When You’re in It, with Matthew Seiji Burns

 
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By Drew Messinger-Michaels and Lucio Valentino, Drew Messinger-Michaels, and Lucio Valentino. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

ETAO Podcast, Episode 64.

http://dts.podtrac.com/redirect.mp3/etao.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/etao-podcast-64-matthew-seiji-burns.mp3
Matthew Seiji Burns is responsible for some of the best and least-discussed narratives and soundtracks in games, namely those in the beloved-for-other-reasons Zachtronics works Infinifactory, TIS-100, SHENZHEN I/O, and Opus Magnum—not to mention the generally under-discussed Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, his Twine work, and his past-life AAA work on the Call of Duty, Halo, and Destiny series.

In this interview, we talk about basically none of those.

Instead we focus on Eliza, the new Zachtronics-published visual novel that finally puts his writing (and to a lesser, though significant degree, his audio) front and center. It’s a game about human connections, moral responsibility, burnout, and the problems that technology and futurism are ill-equipped to solve. So mostly, that’s what we talk about.

You can get Eliza on Steam, Itch, GOG, and Humble.
You can also follow Matthew on Twitter, and discuss Eliza on its dedicated subreddit.

And if you want to hear way more about Zachtronics, here are the episodes featuring the one and only Zach Barth:

17. On the Art of the Anti-Puzzle
19. On the Semi-Unspoilability of Infinifactory
21. A Pseudo-Instruction That Has No Effect
34. You Can Feel Great All The Time Solving Problems
36. REPL PUNK

———
• Thanks again to The Mysterious Ian K. for helping me get my thoughts together on this game.

• Here’s the web-based version of the original Eliza.

• It was Arlie Russell Hochschild who first talked about emotional labor, most famously in The Managed Heart. What the hell was I thinking when I said Donna Haraway? “Manifesto for Cyborgs,” probably, since that’s relevant to Eliza for other, gender-and-tech reasons.

• Homosexuality became officially not-a-pathology in 1973.

• Here’s that Science Vs about eugenics.

• And here’s Matthew’s game The Arboretum.

Full disclosure, for those who consider saying nice things about a video game to be the most sacred of trusts: I did some testing/proofreading/incredibly minor script consulting for Eliza.
———
“All The People Say (Season 3)” by Holly Hyperion.
“Reflection” and “Unease” from the Eliza Original Soundtrack by Matthew Seiji Burns.

We’re on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Spotify, PocketCasts, Overcast, Breaker, and RadioPublic. You can also subscribe using good old-fashioned RSS.

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67 episodes