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Why, precisely, does a species of silicon-based lifeforms have breasts?

Why does this species—a species composed of rock—have sexual dimorphism even more stark than mountain gorillas? What purpose does this serve? Come to think of it—why do the women have plant hair? It appears to be growing out of their skulls—so it must be parasitic. But this is a sentient species in a futuristic setting, meaning that if it were a non-beneficial parasite, they’d have removed them. So are Granok-plants an example of resource-resource mutualistic symbiosis? Wouldn’t the males then also cultivate plant-hair? Why is it gender-segregated?
Bryce Mainville is unimpressed by the character design in the new sci-fi MMO Wildstar. Bonus: Cassandra Khaw's difficulties with creating ugly female characters in Wildstar.
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 14, 2014 - 179 comments

The problem is too many games

Indie gaming started out as games written with passion for people who embraced and loved them. Now too much of it is about churning out giant mounds of decent but undifferentiated product to be bought for pennies by people who don't give a crap either way.

It's not sustainable.
Veteran indie game developer Jeff Vogel says the indie game bubble is popping.
posted by MartinWisse on May 25, 2014 - 86 comments

playful technologies can help students understand how history is created

Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology. The fourth book from the digitalculturebooks imprint of the University of Michigan Press, Pastplay includes a wide range of essays, all available online for free. T. Mills Kelly reflects on his historical methods course which resulted in a historical hoax, “the last American pirate,” declared one of the 10 biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s first ten years. Matthew Kirschenbaum discusses if board games work better than computer games for teaching history. The book's chapters cover successful combinations of play, technology, and history. Yet, many are wary, as a "playful approach to teaching and learning with technology can seem like the worst of all possible worlds: the coupling of strategies developed for entertainment with tools created for commerce." [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on May 4, 2014 - 17 comments

This is why we can't have nice things.

"Naturally, the record for the largest and most costly single engagement in EVE history was expected to stand for some time. It didn’t."
posted by Evilspork on Apr 8, 2014 - 48 comments

Noclip

"Noclip" is a fake trailer, for a movie that, for now, is not going to be made, about the incredible power of its characters to defy the physics of the world they live in, almost as if they were cheating a videogame.
posted by Lorc on Dec 18, 2013 - 30 comments

Prêt-à-Jouer and Videogame Couture

What happens when we stop thinking about videogames as cinema and instead think of them through other media, like fashion, dance, or architecture?
posted by rollick on Oct 8, 2013 - 23 comments

PuzzleScript

PuzzleScript: an open-source HTML5 puzzle game engine [GitHub]
posted by brundlefly on Oct 6, 2013 - 17 comments

My name is Atrus. I fear you've met my sons Sirrus and Achenar.

Fans and critics alike held their breath in anticipation of the tidal wave of exploratory, open-ended gaming that was supposed to follow, waiting to be drowned in a sea of new worlds. And then, nothing. The legacy of Myst, 20 years later [more inside]
posted by Frayed Knot on Sep 24, 2013 - 65 comments

when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die in infancy

Crusader Kings II is a computer game in which you play as any one of hundreds of feudal lords in Europe in the High to Late Middle Ages. Hoping for your family to become just that little bit more powerful, you scheme against your liege, your vassals, and occasionally even your enemies. Meanwhile, at least half of the game's cast of thousands schemes against you. The game's potential for Shakespearean intrigue has made it ripe for post-game write-ups called after-action reports. With the recent release of The Old Gods, an expansion allowing for play as a pagan ruler, PC Gamer published its own series of after-action reports: Lords of the North. The game's thematic similarities to A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones have not gone unnoticed, either. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Aug 31, 2013 - 244 comments

Aquaria by Bit Blot (PC/Mac/Linux/Android, 2007-2011).

