I’m at Playboy Discussing the Video Game Wars of the Future

I wrote an article for Playboy that included an interview with leading defense expert P.W. Singer.

Singer’s a brilliant guy, the type that you listen to when he talks. So when I found out his new novel, Ghost Fleet, predicts that video game technology will merge with military hardware, I thought it was worth asking him about it.

Military Expert P.W. Singer Predicts the Video Game Wars of the Future (NSFW, because Playboy. Do I really need to say that? I mean, there’s no nudity, but still, it’s Playboy.)

Wait, did you say you read it…for the articles?

Haha, so funny. You’re totally the first person to tell me that.


Extra Credits: Returning to World War II

Hey! I helped out on an Extra Credits episode on how shooter games could re-approach World War II.

Working with the team was a blast, and I hope to do it again one day. And, oh man, is it cool to see myself as an EC bean person.

If I had to add anything to this, it would be that our WWII games draw so inspiration from films, that perhaps devs could start by looking at WWII films that are different than the standard fare.

One great example in theaters this week is Assassination, an action film about the Japanese occupation of Korea. Perfect fit for an FPS? Probably not, but it’s not the worst place to start in seeking other cinematic visions of the war.


SHOOTER Review Roundup

What critics are saying about SHOOTER: 15 Critical Essays About Games With Guns:

When a piece of criticism grabs you by the collar and demands you take a second look at something, you know it’s doing its job right.

Nic Rowen, Destructoid

Shooter asks us to look at shooting games and say something more than “lol shooters” or the dreaded “ugh videogames.” It’s about looking the largest, most successful commercial products square in the face and trying to figure out what the hell they’re all about. It’s about looking at a format, or an expectation, and tracing its existence from massive blockbusters down to weird anomalies like Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth.

Cameron Kunzelman, Paste Magazine

A group of writers and their essays that could–nay, should–shape a broader understanding of games.

Tyler Colp, Victorypoint.tv


Where to Buy SHOOTER:

SHOOTER on GumRoad — Mobi, PDF, and ePub files

SHOOTER on Amazon Kindle Marketplace


SHOOTER: Available for Purchase Now!

SHOOTER is Here!

Fifteen critical essays on shooting games–a collection for genre fans, design students, and anyone interested in what happens when we digitize the gun. That’s a lot of value for $5 USD.

And did I mention the art’s jaw-drop-fantastic? Or that I get to perform a postmortem on one of my favorite odd-duck games, Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth?

My chapter description, from the publisher:

The Lurking Fear: Firearms in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Robert Rath examines the danger and unreliability of the guns featured in Headfirst Productions’ Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. In highlighting the risk, both physical and psychological, of using firearms as weapons, Rath reads Dark Corners of the Earth as a commentary on the real-world power of the gun, and paints an interesting contrast with a genre that takes the power and skill necessary to properly use a firearm for granted.

OKAY, WE GET IT, NOW HOW DO WE BUY IT?

Either click the image above, or this link. The eBook’s available in PDF, Mobi, and ePub formats.


SHOOTER Releases Tomorrow

You hear that? A magazine scraping, a bullet clacking into place, a hammer hovering.

SHOOTER IS COMING.

Fourteen essays on gaming’s most popular genre, delivered straight to your brain like a Glock 18 on full auto. Essays on war, insanity, brotherhood, and all the complex territory we cross into when we fashion an entire chunk of gamespace around firearms. Not to mention the swank art I’ve featured here.

The book releases June 2nd. There is no pre-order option, but once it officially releases you can buy it here in several formats (or click the cover on the right).

Until it releases–chill. Sit back. Have a cup of tea.

So, *sip* you ever hear from that Cortana girl anymore?


SHOOTER Release and Update Roundup

There are times when the writing life gets busy, and the last six months have been one of those times. Since I last posted:

  • I’ve been in five countries.
  • My workload completely changed.
  • The gates of sunken cities opened, unleashing horrifying possibilities heretofore unimagined by this world.
  • …um, by which I mean I got some exciting opportunities. Lovecraftian opportunities. More on that in a second.

So here’s a roundup of what’s new, what’s old, and what’s been keeping me up at night, giddy with the prospect of unleashing it on readers.

SHOOTER Releases June 2nd

Shooter Cover

SHOOTER is an ebook of critical essays about FPS and action games. Various ink-in-the-blood game journos contributed essays covering a single game each, ranging from the Modern Warfare series to Kane and Lynch 2. It’s not a history of the genre, but a window into specific experiences shooting mechanics deliver. I was already excited for the release, then I got a PDF proof copy and now I’m chomping at the bit to show this thing off. It has guns, blood splatter graphics, striking illustrations (that I can’t show you yet) and other face-melting sweetness. There’s a forward by legendary Ubisoft developer Clint Hocking. Chapters on propaganda in Haze and the image of Germans in Brothers in Arms. Hell, the first chapter’s a meditation on Battle Garegga.

