The Best Sentence of the Day

This blog is a cut-up of a dissertation in progress. Each day, I will post my favorite sentence that I have newly scribed. Everything out of context, but suggestive. I hope.

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Location: San Francisco, CA

I'm a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. I make games that give a damn. I study how games change lives. I spend a lot of my time figuring out how the games we play today shape our real-world future. And so I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032. Learn more here in my bio or get my contact information on my contact page.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Best Sentence #48

Lazy Sunday, no Mr. Pibbs and Red Vines, just crazy delicious dissertating.


This design concept, then, effectively performs the anxieties ubiquitous computing has about the balance of power between users and technologies, displacing these anxieties onto the relationship between two different classes of users.

Best Sentence #47

Whoops, forgot to blog last night. I was distracted by an emergency cupcake liberation mission to Love at First Bite Bakery.

Here's the best sentence of the day from yesterday, Saturday. It's a little froofy, but sincere, just like the sweet pink icing on those liberated cupcakes.


I will argue that in a kind of postcolonial fashion, the games that conquer the ubiquitous computing platforms are dialectically influenced by the myths and dreams of their colonized technologies.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Best Sentence #46

Happy Friday. Kiyash and I went to Bev Mo last night and bought 20 bottles of wine. Cabernet shiraz, white shiraz, zinfadel, chateau neuf-de-pape, bordeau... Now, I am not saying that dissertating is driving me to drink, but...

Success is metaphorically conceived of as a place precisely because the entire ubiquitous computing project is linguistically bound up in the notion of whereness, or ubiety—the condition of being located in a particular place.

P.S. Okay, don't worry, it's the semi-annual nickel sale at Bev Mo and we always stock up. I promise every sentence you read on this blog was created in complete sobriety :) Even if they don't always read like it, lol.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Best Sentence #45

Today, I wrote a mere two pages. But they're two chewy and important pages. I've had a hard time organizing and road-mapping the writing I've already done for Chapter 3. These pages help it make sense to me... and hopefully to the reader.


Here, the possibility space is a literal concept: the many potential sites for computing need to be named, occupied and tested.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Best Sentence #44

But how do you make invisible computing visible?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Best Sentence #43

Diet coke should be the official sponsor of my dissertation. I am willing, for instance, to print the dissertation on archival paper with a Diet Coke logo watermark. I am now consuming greater quantities of Diet Coke daily than my boss did when we were gearing up for a 1999 launch.

Also, my ribs are much better, but still not healed yet. I haven't been able to do yoga or run in the 4 weeks since I broke them, which is making me a little stir crazy!

Remember how I wanted to change the tone of the ubicomp chapter? Here, the best sentence of the day represents the new, smooth, non-hysterical flavor of the ubicomp chapter. By which I mean it's boring, but it's calmer... which is good.


Here, it helps to examine the mission statement and graphical logo of the research group that produced Smart Playing Cards.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Best Sentence #42

This weekend, I’ve been pulling all my old rhetoric and philosophy of science books off the shelf. I came to UC Berkeley intending to study the performance of scientific practice and theory. That all changed after I wrote a seminar paper about The Beast, went off to hike in the Swiss Alps for 8 days, and thought about which of the two subjects I really had something to say about. The Beast, and then all the other games, won. But now as I work on the chapter about ubicomp gaming, the category of ubiquitous play and performance that is absolutely tied up with scientific research and publication, I realize that I need to draw on all of that old science stuff. So, that’s very nice. I feel like I am, in at least a small way, doing the thing I came here to do. It’s nice to be underlining “Science on Stage” again. Oh, and to get into the spirit of things, I’m wearing my “Science Commons” tshirt while I work today.


This ever-expanding network of published citations serves as a provisional conquerer’s map, an authoritative record of the technologies’ success in colonizing, incrementally, more and more spaces and objects in the name of ubiquitous computing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Best Sentence #41

Status report!

