What happens when your journalism classes do a four year investigation into who Deep Throat was, publish their results on the Web, garner huge amounts of press coverage, and then turn out to be wrong?
May 31, 2005
May 30, 2005
Two more game conferences are happening soon. First, for those who don’t have the time to travel, there’s On Demand Games: The First Webcast Conference, with notable game industry folk including Raph Koster discussing online gaming. The conference is is on June 1st, 2005, from 9:30 am - 12:30 pm EST. Registration is free, but there’s limited space, so sign up today.
Second, there’s the Games, Learning and Society Inaugural Conference to be held June 23 and 24 in Madison, Wisconsin. “The GLS Conference will foster substantive discussion and collaboration among academics, designers, and educators interested in how videogames – commercial games and others – can enhance learning, culture, and education.”
We’re back from Provflux, the Providence arts festival where Scott and I read Implementation at The Steel Yard, posted the novel throughout the city, and offered stickers at the CUBE2 Gallery, where photos of sticker placements were on display.
If you’re on the North American west coast this summer, consider attending one of these shindigs, where we’ll be giving Façade talks and demos. We’ll be posting these papers online, as well as publicly releasing Façade itself, soon.
* Artificial Intelligence and Digital Entertainment, June 1-3, Marina del Rey, Los Angeles. Our talk and demo: “Structuring Content in the Façade Interactive Drama Architecture”.
* Digital Games Research Conference — Changing Views: Worlds in Play, June 16-19, Vancouver, BC. Our talk: “Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space”.
* Chris Crawford’s Phrontisterion, June 25-26, Jacksonville, Oregon. We’ll be demoing, discussing, debating and camping.
* SIGGRAPH, July 31 - August 4, Los Angeles. I’ll be on an EA heavy panel, Believable Characters: Are AI-Driven Characters Possible, and Where Will They Take Us?
The abstracts follow: (more…)
May 28, 2005
Scott, Hanna, and I are at Provflux. More later, but for now, a quick report: At the RISD Museum, in the Annual Graduate Student Exhibition, we found an electronic literature piece right there in the wild. Joseph Hecking’s Mimetics Simulation No. 1, done in the medium of “interactive computer graphics,” according to the placard, presented on overhead, game-like view of small figures running about bearing symbols - crosses, staffs, dollar signs, and so on. When one of them is touched via the touch-screen interface, texts appear, for instance:
drink a uniter to have cause on walt disney
at all medical institutions with a divider
So, maybe the couplets didn’t exactly startle me out of my self and make strange the ordinary in a terrifying way, but hey, a random encounter with a text machine.
May 27, 2005
Several new offerings in New York City for those interested in studying and making games.
Parsons also has a new game track in their Design and Technology MFA program!
May 26, 2005
Even after much prompting, Scott won’t announce it, but his new personal site has been online for a while now at retts.net. His site is a good place to track Scott’s new media teaching, see what his classes are up to, and learn about other things that Scott deems too embarrassing to publish on Grand Text Auto.
The Hypertext ‘05 full paper deadline has passed, but you can still submit short papers and demo proposals (due June 9) and poster proposals (due June 19). The conference will be September 6-9 in Salzburg.
May 25, 2005
Jason Scott has just shipped his epic BBS (Bulletin Board System) documentary, a set of three DVDs which has video from more than 200 interviews with BBS pioneers, “new school” latecomers to the scene, sysops, users, and others involved in the huge, headless social computing project of the BBS during the 1970s and 1980s.
On Tuesday, I saw on Slashdot that the documentary was shipping. And I got my copy today. Hanna and I just watched the first episode. Without having seeing the whole production, it’s still clear to me that anyone interested in the material and social history of computing should watch this documentary, and it would be useful to show parts of it to classes that deal with the topic.
A quick surprise: the number one downloaded audio book on a favorite p2p. network right now is The Bible- Old Testament- Complete. Just thought I’d share. It appears to be hedging out Tom Clancy, Anne Rice, Tolkien, and Harry Potter.
May 24, 2005
Janet Murray asked for the answers I would have given to the questions I posed to Warren Spector, Neil Young and Tim Schafer at the recent GDC panel, Why Isn’t the Game Industry Making Interactive Stories? I found it useful for myself to write these out, to clarify my own thinking, and to hopefully get feedback from anyone interested.
I’ll try to be succinct and specific. These answers are informed by my experience over the past 13 years developing interactive characters and stories and closely following the industry and academic R&D in the field, helping me identify what I believe is important and what’s not. (Also I’m guessing these would be answers similar to what Michael would have said had he been given more time to participate in the actual panel discussion.) For some background on the panel, you may first want to read what the panelists said: 1 2 3.
Question 1: What do you consider the most important qualities and pleasures we *don’t* yet find in today’s interactive entertainment? And why are they needed?
Boiling it down, I see three major areas sorely deficient in today’s games, that if given substantial attention from game developers, e.g. 3+ focused years of R&D, I believe would lead to some true progress toward creating authentically interactive, much more satisfying characters and stories.
