Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights


Dialogue Tree: Perfect World

Lynx browser screenshot

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews Stephen Totilo, editor-in-chief of Kotaku. Totilo discusses his approach for developing Kotaku, criticism of the site and the ongoing fascination with game journalism standards.

(Originally broadcast April 16, 2012.)


02:55 “I'm happy to be able to offer readers voices from all those different places.”

04:20 “But I would say we didn't do the best job we could to explain this to our readers.”

09:15 “...we have 2.5 million people reading the site every month.”

17:30 “We came up with a simple question: should you play this game?”

20:50 “I don't see what's different between us and Rock Paper Shotgun.”

22:50 “I don't look that much at what Joystiq is doing or IGN or whatever - I look at what Gawker and Jezebel and Deadspin are doing...”

25:10 “Our responsibility is to make everyone feel welcome.”

25:20 “We had a misstep with Sonic the Hedgehog bed story...”

30:40 “It's the transparency of not settling for bullshit.”

33:20 “Most media organisations these days don't have full-time copy editors.”

37:10 “I don't care that much that Kotaku is ultra-widely known.”

38:50 “People have this notion that journalism in other fields is, like, so different... it's not that different, actually.”

40:00 “It feels weird for people to care about game journalism as they do.”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: Dead Trees

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews freelance writer Chris Dahlen, co-founder of Kill Screen and writer for recent release Mark of the Ninja. In this interview, Dahlen talks about changes in game journalism, the rise of Kotaku, tendency of game design and game critique to focus on plot... and Skyrim. He also convinces Eric to play Dark Souls.

(Originally broadcast Feb 9, 2012 through Second Quest.)


01:55 “The only reason to do [print] was to do it right.”

06:55 “So, you know, we've worked with good people but it kinda took a while to kinda lock that down.”

07:45 “People are starting to respect game journalism.”

08:25 “The web, especially as things get becomes faster and faster... it almost becomes a tool of distraction.”

11:35 “We really needed that presence - and needed something online for investors to take it seriously...”

12:10 “You know the great thing about the magazine is that people buy it.”

16:10 “I've always written about games for more of a mainstream audience.”

17:20 “I think games are a little like porn...”

20:10 “There's so many different experiences that happen just within this one game - and how would you sum that up...?”

21:40 “I'm not one of those people who say games have to be art and I rarely think of them as art.”

23:15 “...start thinking of them as systems of rules...”

25:15 “Plot, I think, is about the least important thing in a game...”

32:50 “We had a publicist sitting there the whole time!”

38:00 “If this can became more than just a hobby for gamers then that would be wonderful.”

42:55 “I loved The Path.”

48:10 “Planescape had it. Grim Fandango had it. There a lot of things that come across my desk that don't.”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: Specificity

Tug of War

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews Kris Ligman, lead curator of Critical Distance's This Week in Videogame Blogging. In this interview, Kris discusses ascension to the curatorial throne, the process of curation, issues of transparency and whether Critical Distance needs to change its focus.


02:25 “I always felt as though Critical Distance had the potential... of serving a real, like, moral purpose.”

04:50 “2,000 or more articles per week.”

05:50 “I am pretty picky, I will admit.”

07:00 “It's always great to find that buried treasure while you're going through these blogs.”

11:20 “Without a certain level of transparency, it's not always apparent to others...”

13:00 “...something that reveals, I think, something more essential about humanity.”

15:30 “I don't even like to feature the same authors too frequently in a given month.”

21:45 “Even something like Penny Arcade has launched its own curatorial effort.”

22:00 “...and dedicating ourselves more so to... this is the counter-canon.”

23:40 “...I'm a bit of a radical when it comes to these matters.”

28:15 “They were called out on the fact that they didn't have a single female staffer...”

30:15 “Well, you get into things like the assumed male reader...”

31:00 “We won't have as much opportunity to do that if we're more interested in what is 'normative'...”

32:00 “I'm generally not concerned with what impact any of this will have on development.”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: Albatross

General Custer

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews Ben Abraham, co-founder of Critical Distance and ex-curator of This Week in Videogame Blogging. In this interview, Ben discusses founding Critical Distance, the curation process, inclusivity, transparency, the pressure to write quickly about new games and a whole lot more.

