BG 30 – Roleplaying Games and The Cluttered Self

Futurisimc have my thirtieth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled “Roleplaying Games and The Cluttered Self”.

The column is both a defence of Consumerism and an examination of the ways in which we express, formulate and find ourselves through the process of playing games.  It is also the longest piece of writing I have ever published, clocking in at over 6,500 words.  It is also the first piece of writing for which I took photos (the photos in question are of my old room at my mum’s house, which I have been clearing out over the past few months).

Aside from these minor formal experiments, the piece also marks something of a departure from my traditional critical stomping grounds and towards something a good deal more personal in that I try to use my thinking about games to shed some light on some thinking I have recently been doing about myself.  I’m not entirely sure how effective the experiment has been, but it was certainly an interesting experience trying something so different.

BG 28 – Dead Space : The Shock Doctrine Goes Interplanetary

Futurismic have my latest Blasphemous Geometries column.

As I promised last month, this column moves away from my recent tendency to use games as launching pads in order to provide a detailed analysis of one particular game – the zombies-in-space third person action game Dead Space.  This piece was quite a lot of fun to write, hopefully you’ll enjoy reading my analysis of what is possibly the most furiously Marxist video game ever produced.

BG 27 – Fantasies of Mere Competence : Football Manager 2010

Futurismic have my latest Blasphemous Geometries column.

It is a development of some of the idea expressed in this column from a few months ago but rather than looking at Fantasy as an avenue for escapism, I decided to look at the more modest and mundane ways in which people aspire and escape.  A trend embodied in TV programmes like Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and games like Football Manager 2010.

I’ve also decided to take a slightly different approach with next month’s column.  Recently, I have been using games as springboards to look at wider issues.  This is partly a result of my own game-laying experience of late which has seen me bouncing out of new games and returning again and again to games I have already written about like GTA IV, Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age.  However, I think that it would be good for me to keep my feet on the ground with regards to writing about games so I have decided that next month at least will herald a return to a closer examination of one particular game.

BG 24 – We Are All Sheep : Avatar, Bayonetta and the Hypnosis of Low-Brow culture

Futurismic have my twenty fourth Blasphemous Geometries column entitled We Are All Sheep : Avatar, Bayonetta and the Hypnosis of Low-Brow Culture.  The column draws partly on some of the thinking I did for my recent Ozu piece and partly on some of the things I said about the Hugo awards last summer.

The piece was motivated by the intense and viscerally negative reaction I had to Bayonetta.  I hated it.  I hated it more than any game I have played in recent memory.  In fact, I hated it more than any cultural artifact I have recently rubbed my brain up against.  I was going to put together a hatchet job but then I took a step back and realised that my reaction to Bayonetta was no different to the one film critics have had against Avatar, and that my tendency to explain away the opinions of people who enjoy games like Bayonetta is disingenuous.  So, instead of saying that Bayonetta is low-brow or stupid, I thought I would put forward a way of looking at the process through which opinions are formed in the first place.

BG 23 – Redefining friendship: Facebook, MMORPGs and Dragon Age Origins

Futurismic have my twenty third (!) Blasphemous Geometries column entitled Redefining Friendship : Facebook, MMORPGs and Dragon Age : Origins.  It deals with the capacity for well written computer characters to effectively stand-in for human players in what were once considered group activities and in particular how console RPGs like Dragon Age : Origins seem to be trying to do to MMORPGs what a previous generation of video games did to real-world sports.

BG 22 – The Future is the Past : Assassin’s Creed II

Futurismic have my 22nd Blasphemous Geometries Column entitled “The Future is the Past”.

It’s kind of a thematic overview of the game Assassin’s Creed II and how that game relates not only to history but also to the concept of Sacred History via the use of prophecies and apocalyptic symbolism.  It was a lot of fun to write but not nearly as much fun as playing Assassin’s Creed II, which is easily one of my games of the year.  Particularly impressive is the way that the game’s Renaissance Venice manages to capture the same duality as classic Horror film Don’t Look Back.  Go one way and it’s towering churches and magnificent palazzos.  Turn another and it’s sordid and cramped little streets.

BG 21 – Why Moral Choices in Video Games Are No Longer Fun

Another pair of fortnights, another new column!  Futurismic have my 21st Blasphemous Geometries column entitled “The Mechanics of Morality : Why Moral Choices In Video Games Are No Longer Fun”.

It is a little bit longer than my usual BG columns but I felt that I had quite a bit to say about this issue.  I am particularly proud of what I am calling The Clarkson Effect :

In order to be fun, transgressive behaviour requires the existence of a strong moral code to transgress against. However, when the transgressive opinions and behaviour become an accepted and recognised way of being, the behaviour ceases to be transgressive and thereby ceases to be fun.

BG19 – Fear of a Transhuman Future : Zombies and Resident Evil

Futurismic have my nineteenth Blasphemous Geometries column.

It deals partly with the Resident Evil games but mostly with the evolution of the zombie genre.  Originally, I was planning a much more expansive piece that also took in the games Dead Space and Prototype – as they also have a rather reactionary attitude towards the shifting conceptions of identity found in transhumanism  – but I decided instead to focus my analysis a bit more.

BG 18 – The Iron Cage of Fantasy : World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Fable II

Futurismic have the 18th edition of my Blasphemous Geometries video game column.

It was an interesting column to write as it marks the first piece of sustained thinking I have done on the Fantasy genre in a little while.  I was pleased to note that while my politics seem to be drifting leftwards, my attitude towards escapism has mellowed hugely.  There was a time when I considered escapism to be a cowardly and childish retreat from the real world, but my views on it have changed markedly.

BG 17 – Red Faction : Guerilla

Futurismic have my Blasphemous Geometries column about Red Faction : Guerilla.

This piece was slightly wild.  I initially took as my inspiration Greil Marcus’ Lipstick Traces : A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989), one of my favourite pieces of writing about music.  the first chapter of the book begins with a song-by-song and almost line-by-line examination of the music of the Sex Pistols and I was struck, as Marcus was, by the enduring power of the opening line of Anarchy in The UK : I am an Antichrist, I am an Anarchist.  That desire to destroy and reject everything struck me as central to a proper understanding of Red Faction : Guerilla.  But then I came up with the idea of the idea of a suicide bombing simulator and was amused by the similarities and I let that Idea simply carry me home.