writing
A selection of my recent publications, both academic and journalistic. For a more complete list, view my curriculum vitae.

I also write on my blog. You can also get an RSS feed.
February 3, 2014
The Squalid Grace of Flappy Bird
Why playing stupid games staves off existential despair
January 30, 2014
Snowpocalypse in Atlanta and The Walking Dead
How media prepares us for havoc, even catastrophe
January 14, 2014
"Science"
Response to the 2014 Edge Question: What Scientific Idea is ready for retirement?
November 13, 2013
The McRib: Enjoy Your Symptom
How McDonald's strange, seasonal sandwich explains the rest of its menu
November 8, 2013
Hyperemployment, or the Exhausting Work of the Technology User
Feeling overwhelmed online? Maybe it's because you're working dozens of jobs
October 15, 2013
What Is 'Evil' to Google?
Speculations on the company's contribution to moral philosophy
September 28, 2013
Perpetual Adolescence
Gone Home: a videogame about releasing secrets
September 12, 2013
The iPhones of Fall
These days, Apple is more properly thought of as a fashion label, not an electronics company.
September 5, 2013
Consumption and Naturalism in Animal Crossing
Animal Crossing's Strange, Unresolved Conflict. Excerpted from Persuasive Games.
August 30, 2013
The Rudeness of Importance
Op-ed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution
August 27, 2013
The Condensed Classroom
"Flipped" classrooms don't invert traditional learning so much as abstract it
June 22, 2013
YMMV
Sympathy without sympathy
June 15, 2013
MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities (Part Two)
A roundtable at the LA Review of Books
June 14, 2013
MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities (Part One)
A roundtable at the LA Review of Books
May 20, 2013
Google Zombie: The Glass Wearers of Tomorrow
The best metaphor for Google Glass? Not jerks or junkies, but the living dead.
March 15, 2013
The End of the Hangup
Why the physical form of smartphones and the unreliable operation of cellular networks has made hanging up the telephone impossible.
February 22, 2013
PlayStation 4: A Videogame Console
Today, the most novel feature of new technology is ordinariness.
February 15, 2013
Proteus: A Trio of Artisanal Game Reviews
Three reviews as three lenses through which to approach and appreciate an unusual videogame.
January 29, 2013
"Hundreds" Is the Haute Couture of Video Games
A new multi-touch puzzle game for the iPad and iPhone is about form, not function—and it's about to become a status symbol.
January 16, 2013
Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online
With funding tight, the state of California has turned to Udacity to provide MOOCs for students enrolled in remedial courses. But what is lost when public education is privatized?
January 11, 2013
How the Video-Game Industry Already Lost Out in the Gun-Control Debate
Firearms, not entertainment, lead to mass shootings, and yet gamers have irrevocably become implicated in the conversation over violence in America.
December 3, 2012
A Machine That Makes Cameras: The Aesthetics of the Lytro
An image taken with a Lytro camera is not really an image, but a machine capable of producing many possible renditions.
December 1, 2012
The Art of Video Games
A review of the catalog that accompanies the Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition
November 27, 2012
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.
October 2, 2012
Words With Friends Forever
On cadence and deep design in the current social games environment. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
October 1, 2012
Pretty Hate Machines
A Review of Patrick Crogan's Gameplay Mode in Game Studies 12:1
September 25, 2012
The Broken Beyond: How Space Turned Into an Office Park
All the exciting parts of exploring the solar system have been leeched out. What's left is the drudgery of the everyday and the dreams of the rich.
July 18, 2012
Kickstarter: Crowdfunding Platform Or Reality Show?
It's QVC for the web generation, the new Thunderdome, Off Track Betting for ideas addicts. Whatever you call it, Kickstarter's becoming less about funding widgets than pouring gas on creative sparks just to watch them ignite.
July 16, 2012
The Great Pretender
Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation
June 6, 2012
The Cigarette of This Century
Notes on the Rise and Fall of Blackberry
May 23, 2012
Process Intensity and Social Experimentation
On the surprising design features of Johan Sebastian Joust. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
April 13, 2012
The New Aesthetic Needs to Get Weirder
From the New Aesthetic to Alien Aesthetics, at the Atlantic
April 7, 2012
Aliens, but definitely not as we know them
In the New Scientist "Big Ideas" column
March 15, 2012
A Portrait of The Artist as a Game Studio
The style of thatgamecompany
January 30, 2012
The Bulldog and the Pegasus
January 19, 2012
What is a Game Bundle?
