Everyone plays. Kids and adults. Men and women. Uptight or relaxed. Tall or short, from any place on the Earth and with any skin colour. We play with our hair and our food. We play when we tease our friends and family about their weird habits. We play videogames and boardgames. We roleplay as practice for a big interview or new job, or just for fun. Play is a natural part of being human, and even if we don't realise it we all spend at least some of the time every day playing.
Ludiphilia is a highly-polished, thoroughly-edited collection of stories about how and why we play.
Episode 13: The Toys That Made Us
I talk the business of toys and pop culture, and what goes into making a documentary series about their history, with The Toys That Made Us producer/director Brian Volk-Weiss. Brian has lots to say about the hidden world behind toys and popular culture, the critical quality of a successful toy, why failure is interesting, the way your past dreams and passions have a way of shaping your future, and more.
You can watch seasons one and two of The Toys That Made Us on Netflix. Season three is due for release sometime in 2019.
Discontinued was aired on The CW in the US, and its pilot episode is also available on Amazon Prime. (That's my affiliate link — so if you buy/rent the show or sign up for Prime, I'll get paid a small commission.) Look for the rest of its debut season on Prime early next year.
Most of his comedy specials are on Netflix, but his production company has done stuff for all of the big video streaming services. You can learn more about his work in the TV comedy business at his company's website, comedydynamics.com.
Ludiphilia is made possible by the support of my Patreon backers. Thanks especially Anuar Lequerica, who's been a patron almost since the beginning, as well as Torbjørn Vik Lunde and Nick — all three have stuck with their $5+ monthly pledge through a very inconsistent spell in my episode output (which will hopefully give way to a steadier release schedule now that I've re-committed to the show!).
Singapore at Play
Singapore at Play
An experimental piece on a travel experience of mine last year. I went to Singapore for a week with my fiancée in July and was surprised to find lots of playful touches, despite — or maybe because of — the reputation it has for law and order. And I thought it'd be nice to put together a sort of part travelogue, part essay thing about it.
You can find an accompanying photo essay/blog thing for this story at ludiphilia.net/singaporephotos.
Bonus/micro ep: The play of professional Minecraft building
I'm back! Well, partly. New episodes are on the way, and in the meantime I thought you might enjoy this excerpt from an interview I conducted a couple of years ago about professional Minecraft building (i.e., people getting paid to build elaborate maps and buildings). Most of what I discuss here with BlockWorks boss James Delaney (who at the time was an architecture student) didn't make the article, so I'm pleased to finally bring it out to the world.
You can learn more about BlockWorks and what they do at blockworks.uk, and read the old article that I conducted this interview for at Rolling Stone. I also have a great book James put together called Beautiful Minecraft [Amazon, Official], which I highly recommend — it has lots of incredible Minecraft-made art and virtual architecture, plus several interesting essays.
Meet ‘Minecraft’ Builders Who Craft Impossibly Detailed Virtual Worlds — It’s enthralled an entire generation and sold more than 100 million copies, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that for some hyper-skilled players, the open-ended, Lego-like building game Minecraft has become an actual, money-earning occupation. Just as the most-talented Lego architects earn a living showing off their blocky creations, there’s good money to be made by anyone with the skills to craft Minecraft‘s cube-shaped digital blocks into beautiful sculptures and stunning worlds.[Amazon] Beautiful Minecraft - Hardcover by James Delaney — With a bit of imagination and a heavy dose of artistic talent, Minecraft blocks can be used to build almost anything. But as you’ll see, some artists are taking Minecraft building to a whole new level.
Beautiful Minecraft is a compendium of stunning artwork built in Minecraft. Using millions of blocks and spending hundreds of hours, these artists have created floating steampunk cities, alien worlds, detailed classical sculptures, fantastical landscapes, architectural marvels, and more.[No Starch Press] Beautiful Minecraft by James Delaney — “A feast for the eyes, this book contains stunning images that will be an inspiration to players and admirers young and old.”
“Are video games art? Yes—this is proof.”
—IGN's “Up at Noon”
Episode 12: Playful Mapping
Geographer Chris Perkins, co-author of the book Playful Mapping in the Digital Age, shares his love of maps and helps me explore the deep connection between mapping and play.
