait. That a game like this could be made, with publisher support, and find an audience (at least, judging from my twitter feed) is something that makes me incredibly (maybe irrationally?) optimistic about games as a space.
I hadn't spotted that Grant Morrison had come out as nonbinary, but it's one of those revelations that makes a lot of sense in hindsight. And speaking of optimism, the interview where he talks about it is one of the most unexpectedly optimistic things I've read this year. I hope he's right; I hope these are the death throes of the old order, out of which we'll build something better.
Hearts in the Hard Ground: A tale of grief, a haunted house, and putting ghosts to rest by G.V. Anderson.
I've been teaching for a little over 3 years now, which is long enough that I think I both: understand the job, and; can recognise just how far I have to go before I'm any good at it. I think I can do the basic transmission of knowledge (Paolo Friere's "banking model" of education), but it's the messy, human business of building a community and engaging with my students that I struggle with. That banking model, and the assumed unassailable authority of the lecturer, is something that is so ingrained in higher education that I've found it really hard to find models for how to do things differently.
Which is why discovering folk like Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel has been so important to me. As much as anything because the critical pedagogy tradition they belong to puts repeated emphasis on care, and on resisting the "cop shit" that is woven throughout higher education.
By the time you're reading this it'll be a new year, so I reckon congratulations are in order: you survived another year! Considering the year we've had, that's not a small thing. I think we have a lot of surviving still to do before any of us can really relax so, you know, take care of yourself. Sleep in when you can - be lazy - winter's hibernation time anyway; it's a good time to hunker down and recharge. Be safe. I'll write again in February.