Week 39: Trains, games and autocomplete

  • I don’t know how long I’ll keep these two nested timescales up, but it seems worth mentioning that week three at Made by Many has drawn to a close. I feel both “Early days,” and “Can I remember a time before this?”
  • More putting things together for clients, this week, and what felt like quite a lot of progress on a big website thing.
  • I went to some more brainstorming sessions and some more meetings.
  • Things went a bit quiet on Thursday, so I invited myself onto a pitch and spent a lot of time thinking about storytelling on the web – something I haven’t done for a while.
  • Yesterday I invited Ben Hammersley to the office – and the pub – and he brought his two preposterously cute dogs along, as you can see. What a nice and inspiring chap.
  • This week I talked to some people in the office I hadn’t talked to before, which was excellent. In some ways I’m quite shy, but I’m a weird shy person who really gets a kick out of talking to people. Loving the office. Loving the job.
  • I gather Joel Gethin Lewis is stopping by this afternoon to give some kind of talk. He does great work; we had a tea in Leon that one time.

Elsewhere in my so-called life:

  • I have an interview hanging over me. I must blunt it.
  • Still need to do tax, passport forms, commissioning note. I think I have something in the new WIRED UK, can you find it?
  • Several of the people I contacted in my last round of speculative freelance pitching have come back to me this week asking for more. Nice to feel I don’t need to rely on that now.

1. Let it be publicly known: I’m thoroughly enjoying having a job. It is several hundred times more interesting and less stressful than my freelance existence. And I have no immediate plans to carry on doing any more of any of the other things I do. Maybe it’s just the novelty of having a new thing to do, but I just don’t feel any urge to make anything else at the moment.

2. I have been thinking about games again this week. First Anjali linked to a Q&A with Jordan “Prince of Persia” Mechner, on our work blog. Then someone sent me a beautiful article/video about a Tetris champion. Then Paul showed me this hilariously disturbing Sim City-based accomplishment. THEN last night I was talking to Ben about Replay, and how retro-gaming taps into something close to madness (does madness spring spontaneously out of some dark place, or creep up on you, like Mrs Twit sandpapering Mr Twit’s walking stick?) And now I’m singing the new Portal song, and seeing LA Noire posters everywhere, and even though it sounds like a kind of coffee, I am interested. I am interested in how games GET you – how they make you mad and how they’re already mad: how benignly manipulative they are. A lot of people talk about game-makers trying to wrestle agency out of the magical passivity of narrative, but there might be another way to cast the issue. Maybe your role as a game-creator is as a kind of ambivalent Pied Piper, guiding willing people on a merry dance that goes deeper and deeper, without taking away the impression of freedom? Maybe it’s about fostering the unfosterable. Why should games be educational or culturally significant, when they’re so brilliant at tapping into our dark heads and capturing the people we want to be (again) – so excellently inconsequential and perverse?

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