May 23, 2005
Lisa Nakamura is giving the talk Subjects & Objects of Interactivity: Racial Formation and Media Convergence at UC Riverside’s Global Interface Mellon Workshop, this Wednesday (May 25) at 5pm. She’ll discuss the interface-like logic of Jennifer Lopez’s 2000 video “If You Had My Love.”
The Electronic Literature Organization’s new site is now in place.
A very visible feature of the site is a showcase that features exemplary electronic literature. The five most recent items appear at the top of the main page, and everything featured to date is accessible via the “Showcased E-Lit” link just below the search field. The showcase is an excellent descriptive complement to the extant Electronic Literature Directory, a large index of information about e-lit. An RSS feed of the showcase is available so that readers can automatically keep bookmarks to the current entry or syndicate the showcase on their own pages. (more…)
May 20, 2005
Winners of Turbulence’s Comp_05
New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc. announced the winners of its Turbulence Comp_05 Juried International Net Art Competition. Five works were selected.
One work is from a French Team consisting of Markia Dermineur and Khalil Bennis (with others) (Markia worked with Stephane Degoutin on Googlehouse) . A second work is from Troy Innocent and Ollie Olson with the Shaolin Wooden men and Harry Lee (Australia). A third work is an Urban interention work from Brazil featuring several artists (Ruiz, Freire, Delacroix, Djahdjah, Carlos, Murmur, and the Wells). The fourth project is “Gothamberg” by Marek Walczak, with Wattenberg, Selbo, Paul, Lehrer, Kindvall, and Crow) from the US– a project which appears to extend Walczak’s Apartment project to larger realms. I’m very excited that a project I’m developing with collaborator Daniel Howe is among this great company, for it succeeded in the competition as the fifth work. This project is called [meme.garden] and is an affective search engine tool-artwork.
Let the production begin!
May 19, 2005
We need more stories in our lives, yet we don’t have much time for them. Most digital cameras and webcams allow you to take one minute of video and audio at resolutions suitable for the web. The solution: 60 second stories, of course.
We are pleased to announce the 60 second story competition. 60 second stories are works of fiction recorded by their authors as digital videos, less than one minute in duration. Files size must be less than 5MB, and work must be submitted under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. Entries are being accepted from now until June 8th, 2005.
There will one grand-prize winner, who will recieve a one-minute supply of exotic chocolate, a one inch by one inch book of the winning work published by Spineless Books, and other one-minute pleasures. The winner and fourteen runners-up will be published in the “Fifteen Minutes of Fame,” a permanent web shrine to the 60 second story form. The judges of the competition include internet writers William Gillespie, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg, Dirk Stratton, Jill Walker and Rob Wittig.
In November I went to Germany for “Netzliteratur – Umbrüche in der literarischen Kommunikation,” a fascinating gathering at the University of Siegen. Now the presentations are online as a special issue of Dichtung Digital.
In the writeup of my presentation — Playable Media and Textual Instruments — I try to develop further some of the ideas mentioned in GTxA posts on saying “this is not a game” and the logics along which play proceeds.
Also online are the presentations from Marie-Laure Ryan, Markku Eskelinen, Frank Furtwängler, Mela Kocher, Roberto Simanowski, Philippe Bootz, Jean-Pierre Balpe, Loss Pequeno Glazier, Laura Borras Castanyer, Susanne Berkenheger, and Peter Gendolla and Jörgen Schäfer.
May 18, 2005
Black, Maurice J. 2002 “The Art of Code.” PhD Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania. [Department of English.]
As the abstract says:
Arguing that software’s increasing abstraction from hardware has defined computer programming practices for the last half-century, this dissertation shows how that abstraction has shaped the aesthetics, politics, and professional culture of programming. Specifically, the dissertation examines how some programmers have adopted a literary approach to coding, describing carefully crafted code as “beautiful,” “elegant,” “expressive,” and “poetic”; writing and reading programs as literary texts; and even producing hybrid artifacts that are at once poems and programs. This project has two central goals: first, to show how identifiably linguistic sensibilities have influenced programming theory and culture; second, to show how programming theory, as a body of knowledge that thinks deeply about the semantics and organization of textual structures, can contribute to the project of literary study. >
I’ve just posted my extensive notes from reading this intriguing dissertation.
May 17, 2005
It’s reminiscent to me of Simon Penny’s charming and nimble Petit Mal.
(Okay maybe this illustration to the left is a bit of a dramatization, but I was inspired by the story.)
(via collision detection)
When I write cute little bios describing what I do as a writer, I usually mention that I collaborate, because, after all, I do. So I was a bit interested to see that the Spring 2005 Authors’s Guild Bulletin has a writeup of a symposium the Guild held. The piece is entitled “Strange Bedfellows: The Rewards and Pitfalls of Collaboration.”