From my Persuasive Games column at Gamasutra
October 10, 2011
Frequent Flight
An essay on flying for AirplaneReading.org
September 14, 2011
Seeing Things
Video and transcript of my talk at the Third Object-Oriented Ontology Symposium
August 2, 2011
From Aberrance to Aesthetics
On diversity in games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
August 1, 2011
Why Debates About Video Games Aren't Really About Video Games
May 3, 2011
Exploitationware
On the rhetoric of gamification. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
April 11, 2011
Shit Crayons
My talk at the 2011 Game Developers Conference "rant" panel
December 6, 2010
Process vs. Procedure
Paper presented at the Fourth International Conference of the Whitehead Research Project
October 4, 2010
Free Speech is Not a Marketing Plan
About Medal of Honor and Afghanistan. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
September 27, 2010
Ian became a fan of Marshall McLuhan on Facebook and suggested you become a fan too.
In Facebook and Philosophy: What's on Your Mind?, edited by D.E. Wittkower
June 30, 2010
Plumbing the Depths
On the familiar and the unfamiliar in games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
May 18, 2010
We Think in Public
Paper presented at "Time Will Tell, But Epistemology Won't: In Memory of Richard Rorty"
May 6, 2010
The Picnic Spoils the Rain
On "Heavy Rain" and interactive cinema. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
March 15, 2010
Play With Us
My GDC 2010 Microtalk
March 3, 2010
Shell Games
On the achievementalization of the world. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
February 10, 2010
Check-Ins Check Out
On check-in mechanics and games as loyalty programs. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
December 23, 2009
Puzzling the Sublime
Abstract puzzle games and the mathematical sublime. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
December 14, 2009
Platform Studies: Frequently Questioned Answers
Paper written with Nick Montfort for Digital Arts and Cultures 2009
November 27, 2009
The Legume, the Piston, and the Bearded Man
My Contribution to the Speculative Heresy/The Inhumanities Cross-Blog Event
September 21, 2009
Little Black Sambo
On the aftermath of an accidental racial slur in Scribblenauts. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
September 3, 2009
Videogames are a Mess
My DiGRA 2009 Keynote, on Videogames and Ontology
September 2, 2009
You Played That? Game Studies Meets Game Criticism
My Position Paper on Game Criticism, DiGRA 2009
July 28, 2009
This Is Only a Drill
On games as drills for banal tasks. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
June 30, 2009
Gestures as Meaning
On Brenda Brathwaite's Train and gestural interfaces. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
May 28, 2009
I want my 99¢ back
On cognitive dissonance and the iPhone. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
April 2, 2009
Familiarity, Habituation, Catchiness
On "Bushnell's Law" and why it is misunderstood. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
February 17, 2009
Videogame Kitsch
On mass-market sentimentalism in videogames. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
January 21, 2009
The Proceduralist Style
On an artistic style in contemporary videogames. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
December 23, 2008
Windows and Mirror's Edge
On games as experiences rather than games as products. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
November 18, 2008
Disjunctive Play
On multiplayer games that estrange. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
October 30, 2008
The Birth and Death of the Election Game
The role of games in the 2008 election, and beyond. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
September 11, 2008
Videogame Snapshots
How games can be informal and personal. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
July 20, 2008
The End of Gamers
Things people do with videogames
June 25, 2008
Performative Play
How gameplay makes changes in the real world. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
May 7, 2008
Texture
On the way games can be felt. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
April 30, 2008
Advertisers have yet to unlock the power of play
Opinion piece published in The Guardian
March 31, 2008
Is Spore For Everyone?