"The Verse flows throughout Aquaria, through each ripple and wave, through every living being. The Verse binds us, narrator and explorer: my story will become your own, and yours will become mine. You will live my life through my eyes, and you will learn the truth… In time, I would discover far more than I'd wish to learn." [more inside]
posted by Nomyte on Jun 22, 2013 - 7 comments

The Games History E-zine

Memory Insufficient is a free webzine edited by Zoya Street dedicated to articles about computer games and history. The first issue is called Women's Histories in Games [pdf], with a feature on female pirates. Asian Histories in Games [pdf] is the second issue, the feature being about ken, the Japanese game known as rock, paper, scissors in English. The upcoming issue will be devoted histories of gender and sexual diversity in games. [via Flash of Steel]
posted by Kattullus on Jun 5, 2013 - 2 comments

Open Source Game Clones

Open-source reimplementations of great old games in one place. Previously.
posted by Foci for Analysis on May 30, 2013 - 15 comments

Faster Than Light

Davis and Ma wrote up a long list of one-paragraph game pitches to prototype. They would be small, manageable games that two people could complete on their own. The game they chose to go with would have to be finished within a year, because that was all they had budgeted for. Among the pitches inspired by board games, roguelikes and all the genres that excited them was a 2D, top-down management game called FTL. The Opposite of Fail - The making of FTL (Previously)
posted by Artw on Mar 17, 2013 - 19 comments

New from VIDEO Magazine, it's Electronic Games!

NEW from VIDEO Magazine, arising out of its popular "Arcade Alley" column, it's ELECTRONIC GAMES Magazine!(page of PDF links) Brought to you by editors Frank Laney Jr. and Bill Kunkel, and filled with all the latest news on programmable home console games, computer games (with special coverage for the new ATARI 800 system), stand-alone electronic devices and arcade gaming. [more inside]
posted by JHarris on Feb 7, 2013 - 37 comments

D I C K H A N D

"For the past few years, I have been trying to learn how to do all the various creative and technical things that go into making a video game - programming, graphics, interface, writing, gameplay design - in addition to music and sound, which I do for a living. The 2013 Global Game Jam was this past weekend, and over two sleep-deprived days I completed my first solo project: A game for OS X and Windows where you punch spaceships with your dick. (Probably safe for work, unless your boss considers it inappropriate to see a pink laser beam with a boxing glove on the tip which shoots out of a giant robot's groin.)"[via mefi projects]
posted by ocherdraco on Jan 28, 2013 - 13 comments

Mastaba Snoopy

An Unknown Alien Being acquires a child's forgotten book and mistakenly believes that it depicts proper protocol for interaction with the human world.
The book is a collection of Peanuts comics.
Woodsnoopy 45 stares into your open heart. Her yellow head squirms and pukes up feathers.
It makes you uncomfortable when she looks at you. She makes a demand.
Her demands come often and always create uncomfortably simultaneous feelings of resentment and obedience.
ACQUIRE NICKELS
That is the territory of the Lucy faction. They are the ones who gather nickels. Woodsnoopy 45 is overstepping her boundaries.
Being a mere Woodsnoopy 799, however, you can do naught but obey."
MASTABA SNOOPY
posted by JHarris on Jan 6, 2013 - 31 comments

Who spilled Hot Coffee?

Both characters remained fully clothed and there were no genital shots. But this was still the most explicit sexual content Wildenborg had seen in a video game. “It was at this point I decided to release the patch to the public,” he says. “I tossed the name 'Hot Coffee' on the file, based on the fact that the girlfriends would ask CJ in for some 'coffee' as a euphemism for sex. Hot Coffee was the first modification for San Andreas.” - The history of Grand Theft Auto's infamous "Hot Coffee" mod.
posted by Artw on Dec 9, 2012 - 37 comments

Beyond the Vault

Gaming made me - RPS writer Patricia Hernandez on how Fallout 2 shaped her world view, her politics and her sexuality.
posted by Artw on Nov 23, 2012 - 88 comments

A Slower Speed of Light

A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype, built by the MIT Game Lab, that emulates the visual effects of special relativity.
posted by brundlefly on Nov 2, 2012 - 32 comments

"Some remarkable Books, Antiquities, Pictures and Rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living."

