Archives for category: Media Mentions

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Summer blog catch-up continues, this time with a report on all things Quantum. If you’re in NYC and want to try the game, I am demoing it on Tuesday August 26 at 7pm at The Uncommons, a board game cafe in the East Village.

Quantum is my recent tabletop strategy game, published with Paris-based FunForge earlier this year. The game has done well – selling out in North America and with coming editions in Italian, Polish, and Spanish to join the French and English versions. The image above is from the launch party we held at the NYU Game Center, in partnership with another tabletop game from an NYC designer, Zach Gage’s Guts of Glory.

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The Game Developers Conference happened a few months ago, so I suppose it is high time I posted something about it.

This past year, I organized for the second time the exhibition Doing it On the Table – a playable lounge of card and board games designed by videogame creators. The project lets me intermingle the design cultures of videogames and tabletop games – and it also gives GDC attendees a place to hang out and socialize through play. Games this year ranged from Tash-Kalar, a commercial release by designer Vlaada Chavtil to When Dragons Fight, an old-school chit-based wargame from David Wessman. More about the exhibition and the lineup of games can be found in this Gamasutra preview article.

I also co-hosted the annual rant session with Jason Della Roca. This was the 10th rant panel we have organized at GDC, this time titled Rant Apocalypse: The 10 Anniversary Mega Session. to celebrate we invited several of our favorite ranters from the past to hold forth on whatever topic they wanted. Presenters did not disappoint – from Chris Hecker holding the room hostage with a “pay to continue” business model to Brenda Romero making sure that developers understood that “Nobody wants your cock.” Other outstanding rants were hammered home by Ian Bogost, Heather Chaplin, Greg Costikyan, Justin Hall, Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris, and Frank Lantz. A detailed Gamasutra review of the panel can be found here. A full video of the session is also available in the GDC Vault, as part of their free offerings.

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The Museum of the Moving Image, a longtime exhibitor of digital games, recently premiered the show Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Videogames. The show combines classic indie games like Passage and Braid with last years winners from the IndieCade Festival of Independent Games like Killer Queen and Gone Home.

I was delighted when Diner Dash was selected to be among the winners. It was one of Gamelab’s first titles – and probably its most successful. You can read more about the show in this review published in the New York Times. The exhibition will be up through IndieCade East in February. Check it out if you’re around NYC.

photo credit: Karsten Moran for the New York Times

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For better or for worse, the Manifesto for a Ludic Century – an essay I posted on Kotaku.com several months ago – continues to reverberate within game circles. This past November, the NYU Game Center where I teach hosted a debate over some of the ideas in the essay. You can watch the full video here, featuring Heather Chaplin, Ben Johnson, Abe Stein, and myself. No blood is drawn, but there is plenty of productive combat.

Heather since published a short interview with me about the Ludic Century for the MacArthur Foundation’s Spotlight Blog. In it, we chat about games, literacy, and the three elements of the Ludic Century – systems, play, and design.

And there’s more. Last night, I was delighted to watch brilliant media scholar McKenzie Wark expertly dissect the Ludic Century as part of the events series “Videogames Theory Criticism” at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. It was equal parts painful and illuminating – like watching a veteran surgeon operate on your own body. Highly recommended.

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As a follow up to my Manifesto for a Ludic Century, journalist Heather Chaplin posted an article on Kotaku that included many great reactions to the piece, from Frank Lantz’s poetic game narrative to Ian Bogost’s cutting criticism, and other wonderful responses from Leigh Alexander, Robin Hunike, and Tracy Fullerton.

The article is also getting responses across the web, both laudatory and critical. (Of course the critical reactions are the ones that excite me the most.) Perhaps the most detailed answer comes from the sweet and brilliant David Kanaga, a game developer known for his work on Proteus and Dyad. Reading the manifesto line by line, David argues for less of an emphasis on systems and design and more of an emphasis on play. My own feeling is that the deeply paradoxical interdependence of rules and play is one of the great mysteries that we explore every time we play a game.

Not to be outdone by my own critics, I of course have my own misgivings about the manifesto to articulate. Below is a summary of my primary beefs with the essay.

  • It is incredibly self-serving. In the future, games will be the central force in culture, and everyone will be a game designer. Is it really hard to believe that this was written by… a game designer? I do believe in the underlying concepts and predictions of the manifesto, but I think that they are likely to manifest in ways that are stranger than we might be able to imagine in our present moment. One can only hope that the future surprises us – perhaps the ludic century won’t end up being about “games” as we know them at all.
  • It is so damn happy. I love games, and I think the manifesto captures my joy in playing them, designing them, and understanding how they fit into culture at large. However, the last thing I’d ever want to be is a cheerleader, and the manifesto might err on the side of being too cheery about games. It’s at least as important that we be hard on games – as critical about them as possible. Loving games should make you a snob, not a cheerleader. And proper snobs are full of hate about what they love.
  • It is a manifesto. This means it is meant to be short and digestible. And any time complex ideas get summarized, they lose subtlety. So I’m definitely trading in nuance for bombast. In addition, calling anything a “manifesto” these days is a bit like historical cosplay – dressing up in the garb of an earlier era. So I embrace the form of the 20th Century manifesto with full earnestness and irony. That’s one way in which the essay is intended to be playful.

Thanks again to all of my critics. Special gratitude to Heather Chaplin for her generous (and often critical) writing that framed the original article and the follow-up response. Huge thanks to Kotaku Features Editor Kirk Hamilton, who put in the work with Heather to plan and curate the articles that gave the manifesto such a great platform. And thanks to Kotaku Editor-in-Chief Stephen Totillo for seeing the potential in the first place.

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