My writing has regularly appeared at:
I’m a freelance journalist and arts critic of many years, specialising in videogames, music, and film. I’ve written extensively on videogames, film, music and culture. I am currently a contributing editor at Metro Magazine. For my writing, I won the ‘Best Games Journalist’ award at the 11th Annual IT Journalism ‘Lizzie’ awards in 2013.
I’ve also been published at Gizmodo, Vice, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, Meanjin, The Walkley Magazine, Screen Education, The Conversation, The Australian, Kotaku and PC PowerPlay. My writing has been cited by TIME Magazine, The New York Times, Slate, Salon, Buzzfeed, and The New Statesman.
In 2016, I co-authored my first book: Game Changers: From Minecraft to Misogyny, the Fight for the Future of Videogames (Affirm Press, 2016) with Leena van Deventer.
The Australian: “an essential read for anyone who engages with video games. It is a strong indictment of a poisonous, misogynistic culture that has no place in the modern world.”
FatDuckTech: “If you’re interested in the topic, or even just a little confused about where it is and where it seems to be going, this is a highly recommended read.”
Right Now: “Game Changers lovingly and fiercely promotes equal representation and equal opportunity in the gaming industry. It’s authors have taken a conversation happening between feminists online and presenting it to the broader community along with a reimagining of what it means to be a gamer.”
Sophie Black, head of programming at The Wheeler Centre: “A riveting account of the brave mavericks who threatened the status quo in the massive world of videogames, and what it says about all of us.”
But what Disney and Abrams are doing here with The Force Awakens is more than a narrative or aesthetic technique. They’re framing The Force Awakens as a moment in history. It’s marketing that allows us to acknowledge that yes, Harrison Ford has gone grey, and John Williams’ romantic melodies aren’t the Hollywood trend anymore. And at the helm of this film is a director whose idea of a war movie isn’t The Dambusters but Apocalypse Now, a film that George Lucas himself would’ve made if Star Wars hadn’t got in the way.
But these images also allow us to go back and feel like we’re young again, to feel the rumble of that Star Destroyer overhead both in our bones and in our memories. There’s this old story about how when the first Star Wars came out, the beat poet Allen Ginsberg saw the words “A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away…” and turned to his cinema-going companion and said: “Oh thank god, I don’t have to worry about it.”
That’s actually not too far away from what The Force Awakens is doing right now. It’s telling us we don’t have to worry about it anymore. The Jedi, the Dark Side, they’re real. It’s true—all of it.
It’s this rhythm above all else that allows The Rite to sound so fresh even today. In a way Stravinsky’s rhythmic focus served as a prelude for the popular music of the twentieth century and beyond, as such chaotic and racy sounds began to dominate in almost every genre. From jazz to rock to soul to pop, the tendency for the musical genres of the twentieth century to gradually move from a harmonic and melodic focus towards rhythmic complexity is one presaged by Stravinsky. Here was a piece of concert hall music that dealt in motion and kinesthetics, at the beginning of a century of popular music often primarily composed for dancing. Stravinsky’s influence was sometimes acknowledged more directly, too: when Charlie Parker caught sight of Stravinsky at the New York jazz club Birdland in 1951, the alto saxophonist quickly threw a few lines from Stravinsky’s The Firebird into his solo for the evening. And when John Williams had to compose music that suggested the desolation of a desert planet for Star Wars in 1977, he returned to The Rite, referencing (or perhaps lifting) the first few bars of the piece’s second part.
Gambling on a game: FIFA 13 and Virgin Gaming | Crikey
Every so often an advert pops up in the upper left corner of FIFA 13.
“Win money playing in the EA Sports Arena Online Game Mode,” it reads.
The EA Sports Arena is a few menus deep within FIFA 13, but it’s visible enough. Through it, players can connect with a service called Virgin Gaming, which is aligned with Richard Branson’s Virgin mega-brand. Virgin Gaming enables you to bet real money on multiplayer games of FIFA 13, Madden 13 and a number of others. Thus, it allows you to win real money. It also allows you to lose real money.
Virgin Gaming is a service that exists within a strange middle ground of gambling and classification regulation in Australia. Few can or will take responsibility for how it interfaces with games like FIFA 13.
EA Sports argues that such gambling is purely a third party service. The Classification Board has concluded, after being approached by Crikey, that it has “a very mild viewing impact and can be accommodated within the G (General) classification.” Further, videogames are themselves outside the boundaries of federal gambling law, and thus Virgin Gaming does not fall within the jurisdiction of a regulatory body like ACMA.
And so, every so often, an advert pops up in FIFA 13 that calls on players to gamble. And gambling is what players all over the world have been doing.
Archive (currently incomplete)
Gizmodo / Kotaku
From January 2012 to April 2013, I ran Crikey.com.au’s Game On blog. Crikey is a well-known Australian politics and media website.
Music by Steve Reich: A Conversation and Concert [Guest post on Crikey’s Earworm blog]
Screen Education Australia
“Spiral Music: Listening to Uncanny Influence in Vertigo,” 69, Autumn 2013, pp. 128-135.
“Arcade Projections: Wreck-It Ralph and the Cinema of Gaming,” 69, Autumn 2013, pp. 39-45.
“ACMI’s Game Masters: Playing By Their Own Rules,” 68, Summer 2013, pp. 38-45.
“Outrage: The Line,” PC PowerPlay 214.
