Welcome to my site! I’m Dr 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 a postdoctoral fellow in game studies in the Digital Creativity Hub at the University of York (UK), an independent game developer and a leading figure in the roguelike community, and an ex-professional gamer currently pursuing a number of arcade gaming world records. I’m also writing my first academic monograph, The Unpredictability of Gameplay, to be published by Bloomsbury Academic.
For the last five 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. If you fancy employing me or having me come to give a talk, send me an email at mark @ this domain, and my full CV is available on request.
- The Unpredictability of Gameplay. Bloomsbury Academic, upcoming.
ACADEMIC (Papers/Book Chapters)
- “Deep Play and Dark Play in Contemporary Cinema” (coming soon)
- “The Challenge to Game Design from the Sociology of Design” (coming soon)
- “Integrating Hand-Made and Procedural Content” (in press, link coming soon)
- “The History of Cyberspace Aesthetics in Digital Games” (in press, link coming soon)
- “Bullet Hell: The Globalized Growth of danmaku games and the Digital Culture of High Scores and World Records” (in press, link coming soon)
- “The Use of ASCII Graphics in Roguelikes: Aesthetic Nostalgia and Semiotic Difference”
I’ve also spoken at dozens of games conferences including GDC Europe, DiGRA, the Canadian Game Studies Association conference, AISB AI & Games, Nucl.AI, and many others, on topics ranging from qualitative procedural generation to Japanese arcade culture, and interactive storytelling to ASCII game semiotics.
- In addition to running this blog (25k+ hits/month), I’m the co-host of the popular podcast Roguelike Radio, which is approaching 1m lifetime hits.
- I’ve given invited talks at a large range of public gaming events and undergraduate courses, such as Norwich Gaming Festival, the University of Lincoln, the University of Bedfordshire, ProcJam, the National Videogame Arcade, and many others.
- I’ve also written pieces for a number of gaming magazines and websites:
“Warning Forever: A Danmaku Dialogue” (First Person Scholar)
“Before Spelunky and FTL, there was only ASCII” (Paste Magazine)
“The Demonic Properties of an Ampersand” (Kill Screen)
“How integral are letters and text to ASCII gaming?” (Imaginary Realities)
“Alternate History Aesthetics in Red Alert” (Memory Insufficient)
“Civilian Targets” and “Seeing Green” (Five out of Ten)
- 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 Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and Wu Ming.
- 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. It has been in development for nearly five years and have completed the “worldbuilding” portion of the game, moving (at last!) into gameplay.
- 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 and various others, featured several times in PC Gamer, and plan to start displaying the game at conventions and independent game events in the near future.
- In 2003 I spent a significant length of time as the #1 ranked player in the world on Red Alert 2’s competitive ladder and was a lead developer of the high-level metagame.
- From 2005-2007 I played Counterstrike:Source, and by 2007 was very close to being able to meaningfully compete at a national level, until I then discovered poker, after which from 2008-2011 I was a professional poker player, playing over 1,500,000 hands lifetime.
- In recent years I have begun pursuing the world records in a number of “bullet hell”/danmaku games, which will be posted here when achieved. I currently hold two world records in the genre, making me one of the most accomplished danmaku players in the UK, and hope to reach ten world records before I’m thirty.
- Once I’m thirty and have to retire from twitch/reflex competitive gaming… who knows?
Score Rush (360), 1,272,316,741 (Analysis)
Danmaku Unlimited 2 (PC) “Classic” Mode, 4.295 trillion (Analysis)