Archive for the ‘Computer Games’ Category

Shade

Saturday, January 9th, 2016

>look

The tiny figure crawls out from under the sands. It’s dead.

“You win,” it says. “Okay, my turn again.”

>…

Nothing left to do. Time passes.

The sun crawls higher.

*** SHADE ***

I just finished playing the interactive fiction (IF) Shade (2000) by Andrew Plotkin. A poetic work that plays with the genre without playing for the sake of playing. The meditation on life and the end of the game is for real and fiction. You can see other fictions by Plotkin at Zarf’s Interactive Fiction and/or read a nice review Enlightening Interactive Fiction: Andrew Plotkin’s Shade by Jeremy Douglass (electronic book review: 2008). I also recommend the review as a nice introduction to IF in general.

If you need some hints (as I did) see the comments here (and then enjoy his other posts).

Blockbusters: how Rutherford Chang became the second best Tetris player in the world

Friday, January 8th, 2016

The Guardian has a story about Blockbusters: how Rutherford Chang became the second best Tetris player in the world. Chang is an artist who has been playing Tetris over and over and filming it. His hundreds of thousands of games can be viewed on YouTube here.

How is this art? I suspect it is in the way he plays with repetition. Another project, Alphabetized Newspaper, takes all the words in stories on the cover of The New York Times and rearranges them in alphabetical order created a sort of sorted word list. (Click image and explore.)

alphabetized

 

He also did this with video of NBC nightly news, which produces a bizarre effect. Imagine all the very short clips of people saying “and” in a row.

I am struck by how he has humanly recreated what an algorithm could do.

 

Silly Season for Eric Raymond

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Eric Raymond, widely admired for his The Cathedral and the Bazaar, is now peddling social justice paranoia. See Why Hackers Must Eject the SJWs. He starts with the following,

The hacker culture, and STEM in general, are under ideological attack. Recently I blogged a safety warning that according to a source I consider reliable, a “women in tech” pressure group has made multiple efforts to set Linus Torvalds up for a sexual assault accusation. I interpreted this as an attempt to beat the hacker culture into political pliability, and advised anyone in a leadership position to beware of similar attempts.

See his “safety warning” at From kafkatrap to honeytrap. His evidence for this ideological attack seems to be gossip from trusted sources – gossip that confirms his views about “women in tech” and pressure groups and so on. This sort of war rhetoric closes any opportunity for discussion around the issues of women in technology. For Raymond it is now a (culture) war between those on the side of hacker culture and STEM, against “Social Justice Warriors” and what is at stake is the “entire civilization that we serve.”

Why are these important issues being militarized instead of aired respectfully? When did the people we live with and love become the other? Just how confident are we that we objectively know what merit is in the hurly burly of life?  What civilization is this really about?

Other reactions to this story include Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond in The Register and Is This the Perfect Insane Anti-Feminist Rumor? from New York Magazine.

Dead or Alive and otaku culture: why sensitivity is not the same as censorship

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Jeremie alerted me to a strange debate raging about Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, a sexist beach volleyball game that Koei Tecmo decided not to release in the West, apparently because of concerns about a feminist backlash according to an employee’s comments on Facebook:

Do you know many issues happening in video game industry with regard to how to treat female in video game industry? We do not want to talk those things here. But certainly we have gone through in last year or two to come to our decision. Thank you.

The Guardian has a nice article about the issue with background on adult genres common in Japan, Dead or Alive and otaku culture: why sensitivity is not the same as censorship. Ars Technical has an article too with an update, Dead or Alive publisher denies game is too sexist for Western audiences, that mentions how the publisher Koei Techmo has released an official statement that sort of backtracks on the comments that triggered the issue. Gamespot also has an updated story Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 Won’t Ship Worldwide Due to Sexism Backlash Fears.

Needless to say, this has animated the SJW (Social Justice Warrior) discussion around the representation of women in games and censorship of games. (I should note that it isn’t censorship if a publisher decides to not publish something.) Interestingly, this is not the first time we have had this debate about Japanese adult games across cultures. Brian Ashcraft has an article in Kotaku on Why Is CNN Talking About Rapelay? which documented how the Japanese publishers of adult games were adapting to attention from the West by changing titles and not localizing titles. What has changed is how the West is arguing with itself through Japan. The Japanese seem to be trying desperately not to be part of our culture war.

Pachinko: A game studies perspective

Friday, December 4th, 2015

A paper I wrote with Keiji Amano just came out in the online journal Kinephanos, Pachinko: A game studies perspective. The paper looks at pachinko as a game rather than as a form of gambling (as the title suggests.) It is part of a nice collection on Geemu and media mix: Theoretical approaches to Japanese video games.

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Is it Pokemon or Big Data ?

Sunday, November 29th, 2015

Is it Pokemon or Big Data ? is a simple game where you are presented with a name and you have to guess if it is a big data company or a Pokemon creature. My thanks to Jane for this.

Canadian video game industry catching up to TV & film production

Monday, November 16th, 2015

The CBC has a story on how the Canadian video game industry catching up to TV & film production. The story is based on the annual report of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada (ESAC). You can download the PDF from here. Some of the interesting facts from the report include:

  • The video game industry employs 20,400 people (up 24% from 2013) with an average salary of $71,300.
  • The currecnt skills most lacking in the talent pool include programming, artist and animation, data analysis, and game design.
  • Quebec has 29.4% of the companies or 10,850 full-time employees (53% of all direct employment).
  • Revenues from console games are down and mobile games are up.

ReFig 2015

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

I’ve just left the ReFig 2015 workshop. I kept my workshop notes at Re-Figuring Innovation in Games (ReFig) 2015. Important research with an awesome team that I hope to follow. Last night we were treated to a conversation with Anita Sarkeesian that was fascinating. She has had more of an effect and probably done more good research in preparing the videos than most of the rest of us. There are lessons to be learned about how to address a broader audience, how to have an impact, and how to stay focused on social justice.

Replaying Japan 2016

Friday, October 30th, 2015

The Call for Papers for Replaying Japan 2016 is up. See CFP here.

The theme of Replaying Japan 2016 is “From Pac-Man to the present: Japanese Games between the local and global”

The conference will be held for the first time in Europe at Leipzig University from August 15 to 17, 2016. This is right before GAMESCOM in Cologne, Germany.

Join us!

Depositing Archives

Friday, June 12th, 2015

We have recently deposited two research archives here at the University of Alberta. One is the John B. Smith Archive. You can download bundles or the complete archive which can be found at http://hdl.handle.net/10402/era.41201. Amy Dyrbye and I worked with John B. Smith to assemble this, document it and deposit it in ERA (the Education and Research Archive).

Another archive that we are building is a collection around Gamergate. The DOI for this is:

doi:10.7939/DVN/10253

For this we are using Dataverse that allows us to manage the archive and publish some parts or not.

Given the work that goes into developing and documenting these archives I would argue that they should be considered scholarly work, but that is another matter.