Eric Stein

Eric Stein
Trinity Western University · Game Development

Master of Arts

About

16
Publications
1,839
Reads
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5
Citations
Introduction
Eric Stein's research bridges literature and gaming, applying phenomenological, hermeneutic, and deconstructive methods to the interpretation of interactive texts. He is also a practicing game designer, primarily working in the independent tabletop roleplaying space. His design work deploys philosophical, political, and theological concepts in gamic form, bringing together theory and play for social, story-driven tabletop role-playing sessions.
Additional affiliations
January 2020 - present
Trinity Western University
Position
  • Instructor
August 2017 - December 2017
Boston College, USA
Position
  • Visiting Scholar
August 2017 - December 2017
Boston College, USA
Position
  • Research Assistant
Education
September 2016 - May 2018
Trinity Western University
Field of study
  • Interdisciplinary Humanities
September 2010 - February 2016
Simon Fraser University
Field of study
  • Creative Writing
September 2010 - February 2016
Simon Fraser University
Field of study
  • English (Honours)

Publications

Publications (16)
Conference Paper
Full-text available
What might university instructors learn of pedagogy when their work is approached from the perspective of production? More specifically, how might the university classroom be transformed when instructors actively shift their focus as educators away from pedagogy and toward production? Drawing on two academic years of hands on video game production...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In her essay "Reclaiming Animism" (2012), Isabelle Stengers writes that reclaiming "means recovering, and, in this case, recovering the capacity to honor experience, any experience we care for, as 'not ours' but rather as 'animating' us, making us witness to what is not us." It is this notion of animation that mobilizes this paper on Jesse Ross's t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This study of Avery Alder and Benjamin Rosenbaum's Belonging Outside Belonging system for tabletop roleplaying games (ttrpgs) follows in Jacques Rancière's project of ignorance, as set out in The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1987) and as continued in The Emancipated Spectator (2008). With Rancière's politics as a framework, this study works backward from...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Using Maurice Merleau-Ponty's concept of "motricity" and Alva Noë's concept of "organization," this paper offers a phenomenological and enac-tive approach to tabletop roleplaying games (ttrpgs) as a form of poiesis, making-both auto-poetic, as defined by Humberto Maturana and Fran-cisco Varela, and sym-poietic, as defined by Donna Haraway. This sel...
Research
Full-text available
This paper responds to the call "For Planetary Governance" written by Benjamin Bratton and issued by The Terraforming and Strelka Mag. Through a hermeneutics of the nuclear facilitated by Martin Heidegger, Jean Baudrillard, and Patrick Jagoda, it examines the atomic bomb as the final symbol of a nationalist, metaphysical age of spirit, and the init...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
After seven years of development, the final act of Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero was released in January of 2020 to widespread acclaim. Hailed by the games scholar and critic Trever Strunk as a "novelistic accomplishment," Kentucky Route Zero has consistently surprised and delighted players with its clever writing, subtly realized charac...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In developer FromSoftware’s acclaimed Dark Souls trilogy (2011, 2014, 2016), the concept of “hollowing” occupies a central position in the broader thematic landscape of the games. Concerned with the fates of cursed undead in worlds on the brink of collapse, the Dark Souls games present hollowing—a violent, withering insanity—as the doom of all unde...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
To borrow from Katherine Isbister, a games researcher and educator, one of my primary concerns when it comes to the study and design of games is "how games move us." Isbister's invocation of "movement" has a double meaning---that is, to be moved as both an emotional and an embodied experience. Indeed, in chapter three of her book, "Bodies at Play,"...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
FromSoftware’s Dark Souls games (2011, 2014, 2016) and their spiritual successor, Bloodborne (2015), have creatively, and often subversively, utilized insectoid figures as key elements in their worlds, disrupting normative hierarchies of meaning and being throughout the fictional realms of Lordran, Drangleic, Yharnam, and Lothric. Even more obvious...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Through the philosophies of Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, and François Laruelle, this paper deconstructs the metaphysics of the sun that undergirds the worlds of the three Dark Souls games developed by FromSoftware, while also identifying the internal critique of this metaphysics that the Dark Souls games successively elaborate. Indeed, as inv...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
What is the role of play at the end of the world? As reports on the climate crisis become increasingly dire, we must ask ourselves what good it is to talk about games, and particularly those games that operate in a fantastic register. The question inevitably arises: why continue to play at all when the world is on fire around us? Indeed, as Emily R...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The incredibly popular Souls games developed by FromSoftware (and their imitators, colloquially referred to as Souls-like games) have followed a fascinating design trajectory since the release of the first game in the franchise, Demon’s Souls, in 2009. In many fantasy roleplaying games, the in-game capacity of the player-character is signified by a...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
In his Phenomenology of Perception (2012), Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes bodily existence through the concept of “motricity” (100). The body exists for itself as a “dynamic” posture, a “situational spatiality,” a suite of possibilities that is always already disclosed as the “third term” in the perspectival structure of the world (102, original e...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper uses Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude to re-read Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness, and Jacques Derrida's Voice and Phenomenon, with an eye toward releasing the subject from its correlationist, anthropocentric basis in traditional readings of Heidegger's dasein. By beginning with Meillassoux,...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
“Economy,” the opening chapter of Thoreau’s Walden, is a lengthy exploration of the conditions of existence of the New England settler. Before encountering his famous wish to “live deliberately” (83), readers of Walden are confronted with Thoreau’s sardonic treatment of the so-called “serfs” of Concord, Massachusetts, and immersed in his economic t...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Herman Melville’s posthumously published novella, Billy Budd, Sailor (An Inside Narrative), is the tragic tale of a naïve young sailor impressed into the British Navy who, after being falsely accused of mutiny by a commanding officer, lashes out at his accuser and inadvertently kills him. The captain of the ship, though fully aware of Billy’s essen...