toy cinema

toy cinema

Video of a short lecture on precinematic and postcinematic toys for Estrella Sendra’s SOAS module ‘Introduction to Film Language, History and Theory’ October 2020   more…
the game economy

the game economy

Video of my keynote talk ‘The game economy: designing for, and playing with, the digital era’, for ICOFEP 4: Economics, Finance and Management in the Digital Era, Poznań University of Economics and Business, November 19th 2020 Slides and text here if you prefer. more…
economic imaginary

economic imaginary

Economic imaginaries are no mere abstractions or illusions, they shape the design and reception of games as technologies and as commodities, facilitating and scaffolding certain kinds and parameters of play whilst never fully determining them. They mesh the material characteristics and operations of the game (as both interactive media software and operationalised business model) with […] more…
ethology of AI

ethology of AI

What are the implications of taking the animality of AI and A-Life entities as real and not metaphorical or symbolic? This question in turn demands ontological questions of the synthetic animal itself: what kinds of speciation gives rise to it, what habitats and what kinds of behaviour shape its existence, and how might the status […] more…
not not animals

not not animals

Does it make any sense to consider virtual animals as animal in any serious way? Both the naturalistically-rendered wolves of Legend of Zelda: the breath of the wild and the chatty anthropomorphised citizens of the Animal Crossing games are inorganic abstractions, assemblages of animated drawings, behavioural algorithms and audio clips. Their material substrates – digital/electronic […] more…
postindustrial playground

postindustrial playground

[For all the changes to children’s playground equipment from the Edwardian era to today], the proprioceptic and vertiginous pleasures of swinging and sliding persist, and children in playgrounds today are still largely climbing on, swinging through, and sliding down industrial forms and engineering.  This kinaesthetic dynamic is not an eloquent or easily translatable language, but […] more…
Unbox: The speed and slowness of Lucy, Batman, Batman, Gandalf, and Dumbledore

Unbox: The speed and slowness of Lucy, Batman, Batman, Gandalf, and Dumbledore

Microethology of toys-to-life (from proposal for Toy Theory book)   – I’m going to build Dumbledore [sings:] Dumbledore, Dumbledore… – Technically, you’re building Gandalf [They rip open the small plastic bags containing LEGO pieces and minfigs] – [In a gruff voice] I only use black and very very very dark grey… Why am I quoting […] more…
game | death | worlds

game | death | worlds

I compiled this sometime in the mid-2000s, as a curated list for Furtherfield. Riffing on gameworlds and lifeworlds, it resonates nicely with my current writing, but with a morbid twist… a study of the materiality and imaginary of artificial life in which most of the links and projects, and hence their animate entities, are now […] more…
one or several artificial wolves

one or several artificial wolves

Link encounters a group of animals on a green, grassy hillside, beautifully animated in the rich landscape. Large birds, and a wild boar, promise meat if successfully hunted. As the player-avatar approaches, carefully, to within range of his bow and arrow he spots a wolf tracking a wide A* path through the immediate environment. Proximity […] more…
toy-being

toy-being

Attention to toys as technical objects troubles the prevailing notion of technological development as driven by the identification and satisfaction of material, practical and instrumental needs for human society and economy. Toys are technical, machinic, operational, they often have moving parts, i.e. they are machines in their own right, and even non-articulated toys have their […] more…
Animal Crossing and utopia in a time of crisis

Animal Crossing and utopia in a time of crisis

Note: the conversation that triggered this short piece has contributed to an article by Samuel Horti in the New Statesman.   The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20th 2020 has proved a remarkable moment of serendipity for both Nintendo and old fans and new players of the Animal Crossing games. Characterised by […] more…
an imaginary system

an imaginary system

Whilst the cultural, representational, ideological and economic assumptions that feed and are fed by imaginaries can be uncovered and subject to critique, imaginaries are no mere whimsy, but obdurate and operational phenomena – they have their own reality and agency. LEGO privilege is nothing if not a technological imaginary, predicated on and sustained by the […] more…
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