Thanks to my awesome Patreon backers for covering my running costs and keeping the show alive. And special thanks to my $5+ supporters Anuar Lequerica, Nick, Torbjørn Vik Lunde, and Watchsmart.
http://networkcultures.org/blog/publication/playful-mapping-in-the-digital-age/ (Playful Mapping in the Digital Age)
Chris Perkins' page https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/researchers/christopher-perkins%2885832d52-f97f-4904-81c9-911bbf582807%29.html (at the University of Manchester website)
Brian Harley's final major project before he died was co-authoring https://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/HOC/HOC_V1/HOC_VOLUME1_chapter1.pdf (the first chapter) (PDF) of https://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/HOC/index.html (The History of Cartography)
The Atlas of Remote Islands book on Amazon https://amzn.to/2M7sOYm (US), https://amzn.to/2M6xlu5 (UK), https://amzn.to/2KFwxH3 (AU), https://www.bookdepository.com/Atlas-Remote-Islands-Judith-Schalansky/9780143118206?a_aid=mossrc (Book Depository) (these are all affiliate links, so I'll get a bit of money if you buy it through one of them)
There's also a pocket-sized version of that book, available at Amazon https://amzn.to/2OsGz0j (US), https://amzn.to/2AXzHpU (UK), https://amzn.to/2Op7ZUS (AU), and https://www.bookdepository.com/Pocket-Atlas-Remote-Islands-Judith-Schalansky/9781846143496?a_aid=mossrc (Book Depository) via this (second) set of affiliate links
Rhiannon Firth, http://interfacejournal.net/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Interface-6-1-Firth.pdf (Critical cartography as anarchist pedagogy?)
http://cyberbadger.blogspot.com/2006/10/william-bunges-nuclear-war-atlas-i-got.html (Bill Bunge's Nuclear War Atlas poster)
The Nuclear War Atlas book is out of print, but I found copies listed on https://amzn.to/2MCrk4v (Amazon) (affiliate link) and https://www.abebooks.com/products/isbn/9780631142478/22630958460&cm_sp=snippet-_-srp1-_-PLP4 (AbeBooks)
I also found https://johnkutensky.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/the-nuclear-war-atlas/ (this blog post) about the book. Includes a handful of page scans.
I make Ludiphilia entirely on my own — I even compose the music now. It's a labour of love, and I have no plans of quitting as long as I can afford to pay the hosting and domain fees, but I would very much like to spend more time on it than I currently do. That requires money, unfortunately.
So if you'd like to support the show, you can make a donation via Patreon or PayPal. (Or email me at richard at ludiphilia dot net if you have some other thing you like to use for donations.) For PayPal, use the payment form on https://paypal.me/mossrc (paypal.me/mossrc). For Patreon, head to https://patreon.com/ludiphilia (patreon.com/ludiphilia).
You can also support the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes and sharing it with other people. And by buying my first book, https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com (The Secret History of Mac Gaming), the profits from which are helping me make my podcasts better (through equipment upgrades, reduced freelance income pressures, and the like).
Re-issue of the Chaim Gingold (Earth Primer, Spore) segment from Ep1
In celebration of the release of a Mac version of the award-winning app Earth Primer — a science book for playful people — I thought it'd be nice to dig out the segment I did with its creator, Chaim Gingold, back in episode 1, and clean it up for re-release (with a brief update on Chaim's current situation and a note about Earth Primer's Mac release thrown in there as well).
Chaim was at the time a PhD student at the University of California Santa Cruz and researcher at the Communications Design Group. He was writing his thesis on play design, which he's now finished (and is looking for a job). He's best-known for developing the Creature Creator for Maxis' SimEverything game Spore, and more recently for his Earth Primer iPad (and now also Mac) app.
Earth Primer purchase links:
Mac App Store
iPad App Store
For more info, you can also head to earthprimer.com.
Episode 11: The Hide & Seek World Championship
On the Nascondino World Championship, a yearly hide and seek tournament that attracts teams from all around the globe. I talked to Alan Jones, the co-captain of the Australian team, the Nascondingos, and Giorgio Moratti, one of the organisers of the competition, about how it works, what it's like, why it exists, and where it's headed next.
This episode also features an excerpt from my new podcast, The Life & Times of Video Games — a documentary-style show about video games and the video game industry, as they were in the past, and how they came to be the way they are today.
You can find The Life & Times of Video Games on most podcast platforms. For a direct link to it on iTunes, go to lifeandtimes.games/itunes.
Lee Rosevere - Theme from Penguins on Parade and The Secret to Growing Up
Chris Zabriskie - We Always Thought the Future Would be Kind of Fun, Readers do You Read?, There's a Special Place for Some People
Kai Engel - Run
And various bits of my own stuff
Thanks to my awesome Patreon backers for covering my running costs and keeping the show alive. And special thanks to my $5+ supporters Anuar Lequerica, Nick, and James Weiner.
If you'd like to support the show, you can make a donation via Patreon or PayPal. (Or email me at richard at ludiphilia dot net if you have some other thing you like to use for donations.) For PayPal, hit the orange Donate button at the bottom of the page at ludiphilia.net. For Patreon, head to patreon.com/ludiphilia.
You can also support the show by leaving a rating and review on iTunes and sharing it with other people.
Quite enjoy the varieties of topics around 'Play' as 'play' is such a broad term!