Putin’s ‘peace’ is a partitioned Ukraine

52 min listen

On the podcast: In his new year’s address this year Vladimir Putin made no mention of the war in Ukraine – despite missile strikes over the Christmas period – and now Owen Matthews reports in The Spectator this week rumours that Putin could be looking to broker a land-for-peace deal. Unfortunately – Owen says – this deal would mean freezing the conflict along its current lines and the de facto partition of Ukraine. Owen joins the podcast alongside The Spectator’s Svitlana Morenets who gives her own take on Putin’s ‘peace’ deal in the magazine this week. (01:21) Next: Former Sky News and GB News broadcaster Colin Brazier writes a farmer’s notebook in The Spectator this week about his new life

An ouroboros of vacuity that is immune to its own failure: Kaws online at the Serpentine Gallery

The second most interesting thing about this digital exhibition is that it is not for art critics like me. I first had to download Fortnite, before bumbling through the introductions and menus for roughly half an hour, accidentally playing a match for a few minutes before figuring out how to access the ‘island’ in the game where one sees the exhibition. Once inside, Kaws’s usual character statues and cartoonish abstractions looked much worse than the photos online because my utilitarian laptop doesn’t have the processing power to run the game at high resolution. Needless to say, the recreation of the gallery space in the game is nothing like being in

Will our future lives be like a video game?

A few years ago, the software company Owlchemy Labs released a computer game called Job Simulator. Its premise was simple. Players find themselves in a future world, roughly 30 years from now, in which super-efficient robots have snaffled up all the jobs. No longer needed for work, humans entertain themselves instead by donning virtual reality headsets and reenacting ‘the glory days’ — simulating what it was once like to be an office clerk, chef, or shopkeeper. The gameplay, therefore, consists entirely of, well, yeah… carrying out endless mundane tasks: virtual photocopying, virtual cooking, virtual newspaper sales. Job Simulator is pretty tongue-in-cheek, crammed full of dry, self-referential jokes. In the game,

Pointless but beautiful – and good for going to sleep to: Monument Valley reviewed

I was going to write about Monument Valley, and I suppose I will eventually, but first I have to write about this total catastrophe that has overwhelmed my life. Online Scrabble has gone! This was the proper Mattel trademark version that I’ve been playing for years with friends and it has suddenly been replaced by some hideous all-singing all-dancing version called Scrabble GO which looks like Candy Crush and — worse — is infested with ads. Not quick flash ads either but interminable videos about, say, a new type of squeegee. Everyone tells me I will get used to it eventually but I’m not sure I want to. Did you

Why do they call it a game? It is servitude: Nintendo Switch’s Animal Crossing reviewed

Welcome to my debut as gaming correspondent, the apex of my journalistic career! And how witty of The Spectator to choose someone who has never played a computer game in her life. But luckily I have some grandchildren to advise me. First decision is what games console I want and the general consensus is Nintendo Switch, which has the advantage of being small and portable and not attached to the television. Then — what game? The experts recommend Animal Crossing because, they say, it is foolproof. (Ha!) So I order a Nintendo, which takes days to come (apparently ‘everyone’ is into gaming during lockdown) and go through the rigmarole of