Monthly Archives: August 2005

future studies

Participating in a Finnish Future Studies Society’s seminar, I’ve been presenting my tentative view on future-oriented game studies (keyword: game cultures), and getting a nice mix on the seminar themes, marginality and centrality. The trick, of course is, how to identify those marginal phenomena which are somehow symptomatic, or “weak signals” telling about our future. What is your current favourite future?

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electricity and the end of the world

There was another electricity power cut in our area early this morning – my UPS woke me up with its pitiable beeping. The power was away perhaps for an hour, don’t know for sure (fell asleep again). These things are real pain, particularly as my ADSL box (Zyxel) is not linked to UPS (a compatibility problem with the AC adaptor power connectors), and after waking up, Zyxel decided to assign my server a new internal IP address. Nice, I only had to reassign all my NAT conversions and firewall settings, after I had figured out something was wrong in the first place.

There must be a more stable world coming up for our multi-server, connected homes – someday?

Saw the Spielberg-Cruise War of the Worlds yesterday, btw. I rather enjoyed it: it succeeds in bringing a sci-fi war into the realistically chaotic street-level, rather than giving the classic “president, scientists, army and other heroes” serving. But but. I suppose there are only so many Tom Cruise films the universe can hold. We are probably getting near the End of Days.

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rag doll kung fu

Heh, this video (that Valve’s Steam offered us) literally “kicks ass” — it is so great to see people taking the medium, ranning away into some crazy direction and just having plain old fun. See: RagDoll KungFu video (an indy game familiar from the GDC).

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Filed under digital culture, game studies

books by banks

It was either finishing Half-Life 2, or the Banks novel, and since I was supposed to keep to bed, it ended up being the novel. I am reading Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels out of their publication order, but I suppose it does not matter. Rather than parts of some grand narrative, they appear to be “splintered light”, parts or reflections that are aimed to experiment, play with, and illuminate a larger whole – or universe. As a synthetic vision of aesthetics and a world-view (metaphysical, philosophical, historical, political, and psychological, at least), they remind me of Tolkien.

Now, finished with Use of Weapons, I am again reflecting on tragedy, our endlessly repeated need to find the human nature in the “glorious waste of all that is most beautiful”, to question the obvious – even when you have the supposedly ultimate freedom granted by fantasy. Or, as in this case, of science fiction. This cleverly structured, emotionally gripping and in the end rather puzzling narrative (how do you understand Elethiomel in the conclusion, in relation to all the previously narrated memories, eh?) is after all supposed to be a part of “communist-utopian” space opera. — Reading, looking, feeling and smelling, all the gritty details, the symbolism and execution (a fragment of bone, close to the heart, truly?), I became convinced that this is yet another attempt to come up with a fantasy that goes to great lengths of avoiding being Fantasy, that will use all available means and get rather desperate in the process to convince you it is speaking about something Real.

You can also read Iain’s Guardian interview (and become even more jealous of the lucky bastard).

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redemption flu

My return to work, and the busy autumn term preparations, were interrupted by a tiny virus, a semi-living organism (no, lets say, a chemical) that has now held me inside these walls for four days in a row. While flu or mild influenza is sort of ridiculous disease in its non-seriousness, it can put you mood for thinking. If we are deprived of the control of our body, if our consciousness is clouded by pain, what we are? Where are we? Is there time any more? What about sense, direction?

Is there a self, someone to carry and continue the significance, any more?

Silence. Detached from all our contacts, there are no longer contours for our existence, and nothing to feed thoughts and passions into the space, flow of action, that used to be us. A release of a sorts, viruses can be perhaps thought of as little wise men, those teachers of being and nothingness. Nanoscale Zen masters.

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networks of autumn

I actually rather like autumn. It is an introverted season, one that allows you to turn inside, fall silent and rethink your direction. I even finally managed to clean my office table (excavation through the piles of evidence from the last two-three years incessant march of projects and meetings. Soul healing.

Now sauna. Went for a walk before that (carried my phone and took a clip of rain falling into Tohloppi – now this is a video blog, if you can access the file: sataaropisee_050804.3gp). While walking I thought about the networks, connections between bits, people, concepts. Connections provide us with the resonance of meaning, yet their prerequisite is the distance at the heart of it all. No distance, no possibility for connections. The aching certainty of separation and loss at every insight, touch and knowing smile.

Hah, the familiar fall melancholy. Lets play some more music from years gone, and look at old photographs.

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Johnson on the us gta controversy

There would be so much to write about the ways in which the relative “harmfullness” of sexual and violent in-game representations are framed by some in the US, but I just want to point to the short piece Steven Johnson recently wrote, as an open letter to Hillary Clinton: Hillary vs. the Xbox: Game over.

If you want to read some more around the “GTA Sex Mod Frenzy”, take first a look at the links collected by Jason Della Rocca
in his blog.

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Filed under digital culture, game studies