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Writing

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, BuzzFeedThe GuardianMeanjinThe Walkley MagazineScreen EducationThe ConversationThe AustralianKotaku 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.”

Writing clips

The Weaponised Nostalgia of Star Wars: The Force Awakens | Gizmodo

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.

[Read the rest at Gizmodo]

The Rite of Spring, still a young person’s piece of music 100 years on | ABC Arts

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.

[Read the rest at ABC Arts]

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.

[Read the rest at Crikey]

Archive (currently incomplete)

Crikey

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.

Moving on

PAX Australia: expo culture, videogames, and exclusion

INTERVIEW: BioShock Infinite and the problem of history

Interview: Kynan Woodman on Firemonkies, Real Racing 3, and Claude Monet

Funding success? What the industry thinks of the federal government’s $20m Games Fund

2012, two sentences at a time

INTERVIEW: Katie Williams and Harry Lee, the new directors of the Freeplay Independent Games Festival

The Age of Wii

The ambiguous politics of the first Australian Games For Change festival

Killing Is Harmless: new avenues for videogame criticism

Gambling on a game: FIFA 13 and Virgin Gaming

Black Ops II comes out tomorrow: here’s why I won’t be buying it

Paul Revere’s midnight ride, as told by Assassin’s Creed III

Journey: An evening with Robin Hunicke

Reshaping the national story at GCAP 2012

REVIEW: Lightness and depth in Rayman: Jungle Run

Why code is not poetry

Talking through mediums: conversations at the Freeplay Independent Games Festival 2012

Goalkicker: modest, satisfying, and perfect for Grand Final weekend

Freeplay Independent Games Festival announces program, international keynote

Thirty Flights of Loving and the invention of videogame space

Taking a Walk with Pachinko Pictures

Toybox: style, depth, and two best friends

Pitfall!: The 99c iOS remake that replays gaming history

REVIEW: “This is all your fault” – Spec Ops: The Line and the retelling of myths

Molyneux’s Curiosity: The anti-Cow Clicker

NOTES: Soundplay and Critical Path

Overwriting, renovating: the changing of Jetpack Joyride and Hamer Hall

Upcoming events in Brisbane and Melbourne

EXHIBITION REVIEW: Game Masters, Australian Centre for the Moving Image

GAME MASTERS: Warren Spector, the film critic who became a game designer

GAME MASTERS: ACMI curator Conrad Bodman speaks about videogames in galleries

Games Masters: launch week

Maturity, revisited

R18+: Is this “A Big Win For Gamers”?

MOVIE REVIEW: Indie Game: The Movie

Jetpack Joyride Revisited

Alice: Madness Returns Revisited

Batman: Arkham City Revisited

The Salvation Army and games for board members

NOTES: Froggies and Souvenirs

REVIEW: Fez, and the backwards glance

This game is twenty years old

Some contradictions

NOTES: Ski Safari

It’s Coming Round Again: finding the evils of the videogame

DIALOGUE with Paul Callaghan, Part Three: Permanence and the Expression of Design

DIALOGUE with Paul Callaghan, Part Two: The Enemy at the Gates

DIALOGUE with Paul Callaghan, Part One: Values and Identity in Videogames Culture

This is not an issue about videogames

NOTES: balls, walls and auteurs

Videogames and the Symphony: a review of the MSO’s Symphony of Legends

How the AFL and News Limited got into videogames (and how they could exploit you if they wanted to)

REVIEW: Four ways of reading in Journey

The Burden of an Ending: why finish videogames?

What our politicians think about videogames

I don’t want your conversation

A Matter of Life and Death: why youth is still the wrong way to talk about videogames

Videogames are not a young media form, so stop saying they are

REVIEW: Allegories and stillness in Dear Esther

The academy and the archive: videogame history as told through Hugo and The Artist

REVIEW: The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Excess, exuberance and Ziggurats

The strangest disconnect: the trailer and the videogame

Pyrrhic Victory: Behind the rhetoric of the R18+ debate

Why the mainstream media love videogames that make lots of money

IN PROFILE: Pachinko Pictures on advergames, fashion, and maturity

REVIEW: L.A. Noire

A Little Bit of Challenge Is Good: Surviving Melbourne’s Game Jam

The Game Making Game: Melbourne’s 48 Hour Game Jam

The Memory Palace of Desmond Miles

Maturity

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.

 

PC PowerPlay

“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.

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.

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)

“‘It’s in the cinema studies department…’ Studying videogames.” (May 31 2011)

Print Journal:

“‘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.

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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

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.

Melbourne International Film Festival