Augustine and Evil (knievel)

Alright! We said we’d do this last week, and we’re actually doing it, so be excited. I know I am. We were chatting about the whole free will thing, and I asked if God gave us our will, why isn’t He responsible for our sinfulness? If everything that we are comes from God, why is it our fault when we do bad things? This extends beyond the free will question – it’s also about our personalities, our souls, our desires – if we’ve been given everything that we are, why is it our responsibility when we do bad things? Surely it would have made more sense for God to just make us in such a way that we couldn’t do bad things, and then nothing bad would ever happen and we could all just get on with living decent lives. (more…)

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Three’s Company: Firewatch, The Swapper, and Half-Life

Hey there! This is the third of a three-part series on The Swapper – if you haven’t read the first two, you can read them here and here. Basically we’ve been talking about blank slate characters, and how they allow some players to insert themselves into the narrative. I noted that there’s actually a serious drawback, in that whatever the player inserts into the narrative actually exists in a separate narrative bubble to the rest of the characters. If you’re angry, nobody cares, because you’re on the other side of the computer screen and you can’t impact the actions or feelings of NPCs. (more…)

Augustine & Free Will (y)

You know, when I first started looking for this passage I was convinced it was in Confessions, and I spent half an hour or so searching fruitlessly through the second half of Confessions trying to figure out what topic would lead Augustine into a discussion of free will and omniscience. Eventually I figured out that no, I’m a dummy, and it’s actually in City of God. We got there in the end. So Augustine’s talking about Cicero, who’s trying to demolish the idea of future knowledge. Obviously this doesn’t fly with the Christian Augustine, who sets about trying to prove the compatibility of both free will and the omniscience of God. (more…)

The Swapper (for real this time)

This one’s the second part of a three-parter on The Swapper – if you haven’t read the first part, you can read it here, or you can just keep reading, because I’m about to summarise the main points. The conclusions we came to last time are going to serve as the starting point for talking about The Swapper, a game which raises some interesting questions about those conclusions. So: the conclusions.

#1: People organise their lives through stories.
#2: When people engage with fictional stories, they may sometimes see aspects of their own story reflected therein.
#3: The silent protagonist in video games is designed as a sock for the player: they have no personality of their own, thereby allowing the player to extend their own identity through the sock into the game world.  (more…)

Augustine and the Vitruvian Man (renaissance jump-jam)

After looking through my drafts, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to stop introducing my posts with the word ‘So’. This will be a concerted effort to avoid the word (it won’t end well). I finally finished City of God! It’s mid-March when I’m writing this, so there you go – four months of bloody hard slog, and we’re finally there. This post is the last City of God-related post, more or less. As I was scrambling through the last forty pages, I was hoping there would be something to round the book off, something that I could write a nice little closing piece on – and lo and behold, I found this. (more…)

Living Vicarious: The Swapper (actually half-life tho)

So I’ve got a little folder of games to write about tucked away on my computer, and one of those games is The Swapper, by Facepalm Games (2013). I made it a priority, because I wanted to write a paper on it for a conference, but I’ve since realised that I won’t have the time. No worries though – I’m happy talking about it here instead. Apparently, all of the backgrounds were originally modelled in clay. They digitised them afterwards, but there you go – fact of the day.

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Augustine, Pain, and Hellfire (bash them bibles)

As we claw ever-nearer to the end of City of God, Augustine draws more and more on the end times. Most recently, he’s trying to explain how the fires of Hell could burn those naughty souls for all eternity. To be honest, in this case, I find the path he takes to get to the conclusion more interesting than the conclusion he’s trying to get to – I’m still not sure what I think about Hell & eternal torment. There’s a few different theories, so I don’t feel particularly beholden to the idea of literal fires of Hell – and to some degree it doesn’t really matter, as far as I’m concerned. It’s like bickering over what Heaven’s going to be like – it’s relatively difficult to be heretical, and it doesn’t really seem to matter that much what position you take, because everybody has to add the clause “but I could be wrong” to the end of their theory. (more…)