The Games for Change Conference in NYC, June 27 and 28th, is not only covered here by the NY GTxA offices, but in popular news venues such as cnn as well. That’s great for the budding movement! Last night there was a fab party at Rockstar games. Wednesday June 28th featured again a great line up of speakers discussing games for social engagement and social change.
June 28, 2006
June 27, 2006
Tim O’Reilly explains in this famous article (which, I swear, actually crashes Firefox on OS X) that “In our initial brainstorming, we formulated our sense of Web 2.0 by example:
|Web 1.0||Web 2.0|
|evite||–>||upcoming.org and EVDB|
|domain name speculation||–>||search engine optimization|
|page views||–>||cost per click|
|screen scraping||–>||web services|
|content management systems||–>||wikis|
|directories (taxonomy)||–>||tagging (”folksonomy”)|
Now, the article goes on, but let’s stop at this first brainstorm. I didn’t bring my brain anorak and I don’t want to get brain drenched.
Aren’t there newly-evolved forms of some of the other famous “Web 1.0″ ideas? (more…)
June 26, 2006
Word came to me on ifMUD of la Pâte à Son, a fascinating tile-based contraption for music-making by LaCielEstBlue. If you’re interested in the aesthetics of elaborate machinery in the digital age, or just would like to play with a fun music-producing toy, check it out. There’s a longer write-up of the piece on Jay is Games.
June 22, 2006
Two quick notes - I’d like to review these more fully, but since I don’t want to let the URLs languish unposted forever:
Jimmy Maher, the current editor of SPAG (Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games) Newsletter, has book about interactive fiction online: Let’s Tell a Story Together: A History of Interactive Fiction. This looks to provide an easy introduction to IF, tracking through the form’s history and for the most part following the same trail that Twisty Little Passages did.
Voices of Spoon River is an interactive fiction based on Edgar Lee Masters’s classic - and yes, there is more to it besides a simulated graveyard with Masters’s tombstone texts! In its quest to instruct students, it also offers puzzles and a landscape to map and navigate.
June 21, 2006
For quite some time now I’ve been waiting for some astute game scholar somewhere to analyze Piers Anthony’s most excellent Apprentice Adept sci-fi/fantasy series from the early 1980’s, the first book being Split Infinity. From what I can tell via Google, in the context of game studies and game design, no one has yet written about The Game from the Apprentice Adept novels. Maybe I’m the first; perhaps there are few game scholars old enough to have read Anthony? :-0
I read these books as a 10 or 11-year old kid (as well as Xanth, etc.), and I still think about them once in a while, particularly The Game. Anthony offers what I think is a fascinating vision of the future of game competition, and game generation; I could imagine attempting to create a video game version of this.
First, some backstory: the Apprentice Adept series takes place in two worlds, the technology-based planet of Proton, and the parallel universe of Phaze, a land based on magic and fantasy. The series focuses on the character Stile, a Citizen of Proton who discovers Phaze and travels back and forth between the two worlds / realities, has adventures, etc.
Anyhow, on Proton, societal status is based on your ranking in The Game, sort of a cross between the Holodeck and a Gameboy. (more…)
June 19, 2006
We’ve neglected to point out that the second Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE) conference is about to happen, this week in LA. I don’t think any of us from GTxA will be there this year unfortunately, although I believe one or two of Michael’s grad students will have posters there. Here’s the list of presentations, which includes a talk by a Sims 2 developer, “The Power of Projection and Mass Hallucination: Practical AI in The Sims 2 and Beyond”, as well as “Emotions in Human-Agent Interactions” by Jonathan Gratch, a leading researcher at the Institute for Creative Technologies, USC.
Last week, also in LA, was Advances in Computing Entertainment (ACE), an pretty pricey conference with an interesting line-up of presentations, including Michael presenting an experimental Alternative Reality version of Façade, work with his colleague Blair MacIntyre and others. Maybe Michael can add a comment describing ACE a bit for us?
Also, a reminder that Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) will be taking place August 21-23 in LA. This one both Michael and I plan to attend, to give a talk on developing Façade, and demo at the Gathering of Animated Lifelike Agents (GALA). Hope to see you there.
But take a break from LA, in mid-July in Boston for an AAAI workshop on Computational Aesthetics: AI Approaches to Beauty and Happiness, which includes presentations on predicting happiness in smart home denizens, Fox Harrell on interactive poetry generation, a talk on suspense from Michael Young of NCSU’s Liquid Narrative research group, and lo! Nick Montfort on NLG and Narrative Variation in IF.
June 16, 2006
Chris Crawford’s at it again, stirring up trouble with more over-the-top invective for the game industry — and, of course, an offer of salvation, Storytronics. Actually, I saw him speak at the Northwest Games Festival a couple of weeks ago, and he did a good job proselytizing his mission, attempting to make converts among us in the audience. (This is getting a little too L. Ron Hubbard…) More on that when the festival gets written up by organizer Beth A. Dillon. Till then, read reactions from Design Synthesis, The Ludologist, Joystiq, Gamer Junk. And as a general palliative, check out this essay on fanaticism among game opinionators at Only a Game.
