Jason Rohrer had a brilliant idea for a game that was also a religion. Then the whole thing went south.

I bet you’ve been wondering what Sonic the Hedgehog has been up to, haven’t you? Well, he’s been watching a lot of TV.

Remember when Roger Ebert said games could never be art? This guy wrote a defense of that idea. An incredibly thoughtful and insightful article. A must-read, really.

Courtney stood up to Penny Arcade’s tasteless and hurtful jokes, took more crap for it from gamers than anyone should have to take, and then read a book about how awesome gamers could be. She found that hard to accept, at first…

Apple’s App Store approves an app that helps “cure” homosexuality, and thereby draws criticism.

Speaking of Apple, in this Wired Magazine article, Joel Johnson tours the factory where iPhones are made.

As alienating and dehumanizing as the working conditions are in that Chinese factory, they probably are not nearly as bad as the reality of indentured servitude in Afghanistan as reported in this New York Times article.

An interesting read on Japan’s religious and cultural climate in lieu of the recent earth quake and its effects.

Our very own Jason Morehead has written an interesting review of Josh T. Pearson’s fascinating and disturbing album, “Last of the Country Gentlemen.”

Ryan Hamm of Relevant has written a balanced and reasoned review of Rob Bell’s Love Wins.

Give Us Somebody We Can Blast into Pieces – Film critic Jeffrey Overstreet reflects on the topics covered in American cinema and what they say about us.

Paste lists their top 10 performances at SXSW–I am seriously considering making plans to go next year–who wants to join me?

The Onion tackles 20-30 something men who haven’t grown up yet–hilarious!

Pop Matters is spotlighting Joss Whedon.

In light of the whole Rob Bell controversy, Jeff Cook wonders if there are really any significant differences between what Bell has written, and what C.S. Lewis expressed in his writings.

Linda Holmes defends the cultural omnivore, i.e., those who try to enjoy and find value in both “high” and “low” art.

My friend Matt has posted an in-depth “mid-game” review of Dragon Age 2 that hits on several issues in the game that have bothered me as well.


  1. RE Courtney:
    It’s hard to know exactly how to respond to Courtney. On the one hand, no one should have to bear threats of murder and rape for expressing an opinion. On the other hand, her opinion is deeply flawed and deserves critique. On the one hand, rape is too often trivialized in our society and still, unbelievably, little understood and is an issue that deserves a few good spokespersons. On the other hand, it’d be nice if that spokesperson could form coherent arguments and actually understand what she’s critiquing.

    I followed the link, pretty sure it would have something to do with the dickwolves strip (Bing!), and hoped to find some decent critique of something, whether of the original strip or of extremist reaction or of Gabe and Tycho or of McGonigal’s work. I was, in a word, disappointed. I even searched her site and followed links and was wholly underwhelmed. Not just by the lack of feasible content, but also by the fact that Courtney seems almost wholly driven by irrationalities.

    On the other hand, she is a human person and the depth of her despairs, regardless of their reasonableness, are well-conveyed and we can easily see that she is one of those who need, for whatever reasons formed her, to be a focus of care and tenderness. I am furious at those who threatened her and that fury absolutely dwarfs my deep frustration with how poorly her reaction to the PA strip is framed.

    Obviously, our reaction to such a situation needn’t be strictly dichotomous, but we are something of a binary people and too often see the world in terms of either/ors. If I take the time to critique her words, I’m heartless and supporting her evil gaming foes. If I don’t critique her words, I’m supporting the power of irrational thinking and the furhter dumbing down of our society.

    *sigh* Well, in the interest of the best of both worlds, here goes: The people who threatened this woman are evil and damaged and Courtney, for better or worse, thinks with her heart rather than her mind and so mistook the dickwolves strip to a) be a joke about rape and b) to be a support of not-super-well-named rape culture.

  2. RE Ebert and Art Redux #4003
    Seriously. Why is this still going on? Are games art is not even the right question. It doesn’t have any inherent meaning.

    The real question gamers need to ask is “Are game valuable?” With which they should quickly follow up (since they’ll almost certainly answer in the affirmative), “In which ways are games valuable?”

    The games-as-art quandary is a blind that keeps gamers from actually considering games from a well-rounded perspective. It’s a time waster. Who cares if games art called art if they are valuable and taken seriously? Our language won’t even allow us to answer the question reasonably so every moment spent wondering if games are art is a moment wasted, a moment that could better be spent asking real questions that might have real answers.

