Richard Spencer — a known racist and genocide advocate — got punched on video and publicly humiliated and it was funny and satisfying to watch. It was an effective way to weaken his public platform, both in an immediate sense (it silenced him mid-sentence) and in a long-term sense (he will always be the person with silly music behind videos of him being hurt). This has started a wave of public speech alternately condemning the specific act or advocating for eagerly and proactively punching more Nazis.
While there’s certainly been a range of viewpoints in this discussion, two common ways these ethics are being framed are: “violence as political action is never acceptable” and “punching Nazis is always great so let’s do more of it.” I disagree with both of these ideas.
Violence is sometimes justified and even necessary. But it is a serious, severe, and indeed sacred act. When you commit violence in the defense of virtue, you are causing a feeling person pain, potentially permanently injuring or killing them, and you are taking the poison of that violence into yourself. It’s a transformative act, a sacrifice, and to take it lightly is not only reckless: it is sacrilege that minimizes that sacrifice.
Continue reading Punching Nazis Is a Sacred Act
In this episode of the Ludus Novus podcast, I discuss the election and GamerGate and how we can make a difference with games. I start with an excerpt from Austin Walker’s recent, amazing piece “A Note on Trump, Waypoint, and Why We Play.” I move on to discuss mirror neurons, Gone Home, my presumptuous racial awareness thanks to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, my plans to survive violent abuse, and the power of games to promote compassion.
The Ludus Novus podcast is supported by my patrons. To help, please visit my Patreon.
The theme music is “A Foolish Game (Vox Harmony Adds)” by Snowflake, Admiral Bob, and Sackjo22, available on ccMixter under a ccby3.0 license.
Glass Bottom Games‘s noir, mystery-solving metroidvania Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora is queer. Maybe it’s better to say that it queers: it takes the normative and twists it in the direction of the feminine, the feminist, the genderfluid, and the non-hetero. It’s a joyful celebration of subversion.
Continue reading Hot Tin Roof Is Queer
In this episode of the Ludus Novus podcast, I present a new game, “Countdown,” in spoken word form. Trigger warning for self-injury.
Countdown: A Game For Two Players
The rules are arbitrary in the wherever,
but here, in this circle, they are real.
Of course, this membrane is porous.
It flutters and flows and lets pass
certain realities and unrealities.
The game isn’t the same if the world changes.
And games can change your world.
But the magic circle creates a promise of escape.
At any time, you can step outside the circle.
At any time, you can make this stop.
The music for this episode is “Third Moment – A Road Through the Forest” from Three Moments by Darrell Burgan. It’s available under a ccby3.0 license.
Any feedback is welcome in the comments.
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With as much time as game designers and critics think and write about the specifics of game interactions, it’s often useful to step back and look at the basics. Let’s ask a simple question: why are there so many video games dealing with social interaction and relationships, and so few that explore violence and action-oriented gameplay?
In some ways, it’s a historical aberration. If Gygax and Arneson had made some war-focused game instead of Counts and Courtship, or Will Crowther had decided to entertain his kids with his obscure caving hobby instead of an exploration of his childhood friendships, perhaps the focus of our games would be different. Doom wouldn’t have been an oddball niche title if there were a hundred other games at the time about shooting aliens with guns.
But I think there’s a more fundamental issue at work here: violence and action are really difficult to simulate, unlike simple relationships.
Continue reading Why So Few Violent Games?
I just got finished playing Red Faction: Guerrilla. It’s an excellent game; the breaking-stuff gameplay is so fun and natural-feeling that I anticipate disappointment when I play all the other games where you can’t knock down a wall to get to the enemy on the other side. It strikes a nice balance between open-world and narrative styles of gaming. There’s something else about the game, though. Guerrilla makes me uncomfortable with its violence.
This is something that I haven’t experienced outside of so-called “art games” like Jesse Venbrux‘s “Execution.” When I play Guerrilla, I feel a disconnect with the actions my player character is taking: not ludonarrative dissonance, but a genuine case of disagreement with my character’s motives and callous lack of concern for human life. I’m a pacifist. Alec Mason is not.
Continue reading Murder and Red Faction: Guerrilla