GDC: Post-Death in a Paradise


“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded

Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed

Everybody knows that the war is over

Everybody knows the good guys lost

Everybody knows the fight was fixed

The poor stay poor, the rich get rich

That’s how it goes

Everybody knows”

    -Leonard Cohen, Everybody Knows

On my very first day in San Francisco, I saw a man bleeding profusely, crusted in dirt, and smoking a cigarette. As I walked past him wide-eyed, on my way to visiting a French international school in the Tenderloin, my sister told me that she witnessed another man pull his pants down and take a shit on the sidewalk square we were approaching. I had seen poverty in Canada, sure, and I had seen homelessness, but my sister assured me I had never seen anything quite like this. Continue reading

The Corset I Wore to My GDC Microtalk


I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the outfit I’m going to wear on the day of my talk. I’ve thought about the skirt, the leggings, the hair, makeup, jewelry—still deciding on the shoes—and a smart black jacket to tie it all together. I put the corset to a vote. It has to be a corset. Probably the green one.

It has to be a corset—a classic symbol of the objectification and ornamentation of women—because this thing known for bodily imprisonment gives me a strange strength. It might be because I’m someone who prefers to control her image, and I will be in a convention centre full of strange people, doing a strange thing in a strange new city. There will be photographers. I will probably be recorded, and the thought makes me quake. Those controlling tendencies are pulling at every fiber in my body. Because I will feel naked, I will feel vulnerable, I will feel scared, and my clothing is something I can control. Continue reading

Game Industry Mad Libs


This week’s week’s post comes to you in humble Twine form.

Too many sensations, scandals, faux-pas and turpitudes have cropped up since I wrote my last piece. So, instead of writing a response or analysis, I decided to do something a little more fun and a little more cathartic. Below are 16 headlines describing vague—but hopefully familiar enough—incidents that reveal something of a pattern in the general comportment of the multifaceted turd zirconia that is videogame culture. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s something to play around with. Continue reading

The Eroticism of Uselessness in Videogames


“All art is quite useless” is a reasonably well-known quote by Oscar Wilde from the preface of his book, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Besides Wilde’s plea for the exemption of art from Victorian moral judgment, he does lay down a few truths that at the time would have been outrageous and even today are likely to either be so misunderstood that they’re twisted out of shape or treated like some vague sacrilege. The first is that art, in its uselessness, exists for its own sake. Its utilitarian aspects, if it has any, aren’t generally considered what make the piece beautiful or meaningful. Even for the craftsperson enchanted by the quality and workmanship of a very nice table, they derive pure joy from those qualities in and of themselves, because they’re able to appreciate them as virtues. The fact that you can rest a bowl of cereal on that table doesn’t bring a tear to anyone’s eye. Continue reading

A Bird of a Different Colour


I don’t tend to write reviews much anymore, but I’m going to go ahead and write a review for Flappy Bird. The sidescrolling “endless runner” was taken down from the App Store recently by its creator, Dong Nguyen, after facing a hurricane of obloquy and suspicion from press and audience alike. I’m doing this because it’s a good mobile game and I think it deserves a few more fair shakes before it gets lost in the mildewy shroud of this subculture’s collective memory. Continue reading

A Special Radio Transmission: “Academic Critics” and Discursive Hegemony


Hello, dear readers. This week’s post is a little bit different, because it’s coming to you in magical ☁SoUnDcLoUd☁ form. This is a first, very haphazard and casual attempt at a podcast hosted by critic and game designer Zolani Stewart and me. By haphazard, I mean we did this at 3 a.m. on my couch while my cat ran up and down the hallway (you can probably hear her somewhere in the middle). By casual, I mean there’s no real rhyme scheme here.

Zolani and I shoot the shit, using Brendan Keogh’s flagship piece at the new, open-access Journal of Games Criticism as a launchpad to talk about things like kyriarchy within both games academia and the games industry, the role of the critic and the hegemony of discourse within games. We take a structuralist view of the concept of formal purity, which Keogh critiques in his piece as being a dangerous preoccupation of games studies academics. We consider the future of “close readings” and subjective relationships to games, the necessity of outsider voices to the broadening of games discourse, and steps that we can take to prevent the reconstitution of hegemonic power structures in this new age of “cyborgian,” outsider academic game critics and developers.


Static Electricity: On Photography in Videogames


Killing Floor is one of the most unforgivably ugly games I have ever played. The FPS is about balls-to-the-wall grit and brutality. Best played as a co-op game, Killing Floor is not made for the patient sniper: enemy chokepoints are everywhere, writhing with ghouls and zombies, attacking you and your squad as mercilessly as the map architecture affronts the senses. Everything is overlayed with a grainy filter; set pieces are broken, abandoned and often aflame. Every nook and cranny screams violence, dereliction, and mortal peril. Continue reading