(Originally broadcast July 23, 2012 through Second Quest.)


02:00 “We had this conversation in an IRC chat room over a few weeks...”

03:10 “No one really had the... temerity, I guess, to put their hand up.”

05:50 “[Michael Abbott] was only really able to do that because he was on sabbatical for a year.”

09:50 “Some kind of institutional support has been really key in the really prolific game critics...”

14:50 “I mean, it blew my mind.”

15:50 “It can be really isolating, I think, just toiling away, writing stuff and having it be read by almost nobody...”

17:55 “...because it meant that whenever anyone disagreed with me it became quite personal.”

20:30 “I got really, really sick of it. I'll be completely honest, I never want to do another one ever again.”

22:45 “We've had our share of controversies over the years.”

23:30 “It looked just like another dudebro club.”

30:50 “We love linking to new pieces about old games.”

38:00 “...a lot of critics who have picked up the tools and started playing with them...”

41:20 “It's really interesting that a sports site has included lots of videogames writing as well.”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: Commercial Product

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews Chris Grant, previously editor-in-chief of Joystiq, now editor-in-chief of upcoming gaming site Polygon. In this interview, Chris discusses traffic chasing, the definition of videogame news, the role of advertising and also the earlier kerfuffle over the lack of women in the Polygon editorial team.

(Originally broadcast Jan 23, 2012 through Second Quest. At the time this interview was recorded, Polygon was still provisionally labelled "Vox Games".)


03:50 “The strategy was expensive.”

04:20 “Our strategy from the beginning was always to go big.”

10:10 “The intimation is... that removal might signal something larger.”

11:20 “Even when Activision was trying to be transparent with its own customers, people criticised them.”

14:40 “I won’t ever apologise for trying to get page views on a commercial website...”

16:10 “The people who stand behind some kind of safety shield of 'blogger' and suggest that they're not journalists... also wrong.”

22:50 “Advertising is so far from a consideration...”

27:10 “When I first started, when Joystiq had literally no editorial structure...”

28:40 “Longform journalism, it doesn’t happen with any consistency...”

32:00 “I think Kill Screen's great. I don’t know how viable Kill Screen is as a commercial product.”

36:40 “There was one. And she wasn’t interested.”

37:10 “In terms of women, the reality is there aren’t that many in the entire industry.”

43:30 “…we got almost no female applicants and none of them were very good.”

44:20 “It’s not as simple as just saying ‘hire the best writers’.”

48:50 “Maybe I guess... I am now? I never thought of myself as ‘old guard’.”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: Game Play

Game Play logo

The Brick Theater in New York has run the Game Play festival each year for the last four years. Seth Schiesel of The New York Times described it as "the most ambitious effort I know of to fuse the techniques and live presentation of theater with the themes, structures and technology of interactive electronic entertainment."

In this episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews four artists who were involved in this year's Game Play: Gyda Arber, Amy Overman, Charles Battersby, and Kathryn Funkhouser.

(Originally broadcast Sep 4, 2012.)


01:30 “Well, our first year it was, sort of, not superplanned...”

05:20 “There's not that many artists working in this space...”

09:40 “We threw out a press release [to] see if we could get some nibbles. There were so many nibbles.”

10:30 “…players are controlling the characters on stage and leading them through the process.”

11:35 “…don’t really understand how important it is to really integrate gaming into the work that we're looking for.”

25:00 “…as soon as we read it we basically fell in love with it...”

26:00 “Being an actor, playing a role-playing game is a lot of fun.”

29:50 “Why are we doing this? What do we get out of it? We’re probably not making money.”

38:40 “We’re looking at it through a D&D game.”

40:30 “I think it’s been a lot easier for people who don’t understand D&D to figure it out.”

45:10 “…being clawed and bitten and pummelled down to the ground...”

50:50 “Well, I’m a huge fan of the apocalypse, of the Fallout games and any kind of post-apocalyptic storytelling.”