June 15, 2006
To those of you who speak Beghilos, the practice of constrained writing using a calculator may come as no surprise - and I do recall it being mentioned during the recent E-Fest 2006 at Brown. To some, though, this concept could seem odd. Calculators can be art objects, yes, but tools for digital writing?
The major project in this category seems to be Amos Latteier’s Calculator Haikus, exhibited in 2000. (Note his use of the 6 for the lowercase “g” as opposed to the 9 for the capital “G” seen in the photo here.) From these texts, it seems that the calculator is predisposed to describe things like sludge underfoot and accidentally discharged petroleum.
While some settle for being 1337, others will choose to be ELIGIBLE (upside down). Here’s a calculator word list and some puzzles if you want to join the Beghilos ranks and OOZE GLOSSES as a LOGOS BOSS.
One potentially interesting turn for blog narratives: there seems to be a trend towards television characters with their own blogs as a way for the networks to cross-market their offerings on the Web. While most of the TV character blogs I’ve run across are fairly lame in-character rehashings of plot events from the show, it is interesting to see the different approaches that production companies are taking to using character blogs in their crossmedia marketing efforts.
The uptight “dork” character from NBC’s The Office, Dwight K Schrute’s blog is infrequently updated, though his posts, such as his detailed report of his morning itinerary, including what he had for breakfast, the radio show he listened to, and a progress report on his beet farm and throwing star practice, are in character with the nature of his TV persona. The many commenters seem comfortable with addressing Dwight as if he was a real person. NBC seems to have just as as big a problem with blog spam as GTxA. In addition to his blog on the NBC site, Dwight set up a MySpace profile, which immediately blasts the viewer with his favorite tune, the Scorpions’ “Rock Me Like a Hurricane.”
June 14, 2006
Well, admittedly, this is the beardless GNOME developer that we spotted - not exactly what we’re looking for. But at least the GNOME foundation’s new Women’s Summer Outreach Program 2006 now provides a better incentive for women to get involved!
The famous-among-the-geeky Summer of Code, which is thought to be named so as to allude to this summer, would have been a bit off-kilter this year if you were to look at it from a GNOME perspective. The GNOME project (they’re the ones who provide the Linux desktop used on, for instance, Ubuntu) got 181 applications for Summer of Code project, none of them from women. While we know that free software projects aren’t generally gender-balanced, this seems like a letdown.
The code shoulder isn’t the only option this summer, though. The GNOME Foundation has now set aside $9000 to fund female students who want to participate in the project. Deadline: July 1. Here’s the application and additional info. The press release has been posted on LWN.net.
June 13, 2006
To “like it” there must be intensity leading to activation. There must be a curl at the cusp.
—JT, part 8
Jen Tynes and Erika Howsare of Horse Less Press continue their multi-part, collaborative, espitolary “traveling essay” Don’t you have a map? Each installment of the project (we’re now on eight of at least ten) is posted on a different blog, while I would guess provides an interesting entree to the project for the regular readers of its points of publication. It’s not quite alternate reality literature, but it seems a much more interesting idea than, say the more prosaic blog carnival. And the writing, I find, has a cuspy curl.
June 12, 2006
There’s a nice piece by Karen Collins in Soundscapes, discussing Commodore 64 game music: “Loops and bloops.” The article delves into the SID (Sound Interface Device) in some technical detail, but the thing I found most interesting was the discussion of the influence of another contemporary platform later in the C64’s retail life. The tendency of the Nintendo Entertainment System to have music during gameplay (as opposed to just during the introduction or upon completing a level) is seen to influence the way music was used on the C64. Ben Daglish and Martin Galway (famous C64 composers) are quoted in the piece, looping is discussed at length (as the article’s title suggests), and the freewheeling use of cover songs is described. Thanks to Jesper for mentioning this one.
Fans of such things should check out the blog C64 Music, which covers things like the 2006 tour of Welle:Erdball, a C64-based musical group. The photograph, via this blog, is of this group and was taken by sml!
June 11, 2006
Games for Change (G4C) has launched the early registration website for its 2006 conference on “Social Change and Digital Games.” The 3rd annual event will be co-hosted June 27th and 28th with the Parsons The New School for Design in New York City’s Greenwich Village.
June 10, 2006
Recently there’s been some high-profile, mainstream business press on games: a few weeks ago, Will Wright and Spore were featured on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, and a Second Life avatar made it to the cover of the May issue of Business Week.
The trend continues in the June 10 issue of The Economist, with a one-pager on game AI, repeatedly quoting Dr. Mateas of GTxA, and including two screenshots of our project Façade! Here’s a link to the article on their subscription-only site; here’s a scan I made of the article. [Update: the article is now properly online here.]