Musæum Clausum is a catalog of invented books, pictures and antiquities written by 17th Century Englishman Sir Thomas Browne. It is a fantastical and witty meditation on the ravages of time on literature and other works of man. The Musæum Clausum is perhaps the finest example of the invented, or invisible, library, a genre which seems to have originated with Rabelais. The genre has been of special interest to Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog (older posts), where he has written about the invisible libraries of writers such as Charles Dickens, Neil Gaiman, H. P. Lovecraft and invisible libraries in video games. The natural medium for invisible libraries might be pictures, and Musæum Clausum inspired a suite of etchings by Erik Desmazieres.
posted by Kattullus on Oct 31, 2012 - 30 comments

Shadow of the Bust

Sony is closing its Liverpool Studio, previously known as Psygnosis, developer of the WipeEout and Lemmings games (DHTML version, previously). The studio created games for 28 years, first gaining attention in the Amiga era for it's high production values and stunning box art (more, more ).
posted by Artw on Aug 22, 2012 - 55 comments

The Atlantic Profiles Game Artiste Jon Blow

The Most Dangerous Gamer The Atlantic profiles game developer Jon Blow, most famous for creating the acclaimed and philosophical Braid, now working on "puzzle-exploration" game The Witness. Blow aims to make The Witness a groundbreaking piece of interactive art—a sort of Citizen Kane of video games...“Things are pared down to the basic acts of movement and observation until those senses become refined,” he told me. “The further you go into the game, the more it’s not even about the thinking mind anymore—it becomes about the intuitive mind.” (previously, previously)
posted by shivohum on Apr 11, 2012 - 74 comments

"I heard human blood boils in space..."

Humanity’s long war with the nefarious space-cat Kilrathi has been revived in the fan made Wing Commander Saga : The Darkest Dawn! [more inside]
posted by stratastar on Mar 23, 2012 - 35 comments

How I Helped Destroy Star Wars Galaxies

I remember with crystal clarity when I realized I was making more money from this enterprise than I was at my full-time job. I quickly decided to expand and hired four guys in Singapore to play 24/7. I paid them unreasonably well for the time, almost 3x as much as they would for other re-sellers; this bought me loyalty, and in this enterprise, loyalty is everything."
How I Helped Destroy Star Wars Galaxies [more inside]
posted by Foci for Analysis on Mar 7, 2012 - 165 comments

Posible names: "Junction Box", "Dry Riser Inlet", "Jar'o'Nails"

Are Valve working on 'Steam Box' gaming console?
posted by Artw on Mar 3, 2012 - 55 comments

MMO Extinction Level Event

"The subscription model is dead." says John Smedley, head of Sony Online Entertainment, and creator of EverQuest. Are people willing to pay $15 per month to play a computer game that isn't endorsed by Mr. T? Bioware is betting a rumored $135 million, the most ever spent on a video game, that the answer is yes. Star Wars: The Old Republic launches on December 20th. [more inside]
posted by tastyhat on Dec 15, 2011 - 104 comments

Dwarfs and orange condoms

This year the Games Media Awards in the UK were sponsored by a little know chain of shops from the North East, Grainger Games, looking to increase their profile... well following the last night's events they are pretty well-known now. Cue a next-day banning and apologies from Grainger and the organisers
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Oct 27, 2011 - 37 comments

"as far as I'm concerned, Montezuma has always been a prick"

National Characters is a long, multi-part essay about how computer games deal with the concept of nations and turns it into a game mechanic. The author, Troy Goodfellow of strategy gaming blog Flash of Steel, focuses on how the fourteen indistinguishable national factions of the original Sid Meier's Civilization have been treated by different games through the years. [more inside]
posted by Kattullus on Aug 15, 2011 - 50 comments

