Archives for category: Media Mentions

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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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For the past several years, across a number of essays and talks, I have been kicking around the concept of the “Ludic Century” – the idea that we are living in an era of history that has a special relationship to games.

Kotaku.com has just published my Manifesto for a Ludic Century – a short essay that articulates that notion, along with a discussion of systems, play, design, and why in the future everyone will be a game designer. Heather Chaplin, who has been an important sounding-board for these ideas, has written a wonderfully critical response that appears just after the manifesto itself.

Big thanks to Kirk Hamilton and Stephen Totillo at Kotaku for making this happen! The Manifesto will also appear next year in The Gameful World, a book of essays edited by Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian Deterding.

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This is something to see.

I am still processing the over-the-top, completely ridiculous and completely awesome video trailer that Philipe Nouhra and my publisher FunForge created for my new boardgame Quantum. You can see the video here on Boardgamegeek.com and it really does resemble nothing so much as a film trailer for a high-budget science-fiction film. (OK, maybe a rough cut with some of the scenes still storyboarded in – but you get the idea.)

Since my company Gamelab closed about four years ago, as a designer I have returned to my roots creating experimental games – my architectural installations with Nathalie Pozzi, and digital experiments with the Brooklyn Game Ensemble, the Leisure Society, and Local No. 12. That’s why it feels a little strange to be part of what feels like a “AAA boardgame” marketing campaign for Quantum.

But yet – I love it. Yes, it’s a boardgame. But it’s a boardgame with a kick-ass cinematic trailer. Possibly the most crazy-awesome video in the history of tabletop games. Nice work, Philipe.

Like the gleaming, spinning 3D chrome letters ask… Are you ready for Quantum?

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Last night Charles Pratt and I played sports commentators at the first official event of the recently relocated NYU Game Center – an exhibition tournament of the indie arcade game Killer Queen. A 5 vs. 5 game housed in a beautiful custom cabinet, Killer Queen is the creation of NYC game designers Josh DeBonis and Nik Mikros. Commissioned by the NYU Game Center’s No Quarter exhibition that Charles curates every year, Killer Queen is a mash-up of platform jumper, real-time strategy, and the classic 80s game Joust. Although it has the deceptively simple look of a 16-bit console game, Kill Queen encourages each 5-player team to use deep strategy and fast-action skills to best the opposing team and reach one of the three distinct winning conditions.

Streamed live on twitch.tv, Charles and I provided play-by-play commentary and analysis for about two hours – from the preliminary bouts to the nail-biting championship. It was challenging, exhausting, and incredibly enjoyable. I have a new appreciation for the rigors of eSports announcers! The video from the tournament has been archived here. The first 40 minutes are set-up and practice matches, so you might want to skip the beginning of the stream (we have some audio problems at the start). Nik and Josh hold KIller Queen tournaments once a month – so please come join us next time!

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This month’s issue of Aperture Magazine is devoted to the theme of play, and I was asked to write a short reflection on the connection between games, images, and culture. The text of my piece is below, which questions the future of photography in our current Ludic Century.

Read on for the full text of my mini-essay. Special thanks to Cameron Sterling, who took the gorgeous photo of Interference that accompanies the piece.

Read the rest of this entry »

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