Listen to Me on NPR

Talk of the Nation segment, "New Video Games Entertain and Educate"

Yesterday I was on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, discussing games about political and social issues. Here’s their blurb: Today’s video games are moving beyond violence and sports. New games provide chances to play middle-east peacemaker or solve problems regarding immigration or food safety. Ian Bogost, creator of these games, discusses why he makes games that go beyond entertainment to… read more

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The Sublime Beauty of Powerball

Playing the lottery is foolish, but it affords the public a communal encounter with the weird majesty of mathematics.

As the Powerball jackpot rose late last week, so did the Powerball backlash. The contemporary citizen might revel in devotion to the latest comic-book film adaptation, but the lottery is still considered the lowest of low culture. No intelligent person, many opined in advance of Saturday’s (winnerless) drawing, would buy a Powerball ticket. The dismissal is part of a general… read more

Children look at wrapped gifts on the ground as a man dressed as Santa Claus (not pictured) climbs a building to hang them during a ceremony in the northern Italian ski resort of Selva Di Val Gardena December 8, 2007.   REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi   (ITALY) - RTX4J9A

The Deeper Meaning of Black Friday

Giving a gift is an act of competition as much as generosity.

Get $100 off the iPad Air 2 at Best Buy. Save $50 on the Xbox One Gears of War Bundle plus get a $60 Target Gift Card. At Walmart, one can buy a Samsung Smart HDTV for under $200. Under $200! These are the marks of Black Friday, the annual bacchanal for consumer excess. And excess, it is normally thought,… read more

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Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone

Our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset.

One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but nobody uses them as phones anymore. Not by choice, anyway. Phone calls—you know, where you put the thing up to your ear and speak to someone in real time—are becoming relics of a bygone era, the “phone” part of a smartphone turning vestigial as… read more

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The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need

Smart devices turn every industry into the computer industry, and dupe consumers into thinking their lives are better for it in the process.

Atlanta turns yellow for two weeks in April. Streets, driveways, terraces, cars—everything cakes with pollen. It’s the trees that cause the worst of it. Pine, oak, sweet gum, sycamore, mulberry, hackberry, birch, willow. Prolific itching, sneezing, and car-washing ensue. Grilling season officially begins when the pollen subsides. This year’s was particularly grievous, and perhaps that’s why I was so eager… read more

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Video Games Are Better Without Characters

The real legacy of SimCity is its attempt—and failure—to make complex systems the protagonists instead of people.

In the mid-1980s, the easiest way to check out the latest computer games was to go to a bookstore in the mall. Past the John Grisham and the bargain history books in the B. Dalton Bookseller, you’d find Software Etc., a small island of boxes amidst bound volumes, and a few computers on which to play the latest releases. It… read more

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FYI, See Below

The purpose (and the sorrow) of the worst kind of email—the passive-aggressive forward

Email is the worst, but some emails are worse than others. The worst emails are forwards. And the worst forwards? Not the jokes your uncle sends you from his AOL account, but the ones your boss or your coworkers send along from some obscure corner of Administrivistan. Most work emails are purely defensive missives. They seek to shift effort, hide… read more

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What Do We Save When We Save the Internet?

We cannot champion Network Neutrality without admitting that the Internet is no Utopia.

Think about regret as if it were sin. Some regrets are mild, but acute. The regret associated with choosing the wrong supermarket checkout lane, or buying an outfit that you notice goes on sale the next week—these seem woeful. They chafe, but their pains are pin pricks that soon subside. These are venial regrets. Regret is more severe when it steeps… read more

What Is ‘Evil’ to Google?

Speculations on the company's contribution to moral philosophy

Last week, another distasteful use of your personal information by Google came to light: The company plans to attach your name and likeness to advertisements delivered across its products without your permission. As happens every time the search giant does something unseemly, Google's plan to turn its users into unwitting endorsers has inspired a new round of jabs at Google's… read more

Proteus: A Trio of Artisanal Game Reviews

Three reviews as three lenses through which to approach and appreciate an unusual videogame.

Originally published at Gamasutra One: Nil Person Videogames are narcissistic. They are about you, even when they put you in someone else’s shoes. You are a space marine among hell spawn. You are a mafioso just released from prison. You are a bear with a bird in your backpack. You are a Tebowing Tim Tebow. We may think we play… read more