“Black Mesa’s High-Def Hazard Course,” PC PowerPlay 209.
“Leap of Faith: How the architectural design of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations reveals the multicultural constants of Istanbul,” PC PowerPlay 199.
“First-Person Commuter,” PC PowerPlay 200.
YouTube star PewDiePie rails against ‘the media’, but he’s a part of it too now – with Anthony McCosker
Why we should no longer consider Last Tango in Paris ‘a classic’ – with César Albarran Torres
“Everyone’s invited … so why aren’t more of us gaming?” The Conversation, 27 March 2012.
“Caught in the Red Cross hairs: gamers and the Geneva Convention” The Conversation, 16 December 2011.
“‘Gamers’ tag is a poor fit, whichever way you Foldit” The Conversation, 27 September 2011.
“Video games and creative culture: independent or bound by a common shoestring?” The Conversation, 29 August 2011.
Kill Your Darlings
Kill Your Darlings is an independent Australian literary magazine that publishes a quarterly paperback journal and an online blog. For 2013, I was the Music/Theatre/Visual Art columnist for the Killings blog.
Highbrow vs Lowbrow: Dan Golding defends Highbrow Music (June 3 2014)
YouTube killed the video star: the Spectacle of music video (October 22 2013)
Sound of the siren: AFL and 19th century pop (September 26 2013)
Spectacle, shock, and awe: King Kong the musical (August 1 2013)
The soundscape of spectacle (June 12 2013)
Military Vision: Embracing accelerated change (May 9 2013)
Can you separate the art from the artist? (March 21 2013)
Everything you ever loved is hated by someone else (February 5 2013)
“‘Music Will Be Enough Here’: Remembering Bernard Herrmann.” no. 7 (October 2011): 139-147.
“Not Art, You Say?: In Defence of Videogames.” No. 5 (April 2011): 79-85.[/expand]
Meanjin (2 articles)
“Listening to Proteus,” Vol 72 No 2, Winter 2013, pp. 108-115.
“The non-violent videogames of 2012,” Meanjin online, January 10 2013.
Hyper Magazine is Australia’s oldest independent videogames magazine, having first been published in 1993. Between February 2011 and 2015, I wrote a monthly ‘Game Theory’ column, in addition to other standalone contributions. The following list is an incomplete account of my time there.
Game Theory 028: “If At First…” 235, May 2013.
Game Theory 027: “Look At Me” 234, April 2013.
Game Theory 026: “Kill Your Television” 233, March 2013.
Game Theory 025: “Repetition” 232, February 2013.
Game Theory 024: “The Paradigm Shift” 231, January 2013.
Game Theory 023: “Disneylandia” 230, December.
Game Theory 022: “The Neoliberalisation of Player Choice”, 229, November.
“Screen but Not Heard: Interview with Indie Game: The Movie’s directors” 228, October.
Game Theory 021: “Freaks and Geeks – But if we’ve reached ‘peak geek’, is the geek no longer a freak?” 228, October.
“You’re an Adult Now: How Australia Emerged from Gaming’s Dark Ages” 227, September.
Game Theory 020: “Really Scrape The Sky – How the heights of the city allow us to take in the big picture” 227, August.
Game Theory 019: “All Work and No Play – The insidious parallels between labour and videogames” 226, July.
“Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark” 225, July.
Game Theory 018: “Rules of the Games – If a game is defined as play within a set of rules, are videogames even games at all?” 225, July.
Game Theory 017: “Public Performance – Videogame and public institutions are strange bedfellows” 224, June.
Game Theory 016: “Uncharted Worlds – Playing a game can feel like conquering a new world, but perhaps it’s the world that conquers us” 223, May.
Game Theory 015: “Propaganda – Videogame aesthetics and the art of manipulation” 222, April.
Game Theory 014: “A Matter Of Taste – At what point does a videogame become so bad it’s good?” 221, March.
Game Theory 013: “From There To Here – Why the history of videogames doesn’t tell us everything” 220, February.
“The Magic of Mario”, 219, December.
Game Theory 012: “Playing By The Rules – Inside the courtly games of Batman: Arkham City”, 219, December.
Game Theory 011: “Modern Spectacle – When too much Shock and Awe is barely enough”, 218, November.
Game Theory 010: “Hyper-Violence – The action hero and vulnerability in a new global reality”, 217, November.
Game Theory 009: “Kinect and Class – In which assumptions are made about broad swathes of individuals”, 216, October.
“The Legend of The Legend of Zelda: The Myth and Metaphor of Shigeru Miyamoto’s own Cave Story”, 215, September.
Game Theory 008: “Simulating the Silver Screen: Rockstar’s homage to film noir joins a long line of Hollywood-inspired games”, 215, September.
Game Theory 007: “Playing Bin Laden: Real-life warfare plus time equals videogames”, 214, August.
Game Theory 006: “Allegory of the Cave: How Portal 2 is the ideal exhibit of level design science”, 213, July.
Game Theory 005: “An Avian Addiction: Where the casual meets the hardcore in Tiny Wings”, 212, June.
Game Theory 004: “Living in a Utility Closet: Is a pet fish enough to call a place home?”, 211, May.
Game Theory 003: “Invisible Interfaces – When too much reality gets in the way”, 210, April.
Game Theory 002: “Ezio Owed To Turing – Parsing the human in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” 209, March.
Game Theory 001: “Thinking Inside the Box – Possibility space and ball games” 208, February.