Here is my toys, I was thinking about you. We think that we need.

A Translation Party with Lacan

On the heels of my recent notes on anagrams and mysticism comes a different kind of truth-generating machine, Translation Party. It’s a variation of the old telephone game, via retranslations. You enter an English phrase, and Translation Party translates it back and forth between English and Japanese until the latest English version matches the last one exactly—it calls this state… read more


The Cathedral of Computation

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to… read more


Kinect 2 brings the era of physical interfaces for active play to a definitive end

from my Difficulty Switch column in Edge Magazine

Morning television is the freight train of fitness trends. These breakfast shows introduce families to lightweight takes on current events and fashions. The first morning show aired in 1952, and its audience was primarily stay-at-home mothers. While much has changed, US morning shows such as Today and Sunrise still sell traditionalism, including the latest health trends or fitness gizmos, topics… read more

Consumption and Naturalism in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing's Strange, Unresolved Conflict. Excerpted from Persuasive Games.

While some are learning about the peculiar pleasure of Animal Crossing thanks to the series’ latest release on Nintendo 3DS, the game has long charmed and puzzled players and critics. In recognition of this fact, in September 2013 Gamasutra re-published the excerpt below, from my 2007 book Persuasive Games. In the section presented here, I discuss Animal Crossing‘s first edition… read more

Announcing Object Lessons

An essay and book series on the hidden lives of things

Earlier this week we launched Object Lessons, an essay and book series on the hidden lives of ordinary objects, published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury and edited by me and Chris Schaberg. We’ve been working on getting this going for months, and I’m excited to finally be able to unleash it on you. Here’s how it works: Object Lessons invites… read more

Wii Can’t Go On, Wii’ll Go On

What is Nintendo really attempting to do with the Wii U? From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.

For a century and a quarter, Nintendo has devoted itself to an unspoken mission: making games safe, stripping them of their risk and indecency. The company started as a hanafuda playing card manufacturer in the late nineteeth century. Like most gambling, hanafuda was closely tied to organized crime, and the term yakuza, the Japanese word for an organized crime mafia,… read more

Get Well, Galen

A lesson in fiction and reality

My kids just delivered some hand-made get-well cards. I was instructed to deliver them to Galen, the main character in the Wizard 3000 videogame series, a series of my kids’ invention which is not only fictional but fictionally fictional. Pop culture being what it is, Hollywood has started to make films based on the Wizard 3000 (fictionally speaking, that is).… read more

Mommy, Can I Be Daniel Larusso for Halloween?

Thoughts on Karate Kid

Recently I’ve been interested in remakes, so I was eager to see The Karate Kid, which revisits the now-classic 1984 film of the same name. The remake is one of the most faithful I can remember; in a time (in a world?) of updates and adaptations that wax nostalgic about TV, film, and toys of the 1970s and 80s while… read more

Christmas Cracker

A tiny dollop of yuletide greetings

As we do most years, we opened Christmas crackers—those little cardboard tubes that pop when pulled, revealing small toys, paper crowns, and jokes. I thought I’d share a particularly brilliant joke from one cracker, one that made me think of object-oriented philosophy as much as it did Christmas (even if it mistakes an object for its attributes). Here goes: Why… read more

Philosophers are Worse Than Videogame Fans

A Visit to the Bestiary

When I was a philosophy undergraduate student, I had a life-changing experience in a class on the philosophy of language. It was a good class, as undergraduate classes tend to be: I learned the basics of a subject had known little about previously. The course was taught by a newly minted PhD whose specialty was that subject. She was young… read more