51:40 “...he and his wife find themselves surviving a nuclear war in a bomb shelter that's built for one.”

54:20 “When we have the mod finished it will feature voices of the actors that are actually on stage...”

57:00 “A videogame is like an interactive theatre piece.”

67:10 “–but when you’re watching a play, they really are in the room with you.”

70:20 “Comics and videogames were both really underestimated as art forms when they started out...”

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Dialogue Tree: You’re Ruining Our Fun

Boy crying with ice cream

In the first episode of Dialogue Tree, Eric Brasure interviews Michael Abbott, also known as The Brainy Gamer. Over the course of an hour, Abbott talks about Portal in the classroom, the perception of videogames outside the videogame club, whether the history of cinema can tell us anything about the future of videogames, fixing the academic process and much more.

(Originally broadcast Dec 7, 2011.)


03:10 "We've been telling these guys their whole lives that video games are a waste of time."

04:40 "First of all - you've done your research!"

08:00 "...it assumes that 'well, you know, we're still in the nascent period of games'... well, really we're not."

14:00 "With few exceptions, the artists making the stuff aren't thinking reflectively about the stuff they are making."

17:50 "[game studies academics] tend to not have much influence outside that academic circle."

20:00 "...that's when I find game studies useful because they've gone there before..."

27:50 "...it's like this small little miracle."

33:00 "I love those old adventure games but I think they're fairly passé, to be honest."

36:30 "It comes with a whole series of conventions that I'm just... kind of tired of, personally."

39:10 "The idea that you have to draw a map. Yourself. On graph paper. Like, that just blows their minds."

44:40 "And it's such a compelling universe that you start to feel rewarded by paying attention."

54:10 "And they write about it or they post on a forum about it... and that's scholarship to me."

Download the podcast MP3 or play it right here in your browser:


You can subscribe directly to Dialogue Tree via iTunes or RSS.


Welcome Eric Brasure

Children of Lir statue, Dublin

Okay, so this is something unexpected for me and probably also for the studio audience.

For over two years Electron Dance has been my private writing space. Aside from the occasional post written with Gregg B and the Special Guest Star articles it's all been me me me. From the about page: "As Electron Dance is my voice, I don’t like to dilute it with guest posts."

But today is change.

Where This Came From

So it was good old Richard Hofmeier who brought Eric Brasure to my attention. He tweeted about a podcast in which Eric interviewed Michael "The Brainy Gamer" Abbott and I liked it so much I added it to a link drag a couple of months back. Turned out that Eric was already an Electron Dance follower, so that was nice.

Eric's been podcasting for years and started work on a new podcast project called Dialogue Tree last December. He calls it an "interview show that explores the intersection of games and culture". It's been running for a while now but developing an audience on the internet is a slow process unless you post videos of cats and include top ten lists.

I thought highly of Eric's work and wanted to help his interviews get more exposure. And so... I asked Eric if he'd join Electron Dance and let me post Dialogue Tree through the site.

Surely you can guess what he said. Without hesitation, breathless and excited: "Uh, let me think about it."

It seems fitting to introduce Eric Brasure with a podcast. So here is a four-minute podcast doing just that, which finishes with the most ridiculous words out of my mouth ever, "Thank you everybody."

(You can also download the introduction MP3 if you prefer.)

So welcome Eric Brasure. Just don't muss up my things while you sleep on the couch.

Q & A

  • Dialogue Tree will usually be posted on Mondays. I'll be posting up his back catalogue as well as new episodes.
  • Don't worry - I'll still make my own podcasts if I feel the urge in my loins. Maybe you can think of it as podcast combat.
  • Dialogue Tree is in addition to the regular Electron Dance service - new writing every Tuesday and the occasional Friday. There is no change to the schedule.
  • Thank you Jenn Frank. If you want to see the comment conversation which improbably turned into Eric joining Electron Dance, go check out the lengthy comments on Infinite Lives.
  • I have no intention of writing a top ten list. Videos of cats? I'm not willing to be drawn on this question.
  • Eric can be found on Twitter and also on his site, Charles Wallace on Camazotz. It seems he has a beard.