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What Khan Academy’s Fun, Free Learning Empire Has to Do with Dystopian Social Control

Over the Christmas break, I’ve been churning through Khan Academy math drills, so that I can be a more effective homeschool parent. It’s actually kind of fun watching my score go up, and earning badges. In the way that birds who are trained to peck buttons for food think it’s fun to peck their little beaks bloody. As a grad student ploughing through Kant and Derrida, I found it an intellectual relief to run a computer program through…

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80 Days review

80 Days was my go-to game over the summer, though lately I have switched back to Faster Than Light. I haven’t had the chance to play the updated game, though I have installed it on my iOS devices. This paragraph, from Christian Donian’s review on Eurogamer.net, really impressed me. Great writing, and a great explanation of what kind of game 80 Days is. It’s interactive fiction at heart, each moment…

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Architecture in Video Games: Designing for Impact

Deanna Van Buren writes: I wonder why do we not see more collaboration between experienced architects, landscape architects, and video game developers. From the architect’s side, I know that we like to make stuff in the real world, and perhaps don’t think it will be rewarding. Architects often don’t play games or see how they can be of service. Many think it’s all about coding and that we need to…

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Cave Gave Game: Subterranean Space as Videogame Place | Electronic Book Review

Electronic Book Review just published an article I wrote with Dave Thomas, on cave space in video game ecology. Parts of this article are a companion to my 2007 Digital Humanities Quarterly article on the 1970s text computer game Colossal Cave Adventure. Crowther’s translation of real world caving experience into the digital medium provides a precise bridge between the cave as environment and the cave as game design metaphor. The…

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Grumpy Gamer – Happy Birthday Monkey Island

I guess Monkey Island turns 25 this month. It’s hard to tell. Unlike today, you didn’t push a button and unleash your game to billions of people. It was a slow process of sending “gold master” floppies off to manufacturing, which was often overseas, then waiting for them to be shipped to stores and the first of the teaming masses to buy the game. Of course, when that happened, you…