Zoya is a historian and journalist of games and playful art. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Memory Insufficient, and a consultant at Silverstring Media.

I recently had the honour of starting a new job as Senior Curator of games criticism curation site Critical Distance. Part of my role involves creating regular digests for other publications, featuring a small selection of the links that we have distributed in our full-length weekly round-ups. With so much good writing happening on games and history across the web, Memory Insufficient is like an ideal place to host a similar digest. From now on, around once a month I’ll be posting a roundups from Critical Distance focusing on the history of design and craft as they relate to games.


“We are so used to it we might not notice, but Chess is a very modern game in some regards. Instead of fighting to the death or strangulation like in most abstracts, the win condition is the capture of a single, practically unarmed piece. This is huge! It enables a wide range of plays and the threat of the game ending in a single move introduces a lot of fun and tension. And the pieces? They are all a bit strange. The Bishops move diagonally despite the game being vertically-bound. The Knight can move through other pieces but doing so makes it alternate between white and black squares. Pawns form the backbone of the army yet are barely capable of harming each other. There are a lot of curve balls in Chess that makes it feel fresh and exciting.”


“Despite the fact that game-maker Navid Khonsari is suspected of spying by the Iranian government, the primary takeaway from playing 1979 Revolution is a feeling of complicated affection, not angry bitterness. There’s another side to what we in the West know about Iran, and playing this game is a good way to start learning about it.”


“This tale, I think, goes some distance towards explaining why so much new media art is mired in nostalgic reverie, despite its patina of geekish futurism. Cultural history suggests that “the look of now” tends to age badly. This is no less true in technology than in fashion and hairstyles. Any new style or medium runs the risk of being obsolete tomorrow, discarded and bulldozed under”

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