Chapter 2: Nearing final, polished completion. Likely to weigh in 35 - 40 pages. Will be submitted TONIGHT to dissertation co-chairs.

Chapter 3: Roughly 30 pages written. Substantial writing of theory section and a case study remains to be completed. Should be submitted to co-chairs by END OF MONTH.

Chapter 4: Roughly 40 pages written. Final observations of case studies to be written and theory section needs improvement. Should be submitted to co-chairs by END OF MONTH.

Chapter 5: Title, epigraph, and structure chosen. Basic idea of what needs to be done. Aiming for mid-May submission.

Chapter 6: 40 pages written. Need to write final 5 pages explaining how Chapter 6 relates to Chapter 5 and the subsequent chapters. Not sure if I will finish this before or after I do Chapter 5.

Chapters 7 (mimesis), 8 (community), 9 (power) to be prepared in the last 30 days of my writing period, hopefully using a significant amount of research compiled for my DAC, DiGRA, Modern Drama and MIT Press articles of the past couple of years.


What does it mean to perceive an affordance?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Best Sentence #41

Oh, happy day. I realized while in the shower this morning that a very good way to explain the things I find most interesting about alternate reality games and urban superhero games is to harken back to my earliest game influences. To know that I get to formally cite Tass Times in Tonetown in my dissertation makes it all. worth. while!

Here is some stuff to chew on, best sentence-y.

Here, it helps to take a historical detour to consider two early genres of personal computer games: text adventures and graphic adventure games. These genres taught gamers a pair of strategies for investigating virtual worlds: affordance hunting and promiscuous activation. I want to suggest that ubiquitous gaming seeks to teach gamers these same strategies for investigating the real world.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Best Sentence #40

Excellent, the O'Reilly Networks links to The Best Sentence of The Day in its introduction to an interview with me about scaling up gameplay. Maybe I'll have to start sounding slightly less stressed and hysterical about the dissertation endgame...

Finally, I will explore the genre’s performative practice of playtesting, which I will argue prioritizes the mass replication of citations of gameplay over the ubiquitous proliferation of gameplay itself.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Best Sentence #39

Even though I worked for about 10 hours on Easter Sunday, I didn't post a 'best sentence of the day' because I had a very frustrating time of it. However, I will pay homage to that day of work by posting another best sentence of the day today.

I'm finally getting the place where I get to talk about the games I love the best. Majestic, the Go Game, the Beast...


How do you know when you are playing a game? And how do you know when a game is playing you?

Best Sentence #38

I have decided to reorganize... the first 5 or so pages each of Chapters 3, 4, and 5 will move to the end of Chapter 2, which is really too short in its current form to stand alone. Chapter 2 will now serve as a more thorough and substantive overview of the following chapters. This also greatly helps Chapters 3, 4 and 5, which were getting too long to work as single chapters.

This is a good and helpful organizational strategy, but it is also unnerving. There is so much to juggle that I have 8 Word documents open right now.


While pervasive games seek to take play out of the virtual realm and put it back into the real world, its reliance on spectacle may, in fact, transform that real world into a less actionable environment.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Best Sentence #37

Too stressed about writing... must play more.

I had this very silly idea recently to quote ABBA in my dissertation. Today, I insert that quote as an epigraph to the new chapter 2 "What's the Name of the Game? Classifying Multiple Genres of Ubiquitous and Pervasive Play". I insert it by way of saying This is MY dissertation and if I want to quote ABBA, I will quote ABBA! Somehow it puts things in perspective.

I wonder how many UC Berkeley dissertations have quoted ABBA. We do have a rather prestigous Scandinavian Studies Ph.D. program. So who knows? Maybe I am actually part of a long tradition of quoting ABBA.