Recent research related to children

Recent research on children. (1) Brothers and sisters who argue a lot can improve their language, social skills and outcomes: Guardian article; paper on part of the research (pdf). (2) First findings from Understanding Society. Conclusions include: the unhappiness of children’s mothers with their partners affect children’s happiness, but this is not the case if children’s fathers are unhappy in their relationships; having older brothers or sisters doesn’t appear to affect children’s happiness, but having younger brothers or sisters is associated with less happiness; not living with both natural parents has a greater negative impact on a young person’s life satisfaction than their material situation. (3) A longitudinal study on people now in their forties has found that for these people reading is linked to career success, though not necessarily to better pay, whilst playing computer games and doing no other activities was associated with less likelihood of going to university. In particular, those who owned a ZX Spectrum or Commodore C64 were less likely to go to university. thinq interview with researcher. Guardian article. Telegraph article. (4) Poll about children’s attitudes to losing in sport. Press release. Data from children’s survey. Data from parents’ survey. (All three are PDFs.)
posted by paduasoy on Apr 9, 2011 - 30 comments

In which I re-fight WW2 and lose

Computer game, "Hearts of Iron III", lets you replay history from 1936 to the Cold War. Apparently, WW2 was more complicated than the movies suggest. Via The browser
posted by Philosopher's Beard on Jan 26, 2011 - 43 comments

Fording the River

The Origins of Oregon Trail
posted by JustKeepSwimming on Jan 19, 2011 - 57 comments

It's Chinatown

Videogames reach the uncanny valley with the facial animations (yt video) in Rockstar's L.A. Noir, their 1940s Los Angeles set detective game.
posted by Artw on Dec 18, 2010 - 77 comments

Words of Warcraft

This week the BBC broadcast a Panorama special (UK only link, YouTube links here and here) on what it presented as the alarming rise of game addiction. Thoughtful responses from Rock, Paper, Shotgun and EDGE, both of whom point out a number of problems with it.
posted by Artw on Dec 8, 2010 - 20 comments

The thrill of a good fake explosion

Why the Supreme Court should rule that violent video games are free speech
posted by Artw on Nov 1, 2010 - 193 comments

Not the bees!

People make maps in Team Fortress 2 specifically for grinding achievements. Bleak, joyless rooms of endlessly spawning bots and resupply crates, where people don’t play the game, they game it. But in one of these, achievement_all_v4, the author’s added a surprise. A violent, horrific, hilarious surprise of biblical proportions.
posted by Artw on Jun 24, 2010 - 79 comments

Oral History of Gaming

On a snowy Valentine's Day weekend in Michigan Sid Meier creates a game in 48 hours called Escape from Zombie Hotel! He's there to judge a 48 hour game design contest at his alma mater, University of Michigan but decides to also work on a game alongside the student teams. He also talks about his career, focusing on his early days. This is the third installment of motherboard.tv's Oral History of Gaming series. The first profiles Ralph Baer, the inventor of the first home gaming console, and the second is about Eric Zimmerman, designer of Sissyfight. Sadly, the awesome-looking Escape from Zombie Hotel has note been released, but the oher games designed during the contest are available here. [via Rock Paper Shotgun]
posted by Kattullus on Apr 20, 2010 - 19 comments

Rescue the princess

Dan The Man... if computer games were more like real life. (SLYT)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Apr 18, 2010 - 113 comments

Targa Florio for GPL

After years of meticulous research of historic documents, mapping, modeling, texturing, and trying to convince a video game released in 1998 to do something it was never intended to be capable of, the 72 kilometer, 567-turn Piccolo circuito delle Madonie was released as a community add-on track for Grand Prix Legends last September. The track was home of the Targa Florio from 1932 to 1936 and 1951 to 1977, and is made up of curving, winding mountain roads in the Sicilian countryside, and is beautifully recreated in the game. Best of all, it's absolutely free.
posted by clorox on Mar 12, 2010 - 21 comments

