Author: Doug Belshaw (page 1 of 389)

The future has been foreclosed and the present is intolerable

This is an insightful and enjoyable article about something which I’ve noticed even at my level of gaming. For example, when quickly explaining the controls for Sniper Elite 4 to someone recently, I realised they were almost exactly the same as Red Dead Redemption 2.

That ‘legibility’ is a double-edged sword. It allows players to switch between games quickly and easily, but perhaps mitigates against innovation, experimentation, and getting really deep into a game…

Writing for TANK magazine in 2019, Josh Citarella mused on how WoW Classic tied into Mark Fischer’s idea of the slow cancellation of the future” (aka where are my hoverboards”)…  Cirtrella points to the collapsing gap between items that generate culture and items that can be (nostalgically) reflected upon, especially as The future has been foreclosed [and] the present is intolerable.”


Said differently, games are forced to be legible to players. This isn’t a call for radical experimentalism but to simply state that the cost to make games (due to a large amount of factors) is steadily increasing, and as such there is a proportionally growing interest by the powers that be that those games turn a profit. With little flex on things like price (proposing games should cost $70, $80, or more leads to general uproar, despite being something that should totally happen), games are forced to internalize this economic burden on the process of production itself.


It’s here that I introduce the title of this article, something that sounds more thinky than it is – Game Design Mimetics”. If the role of mechanics design in a game is to best serve the content of the game, be legible to the player, and not introduce too much uncertainty into the middle of a production, the simplest answer to what should we do about the design” is to just copy what already works”.


The past here isn’t looked at as the past, but instead as the metric by which to hold directly against considerations for the present. The constant backwards facing view as the rubric by which to create the future acts as a collapsing mechanism for possibility.

Source: Game Design Mimetics (Or, What Happened To Game Design?) | k-hole

Recalling generative and liberating uses of technology

I found myself using the phrase “the night is darkest before dawn” today. This post from Anne-Marie Scott is certainly an example of that, and I too look forward to a world beyond “today’s dogpile of an internet”.

I remember a time when I got excited about generative and liberating uses of technology, enabling people to bring their whole selves to learning, being able to incorporate their world, their context, their knowledge, and in turn develop new connections, new communities, and new knowledge to further explore and build on these things. I think this is still possible, and I think work around open practices, open pedagogies, ethics of care, and decolonisation point the way towards how to do it in today’s dogpile of an internet.

Source: Hitting the wall and maybe working out how to get back up again | A placid island of ignorance…

The corrosive nature of captalism

I used to think there was no chance of the current system of capital-based society ending within my lifetime.

But now? I’m not so sure. I see influential writers I respect like Seth Godin and (in this case) Warren Ellis talk openly about the harms of capitalism.

And given the crypto collapse following the pandemic perhaps people are slowly coming to realise there’s more to life than money…


From a certain perspective, capitalism is the environment into which we are born, and conditions within it are corrosive: we either adapt to those conditions in order to survive — people will always have to be taught how to tend the machines, and it has been said, after all, that humans are the reproductive organs of machines — or build a sturdy environment suit, or we are seriously harmed. Which casts many of us as good little prisoners or effective wasteland scavengers.

Source: A Suit Of Capitalism | WARREN ELLIS LTD

Image: Jorge Salvador