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, March 26, 2006

Best Sentence #21

If anyone besides Ian Bogost can guess what the 3 terms alluded to below might be, you win a prize. Plus, I would be mind-boggled.


These terms traditionally have been used interchangeably in the ubiquitous computing literature; here, however, I want to suggest that allowing each term to represent its own body of work offers significant critical benefit.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Best Sentence #20

Back from the Game Developers Conference and slowly returning to writing. I've started building Chapter 2, and today I am most happy not with my own wordsmithing, but rather the cluster of quotations I'm using as the epigraph to the chapter. So here they are:

Games have an unprecedented ability to conquer new platforms and incorporate new technologies. –Games researcher Jan Jörnmark


We don’t make games for consoles or PCs or handheld devices. And we don’t make games for gamers. Our install base is everyone. Our platform: the world. –Game director Jordan Weisman

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Best Sentence #19

Right now, I'm working through all of the source material (game design documents, gameplay videos, gameplay blogs, interviews and press) for Chapter 2: This Is Not Ubiquitous Gaming, in which I try to separate out my objects of study from the rest of the pervasive gaming field. So not much writing, more like criticl notetaking, although I'm trying to make notes everywhere that could eventually become writing later this week... For example:

It is precisely the urban-ness of these “big urban games” that makes it so difficult to reconcile their design and implementation with a ubiquitous gaming philosophy. There are simply too many places that are not cities.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Best Sentence #18

I have spent 36 of the last 48 hours writing. Ouch. My brain. However, a significant milestone achieved: I just submitted the first 45 pages to my dissertation co-chairs.

Best sentence of the day, because when I say "they", what I really mean is "me! me!":

They aspire to persistent and perpetual gaming.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Best Sentence #17

Today, I offer a best footnote:

[2] It is worth observing here that Gold’s discussion of the importance of image reproduction and replication in general presents an uncanny reminder of the official corporate sponsor of the original ubiquitous computing project: Xerox Technology, which made its name and fortune precisely in the field of document reproduction. While I find Gold’s critical observations highly persuasive and do not want to suggest he was developing his theory under any undue influence, it is nevertheless an excellent reminder of the importance of social and historical context to the production of any critical theory.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Best Sentence #16

Oh boy... it's scary to show your cards. It's easier to post sentences that are evocative, but not particularly revealing of my core arguments. Well, not so today...

Specifically, over a five year period at the start of the 21st century, a series of ludic, or gamelike, works have built what we can recognize as a culture of ubiquitous play and performance, in which the term ubiquitous is meant to evoke the original design philosophy (rather than the design practice) of Rich Gold, Mark Weiser, and the Xerox PARC team.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Best Sentence #15

It is only in thinking about the nature of child’s play, and particularly the role of magical thinking in early childhood exploration of the material world, that I have come to understand what we might call the psychology of ubiquitous computing.

Second best sentence, written by my puppy Meche, who walked across my keyboard:


Monday, March 13, 2006

Best Sentence #14

Sometimes I think I am not claiming enough. My statements are not novel or ambitious enough. Sometimes I worry that I am claiming too much. My statements are extravagant interpretations. Yesterday I felt the former, today a bit of the latter. What I believe is that it is better to err on the side of boldness. Then, if I am wrong, at least what I write will have a poetic and artistic life to it. It will express my desire to believe a certain thing, even if that desire makes me overstate my case. My dissertation, I think, at the very least, will explain everything I have tried to do with payphones, graveyards, bookstores, crosswalks, and so on, to anyone who cares to understand my design practice. I do not mean the dissertation to be a design philosophy, exactly, but I recognize arleady that it will open itself up to that function.

Is the experience of ubiquitous computing, in fact, a radical rediscovering of the material world that requires us to play like children?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Best Sentence #13

What signals ‘this is a computer’?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Best Sentence #12

I've received a few lovely emails from people who are actually following this live-blogging of the dissertation. That's great.

The big news is that I had a very inspiring email exchange with the chair of my dissertation committee yesterday. We went over my writing schedule and the process I'm hoping to follow towards filing, and in his words, "I don't think that is any problem at all." OMG. Can this actually happen?

Favorite sentence so far...

The work of both dark play and ubiquitous computing, then, is a process of tacitly challenging the environmental and socio-contextual categories for their respective modes of interaction.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Best Sentence #11

It aggressively and proudly demonstrates its mimetic charms to you.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Best Sentence #10

I want to finish this section tonight... I will try, try, try!