When Gravity Fails

Editor Marty Halpern looks back at the career of George Alec Effinger (part 1, part 2, part 3), a prolific author best known for his work set in the Budayeen, a walled city in a future Islamic state, teeming with gangsters, hustlers and transsexual prostitutes, many of them habitual users of plug in personality modules. The noirish tone and exotic technology of the Marîd Audran books (When Gravity Fails, A Fire In The Sun, The Exile Kiss) made Effinger one of the leading lights in the cyberpunk movie, and spawned a videogame - a rare attempt at a graphical adventure from Infocom - and an RPG setting. Sadly Effinger faded from prominence after that, and he suffered from a number of health and financial setbacks before passing away in 2002. His work has had somewhat of a resurgence in popularity of late, with the Marîd Audran books coming back into print in 2007, a long with a collection containing The Wolves of Memory, Effinger's personal favourite amongst his novels.
posted by Artw on Jun 9, 2009 - 32 comments

Hey little sister what have you done

There's something in the sea... and it has a big drill for an arm.
posted by Artw on Apr 20, 2009 - 74 comments

A New Balance of Power

Chris Crawford (previously) has released the beta version of his Storytron engine. The first demo? Balance of Power: 21st Century. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Mar 31, 2009 - 30 comments

Weapons of Mass UNDO

"Since I attacked my opponent in the past and the time waves have not yet propagated the results of this battle to the present, my units are still here in the present" Got that? Meta-Time Strategy Gaming [more inside]
posted by doobiedoo on Mar 28, 2009 - 55 comments

Now maybe people will stop stealing the Doom door sound

SFXR by Tomas Pettersson - Ever needed a skilled Foley artist and an audio lab for making sound effects? No, probably not, but even the most amateur game designer needs sound effects for his game. Now, thanks to Tomas Pettersson the long tradition of stealing sound effects from other games is finally over. It doesn't do much more than little 8-bit bleeps and bloops, but it sure feels nice to have original, royalty-free sound effects for your game, or just for fun. [previously]
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia on Jan 10, 2009 - 15 comments

The System loves you for your money, not your soul.

In this way, Lu Yang became one of the "RMB gamers" she disdains. More than 10,000 RMB was quickly and nearly imperceptibly spent. In the game, the "queen" possessed fearsome power. She carried out vengeance for herself and her friends, she accepted entreaties, and she protected the caravans of the kingdom. At the same time, she went out with the heroes to invade other kingdoms. Her reputation spread far and wide. [...] "Long live the Queen!" People bowed to her in submission. That was the high point for Lu Yang on ZT Online, and for that one fleeting moment, she felt that the time and money she had spent was worth it.
The System is a translated Chinese article examining ZT Online, an MMORPG that has taken fleecing gamers to a new level.
posted by Kattullus on May 6, 2008 - 34 comments

Unintentionally Funny Voice Acting

Unintentionally funny voice acting in old school computer games.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Apr 19, 2008 - 39 comments

Harpooned: Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator

Harpooned: Japanese Cetacean Research Simulator [more inside]
posted by nthdegx on Jan 22, 2008 - 31 comments

"Report a la bug. (That's French for bug report)." Halo 3 Linkorama.

Halo 3: Easter eggs, including the excellent Red Vs Blue in-game dialog easter egg; the RvB Halo 3 beta initiation; 3D images and how-to (dig out your glasses); achievements, ranks, armor, skulls, and campaign scoring explained; Bungie's favorites (videos, pics, maps, game variants to download to your 360)... and that grenade stick.
posted by nthdegx on Nov 28, 2007 - 22 comments

Freeware Friday

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw (previously), he of "Chzo mythos" and "Zero Punctuation" fame, has released a new game: The Art of Theft, a heist adventure in grand retro style.
posted by Iridic on Nov 23, 2007 - 17 comments

The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world.

"Blah blah blah, Mr. Freeman." Half-Life in 60 seconds. Or in 25 years. Or with sightings. (Spoilers all.)
posted by Soup on Nov 4, 2007 - 38 comments

Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream

"Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream is an OverClocked ReMix Album featuring free fan arrangements from the soundtrack to Square's legendary Final Fantasy VII for the Sony Playstation."
posted by nthdegx on Sep 15, 2007 - 18 comments

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