The article, on page 7 of their Technology Quarterly, page 60 of the magazine as a whole, takes on the subject from the angle of academia getting into research in game technology. (In fact, the article suggests I’m an academic too, describing me as a researcher at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, which I was as of a month ago, but only part-time — my main gig for quite a while now has been as a commercial developer with InteractiveStory.net / Procedural Arts. ICT had nothing to do with the making of Façade. Anyway.)
Our download traffic hasn’t increased at all since the issue came out, just as it didn’t when we got in the business section of Newsweek; but it’s good PR that should further help us with potential investors.
June 9, 2006
Baby Boomer Gamers!
You are invited to participate in a survey about the play preferences and patterns of video and computer game players of the “Baby Boom” generation…
June 8, 2006
Imagine the situation, somewhat reminescient of another one you may remember: The sun is brought. You have a rock. You win, because Rock Shades Sun.
You know what a serious game and sport RPS is, surely. But the relevance to those in new media and compter gaming, those who don’t happen to be interested in decision theory? If this isn’t a digital game, I don’t know what is.
June 7, 2006
The new deadline to send proposals for the first issue of the review is
- the end of August if you send your paper both in English and in French
- as soon as possible if you send it only in one language (French or English). The paper will not be published if we don’t have time to translate it.
La date limite pour la réception des articles est portée à
- fin Août si vous fournissez l’article en français et en anglais
- le plus tôt possible si vous le fournissez dans une seule langue (français ou anglais). L’article ne pourra être publié si nous n’avons pas le temps de le traduire. (more…)
June 6, 2006
QMail, by Andreas Lloyd, may not offer the lyrical turn of Richard Powers’ nicely presented “They Come in a Steady Stream Now,” but it does offer all the spam. It shares the simulated inbox medium with Scott’s Kind of Blue (Web interface) and Rob Wittig’s Blue Company (archived edition). I suppose it could be seen as an email narrative, although I’m not sure reading for plot is appropriate. The interface does have interesting angles and spaces, and the piece certainly scores points for toying with a corporate properties in an interesting way. There are also tasteful advertisements. And strange 404 pages.
June 5, 2006
“CC” is a poem by Nick Montfort, written for the Web in April and May 2006.
- The poem is written for Carmen Conde’s centenary in 2007.
- The poem contains 100 words, each of which are (more or less obscure) words in both English and Spanish.
- Moving the pointer over a word highlights that word and one other, so that the pair can be read as a phrase, aloud or in the mind.
- Conde’s book Jaguar puro inmarchito (Pure Unwithered Jaguar), and the fact that the word “jaguar” is a word in both English and Spanish, suggested that, in the interests of purity, the letters in that word should not occur anywhere in the poem.
June 4, 2006
When people play and try to figure out games, they work at learning to see and understand in new ways. When they seek help from others, asking people who have solved the game to supply hints, they give others the opportunity to teach, and to try to understand how to draw a solution out from a player who is puzzling over it.
Numerologists are hopping excited, and fearful. The number of the beast, and all that. So in the morning it will be 06:06:06:06:06. This long a series of single digits in a date and time won’t occur again until, um, July of next year, when 7 gets its lucky day.
June 2, 2006
- Microsoft is holding a chatterbot contest with $40K in prizes. Bots due Oct 15.
- E3 panel of game designers on interactive narrative
- Brandon Rickman critiques Glassner’s Interactive Storytelling
- Ernest Adams on “Perlin’s Law” (oh please)
- An ongoing series of game structure analyses at Only A Game (1 2 3 4) — identifying key player moves (aka verbs, or discourse acts) in several games
- Excerpts from Katherine Isbister’s Better Game Characters By Design
- Second a-Life
- Very cool recursive interactive images
- DARPA life recorders (previously blogged 3 years ago as “LifeLog“)
June 1, 2006
In Twisty Little Passages: An Approach to Interactive Fiction, I started to consider how a long-standing but neglected literary tradition, the riddle, offers a way to consider computer games and how people understand them, learn from them, and are able to see the world through them in new ways. In what follows, I’m going to suggest how the analogy between the riddle and interactive fiction can be extended to other sorts of games that involve figuring out. I’ll follow this post up with another in which I consider a bit more about how the riddle can help us understand interactions among computer gamers.
The Art and Space Science Fellowship at UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory has a call for proposals for Space Art projects. The successful applicant with have a three month residency at the laboratory, travel, food, accomodations, a small stipend, and the opportunity to work with scientists and NASA satellite missions both at Space Sciences Laboratory and at other partnering institutions nationally. Space Arts is a growing interstellar field. A database of ongoing projects is a available at spacearts.info. In reviewing the projects, I note that while many of them are innovative, we have yet to see the first space-based interactive fiction, and that this could pose an even greater challenge for Nick Montfort than getting a running version of Zork installed on the light board atop Philadelphia’s PECO tower.