Digital Bodies: essays on materials and craft 2012-2014

Digital bodies cover-1I’m launching a new book today! In the essays brought together here I unpick some of the ways that materiality, skill and identity shape the labour and leisure of games. I’ve started an itch.io site to sell this and my other two books: everything is on sale for a limited time, and you can even buy all three as a discount bundle.

This book is a collection of things I’ve written for various outlets over the past few years that I am very proud of, and that I think benefit from all being in one place so that they can be read side by side. I’m always interested in the symbolic and material significance of bodies, and what it’s like to craft with imaginary materials, and it’s pleasing to see a number of articles and essays in one place that all look at those themes in different ways.

The bodies I write about are sexy and revolting, moving constantly between pride and shame. The digital materiality I work with is dazzlingly new and burdened with history, a thing of fantasy and a mirror held up to realities that were felt before they were visualised.

Itch.io has a neat thing where, when you’re running a sale, you can set a fundraising target. That feels appropriate for this project, which was spurred by urgent financial necessity. My goal is to raise $5000 from this sale, which will cover my loan repayments, taxes and rent for three months.

Buy it now on itch.io

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.

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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

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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.

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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.
YWMFL

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.

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