Latour on trains/travel/compression

Both quotes from Latour’s Aramis: which I skimmed a bit just now because I’ve spent so much time on trains and other transportation devices lately:
“At a time when efficiency has the status of dogma, we are all subject to its discipline, and in our stressed-out state, before and after work, we all have to put up with physically exhausting compressions in uncomfortable spaces and annoying waiting periods owing to breakdowns in the traffic flow. This is the paradox of antisocial behaviour in a society that would like to see itself as social.” p.31
“Every time I was squeezed in the metro at rush hour, I now knew that this was the RATP’s way of adapting the supply of transportation to the demand. What an economic function its elasticity is the flexibility of my body!” p.95

Videogame visions of a post-climate change future

I wrote an essay on the way games have depicted climate change for Memory Insufficient. I was pretty happy with how this turned out, and the plan is to whip it up into a more fleshed out paper later in the year. I haven’t had a chance to read the other essays but if prior issues of Memory Insufficient are any guide, they’ll be worth checking out too.

Memory Insufficient’s Ecology and Games History issue is here. [PDF]

Watch the K Foundation burn a million quid

Watching this video makes me giddy. The world seems to peel back and the ground folds away beneath you, and if you concentrate on it in just the right way, you can step through the portal, temporarily, into a zone or region completely unlike anyplace you’ve ever been or ever will.

Chapter 5 – conclusions.

Cosmic Renewal

There’s a moment in a film that Errol Morris did—A Brief History of Time—where one of the young physicists that worked with Hawking did a calculation and Hawking said that time will cycle around. It’ll come around and things will recur. The physicist did this calculation and said, “No Stephen, it doesn’t do that. It doesn’t go back.” Hawking says, “Do the calculation again.” And as this young physicist tells this story about this insistence that Hawking said there must be another round of time you suddenly realize that Hawking is talking about his own mortality, his struggle with his devastating illness, with the hope for renewal, even if it’s a cosmic renewal that’s not going to help him personally. There’s a way in which time is never just about time. It’s not like angular momentum: you may not have a view about angular momentum. But you have a view about time.

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi interviews Peter Galison for The New Inquiry.

I am so god damn down with cosmic renewal. That’s why Meillassoux is great.

Clint Hocking on sense of place and the effect on violence in Far Cry 2

Steve Gaynor has a new Idle Thumbs offshoot podcast called Tone Control, and in this episode he talks to Clint Hocking, and they spend about the last 50 minutes talking about Far Cry 2. I wanted to excerpt this one great little quote that I think is really important. It’s from about an 1hr 10mins in, I think:

‘…a sense of place, even for a place that is really mundane in a lot of ways, is really, really powerful… …having the sense of place and the sense of the environment be so strong, I feel, makes the counter-position of the kind of violence that happens in it, much more shocking.

You don’t blow people up in any more shocking way than you do in any other game, it’s just when you have these long periods of silence where you might have stopped on the side of a rock and listened to water trickling, and as the sun was setting behind a tree for a few minutes, you get this strange sense of peace and like ‘ah the world is beautiful and things aren’t all that bad’. And seven seconds later you’re burning a guy alive with a Molotov cocktail while he’s screaming and flailing around in a brushfire. It’s the juxtaposition of these things, and without being authored or without being scripted, it can mess with your emotions.’

Later on in the talk, they get onto discussing the systemic nature of the game a bit, and talking about it reminded me of State of Decay which I’ve been playing this week, which takes a lot of the same systemic premises and runs with them to a really fantastic degree. Which made me think, we tend to think that the most ‘Far Cry 2‘-game has already been made, but really I think that might not be the case. The most ‘Far Cry 2’ like game is probably yet to be made. Which is exciting to me.

Addendum: if nothing else, listen to the very final question that Steve asks Clint at about 1hr 47mins. Long story short, the way that they solved the problem of playtesters taking pleasure in killing wild animals, their solution was minimal, elegant, and absolutely effective. Just a fantastic solution.