When I finally started reading the piece, I saw that “collaboration” was being used in a different sense. The collaborators this article had written books with Paul Volcker, Jerry Springer, Thomas J. Watson of IBM, and General Norman Schwarzkopf. It turns out that in the writing business, “collaboration” refers to doing what might be called credited ghostwriting for celebrities. That’s nice and lucrative, but it isn’t really related to what I do, as famous as people like Scott and William Gillespie may imagine themselves to be.
Speaking of William and collaboration, I found a more relevant article, his “The Oulipo: Constraints and Collaboration.” I certainly find that well-defined schemes work well to allow equal contributions and participation from collaborators. Maybe Jerry Springer would like to write a book with me consisting entirely of four-letter words?
May 16, 2005
Game development execs are smarter than you might think — they understand what’s important. From a new NYTimes article on the upcoming generation of game consoles:
Relying solely on wide-screen, high-definition images to sell a title creates “empty visual calories,” said Glenn Entis, a vice president and the chief visual officer for Electronic Arts. “We’re looking for an emotional impact.” The company wants to create characters “that feel like there’s a mind” inside, he said.
You might ask, what’s their plan to accomplish this?
Electronic Arts will develop facial effects that mimic reality, such as darting, watery eyes, characters that react more fluidly to situations and hair that flows naturally. “Hair is such a communicator of style,” Mr. Entis said. “In the past it was laughable. It looked like a helmet.”
This non-laughable hair will increase budgets upward of $15 million. To compensate, players will be charged higher prices for games, probably at least $59 per game, up from $50.
Can indie games have big hair too? Not a chance.
The high cost of game development means that only the largest companies can afford to be in the business. While low-budget movies can occasionally become hits, “it is now impossible to ‘Blair Witch’ this business,” said Jeff Brown, vice president for corporate communications at Electronic Arts, referring to the successful independent film.
May 15, 2005
I heard about GTxA commenter Raph Koster’s “The Laws of Online World Design” recently on ifMUD. It’s a provocative and thoughtful list of principles, some of which were evident back in the days of Habitat. While the page itself is not new - an Internet Archive search shows the page has been around at that location since 2000 - and there are no arguments offered for why these laws obtain, the page is still well worth reading, and has several thoughts that apply to one-player games as well.
Having used the Internet Archive to check the date this page was first posted, I also fetched the May 11, 2000 version of the page (the earliest one) and then ran diff on this old page and the current HTML. Which leads me to wonder… (more…)
Fredrik Ramsberg just started a Game of the Week page to foster good ol’ USENET discussion on rec.games.int.fiction (also accessible via Google Groups). Discussion of Jacqueline Lott’s The Fire Tower is already underway…
New on Turbulence is “Why Rock?” The piece offers sound works by net artists with “real or supposed rock affinities.” Talan Memmott (real rock affinity) is one. And then - I never thought of Richard Stallman as a rocker (mp3), or, actually, as a net artist, but hey.
The project includes texts by Frédéric Madre and tutor to the Talking Heads Alan Sondheim, whose sound work Zing (wav) and whose oddly compelling video Ennui (mp4) is linked. Sondheim’s text ends with “fuck this didn’t go anywhere it’s not sounded out // (too _male_”. Alan, you’ve got a decent list of rockers who you know but let me tell you Charles Bernstein actually read on stage with Sonic Youth. You are cool and all and your video is pretty seriously frenetic but man.
“Why Rock?” is by Annie Abrahams and Clément Charmet.
May 14, 2005
Horse Less Review #2: Put Out Lights has just been put out. In it you will find fiction, poetry, and perhaps other things by Tyler Carter, Thomas Cook, Phil Cordelli, Maria Filippone, Sandy Florian, Michael Geier, Garth Graeper, Matthew Henriksen, Sean Hoade, Mark Kanak, Kirk Keen, Conan Kelly, Andrew Lux, Andrew Lynes, Clay Matthews, Carolina Maugeri, Jim Maughn, Jerry McGuire, Corey Mesler, Nick Montfort, Bryce Newhart, Scott Pierce, Marc Pietrzykowski, Nate Pritts, Maggie Queeney, Marthe Reed, Kate Schapira, Brandon Shimoda, Brian Kim Stefans, Hugh Steinberg, and Bronwen Tate.
The work published in the new Horse Less includes three new Flash pieces by Brian Kim Stefans which present famous texts one letter at a time, poems that contain the words “they?ve” and “we�d” (an effect I rather like, whether or not it was intended), and my poem “Tichborne’s Lexicon,” which is not new media, but is the outcome of a computational procedure applied to a text.
Unhorse me now.
May 13, 2005
Hermeneia, a research group focusing on literary studies and digital technology at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), has teamed up with the Vinaròs Town Council to create a new award for digital literature: the “Ciutat de Vinaròs” Digital Literature prize. Submissions can be in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Catalan, and two 2,500 euro awards will be given in the categories of “Narrative” and “Poetry.” The deadline is 8th September 2005, and only unpublished works are eligible. Official details follow. (more…)