Here's the complete Chapter 2 epigraph

In the case of ubiquitous computation… people are still trying to find the loose verbal grab-bag just to put the concepts into. So I would argue that this work is basically a literary endeavor. When it comes to remote technical eventualities, you don't want to freeze the language too early. Instead, you need some empirical evidence on the ground, some working prototypes, something commercial, governmental, academic or military. Otherwise you are trying to freeze an emergent technology into the shape of today's verbal descriptions. This prejudices people. It is bad attention economics. It limits their ability to find and understand the intrinsic advantages of the technology…. So language is of consequence. Those of us who make up words about
these matters probably ought to do a better job.
–science fiction author and design critic Bruce Sterling, “The Internet of Things”

What’s the name of the game?/ Does it mean anything to you?— pop
group ABBA, “The Name of the Game”

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Best Sentence #36

aaaaaaaaaa if i never type the word ubiquitous again it will be too soon. It's not even that I think this is really the best sentence of the day. They all just sound alike now. ubiquitous blah blah blah game blah blah computing blah blah I can't wait to finish this chapter.

Also, I have been making revision notes to myself in my Outlook "Tasks" folder. Today I added the following task, which I think is pretty revealing of my state of mind:

"Soften hysterical tone of Ubicomp chapter"


Here, the title becomes an entreaty, urging computer scientists and software developers to harness games’ momentum for the benefit of ubiquitous computing.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Best Sentence #35

Gameplay is just a means to an end.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Sentence #34

Okay, so two things.

First, doing a critical analysis of ACM and IEEE papers from a humanities perspective is weird. I know the authors are not used to being discussed in such a manner. Scientific papers usually just congratulate other people for thinking of things first or making an interesting related effort. They don't, like, accuse each other of having a Manifest Destiny complex. Um.

Second, I just wrote the following sentence, which is going to be a major aspect of my Chapter 3 critical analysis ("Colonizing Through Play: The Ubicomp Games"). It is scary, because I am like: OMG! That is SO TRUE! But since I only just thought of it this very second, I am also like: OMG! Now I have to figure out what the hell it means! Using the word "performative" is, like, de rigeur for a performance studies dissertation, but as it is just about the most frought term in the field (everybody screws up the original intended application) I am like! Oh no! Do I really want to go there!

I know, I know I'm all over the place. :) Anway the point is, I LIKE this new idea and am happy about the work it will do, if I can reign it in and make it do that work.

The projects profess to be performative, but in the end, are largely only theatrical.

UPDATE: Ha ha, I've changed my minds. The projects actually are performative.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Best Sentence #33

On track to write about 10 pages today. Not bad... but my brain is totally thrashing trying to figure out what to about a Chapter 2 that has suddenly exploded into a Chapter 2, 3, and 4. I keep wanting to be DONE with Chapter 2, but I've just come to accept that it's really 3 different chapters that I have to write simultaneously to make sense of any single one. So my brain hurts today.

How can researchers resolve this design dissonance?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Best Sentence #32

Bet some of you know the very recent current event this sentence refers to...

In addition to potentially frustrating would-be players, replicating game imagery in everyday environments without concern for affordances may also engender considerable anxiety in the local community.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Best Sentence #31

15 hours of writing/working/thinking today, but a pretty boring day in terms of the words on the page. I'm in the middle of presenting my least favorite of the 3 categories proposed in Best Sentence #30, so I fear my analysis is less lively than the stuff I was writing last week. Oh well. Boring but contributing to the scholarly literature is OKAY! :)

Although its designers present You’re In Control rather earnestly, reading the project as a tongue-in-cheek critique of when “wherever hardware, games” meets “ubiquitous computing objects are everywhere, colonizing!” seems quite reasonable.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Best Sentence #30

The problem with writing about digital games and game studies is that new papers and new games keep popping up every damn day! Everytime I start to write something, a new relevant finding or example falls into my lap. GRRRR. I may have to start feigning ignorance soon and ignore it all.

In the meantime, Sunday bonus of 3 best sentences, strung together, inspired by one such damn new paper in a damn new journal.