Favorite sentence so far:

However, the ability to trigger recognition or even the perception of an unmediated encounter does not mean the skinned object is rendered in all of its phenomenological fullness.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Best Sentence #9

Back in Berkeley wrestling with the same stupid section that has been giving me trouble for 3 full days now. I am about to finish it up, knowing though that it needs to be revised to have a cleaner and more persistent argument. The kind of writing I am doing now is the desperate feel-your-way writing, where you write things that are more poetic than usual. I can feel what I have to say, but I don't know what I have to say. So the words are... a little more like traditional performance studies text than I usually write.

Here's one such sentence that I actually like, and that I think works, even though it is the first coining of the phrase post-polar and I don't stop to explain it. I hope readers will stop to think what it means --through the force of two poles pulling simultaneously-- and appreciate the interpretiveness of the phrasing, as opposed to me spelling it out. But maybe in revision it will get spelled out.

Convention and classification itself is a kind of creative force, one-half of the post-polar play dynamic.

Ha ha, so much for best sentence #9... I've already edited it to be more clear about what I mean. Here's the new version:

Convention and classification itself is a kind of creative force, one-half of the necessary polarity that animates the play dynamic.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Best Sentence #8

danah boyd and I are holed up in our hotel room at etech together, writing our brains out instead of networking in the halls or absorbing genius talks.

here is my best sentence so far. It won't mean much to you out of context, but I am happy with it because I think it is very dissertationly:

Through this classification rhetoric, he turns an argument about preferred modes of critique into a discussion of the ontological status of the critiqued object.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Best Sentence #7

Last night, I said to Kiyash: I am always on the precipice of having nothing to say. Writing, sometimes, is such an act of faith. I have to sit down, make myself stare at my open Word document, and just believe that if I start playing with quotations, asking myself questions and composing tentative answers, it will turn into an argument. Usually it does, but only if I believe.

Here's my favorite sentence of the day so far. Since I have been posting some mouthfuls, I'll make this one pithy:

Is games research lively?

Best Sentence #6

I have a kind of strange "distracted" writing practice. When I sit down to write, I put in as many hours as my brain can stand in a quiet, focused setting. Then, when my brain hurts too much to keep going, I switch to distracted writing mode. Usually, this involves finding something on television to serve as live, background companionship. I may only actually attend to a few minutes of whatever is on, but somehow as structured noise it makes my brain relax enough to keep working. This weekend, it is the Princess Bride that is keeping my brain relaxed. VH1 is airing it mutliple times. The funny thing is, this is exactly how I wrote papers in middle school. My sister and I taped the Princess Bride from a free month of Cinemax our cable network gave us in fifth grade. That tape was played to exhaustion in the following years. I estimate having worked in front of that particular film through at least 100 showings before I made it to high school. And it completely, totally continues to work today. :)

Here is my favorite sentence from the five hours of writing I have done so far:

Sutton-Smith and Avedon are not interested in understanding the fundamental order of games as an aesthetic quality, but rather as a practical prompt to specific kinds of action and participation.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Best Sentence #5

Oh, good day already. Wrote until 1 am last night, up by 9 am to pick up where I left off. Finally finished the section on Caillois (tricky little thing) and by 10 am I already have a favorite sentence of the day.

Facing Caillois’ condescension toward cultures devoted to the mimicry-ilinx combination, I cannot help but think of Huizinga, who first mimics the conventions of modern science in order to present the notion of a Homo ludens and who then embraces the vertiginous whirling and shuttlings of the mind that an irrational classification of play produces.

Best Sentence #4

12:08 am and still writing... this is a tricky section that I have already abandoned twice. Trying to finish it up before sleep.

Clues in the actual presentation of the taxonomy are few and far between.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Best Sentence #3

I like this sentence so much, I won't even try to wait until later to post it!

The counter-intuitiveness of Huizinga’s scientific rhetoric demands a closer reading than it traditionally has received.

Best sentence #2

Okay, so I still have hours and hours of writing left tonight, but here is a choice sentence from today:

A taxonomy of the structural elements of games allows us to see beyond the framing of an interaction—“this is play” or “this is not play”—to its actual core mechanics, which Avedon implies ultimately may prove more useful for categorizing an experience as a game (or not) than the self-classifying frame.

Best Sentence #1

For the lit-philes among you, you might notice the shoutout. Feel free to show off your intertextual expertise in the comments!

The literature of game studies, you might say, is strewn with the wreckage of others—other frameworks, other names, and other positions.