On Thursday I got a phone call from Keith Stuart of the Guardian, saying “Would you like to go down to London for the day for an Ingress event?” Thankfully I could make it, and spent a day wandering around London with this wonderful community. This one was a lot of fun.
I’ll take any excuse I can to bring my pen and paper RPG knowledge into videogames, which is why I pitched Rock Paper Shotgun an article on Storium, which exists somewhere between the two.
The opening paragraph contains a manifesto of sorts:
Computers suck at stories. We’ve been trying to create AIs that will make writers redundant for decades and it’s just not happening. Even clever, experimental systems like Storybricks are using sophisticated technology to create stories which amount to “There are bandits on the road.” If you want plot twists more complex than “And then I killed the guy”, you’re going to need a writer.
I try my best to love everywhere I write for equally, but there’s a special feeling to having an article on a website your Mum’s heard of. This week I got my first article up on The Guardian. It’s about Asylum Jam and the depiction of mental health in games, and I talk a lot about my time working in a secure mental health unit, and also my grandfather’s failing memory.
When Steam trading cards were announced I treated them as a joke, a bunch of weird nonsense I didn’t want anything to do with. Then I realised people were paying money for these things, and I figured I could try and make a few bucks, enough to get a copy of Rogue Legacy at least. I rapidly degenerated into a parody of shitty capitalism, ranting on twitter about the miniscule amounts of money I was making. Thankfully PCG web editor Tom Senior was paying attention to my breakdown, and figured it would make a good article, and thus Card Shark was born.
As a bonus, I also wrote an article on how to make money from Steam trading cards without going as crazy as I did.
Update – I actually earned even more money after I wrote this. By the end of the Steam Sale my eventual takings were Rogue Legacy, Kerbal Space Program, Universe Sandbox, The Binding of Isaac (with Wrath of the Lamb DLC) and £1.10 left over.
Rise of the Roguelikes is a feature I wrote for Gamespy shortly before the site closed down. I investigated the recent success of Roguelikes on the PC indie scene, putting together interviews with Spelunky’s Derek Yu, Desktop Dungeon’s Rodain Joubert, FTL’s Justin Ma and Matthew Davis and the team behind Dungeons of Dredmor. It was an interesting experience and there were some great insightful comments from the developers. It was actually Derek Yu’s mention of the Berlin Interpretation that lead me to use it as a framework for talking about the modern Roguelike, and about gaming genres in general.
This is one of my favourite things I’ve ever written. It’s my attempt to explain the enduring appeal of Football Manager, and the way in which it creates little narratives as you play. I do this by sharing one of my favourite Football Manager memories, the story of Shane Paul, a young prospect who had one moment of glory before burning out.
Read about it here.
One day I hope one day someone will give me the chance to write a proper full length Football Manager diary, there’s so many good stories in that game.