New gaming post

For those who are interested: My recap of the first three days of this year’s Essen livestream is now online.

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Posted by on October 15, 2016 in Uncategorized



I am grappling with what to do with this blog. Because this domain is sort of the home of my academic life, which is bound up with games, so it makes sense for that stuff to stay together. But then there’s the personal stuff and the ranting and flowcharts about shoes and kittens – which may not be seen in such a positive light if people just want to follow my academic life.

I have just read back over the last eight years or so of my life, hiding the occasional post that was too over-shary (note: this was a fairly cursory process; the story about how I broke a rib is still here, as are the negotiations about our cats’ toilet habits.). I’m still confused about what to do.


Posted by on February 6, 2016 in meta, Uncategorized


Well this is exciting

I’ve been busy and quiet (well, not blogging – my Twitter feed is as full as ever) working on my PhD over the past six months or so. My faculty has a requirement that all PhD students complete two coursework subjects, so I spent my first semester getting through those, getting to know the University and my department, applying for Ethics (OK, getting my study design approved by the faculty’s Ethics review committee) and reading, reading, reading.

So far, time management has probably been my biggest challenge – I am a full time student, and I’m working a handful of hours a week at my old job, so technically I’m doing about 45 or 46 hours a week. I haven’t officially worked full time since before the Bigster was born. Fortunately, the stage I am at means that I can sit on the sofa reading articles, keeping Fraser company while he watches TV. Occasionally, he pauses and rewinds the program if he thinks there is something that will interest me – yes folks, I have outsourced my leisure time!

The reading reading reading and the getting to know people and things continues, but the Ethics application was approved and so I am gearing up to do my first study. (I’m looking for participants – there’s details on the page). Or see my call for participants on Boardgamegeek.

I’m also working on a conference paper submission and have some tentative plans about which conferences I want to target this year and what else I want to do while I am there. If I stretch, I can call that my own personal “publishing strategy”.

And I’ve already discovered that what I THOUGHT I wanted to research isn’t QUITE what I wanted to research. Stay tuned for more of those decisions.

It’s a brave new world, but I’m enjoying it – and when I sit at my desk and play the Puerto Rico Evolver or curl up on the sofa to read about games, I am confident that I’ve done the right thing in leaping into this research program.

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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in games, study



PAX Australia photos

I’ve uploaded photos from PAX Australia to Flickr – see my photo set here. They’re all Tabletop photos, as I rarely got out of tabletop except for when I was on a panel.

I’m really pleased with the way the show ran.There are some things we can do to improve Tabletop, but overall it was very successful. I think that my favourite part was the number of people who were there to try new games – or just to try games at all.


Posted by on November 4, 2014 in games, Uncategorized



The research game

Great article by my friend Jonathan. I’m working on a response using analogue analogies!

The Research Whisperer

World of Warcraft screencap by Natalie Ford ( World of Warcraft screencap by Natalie Ford (

People often say that research, and particularly research funding, is a bit of a game. It isn’t meant as a compliment.

When people say this, they are usually complaining about being excluded. They go on to talk about how you need to be ‘in the know’, about how people on funding bodies give money to their ‘mates’. Often they spend a fair amount of energy trying to work out how to game the system.

Not surprisingly, I don’t subscribe to those views.

I subscribe to the view that research funding agencies work hard to make sure that they are as fair as they can be. I believe that, while there are historical biases in most systems of funding, they do a very good job of channelling funds to the best researchers available. And that, in general, our funding models serve…

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Posted by on July 10, 2014 in games, research


Beautiful things

I had a wonderful night out on Thursday night, celebrating a friend’s birthday with “Margaritas and Dessert”. It helped that it was a stinker of a night – well over 30 degrees even well into the night – so frozen drinks and treats were very welcome, but as always the conversations were the best part.

One that was very close to my heart was about beauty and happiness. One woman talked about her time at art school. She still remembers a guest speaker who came and spoke about the importance of beauty, with the example that even if you are just getting out a bowl to beat an egg, that bowl can (should) still be beautiful. Another spoke about the book, The Architecture of Happiness, which considers how where we are might influence what we are (and what we become). And I spoke about Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, which I credit as a catalyst for some of the important (and positive) changes I made in my life last year. I probably need to re-read it, actually.

I try to surround myself with things that I love and find beauty in, that make me feel good, but sometimes I choose things that are functional rather than lovely. And I always regret it.

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Posted by on February 10, 2014 in be happy, friends


I like driving in my car

Otto is doing a holiday program this week. A holiday program that I carefully forgot (at least four times) to book her into. Unfortunately for me, she remembered (at least once more than I forgot) that she really REALLY wanted to do it.

She’s learning how to build Apps.

Sometimes I want to do school holiday programs too.

Anyway, this program is on the Other Side of Town. And driving North-South across Melbourne is kind of hellish. As in, Took-me-ninety-minutes-to-get-home hellish. And most of the week, I am driving over to collect her and then back again. Conservatively, that’s a five-hour daily commute.

I’ve looked into public transport, but it’s tram + train + bus, with all the accompanying potential for disaster, and even my buddy the metlink journey planner says 90 minutes minimum, each way. That’s too much commitment for me.

As this is posted, I have three more of the long commutes to go. And I kind of want to buy a Go-Pro so that I can do an exciting time-lapse photostream, just to share the horror with the world.

Or maybe there’s an App for that. If not, there should be – maybe Otto can deliver?


Posted by on January 22, 2014 in family