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Digital Sextant : Thinking
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{ Category Archives } Thinking

On Game Design: Go Play Outside

I wrote a little bit over at Rattlebox Games about playing games outside: This might be a bit of a conundrum.  The old stereotype of nerds huddling inside on nice sunny days isn’t entirely without merit, in part because of all the valuable cardboard bits our games have — we don’t want chlorine from the […]

On Game Design: Yes, and…

I’ve written a bit about the improv rule “Yes, and” over on the Rattlebox Games blog.  Check it out. …Like Improv, RPG storytelling takes real trust between the game master and the characters. And like Improvosational comedians, they need to remember the “yes, and” rule.  (“Yes, and” refers to the philosophy that Improv performers should […]

On Game Design: The Kitchen Sink

I am an unabashed sucker for Kitchen Sink games.  I don’t know where I first heard this idiom applied to game design, but I definitely can’t claim it for myself.  I’m using the term to describe the following kinds of games: They have lots of complex, interconnecting rules They have multiple game mechanics to learn, […]

Game Design: The Rules that used to know

Have you ever had a game whose rules you didn’t know as well as you thought you did?  Discovering that the rules are different than you thought can be a real blow–suddenly that game you thought you had all figured out is something else altogether.  It’s like somebody you used to know. Three stories: Nearly […]

Dispatch from the Age of Electracy: C2E2 edition

One of my prized possessions (thank you, Joe Hancock and Joy Sperling) is a Dawn of the Dead poster signed by George Romero, Ken Foree, David Emgee, Scott Reiniger, and Gaylen Ross.  Among the various bits of stuff that the seller provided were photos of the signings — attesting to their provenance.  With C2E2 today, […]

Silver Screen Fiend

Silver Screen Fiend: Learning About Life from an Addiction to Film by Patton Oswalt Patton Oswalt is a really good memoirist.  He has the deft touch of a seasoned comedian, a keen eye for metaphor and the important detail, and a strong sense of storytelling.  Silver Screen Fiend imbues his early standup years with a […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Unbreakable

I’m not sure how much of an essay is worth writing here.  Slate excellent pieces about the race issues in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and in particular the disturbing trope of the “hilarious black neighbor” trope that has become so common.  Aisha Harris writes: The tongue-in-cheek song will be familiar to anyone who’s followed the news […]

Comics, Threats, Censorship, Free Speech

Having written this, I don’t think it says anything new, so let’s categorize this as a summary of recent events for convenience sake, rather than a blistering think piece. A. The Killing Joke Cover – A recent sequence of events in the comics world: Recently, DC comics announced a bunch of variant covers celebrating the […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Mea Culpa

For your consideration: Apologies. It was the third episode in this list that got me thinking about the topic.  But here are three moments in my podcast listening that struck me as interesting: This American Life – “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory” – After using a whole hour to explore one reporter’s experience in […]

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe; narrated by Wil Wheaton If you don’t read XKCD or Munroe’s weekly “What If?” column over at xkcd.com, you’re really missing out.  This book collects some of the best What If columns, plus adds a bunch of new ones.  It’s a simple premise: […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Obsolete before it ships

Charles Stross reflected on the relentless pace of culture and the difficulty of writing about the near future or the present in a post about his book Rule 34: There is a certain pub in Edinburgh that I’ve used as a setting for some key scenes, because it’s quarried out of the side of a […]

On Trigger Warnings and Empathy

Neil Gaiman’s recent short story collection is called Trigger Warnings.  Scott Kenemore (author of Zombie, Indiana among many others) wrote about how horror is supposed to cause feelings of discomfort: in recent years a threat has emerged—a sinister shadow falling over our community, you might say—leaving us even darker than usual.  And I believe that […]

Pigs Have Wings

Pigs Have Wings by P.G. Wodehouse Two gentlemen with big manors face off in a legendary fat pig growing contest, and right in the middle is the brother of one of the men, Gally Threepwood.  Of course, there’s some confusion with mis-matched lovers, a farce involving an uptight butler and stolen pigs, and an awful […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Empire State’s Worldbuilder

When my students and I talk about the digital age, one of the changes we trace is the relationship between author and audience.  In oral cultures, the relationship is direct — the one telling you the story is standing within earshot, so you can ask questions and work out details together.  Literacy changes that, separating […]

Dispatches from the Age of Electracy: Tales from Kickstarter, part 2

This week’s Dispatch follows up on last week’s discussion of Kickstarter and board games. In response to the three problems I pointed out last week, we’re starting to see a number of changes in KS habits for board game producers. Stretch Goal Fever The companies that do well fighting this problem have learned a couple […]