ltmurnau: (CX)
[personal profile] ltmurnau
Believe it or not, I am here most days for a quick troll through my Friends page.
But I don't post much anymore, obviously - mostly because I am busy doing stuff that I would be posting about, if I posted more.

Aki made it through his bridging semester program and now he is in 3rd Year of Mechanical Engineering!
He's finding it a lot of work, but I think it's coming together for him and he can see the purpose of it, unlike the Shakespeare they made him swallow in high school.
They have them working on projects, he is doing one with a team where they are developing a way to 3-D print custom braces for children with club feet.
He's also 21 now, how did that happen....

Game designing takes up a lot of my outside-work time, my blog on that is at .
I never did figure out a way to feed entries from there to here, I should just do it manually but I am not sure who would be looking at it.

Current projects, since the last time I talked about them, include games on the following in no particular order:

- the French-Algerian War of 1954-62 (two games actually, using completely different systems: one large one with lavish production and wooden bits, another one a revision of an earlier design)
- the Battle of the Bulge (revision of earlier design, published 11/15)
- a set of 3 battles from the first year of the Korean War (published 11/15, mangled by publisher's "development" team)
- the 1973 coup in Chile
- the Slovak-Hungarian War of March, 1939
- the invasion of Canada by the United States, 193? (revision of earlier design)
- the Polish-Soviet War, 1920 (revision of earlier design)
- the Cyprus Emergency, 1955-59
- Binh Dinh province (central coast of Vietnam, 1969; did this one up a while ago for a history professor at Nipissing University for students in his course on 20C wars and revolutions to play)
- the 1943-45 Allied invasions of Greece and Yugoslavia that weren't (two games actually, using completely different systems; one from the publisher that mangled my work (though they seem to have not mangled it too much this time, it's still the last work I will ever send them) and one I published myself)
- the Finnish Civil War of 1918

People want me to talk about my work too, which I find extremely difficult to do... I mean, I can talk technique, but as to what value there is in it, or what makes some thing better than another thing - I can't be articulate.

But week after next I am going to Washington DC to talk to people at RAND Corporation about what I do, and how it might help them in what they do... a very unexpected offshoot of a conference I went to last September that featured a workshop on quick game design that I helped facilitate.

Then in mid-March, UVic has an event on gaming ( and I will be showing some of my work and maybe talking about it.

Then at the end of March, I am going to the American Popular Culture Association's national meeting in Seattle, to present a paper on... well, here's my abstract:

Bored of War

Board wargames, or manual military simulation games, are a form of civilian entertainment that peaked commercially in the 1980s but continue today as a small press, near-DIY activity. They remain one of Western culture’s most complex analog artifacts, rich in their ability to generate narrative and explore historical possibilities.

However, only a very small number of published civilian wargames address the dominant modes of actual post-World War Two conflict: irregular war and counterinsurgency. This paper will explore the cultural reasons for this absent focus, explain the social and political utility of these games as a means of interrogating and critiquing contemporary conflicts, and present specific games in this field as examples of “critical play” (Flanagan, 2009).

See what I mean about being inarticulate?
This is a big conference, with thousands of presentations... and the Game Studies area is quite new, with only about 100 presentations. But all of them are about digital games - their design, the sociology of people who play them, etc. - except for 3: my presentation, and 2 presentations on role-playing games.
I feel no one will have the vaguest idea what I am talking about, much less care, even if I could make myself understood.
But Lianne is making a presentation (on horror films) in much better company... I've never been to a conference quite like this before.

And then in April, trying to work through arrangements to visit the Army War College in Carlisle PA to do some facilitated play of my Algeria game, to match with a screening of The Battle of Algiers.
I wonder what the Army officers there will make of that one.

Then in June, to Tempe AZ for the annual Consimworld Expo, for more showing of work and meeting with publishers.

It took 25 years to get to this point, I don't mind being so busy but again, it's hard to write about this stuff in the larger sense.

Oh, and I have something in a book too: this spring will see a game studies anthology come out from MIT Press:
It's the first time any of my writing has been in an actual book!

Anyway, this is in large part what I have been doing instead of posting.
I will try to pop in here more often, if only to leave links.

Date: 2016-02-11 10:51 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (yay)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Wow, congrats to you and Aki!

I'm trying to get a game design course approved at school; mind if I pick your brain at some point?

Date: 2016-02-11 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I think the only kind of game your kids would be interested in are computer games and I know nothing about what makes those games interesting or "fun"; they leave me cold, I'm just the wrong age and/or temperament for them.

I doubt I would have anything intelligent to say, but if you have questions I would be glad to try and answer.

Meanwhile, I think you might enjoy reading the book "Critical Play" by Mary Flanagan that I cited above, given your background in games, art history, design and activism. (introduction) (OK review)

She also has a chapter in the Zones of Control anthology; I'm glad to share a table of contents with her.

Date: 2016-02-11 11:23 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Oh, not at all; I'm only going to do it if it's not just computer games. My idea is that it's going to look at games-as-media and game design, covering computer games (with some easy programming), board games, tabletop, and LARP. Including at least several days bashing the crap out of each other with boffers. I know fuck all about video games and am willing to learn, but only if the rest of the course covers things I care about. :)

Date: 2016-02-11 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, that sounds better.
Kids these days are interested only in computer games but don't realize how many of them start as board /tabletop games, or are sketched out like them.

Mary Flanagan also wrote "Values at Play" which is another good one about steering your games in better directions.

Date: 2016-02-11 11:35 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (cat teacher)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Some of them are interested in board games; they really enjoyed playing Risk and chess in Philosophy class last year. I'm pretty sure if I brought out Pandemic they would love it. And they tolerate my LARP stories and got excited when I offered to bring in my boffers.

Date: 2016-02-11 11:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have designed some free games (who hasn't?) you might like to look at - Guerrilla Checkers is good, probably the only one you'd make headway with:

(scroll down to free part)

There are lots of directories of free games out there that are actually interesting.
Edited Date: 2016-02-11 11:44 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-02-11 11:46 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (yay)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Awesome, thank you!

Date: 2016-02-12 08:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Your activities are very impressive. And bravo for Aki.

So nice to read how things turn out.

Date: 2016-02-12 05:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I have been saving up news for this post.

And now, I'll have to post more about how things turned out!

PS: and yes, I am proud of that little bugger... how kids can surprise you, amirite?


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