    Gamers (en masse) are such a pathetic lot, demanding of gratuitous self-justification. Who cares what you call your game. Tell me how it’s valuable. And if you’re particularly cheeky, tell me how its value rivals The Picture of Dorian Gray or The Savage Detectives or Spirited Away or In the Mood for Love or Hamlet or “Subterranean Homesick Blues” or Love Supreme or Kind of Blue.

    But don’t give me this games are (or are not) art crap. It was a dead topic before Ebert even played mad scientist on it.

  3. @Seth – That whole dickwolves issue has been gone over so many times, I’m not really interested in debating it anymore. I have an opinion that mostly aligns with Courtney’s, even if it comes from a very different place, but that’s not really the point. Mainly I just thought it was important to have a window into just how dark gaming culture can be, and how much work we have to do before Reality-is-Broken-esque rhetoric becomes a reality. I also love that Jane McGonical is making her own very deliberate steps by being a decent human being to Courtney in spite of their differences.

  4. @Rich – This is actually the first thing I had read in reaction to it (I don’t tend to read gaming news/forums), but I do remember reading on PA’s site that there was some blowback on it. I will say the shirt was a stupid idea and ran almost exactly counter to what was going on in the (I thought) pretty insightful strip (that was not really about rape at all).

    That said, I’m glad McGonigal gave her a hug even though I don’t know McGonigal either and am unfamiliar with the rosy (?) view she argues for.

  5. @Seth – Probably the worst thing about the whole situation was Penny Arcade’s response. The only times they addressed it was either to lash out at those who were offended or to mock them. The rest of the time they were silent. All the while, their followers were spurred on to react how you would pretty much expect them to react. This went on literally for MONTHS. What really frustrated me was that once the PA guys started getting their own death threats, THAT was when they called a cease fire.

  6. @Rich – Huh. Well that sucks.

    Really, they should have just hired me to throw up a wall of text explaining everything, because you know: I’m pretty well known for never being condescending. Or sarcastic.

  7. RE Cultural Omnivores:

    What I Don’t Like
    Holmes comes off as far too much the pessimist.

    Once again, we are connecting social status and cultural tastes in a way that’s bad for the kind of experimentation that makes people omnivores in the first place.

    Apart from the silly notion of the hipster, how is this even at all the case?

    Honestly, maybe it’s my age group or the cultural slice of my region, but I feel like I only know cultural omnivores. The people I know who are the biggest fans of Idol are also the ones who will inevitably know way more classical composers than you. Those who most adore Dancing with the Stars are actual, real-life ballet dancers. My dad, the trained artist, loves the illustrations in my comics. My friend the filmmaker loves the cinema but thought Speed Racer was really cool to look at.

    Also, she seems to mistake pop culture as being alien from high culture, whereas high culture is pop culture.

    Sort through the monumental piles of stink to get to the marvelous things they’d never have encountered before the barriers to entry for publication of everything from writing to video fell so close to zero.

    You know how much stink I have to sort through to find valuable stuff on the internet? Almost no piles of stink. You know why? Because the piles of awesome naturally rise to the top and are therefore easy to find. Certainly there are undiscovered treasures out there (I mean, I ran a blog for almost ten years that never received more than 10K visits per month), but I don’t feel the need to search for them.

    What I Do Like
    Holmes does a good job pinning down the source of the unreasonable hostility that the conservative culture-grazers hold toward progressive culture.* The Kindle vs. cellulose. The dime novel vs. Literature. Et cetera. These, like most fears, are unreasonable fears. Displacement? It won’t ever happen. The Time Machine premise is built on fear rather than fact. It’s inherently conservative and elitist (conservativism being rooted in fear, this is entirely sensible). But it just can’t stand up to scrutiny.

    And I’m glad that Holmes takes the time to point this out. Or at least, if not point it out, she leaves enough breadcrumbs for us to find our way out of the forest and see the landscape for what it is.
    *note: She says it goes vice-versa, but really I don’t see a lot of people exhibiting hostility toward Beethoven, Shakespeare, or French New Wave cinema because it’s not Justin Bieber, Goosebumps, or Toy Story.

  8. I have a suggestion for Brian Moriarity (author of the Ebert piece)–put that bad boy in a pdf–good land that was a long and very narrow article that required an inordinate amount of scrolling!

Comments are now closed for this article.