In the inaugural issue of the Games and Culture journal, games ethnographer Tom Boellstorff observes: “The information age has, under our noses, become the gaming age. It appears likely that gaming and its associated notion of play may become a master metaphor for a range of human social relations, with the potential for new freedoms and new creativity as well as new oppressions and inequality” (29). Here, then, I aim to reflect the fullness of that range, by presenting three such master metaphors generated by three different approaches to both the problem and the potential of play in the era of ubiquitous computing. These metaphors we can characterize as colonization through gameplay (the ubicomp games); disruption through gameplay (the pervasive games); and activation through gameplay (the ubiquitous games).

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Best Sentence #29

So, another weird habit I've picked up while "writing"* 12 - 16 hours a day: Playing "Bad Day" on my cell phone. That's the song American Idol plays when a contestant gets voted off. You know how it goes: "You had a bad day... you're waiting in line just to get the bad news... you had a bad day..." I don't know why, but it makes me feel better. Of course, every day is a bad day until I get this damn thing done.

Best sentence:

Not all experimental efforts in this space push us in the same direction, despite a pronounced tendency in the field to treat each and every “pervasive game” or “ubicomp game” or “ubiquitous game” as just one more step toward liberating digital games from the computer monitor or the television screen.

*(where writing is often actually just staring at the screen thinking, or hunting the Web for just one more paper in the ACM digital library or one more damning design statement that will help me put the final nail in the coffin of the "unified" pervasive game design space.)

Friday, April 07, 2006

Best Sentence #28

What might we come to understand about the state of networked play at the turn of the 21st century by using the terms more intentionally—for example, to distinguish between projects that strive to create persistent, always already gaming infrastructures (what we could more carefully call “ubiquitous” games) and projects that aim to construct more mobile, intermittent infrastructures, emphasizing the active, and frequently disruptive, transition to gameplay (“pervasive”games)?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Best Sentence #27

Like the merged fields of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, both theorists and practitioners interested in the rapid expansion of real-world platforms and everyday contexts for play have taken to using the terms pervasive gaming and ubiquitous or ubiquitous computer gaming interchangeably.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Best Sentence #26

Yes! This is really a sentence from my dissertation!

Are they allowed to wear roller-skates to go faster?

big news

I am officially on leave of absence from 42 Entertainment to work full-time on my dissertation. I hope to file in July.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Best Sentence #25

oh! OH! OH! My favorite sentence of the day so far jumped out at me because of a recent frustrating email correspondence with someone who suggested that bystanders might be offended by observing gameplay in atypical settings. I didn't realize until I wrote about someone else's game in which the spectacle of the game was given more attention than the direct experience of the game how messed up (pardon my informality) that is. Why should someone's viewing of an experience carry more weight than the actual experience itself? That is to say, who is (or should be) more deeply affected by design-- the onlookers or the participants?

Here, the impact of the game on those who saw it is privileged above the impact of the game on those who played it.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Best Sentence #24

I know this is completely weird, but when I'm having a relatively good day of writing (note that mild panic and existential Ph.D. nausea can still be found even on "good day"), I keep hearing the voiceof Project Runway's Tim Gunn's: "Make it work, make it work." I start thinking about my Word document as a garment that I have to keep hemming, seaming, tucking, bedazzling. When I can get to that place of make it work, make it work, I know I will make some progress that day.

So the good news is that at only 10:51 AM, I am already hearing Tim Gunn's voice...

But it also suggests the blind spots of socio-technological critique made through the medium of a big, urban game.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Best Sentence #23

Oh my god, my brain is like a giant tangled thread hopelessly knotted. Working it out.... working it out...

Do we need embedded computers to make everyday objects and more interactive ?

In other words, do novel affordances need to be hard-wired?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Best Sentence #22

Since the chest pain is no longer excruciating, it's back to writing I go. Days lost: 5. And may I mention that dissertation writing still qualifies as more painful than broken ribs?

The best sentence of the admittedly sparse evening of writing (just 1 page):

How does the percentage of people who engaged with B.U.G. the situation compare with the percentage who people who engaged with B.U.G. the spectacle?