Week 226

Last week a bunch of visual progress was made on culiacán. Expect an August release on that.

Also a longer version of my review of Inside a Star-filled Sky was posted to Bashers. Seemingly any post that does not contain meta-criticism has a hard time attracting comments over there (maybe everywhere). More stuff was published also about Jason Rohrer, especially of note the Wired piece about Chain World.

Mid-week marked the first deployed iteration of guadalupe. If development on that goes the way we want it, expect private alpha invites to become available also in August.

End of the week we spent a bunch of time doing a submission to SxSWi to talk about the Heist Model. It’s an edgy philosophy and a fun way of working, which we look forward to expound in Austin accompanied by friends, margaritas and BBQ.

Friday there was Ball Invasion (with friends):
Ball Invasion with Alex and Peter

After which I managed to get stuck with a car and drive it up North to the Appsterdam HQ for the iOS Devcamp that was in progress.

iOS devcamp

The weekend was marked by rainy misery and a short piece of writing about open data becoming a normal practice of Amsterdam City-Center.

Why write about games?

Some of my own misgivings about whether to write about games and related phenomena or not are reflected in the critique of game criticism at Lost Garden.

I have done some effort to try to raise discourse about games in such publications as Bashers, nrc.next and VN with mixed results and many frustrations.

I have a (multi-media focused) computer science degree, I develop games at Hubbub, I have played games on and off for the past 20 years, I am a self-taught designer practicing interaction design and product management and I dabble in media philosophy/theory. In short I think I may be somewhat qualified to write about the subject.

This is also what Dan says:

We need writers who are more deeply educated in the art, craft and science of games.

I also think I have something to say about the relationship between reality and games, how games should draw more from reality (not the other way around), about the potential of games to become a more potent expressive medium than anything we have ever seen before and about society’s role to welcome and channel this development correctly.

Quoting Dan again:

Goal: Advance the art and science of games. Simply looking at what exists is not enough. Instead, we leverage what exists in order to to ask what is next and create the conceptual language and tools that get us there.

Dilemmas

My biggest dilemma in pursuing writing is that my time is limited and I may want to spend most of that time making games not writing about them. There is a large class of people (writers, journalists, academics) whose work actually is just writing but most of them have no experience with the craft which Dan identifies as a weakness. Whether it is because that lack of experience or because of the lowest common denominator approach dominant in Dutch publishing, most writing on games in the Netherlands makes me cringe.

My second dilemma is that any writing for a major periodical needs to dumb the content down to a level that it kills the possibility for any meaningful discourse. Some publications welcome pieces full of expletives to appeal to a younger audience, others reduce any thought to a sound byte to cater to the shortest of attention spans.

Another dilemma is that writing properly such that I myself would like to read it and doing the necessary contextual research for a piece takes an inordinate amount of time. Time (days upon days really) I could spend developing a game that has more substance, relevance and value than a piece of writing that will be in the litter the next day.

And finally there is the dilemma what kind of medium has the largest impact, whether to write in Dutch or English, to aim for print or online or forego writing for other ways of making a point such as debates and presentations.

Way forward

I talked about this with friends in media and publishing on and off to see whether writing has benefits that make it worth the effort. Everybody agrees that writing in and of itself is definitely not worth it, but reaching a wider audience can have benefits that make it worthwhile.

I am going to keep at it because that is the responsibility of an engaged developer: making sure that any work you produce falls upon fertile soil and that your future work is appreciated not only on its merits but also on its and your contributions to the wider discourse.

Now remains the task of seeing what it is I should write about first and where it will have the largest punch. Your suggestions welcome.