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by G. Christopher Williams

2 Mar 2016


The cold of space smote the unprotected tip of the planet, and he, being on that unprotected tip, received the full force of the blow. The blood of his body recoiled before it. The blood was alive, like the dog, and like the dog it wanted to hide away and cover itself up from the fearful cold.
—Jack London, “To Build a Fire”

Whenever I am teaching the philosophy of the American Naturalists in my literature classroom, this passage is the one that I try to focus my students’ attention on in order to exemplify the attitude that the naturalists held about man’s place in the universe. A lot of my students make the mistake of assuming that a writer who is a naturalist simply likes to tell stories about nature, which is, I suppose, easy to do if you are looking at stories like London’s “To Build a Fire” or something like Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat.” However, the term actually derives from the discipline of the naturalist, one way of describing a species of scientists of the nineteenth century.

by G. Christopher Williams

18 Feb 2016


A teenager putting a gun to his or head and pulling the trigger is a provocative one, stark and extreme.

It is also an image repeated regularly throughout Persona 3, as the “gun” is actually something called an “evoker” and the means of summoning beings called personas to empower the various members of the player-character’s party of heroes in the game. This image of self extinction becomes emblematic of “putting on” a persona that can add to the power of these kids. Suicide becomes an image of extinguishing some former part of the self, leading to the empowerment provided by adopting a persona.

by G. Christopher Williams

17 Feb 2016


This post contains spoilers for Firewatch.

Knowing nothing about it, begin to play Gone Home and you may get the impression that it is a horror game, which it isn’t. Knowing nothing about it, begin to play Firewatch and you may get the impression that you are playing a mystery or a thriller, which it is.

Sort of.

by G. Christopher Williams

4 Feb 2016


A few years ago I wrote an essay about nudity and near nudity in the design of various video game characters, both male and female, and what that signified about those characters’ vulnerabilities and strengths. I briefly touched on the very minimal clothing (essentially, a loin cloth) of the protagonist of the God of War series, saying that Kratos’s “near nudity makes him less than vulnerable. His physique communicates power and masculinity. The appearance of a desirable masculine trait, perfect musculature, makes him clearly stronger [than he would seem if he were clothed], not weaker” (“Boys Get Naked Better Than Girls”, PopMatters, 23 June 2011).

by G. Christopher Williams

3 Feb 2016


The first time that I played Tharsis, a 10 turn disaster management space sim, I lost the game by turn two. It took me over a dozen games to finally win this brief, but difficult roguelike.

In Tharsis, you are tasked with directing the actions of four astronauts attempting to survive a 10 week trip to Mars. On each of the game’s ten turns, bad things happen in various modules of a spacecraft and the ship’s crew basically needs to do its best to attempt to put out these fires, while, of course, more and more fires erupt each and every turn. Like I said, this is a disaster management sim played out in a brutally short time frame.

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Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 19 - "The Chitters"

// Channel Surfing

"Another stand-alone episode, but there's still plenty to discuss in the Supernatural world.

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