This is a talk that I gave as part of the Southbank Centre‘s festival Death: A Festival for the Living. It’s a short, personal history of dying in videogames: a medium where death is common, and lives are plural but rationed. Why is it that “dying” such a common metaphor in games – even supposedly non-violent ones? Does it have any meaningful significance compared to the process of death in the real world? This essay is a short exploration of that, based on a life in which I’ve died thousands of times.
I have a large Arts Council literature application to write, so inevitably I’m thinking about trumpets. Specifically, the kinds of trumpet that J.S.Bach had in his orchestra in the mid-eighteenth century, round about the time he was assembling his masterpiece, the B Minor Mass. And this has a lot to do with game design. Bear [...]
Usually, our live events have a core of people who know us: people who’ve been to a Sandpit or a Weekender before, people who like games, people who know a little about what to expect. Of course they’re often outnumbered by newcomers and passers-by and people who saw the brochure lying around and didn’t have anything else to do, but the familiar core is still there. On 1 January, though, our audience was people who were wandering around Edinburgh: residents out for a walk; visitors who’d come up for Hogmanay and couldn’t leave because the trains weren’t running yet; people with hangovers; wandering families. People who are almost guaranteed not to be reading this blog post. We weren’t really sure how many of them to expect. It turned out there were quite a lot.
It was a silly big game and hundreds of people were involved in making it work, on the day and in the months before: stewards and producers and drummers and actors and guys who put up Helter Skelters and Heads of Games and a samba band and the Lord Provost of Edinburgh and a poet and people on New Year’s Eve stapling sheets of cardboard at 9pm or printing out stickers at 4:30am. I’ve been trying to write it up and it’s just too big, there’s too much of it. But I can at least write down some of the things I want to remember for next time.