Simon Griffee · Design · Photography · Writing · Illustration

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Perceptive Game Writing

A pencil drawing of a woman walking and holding a notebook and a sword.
Illustration by Simon Griffee.

Computer games increasingly shape young people’s education as we are surrounded by computers, even carrying them in our pockets.

This can be positive, but like our attention, and most things that we make, the majority of games and commentary about them are shallow, so it is worthwhile to shine a light on good writing about games.

Here are some favorites.

George Orwell: Toward European Unity #


Just over a year ago we arrived in NYC during a cold night and used wifi at a McDonald’s at 3am in order to contact the person responsible for the place we would stay at for the first month near 137th street. Amber immersed indoors to work and I outside despite the weather. After the first month we moved further up Harlem to 145th street with Gianni and Maude.

I got my first job by walking around the Columbia campus and finding a notice looking for a graphic design student in the History department. I wrote and was called in to work a few hours a week with the lovely staff at the Italian Academy after convincing them that I am a life-long student.

After four months we moved to an old apartment by the campus on 114th Street, sublet from two nice History professors, and I got my second job helping a legendary street photographer and his family pack and move from New York City to Beacon. I got in touch with Bruce again through a nice person called Cameron from Magnum Photos who I met after doing a workshop with Peter Van-Agtmael, another nice person recommended to me by my friend Mino. I’m very happy to be friends with Bruce and his family — such special people, the Gildens, cats included!

Meeting photographers on the street has been a highlight of living in New York and I am glad to have spoken to many. The first was Omar Robles who encouraged me (along with Emelyne) to try Instagram. I still don’t know what to think about it other than perhaps this: There is a strong, instinctual human desire for visual communication, and people and companies are taking advantage of it. I even attended a meetup, though ultimately the act of photography is, to me, a solitary one.

During summer I had reunions with four childhood friends from Brazil and one I met in Tunisia when I was really learning English. One of them is a fashion photographer who pointed out I accidentally took a picture of a well-known model on the street. I visited MIT, a place I liked a lot and hope to return to for a while some day.

I made new friends including and Mike and then Isaac from K&M Camera, the latter who led me to get New York to Nuova Scotia and to go see Robert Frank and June Leaf’s door. I visited Google (thanks, Gino!) and visited Michigan three times, including for one wedding, and Thomas, West Virginia, once. I met Geoff Dyer and Sally Mann and even Drew and Carolyn came to visit!

I cried when I heard Leonard Nimoy had died. B.B. King is also gone, as is Hermann Zapf and a friend called Corey whom I hadn’t seen for a long time.

During my walks photographing the city I passed in front of a chip shop 20 minutes before an explosion that killed two people and subsequently destroyed the building by fire. Death reminds me to make the most of life’s moments, and not worry too much.

Earlier in the year I designed an international symbol for an observer and it was accepted by the Unicode Consortium so you may see it in your emoji list on your mobile phone in the future! I attended one makeathon and hackathon related to blockchain technology which may be part of the answer for a basic income for all human beings on the planet and found an M-Class Earth-like planet in the Elite simulation I enjoy retiring to at times in the evening and dedicated it to my late father.

We moved to Inwood, which was a pleasant surprise. I did not know one could live next to an old forest in Manhattan. There is a lot of good food all around us, we hear, but we have only been able to afford to eat at home while getting settled in New York City. Only free (or highly discounted, due to Amber’s student status) concerts and museums, too: NYPL Public Eye and Cooper Hewitt exhibitions; Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, released 50 years ago, performed in its entirety by Fiona Apple and Watkins Family Hour house band and guests (my favorite performances were Fiona’s A Mistake and Shawn Colvin’s cover of Ballad of a Thin Man); Shakespeare’s The Tempest at Marcus Garvey park; Tosca at Lincoln center together with Amber’s advanced Italian class; Magdalena Baczewska‘s concert, for which I made a poster; Photographer meetups on Tuesdays at Doctor Thoms’ (thanks Theo, Mike, Tanner and Robert!)

My ‘Palm Sunday’ photograph was in the Penumbra member show at Soho Photo Gallery — my first exhibited work in New York.

Towards the end of the year I began working for my graphic design mentor Milton Glaser, Sue and Dan in the legendary studio on 32nd Street. I had only met Milton through his work and still find it hard to believe and am amazed to be in the studio where the words ‘Art is Work’ are written on the door.

I like to remember the good things happening around the world, and how small we all are in reality. Yes, 2015 was also a year of progress for people living together.

Onwards, Spaceship Earth!

—Simon, writing from Rome, with my mom, my brother, and Amber, who has worked incredibly hard this year (though she makes it look easy!), and without whom I would not have experienced anything close to 2015.

6th or 7th Avenue, New York City, July 2015

Geoff Dyer, Nikil Saval and Jenny Davidson at Strand Books, New York City, March 2015

One of my favorite contemporary writers, Geoff Dyer, in a Strand Books panel discussion with Nikil Saval and Jenny Davidson surrounding society’s impact on literature through Raymond Williams’ interviews in a new edition of Politics and Letters which includes an updated introduction by Dyer.

