Welcome to my blog! I’m Mark R Johnson. As far as I can tell I’m currently the only person in the world who cuts across academic game studies, game development, and world-class competitive gaming. I’m currently a game studies academic-in-the-making, an independent game developer and a leading figure in the roguelike community, and an ex-professional gamer currently pursuing a number of gaming world records. This blog is primarily about updates on my own game, Ultima Ratio Regum, but also features more general games commentary and criticism. For the last four years I’ve updated this blog every weekend, and intend to continue doing so until the heat death of the universe. If you want to see what I’m up to, the best way is to either read this blog or follow me on Twitter, where I post lots of stuff about game design, game studies, and URR’s development.



After my undergraduate in Politics & Sociology, I went straight to a doctorate at the University of York (UK), and from 2011-2014 I studied for a PhD in Science & Technology Studies (STS) in the Department of Sociology (#1 in the UK in the 2014 REF). My thesis defence is due early 2015. Using both STS and first-hand experience of both game development and high-level competitive gaming I am now moving into game studies, having presented at a range of games/game studies conferences…

  • 2014: Managing Size and Scale in Procedural Generation. “Procedural Content Generation (PGC) Game Jam Conference”, Goldsmiths, London (Invited)
  • 2014: Predicting Play:The Expectations of Game Playtesting. “The Logics of Exercises, Trainings, Tests and Rehearsals” Conference,Goldsmiths, London.
  • 2014: The Semiotics of the Roguelike. “Canadian Game Studies Association Conference”, St. Catharines, Ontario.
  • 2014: Procedural Graphic Generation. “International Roguelike Developer Conference”, Co-Up Hackerspace, Berlin.
  • 2013: Self-Definition, Ownership and Player Expectations: An Independent Video Game Development Autoethnography. “Digital/Moving Images” Conference, University of Warwick.

I am currently seeking employment in game studies. If you fancy employing me (please do), send me an email at mark @ this domain, and my full CV is available on request. I am willing to move abroad, so regardless of your geographical location, do please give me a shout.



I design/program/develop Ultima Ratio Regum, a “classic” roguelike game written in Python. Its narrative and themes are inspired by the works of Jorge Borges and Umberto Eco, and its gameplay by Dwarf Fortress and Dark Souls. As well as providing the challenging gameplay experience one expects from roguelikes, I want to get players thinking intellectually about other issues such as historiography, cryptography, philosophical idealism, linguistics, and many others. I have been developing it for four years and have almost completed the “worldbuilding” portion of the game. Ultima Ratio Regum can be found on Facebook, Twitter at UltimaRegum, on IndieDB, and has been reported on in a number of gaming news outlets. I’ve also been interviewed for Rock Paper Shotgun, the Guardian newspaper and various others, and I’m a regular guest on the Roguelike Radio podcast. As of December 2014 I am currently developing URR “full-time” for a year!



In 2003 (aged 13) I spent a significant length of time as the #1 ranked player in the world on Red Alert 2’s competitive ladder and a lead developer of the high-level metagame. From 2005-2007 I was working towards being a world-class competitive CS:S player, until discovering poker, after which from 2008-2011 I was a professional poker player. In recent years I have begun pursuing the world records in a number of “bullet hell” games, which will be posted here when achieved:

World Records:

Score Rush (360), 1,272,316,741 (Analysis)

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