I’ve left Gamesbrief: here’s how you can hire me and/or support my work

I just finished my final week at Gamesbrief, where I was Deputy Editor (here’s the announcement post). Aside from continued work on my PhD, my work is going to take two directions from now on:

1) Translation for games, digital art and new media

I’ve been studying Japanese culture for almost a decade now, including four years study at Cambridge University and two years at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. In that time I have translated a huge range of texts for a variety of clients, including primary historical sources, an exhibition catalogues, mobile games, dating sims, marketing copy and technical documents. You can learn more about my intercultural media analysis and translation work at secaican.com.

2) Editor-in-Chief, Critical Publishing at Silverstring Media

I’ve been really happy to see my two-year-old ezine Memory Insufficient become a very well-regarded publication among people with a penchant for critical approaches to games writing, and is particularly lauded as an accessible alternative to games studies journals. In a delightful turn of events, experimental games studio and design consultancy Silverstring Media has recently taken the publication under its wing. It will relaunch for volume 3 next month at the Silverstring website: silverstringmedia.com/memory-insufficient. We’re looking for funding from arts and cultural organistions as well as considering sponsorship opportunities, in order to build an outlet that can have a bigger impact on game design as a craft and a practice. Get in touch at zoya [at] silverstringmedia.com

Alongside both of these things, I’ll be continuing to work on my PhD research into the history of games between 1998 and 2008, starting with the mobile games portion that was crowdfunded last year. If you missed the chance to support the project last August, you can still help out by preordering the book with Indiegogo InDemand.

Happy 9th September, Dreamcast fans!

front-webToday is the anniversary of the Dreamcast’s 9/9/99 launch in the US! Fifteen years ago people were excitedly opening their Dreamcasts for the first time. It was one of the most successful console launches in history, for a device that most people agree was far ahead of its time; it came with a modem for online play, the VMU enabled portable mini-games for multi-sited play, and it was home to all kinds of groundbreaking experiments in game design, graphics and storytelling.

Today is also the one year anniversary of the launch of Dreamcast Worlds. I can’t believe only a year has passed, it already seems so long ago. The book has been featured in a Storybundle, received numerous press accolades, and I had the pleasure of giving a talk about it at DiGRA this year alongside Mia Consalvo and Skot Deeming, who have also written excellent studies of the Dreamcast.

To celebrate the 15-year anniversary of the Dreamcast’s launch, read these extracts for free and then go buy the book at rupazero.com.

Funded, bundled, and Silverstrung

Lots of things to announce happened in the past 24 hours.


A history of mobile games is funded!

A history of mobile games has hit its funding goal with time to spare! I’m absolutely over the moon. Everybody has been so generous, not just with their contributions but with their vocal support for my work. Writing about mobile games before their heyday is a strange idea — people always want to hear about golden ages and great successes, and this certainly runs counter to that. It’s been gratifying to hear people say on Twitter that they trust me as a writer and just want to see what I’m going to do with the topic. I honestly feel like one of the luckiest games writers in the world right now. Thank you so much.

There’s still over a day left to get on board, and every extra bit of funding will help me to offset the costs of doing a PhD. Those costs include things like travelling between the UK and the US, taking time away from paid work to focus on studying, and collecting material resources such as the old hardware that I’m going to study.

Visit the indiegogo page

Silverstring Logo Avatar

I joined the Silverstring Media advisory board

This one is also really exciting for me. I’m going to be advising one of the most interesting companies in gaming on their future projects. Silverstring’s approach to game design and business practice fills me with hope and enthusiasm. Nobody else is thinking about play, aesthetics and storytelling in the same way that they do, and I’m absolutely honoured that I get to play any role in their work.

We are thrilled to announce that Zoya has agreed to step onto our board of advisors. Effective immediately, Zoya will be offering Silverstring his immense academic expertise on games history, design history, and material culture studies. Additionally, we also expect Zoya’s experience as a journalist covering free-to-play games, and his industry savvy as an analyst of changing business models will also prove invaluable.

See the full announcement


Storybundle games 4.0 launched

Delay: paying attention to energy mechanics is part of a new games-related Storybundle, alongside some of the best writing in games, including Five out of Ten Magazine, two of the Boss Fight books, and a book that has been on my wish list for many months, Gamers at Work.

The Video Game Bundle 4.0 is our most enticing video game bundle yet, featuring more than $50 worth of books, magazine and albums. This collection is curated by industry veteran Simon Carless and features seven books, six magazine issues and two full-length albums. We’re also proud to feature the gaming non-profit SpecialEffect as a cause you can donate to when you purchase a bundle. As always, all our books and music come DRM-free. Read more.

Get the Storybundle now

A history of mobile games, 1998-2008

I’m crowdfunding a book

Goal: £3,400

Can you help?

Contribute now

Personal devices before the app store: a decade of tiny games that followed us everywhere.

What do you think of when you remember your first mobile phone? Mine was a Nokia 5110, and my most vivid memories of using it have nothing to do with making phone calls. I spent far more time playing Snake. For much of my teen life, my mind was in two places at once: part of me was stood in the rain waiting for a bus home from school, and part of me was in a confined space with a restless serpent. It kept on growing, and kept on moving, all the while threatening to consume itself if it didn’t find some free space to roam.

This book is about the historical meaning of those moments. It is a history of games as personal unfolding labyrinths, co-created in the relationship between humans and technology.

Learn more

More information: Why part-time distance-learning?

Mini-book about energy mechanics

Delay cover

Since late November of last year I’ve been on-and-off working on a mini book project. Yesterday I finally got it past the finish line! You can get it from rupazero.com.

Delay is about energy mechanics, a recent design conceit popular in casual and mobile games, whereby playing drains a resource that can only be refilled by not playing it for a while. I argue that they’re about impulse control, our own fear and shame when it comes to over-indulgence, and ideas about what it means to be a grown-up.

Continue reading

You were made for loneliness

I made part of a game that came out this week. It’s an interactive fiction piece in which you are a robot sold into domestic service. You are silenced and treated as an object, but your consciousness is alive. As you work for your mistress, you can awaken memories that complete a picture of who you are and how you relate to others. My bit is the interlude of translated Japanese poetry linked together by symbols. The text below is directly copied from the official launch announcement.

It’s the future. The remnants of humanity, in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event known only as The Fall, have fled a dying homeworld to seek refuge among the colonies of the solar system.

Continue reading

Conversations between languages


Some time last year I stopped blogging here and started using Medium instead. More recently, I’ve started writing more ‘interlingual’ pieces. That means trying to write in response to pieces written in languages other than English, to try and break out of the usual circle of English-language critically-minded games writers. These pieces have been getting a lot of traffic, and it’s been exciting to see people get enthusiastic about them.

Oscar Strik wrote a great post on this topic, calling for more effort to bring the linguistic periphery closer to the center of critical discourse about games. I agree with him, and I want to see more blogging that interprets ideas that were initially expressed in a language other than English. Interlingual writing does take a lot of extra effort, as Oscar points out, so whenever this work happens I want to help celebrate it.

I’ve set up a collection for writing of this sort on Medium, so that when other people publish interlingual criticism they can send it through and I can help to signal boost. If you’re doing interlingual critical writing about games or any other media, drop me a line. I’ll invite you to write for the collection if you’re comfortable publishing on Medium. Even if you don’t write on Medium, I still want to read it and share it with people, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.