Electron Dance

Electron Dance Highlights

7Apr/2010

A Hundred Cyborgs: Mathematics

Chris Bateman published his book The Virtuous Cyborg back in 2018 which explores how technology is not morally neutral because our behaviour - being the cyborgs in the book's title - is shaped and influenced by the technology we augment ourselves with. Technology in this context does not mean circuitry or even software, but a tool for changing the way we deal with the world. It can even be conceptual.

So when Chris asked if I wanted to contribute to his ongoing A Hundred Cyborgs series, where he looks at the impact of one technology in a brief 500 word post I thought, okay, yes, but I'm not noted for my 500 word constraints :)

And it's done, it's out there, it's 500 words of real. You can read my contribution, entry #81 in the series, on mathematics as technology on Chris' site.

For many people, mathematics is that thing you do with numbers. In reality, it is an enormous, constantly evolving subject from which new concepts spring every year, the applications of which are rarely obvious at first. The square root of -1, the “imaginary number”, turns up in electrical engineering. Group theory, which is essentially an analysis of addition, turns out to be important for encryption and crystallography. Who knew.

Links for further reading:

2Apr/2012

Discussion: What Sticks

Welcome to the slightly late March newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

But as there are infinite floors in the museum you can keep on deleting forever, falling from one floor to another, again and again, haunted by the same, repeating artworks. You can try throwing yourself out a window but there’s nothing out there to escape to but the infinite white.

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

23Mar/2011

The Lost World

It happened without warning, as it often does. My wife’s hard drive died.

This was 2016. Everything of value had been on a separate data drive which was, of course, backed up. But this was the Windows drive which we never bothered to back up. It rarely seemed worth it and, personally, I like the opportunity to start afresh on a new drive.

But then I remembered Minecraft... and the blood drained from my face.

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Filed under: Longform 11 Comments
4Mar/2015

Reverse Shock

This is the third in a series of short musings on Control. The first was Behind the Poster and the second was Use of Weapons.

There will be spoilers.

Black Rock Quarry in Control is a visual wonder. Few games get me to marvel at rock - caves were the worst part of INFRA (Loiste Interactive, 2016) - but, my God, I was screenshotting up a whole folder of rock formations. Here’s some rock. Here’s Jesse standing in front of some more rock. Here’s Jesse looking into the distance, by some rock.

Combat in Control was settling down, a little too much. I was comfortable with most fights and had become somewhat complacent. Bored, even. But the quarry threw a screwball into the process.

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2Mar/2031

Discussion: The Four-Hour Copy and Paste

Welcome to the slightly late February newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

Now picture the scene. The Depressurizer window is open. It lists every game I own. Each entry is enriched with yummy data like how long I’ve played that game. We’re almost there - all we need to do is copy and paste the data into something else. And this lovely open source project… doesn’t support it.

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

24Feb/203

Transmission: SOLAS, Vignettes

60 minutes. Four games.

Stream this week - Monday 24 Feb, and will begin at 9:30PM UK, 10:30PM Central Europe, 5:30PM EST. My Twitch channel can be found at twitch.tv/electrondance.

I will discuss the following titles:

Previous Transmissions are available on the dedicated E/TX YouTube channel.

Update 26 Feb: It's now available on YouTube. I had streaming problems so I ended up stopping and restarting the stream - looks a little messy on Twitch, but the YouTube version is largely glitch-free.

16Feb/2014

Phase Two

At Rezzed in 2016, I dabbled with a game called Vignettes, which I described as “a Vectorpark game not made by Vectorpark.” It was simple but genius: rotate object in 3D space until its silhouette matches the silhouette of another object – into which it then transforms. And repeat to find more objects. It was a little rough around the edges, being an early build, but intriguing.

Not intriguing enough for me to snap it up when it came out on mobile in 2017. Nor desktop last year. My imagination couldn’t fill in a particularly daunting blank: what else could there be except rotating objects into objects ad infinitum?

Unable to answer this question, I waited two years before trying Vignettes (Skeleton Business, 2017). And that’s a shame.

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31Jan/2012

Discussion: Selling the Inscrutable

Welcome to the January newsletter (sign up if you want to read it):

I’m reminded of a short discussion I had with Jake Birkett at Rezzed when I mentioned how exciting it had been to see so much local multiplayer on show. Birkett couldn’t understand the surge of local multiplayer games because it was such a tricky commercial prospect. If you wanted to forge a successful indie business, why would you get into local multiplayer?

Dear subscribers, if you feel like chatting about anything at all from the newsletter, please speak your mind in the comments here.

26Jan/2013

Save Everybody


“He’s here! Alpha level, near the service shaft!” came Neil’s distorted voice through the walkie-talkie. Neil was one of the sharpest guns in SubSec but it was unlikely he could take down the Orange Ghost alone.

Sonia was on Delta, a full minute away from Neil if she sprinted up three levels of stairwell. She could take the service elevator but it was a sluggish thing designed to shift fragile equipment. Someone had mentioned getting a fast elevator installed to relocate security in a time of crisis. Money doesn’t grow on trees, they had been told. At least not until the city-in-progress had been completed.

Gunfire crackled over the walkie-talkie... and then it went dead. That probably went for Neil too. Oh God. That SubSec elevator had been Neil’s idea.

Sonia spotted the service elevator was now on its way down from where Neil was killed. She had a hunch who was inside.

She took up position behind a pillar opposite the elevator, aiming her handgun at the doors. Sweating, she watched the floor indicator. Beta. Gamma. Delta. Ping. The doors opened with a grunt.

There he was. The strange man in his orange exoskeleton covered in alien writing. The bastard who had slowly been killing his way through the other waystations and offices across the globe, searching for the underwater city-in-progress. He looked uncertainly out of the elevator, raising an assault rifle that had seen better days.

Sonia fired three times. Two hit the chest plate of the Orange Ghost's exoskeleton, but the third found his forehead. He slumped against the wall and slid down. His rifle clattered on the floor.

Sonia ran over to make sure he was dead, just as a small silver display on the Orange Ghost’s left arm flickered. Some text appeared. It looked like QUICK 10 AD? Or maybe LOAD? She leaned down to

Sonia spotted the service elevator was now on its way down from where Neil was killed. She had a hunch who was inside.

She took up position behind a pillar opposite the elevator, aiming her handgun at the doors. Sweating, she watched the floor indicator. Beta. Gamma. Delta. Ping. The doors opened with a grunt.

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Filed under: Longform 13 Comments
16Jan/2031

Use of Weapons

This is the second in a series of short musings on Control. The first was Behind the Poster.

There will be spoilers.

The first boss battle is with a floating person called Alberto Tommasi. Al pushed me to the brink. I considered quitting Control, despite the hefty sum I had exchanged for it.

Boss battles are often exercises in choreography where you have to improvise your footsteps against a partner who knows every move. Learning to dance through bruises and blood. Al would float around, throw a rock at Jesse and she would always get it in the face. The rocks came quicker than I could make Jesse dodge. After a couple of hits Jesse was ex-Jesse.

And then I watched the loading screen for two minutes.

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