Dyer signed my copy of his book about photography, The Ongoing Moment that I warmly recommend along with his book about life on an aircraft carrier, Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George HW Bush, which includes pictures by Chris Steele-Perkins.

3000ft ✈ DL6241, New York City, March 2015

En-route from NYC to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Daido Moriyama on ‘Home’

Daido Moriyama in ‘In Pictures’:

Japanese people often talk of home as a place where you are born, grow up and everyone is there. But I don’t have such a home. I’ve been moving a lot since I was a child. I am creating my own home by connecting pieces of images from my imagination and things I saw as a child. That’s how I feel about my work.

Letter to Fujifilm on X100S Viewfinder


Can you please consider adding an option to turn off the center square (focus square) in the X100S optical viewfinder in a future firmware update?

The optical viewfinder is good, but the center square is distracting. Please see the Leica M3 viewfinder for a good example.

Thank you,

Photo Project Breaks Barriers in Morocco

Nicolai Hartvig:

bq.. MARRAKESH — On a recent morning here at the new Marrakesh Museum of Photography and Visual Art, several women in colorful niqabs strode up to see images of themselves on a wall of 78 portraits taken by the American photographer Susan Meiselas. Some laughed and took pictures of each other with the art. Others hugged the photographer, who was present. And one woman, upon finding her sister’s portrait, protested that the picture should be removed.

The portraits are part of a project conceived by the Magnum cooperative and the museum — a three-month-old institution whose permanent building is scheduled to open in 2016 — in a country where photography is viewed with suspicion.

The MMPVA has set up inside the historic El Badi Palace, in a space granted rent-free for five years by the Moroccan minister of culture, Mohamed Sbihi, on the simple condition that it keeps mounting exhibitions.

Continue reading at the New York Times »

Personal Best of 2013, Rome

Art smiled as I saw Van Gogh on the streets, discovered Sixto Rodriguez’s music, felt The Wall (Pink Floyd.), read Asimov’s The Last Question and continue reading E.H. Gombrich’s The Story of Art as well as Richard Kalvar’s Earthlings, bought during a week in Paris. Best film watched in 2013: Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire.

Astronomical Events, two of them: The Chelyabinsk meteor and learning how Erastothenes measured the circumference of the earth over two thousand years ago through Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series (Video.).

People like Edward Snowden, Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald who are making our world better by shining a light on its dark places. (Sorry, Pope Francis — if only you had dissolved one more organized religion)

Campo de' Fiori GRS-20130101-000104

About one year ago in the second minute of 1 January 2013 in Campo de’ Fiori, Rome (not my best photograph of 2013).

In 2014: Read more fiction, stay curious, do real work, and don’t forget life is once, forever.


Some Good News From the Caribbean

First legal commercial Key West–Cuba flight in 50 years lands in Havana.

State Surveillance of Personal Data Is Theft

More than 500 of the world’s leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden and warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter. Continue reading at The Guardian.

A Universal Income is Not a Silly Idea

It is a great idea.

A Fence That Separates Two Worlds

Writer Lorenzo Silva quoted in the Guardian’s excellent Our Walled World:

…a symbol of the failure of Europe, and of the human race in general…a fence that separates two worlds.

Unfortunately, I am often reminded of Imaginary Lines.

Josef Koudelka: Formed by the World

Great interview with the great photographer Josef Koudelka, and part II.

Via my friend John Ryan Brubaker.

I have this deformation, from this Czech period when I was growing up, in many different ways. It goes even to the language. I don’t believe what people say. What was written or what you heard — the contrary was true.

The writer Bruce Chatwin, in a book about aborigines in Australia, called “The Songlines,” says there are a few rules so that aboriginals can survive in a hostile country. The first was to stay in one place means suicide. Second, your country is the place where you don’t put questions to yourself anymore. Your home is the place where you leave from and in a period of crisis you must formulate a way to escape. Also, you should keep good relationships with your neighbors.

bq.. I want to show you this little book I bought 20 years ago in Czechoslovakia. It is the speech of Chief Seattle to the president of the United States in 1854. It is so beautiful. It applies to Israel.

He says the land doesn’t belong to the people — it is the people who belong to the land. The land is the mother and what is happening to the mother is going to happen to the son too. This is the question about selling the land. He said how can you sell your mother — how can you sell the air — and he said if you are spitting on your land you are spitting on your mother.

bq.. Q. What did you learn from visiting all these places and spending all this time thinking about the archaeology sites and the history of man?

A. That nothing is permanent.

Nothing is permanent — that’s also what I learned from the Gypsies. Bresson used to tell me that your problem is that you don’t think about the future, and that’s exactly what I learned from the Gypsies. Not to worry much about the future. And I learned that to be alive I don’t need much. So I never worried about money because I knew in the past if I needed the money I borrowed it so I didn’t lose the time.

And time is the only thing you have in your life, and if you are getting older you feel it a little more. But I felt that all my life.