Food Insofar As They Give You Food

A tiny note on first class air travel

I fly a bajillion miles a year and as such I have access to the first class cabin on almost every flight, which makes me a lucky bastard as much as a privileged one. I thought I’d share, from a plane of course, just one humbling notes on modern first class travel just to assure the purported-rabble that things up… read more

Steroid Slugger

Steroid Slugger

An unpublished 2007 New York Times newsgame

In 2007, my studio Persuasive Games embarked on a series of newsgames published by the New York Times. It was Kind Of A Big Deal At The Time, because it was the first real attempt for a major newspaper to publish videogames as news content (rather than as puzzles). We completed two games, Food Import Folly, about the effects of reduced… read more


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


The End of the Big Mac

The burger's demise won’t be marked by a declaration in a quarterly report, but by a collective appreciation for the comfort it offered America.

If you like to lunch on two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, you’d better act fast: McDonald’s has announced plans to phase out the Big Mac. Okay, not really. But social media ate up the news of its axing, published by the satirical site Daily Buzz Live at the end of last… read more


Academic Paydom

Tactical lessons from the Steven Salaita situation

For those of you who don’t follow university labor politics, Inside Higher Ed reported this week that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign apparently rescinded a job offer for a tenured professorship in Native American Studies to Steven G. Salaita, a Virginia Tech English professor. Well, not exactly rescinded. Rather, the UIUC chancellor decided not to advance Salaita’s appointment through a usually pro-forma approval process.… read more


Welcome to Dataland

Design fiction at the most magical place on Earth

I am in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and I am standing in line. My family is awaiting entrance to Be Our Guest, a Beauty and the Beast-themed quick-service restaurant nestled into the recently-revamped Fantasyland. It’s late spring in central Florida, and it’s hot. A Disney “cast member” wheels out a cart with drinking water and disposable cups, and each family… read more


Response to the 2014 Edge Question: What Scientific Idea is ready for retirement?

“No topic is left unexplored,” reads the jacket blurb of The Science of Orgasm, a 2006 book by an endocrinologist, a neuroscientist, and a “sexologist.” A list of topics covered includes the genital-brain connection and how the brain produces orgasms. The result, promises the jacket blurb, “illuminates the hows, whats, and wherefores of orgasm.” Its virtues or faults notwithstanding, The… read more

Tacos, Enchiladas, Burritos, Chiles, &c.

A Mexican Food Index to Alien Phenomenology

Here’s a complete list of all mentions of Mexican food in my book Alien Phenomenology, or What it’s Like To Be A Thing: They cover plates of enchiladas as shrubs cover the hundreds of square miles of their high desert home. (3) Tumbling in vented steel cylinders, chiles crackle over the open flame of roasting. (3) Reality is reaffirmed, and… read more

The McRib: Enjoy Your Symptom

How McDonald's strange, seasonal sandwich explains the rest of its menu

Each year, the McRib makes a brief visit to Earth. Its arrival elicits reactions ranging from horror to awe. And for good reason: this would-be rib sandwich is really a restructured pork patty pressed into the rough shape of a slab of ribs, its slathering of barbecue sauce acting as camouflage as much as coating. “Pork” is a generous term,… read more

Perpetual Adolescence

Gone Home: a videogame about releasing secrets

Originally published at the Los Angeles Review of Books Gone Home is a videogame about releasing secrets, the kind of secrets that you should have known all along. It is set in Oregon circa 1995, and it tells the story of an ordinary family. As the game starts, you find yourself on the porch of an old house. You are… read more