Oh, and also a chapter by me. Did I forget to mention that? I’m writing about the unique vision of firearms in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, a game that made the player fear his own weapon. It’s an FPS where suicide felt like a real threat.

What’s in my chapter? Shotguns! Cultist mobs! Eldritch horrors! Insanity!

Buy it on June 2nd–please? I get royalties.

Entering Final Edits on LOST GUNS

This summer I’ll be attending the Historical Novel Society Conference to pitch LOST GUNS, my debut historical thriller novel. After this latest draft, I feel quite proud of the old boy and glad I decided to play rough with it.

Sometimes you have to break the bones to heal them straight–true in surgery, true in editing. You’ll hear more about LOST GUNS soon, so I’ll leave it at that for now, but know that wheels are in motion.

Speaking at PAX East and on The Freelance Game Podcast

In March I traveled to the snow-blasted wasteland of Boston for PAX East, where I moderated panels on history in games and geek travel. (YouTube videos incoming once I have a spare moment to edit them.) I also appeared on The Freelance Game podcast to talk about column writing. All of that? Tons of fun.

Leaving The Escapist and New Game Journo Horizons

For a variety of reasons I decided to voluntarily leave my columnist position at The Escapist. It was a difficult choice but one that I don’t regret. After nearly three years writing Critical Intel for the magazine and the climate having changed significantly since I began contributing there five years ago, it felt like the time to pull up stakes. I’ll always be grateful to the editorial freedom The Escapist gave me, and my time there gave me the space and guidance to grow as a writer. I wasn’t sorry to go, but I did find it sad.

But I haven’t stopped working in game journalism–not by a long shot. While I can’t announce anything yet, I’ve been brewing up new projects behind the scenes that will come to fruition soon. One of those projects involves Critical Intel anthology ebooks, and another could land me some work with people I’ve admired for years.

Have You Made Word Count Today?

Have you made your word count today? See below for answer:

A) Yes, I was good and made word count. — Good on you, writer! Take a rest. A whisky-assisted rest.

B) No… er, I mean not yet. I was just about to maybe… — Shush. Go make word count. Actually, need to make word count, now that you mention it. Let’s go make word count together, shall we? We can be a word-counting team.

Get thee to a word processor!


A Short Statement On GamerGate

Note: I drafted this statement for publication alongside those of my colleagues, but at times the wheels of official channels turn slowly. Because I feel it’s important and already long overdue, I’ve published it here.

I can only apologize to my friends that I have not said anything sooner. Early in the controversy, my family and I made a decision not to risk hacking, doxxing and death threats by engaging the topic officially. My thought was that given the tenor of the debate, my opinion would do little good to change minds while exposing my loved ones to harassment. In other words, I was successfully intimidated.

But ultimately I’m a writer, and if I can’t use that skill to help my colleagues when they’re threatened with death, what should I use it for? I can only hope that staying quiet in official channels (I have spoken about it on Twitter) has not given the impression that I do not support or stand with the victims of these heinous attacks.

***

Priorities

He fires a shot into the classroom ceiling and orders all the men out.

“I am fighting feminism,” he tells the remaining women.

“We are not feminists,” says one. “We have never fought against men.”

He answers by executing them, left to right. Twenty minutes later, fourteen women are dead and another fourteen students wounded. The shooter’s suicide note blames his actions on “radical feminists.”

This is not a theoretical scenario, it’s the coroner’s report from the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre. This is what an anonymous terrorist meant when he threatened to conduct a “Montreal-style attack” during Anita Sarkeesian’s Utah State lecture.

It appears that, in addition to being threatened with violence for speaking out, you can now be threatened for listening.

I’m not here to debate what GamerGate is or is not about. That conversation is immaterial to the current situation. Hacking, doxxing, and death threats are criminal acts, not rhetorical devices. No discussion can occur while people flee their homes.

Our sole priority right now must be safety.

Defending GamerGate as “not about misogyny” ignores the point. For some members it clearly is about misogynist violence and always has been.

I therefore call on GamerGate’s supporters to abandon it in the interest of public safety. While these zealots may not represent you, for as long as you continue to use the hashtag, you’re representing and emboldening them. Internal policing is inadequate – you can’t block/report an unstable man with a gun.

We can talk about ethics later, right now we need to ensure no one leaves this “debate” in a body bag.

***

If you are interested, other Escapist writers have also published thoughts on the controversy:

Bob “Moviebob” Chipman

Sarah LeBoeuf

Carly Smith

I would like to thank all my colleagues for their support and strength during this time.


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