Illustration for article titled Under the Bright Lights

Starting about a year and a half ago, my friend John and I made a series of recordings. John would come to my apartment in Koreatown, Los Angeles with a large plastic tub full of audio recording equipment– microphones, a Zoom multitrack recorder, wind screens, miniature tripods. We had a shared google doc with topics and ideas that we could work out in advance, mostly while he was at his office job. The idea was to start a podcast. Well, kind of. The idea was to talk about games and make recordings, and then see about a podcast.


Part one went well. Any next parts are just next parts, for now phantasmagorical. But, as I’m the kind of idiot that can’t enjoy something without analyzing it, I continue to play games with analysis in mind. I’m not a game designer, but I am a sociologist. And so while I play I look for cultural significance and narratives in game design and my experience of play.

I play a lot of games. I can’t tell yet if I play more or less now that I’m finished writing a doctoral dissertation, but I think that I’ve been enjoying games more lately. Writing might be the same, but I haven’t been doing much for myself.


There’s good work going on in video game criticism, design, and scholarship these days. I’d like to contribute to it, although I don’t plan on making particularly serious contributions. A lot of what John and I recorded was bullshit, two white guys talking about videogames at a kitchen table. We talked about reskinning a game according to an album (I suggested Deus Ex: Mankind Divided reskinned for David Bowie’s Low); about how much we enjoyed The Witness even though Jonathan Blow has awful opinions; about the sound design for the DLC for The Evil Within. We talked about some retro games, riffing on the terror of Kirby’s Adventure and the animal to human to animal transformations of Ninja Spirit (the Turbografix game). And mostly we digressed and chatted and occasionally hit on a good idea for two or three minutes.

I like the idea of placing some words, video, images, or stream somewhere. This seems as likely a spot as any, together with the associated accounts on twitter and twitch. So next time, instead of putting up a set of tweets about the thrilling and manipulative simplicity of Excitebike, Out Run, and Hang-On, I’ll put something a little more considered up here. I’d also like to invite some friends from near and far to have some conversations with me about what they’ve played and what they’re playing, and those conversations can find a home here, too.


- Don

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