Opinion piece published in Gamasutra
March 19, 2008
Can Games get Real? A Closer Look at "Documentary" Digital Games
Co-authored with Cindy Poremba, in the Games as a Sociocultural Phenomenon collection
March 18, 2008
Videogame Pranks
On using videogames for practical jokes and gags. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
March 16, 2008
Not Interdisciplinarity, But Love
My keynote presentation at the 2008 Game Developers Conference Education Summit
February 15, 2008
Sony, Global Infant
Opinion piece published in Gamasutra
February 12, 2008
Videogame Vignette
On the figure of the vignette in videogames. From my "Persuasive Games column" at Gamasutra
December 20, 2007
The Holly and the Ivy
On representations of holiday cheer in videogames. From my "Persuasive Games column" at Gamasutra
November 29, 2007
Videogame Zen
Reflections on relaxation in games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
October 9, 2007
Casual as in Sex, not Casual as in Friday
An alternative aesthetic of casual games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
September 10, 2007
The Reverence Of Resistance
On the controversial use of the Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man
August 8, 2007
Time for games to grow up
In order to mature properly, videogaming not only needs a Citizen Kane moment; it needs a little humdrum too
August 3, 2007
Event Wrap Up: Classic Gaming Expo 2007
A meditation on why this event for videogame collectors could be more than nostalgic
August 2, 2007
How I Stopped Worrying About Gamers And Started Loving People Who Play Games
A response to Justin Peters' recent Slate article. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
June 13, 2007
Designing For Tragedy
What would a thoughtful game about a tragedy look like? From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
May 21, 2007
Why We Need More Boring Games
About making games ordinary. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
April 26, 2007
Persuasive Games on Mobile Devices
In Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives on the Future of Behavior Change, edited by B.J. Fogg and Dean Eckles
April 20, 2007
New Media as Material Constraint
An Introduction to Platform Studies, co-authored with Nick Montfort. Presented at the First International HASTAC Conference, April 2007.
April 3, 2007
Turning the Tables on In-Game Ad Design
On the uses of in-game ads for cultural reference. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
February 28, 2007
Videogames Go to Washington
The Story Behind Howard Dean's Videogame Propaganda. Co-authored with Gonzalo Frasca. In Second Person, edited by Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruin.
January 31, 2007
The Missing Rituals of Exergames
Exergames need social contexts. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
January 5, 2007
Promogames, Another Kind of Advertising Game
Burger King's Xbox games revive a forgotten genre of advertising games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
November 28, 2006
Wii’s Revolution is in the Past
On the potential to release new games for old consoles via Wii's Virtual Console. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
November 2, 2006
Taking Bully Seriously
On Rockstar's game Bully. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
October 20, 2006
Playing Politics: Videogames for Politics, Activism, and Advocacy
In First Monday 11, no. 9., Special Issue #7: Command Lines: The Emergence of Governance in Global Cyberspace
October 15, 2006
Videogames and Ideological Frames
From Popular Communication 4, no. 3 (2006)
October 11, 2006
Games Phone Home
On playing the roles of the weak in videogames. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra
October 5, 2006
Experiencing Place in Los Santos and Vice City
In The Culture and Meaning of Grand Theft Auto, edited by Nathan Garrelts. Co-authored with Dan Klainbaum.
September 25, 2006
The Right to Bore Arms
The social benefit of boredom of gunplay games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.
August 1, 2006
Review of Convergence Culture
A review of media studies scholar Henry Jenkins's recent book
June 1, 2006
Game Design Education: Integrating Computation and Culture
Co-authored with Janet Murray, Michael Mateas, and Michael Nitsche. Published in IEEE Computer Society, June 2006.
December 14, 2005
The Rhetoric of Exergaming
Paper presented at the Digital Arts and Cultures conference, Copenhagen Denmark, December 2005.
November 1, 2005
Comparative Videogame Criticism
In Games & Culture 1:1 (2006).
September 25, 2005
Event Wrap Up: Games for Health 2005
A report from the 2005 Games for Health conference
April 20, 2005
Procedural Literacy
Problem Solving with Programming, Systems, and Play. In the Journal of Media Literacy 52, no. 1-2 (2005).
December 1, 2004
Asynchronous Multiplay: Futures for Casual Multiplayer Experience
An academic paper about multiplayer games played in sequence. Presented at the Other Players Conference on Multiplayer Phenomena, Copenhagen Denmark, December 2004.
May 15, 2004
A Response to Critical Simulation
A riposte to the Critical Simulation section of Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan's edited collection First Person
March 4, 2004
The Muse of the Videogame
On videogames as art. From the IGDA Ivory Tower Column.

 

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