At GDC this year, Heather Chaplin to game developers: "You're a bunch of f***ing adolescents." Chaplin, co-author of the book Smartbomb, spoke at the Game Developers Conference during a panel called the Rant Session. [more inside]
Monopoly killer - how The Settlers of Catan redefined board games.
"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]
A Life Well Wasted is a new podcast about video games and the people who love them, created by freelance writer Robert Ashley. [more inside]
Want to play a swashbuckling pirate, space opera hero, or monster-fighting Victorian dandy? How about a supervillain fighting against alien invaders? Or a mutant snack cake? Welcome to Savage Worlds. [more inside]
Cinemaware produced games with one goal: a "strong commitment to movie-like quality." A laudable goal, and their tools were measured in bytes rather than megabytes. They made these games in the 80s. This one intro used an entire 880KB floppy disk! A number of Cinemaware's games are available for download as ROMs, and there's even a flash version of Defender of the Crown. Some of the original artists behind the games are still creating art and music. [more inside]
Street Fighter II. It basically created the 2d-beat-em-up, and invented the combo, the special move, a wide roster of diverse, playable characters who people grew to love, and all the other things that gamers have taken for granted for years. It spawned a whole series, none of which ever quite captured the original's charm or had the same influence. This was a game that people obsessed over - bands were named after its special moves, rappers cited it in their lyrics, and even Premier League footballers weren't immune to its charms. Poor Raul Julia's final film was this masterpiece, and a new version's headed straight to DVD very soon. Now, 17 years later, Street Fighter 4 is about to be released in Europe and the nostalgia machine is going into overdrive. The game's producer's been talking about its links to Street Fighter II, reviewers are getting misty-eyed , and even musicians are getting in on the act with Akira the Don making his very own Street Fighter-themed track. Apparently it's pretty good. Hadouken!
The Socially Conscious Gamer is just the most recent example of growing discussions about how gamer culture and problems with silencing and pushing women out, wallowing in racist stereotypes, self-fulfilling cycles of exclusion, and why these conversations are hard, if not impossible to have. Still, if rational discussions can be had about games dealing with slavery, perhaps there is still hope. Personally, I can't wait for escapism to be for all of us, and not about escaping FROM us.
Trump Entertainment is about to run out of the third extension of its debt payments. Station Casinos is offering its investors as little as 10 cents on the dollar in a pre-packaged bankruptcy. Wynn Resorts is cutting staff hours and bonuses to avoid layoffs. MGM Mirage may see a default rate of 30% on its City Center condominiums. Harrah's long-term debt has doubled. There are no more traffic jams on the Strip. Oh... and the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City had to settle a $70 million sexual harassment lawsuit brought by its beverage servers. In short: times are tough.
"For the first time in history a wireless motion-sensing wig is used as game controller." SLYT via Kotaku
Interview with Jon Schindehette, senior art director at Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons and Dragons. See more fantasy art at his blog, ArtOrder.
Despite the oft-declared death of the Adventure Game, Nintendo's success has raised the genre's mainstream profile and quality to a level unseen since the 90s. The DS in particular has been an ideal platform for AGs, leading to the release of a number of popular Japanese titles in the American market. Professor Layton and the Curious Village is only the most recent to receive praise from western game rags - but it is the most consistently well-reviewed - making many short-lists of the best DS games of 2008. Featuring beautiful illustration, engrossing puzzles, and a charming story, Professor Layton topped Japanese software charts on its release (as did its sequel, Professor Layton and the Devil's Box, still unreleased in the US), though all indications are that its American sales have been underwhelming. [more inside]
Most video games are easy to learn, but hard to master. For those focused on single player, there are always speed runs. However, multiplayer competition can often be much more interesting to perfect. Of course, there are those who make gaming a career with games like Halo and other FPSes. There's Street Fighter II (as well as other editions and variations), which can lead to some incredible matches. There are some very intense StarCraft tournaments, as well as similar tournaments for a variety of other RTSes. Often, games can last so long beyond their shelf lives simply because of the fan base and multiplayer aspect.
Friday Flash Fun: Evacuation is a puzzle game about explosive decompression. Save the crew! Eject the aliens into space by opening the spaceship's doors! The catch: doors of the same color all open together. [more inside]
So you've spent the holidays playing games, but now you have to be back at work. How to get your gaming fix during commutes and lunch-hours, whilst keeping up with that resolution to Learn Something New this year? Well, you could make a Sack-Boy. You can keep your portable games device warm with a Zelda cosy. You can knit up a Pacman scarf or a Space Invaders bag or socks if you're feeling retro. Or you can make a pocket ninja, an invincibility star to get you through the afternoon, a maqgnetic Katamari ball to spring-clean that desk, or a friendly companion cube. (and if you're too cack-handed to knit, you can sew a friendly cube with the pattern here and tutorial here!)
In 1986, most gamers who were lucky enough to own a new video game system at home were playing the original Nintendo. It's launch in 1985, a year before the Sega Master System was launched in the states, allowed it plenty of time become the most popular console in the market, and the game Super Mario Bros. quickly became the best-selling video game of all time (a title it continues to hold, having sold over 40 million copies to date). However, even though Nintendo commanded 95% of the North American video game market at the time and the CEO of Sega made little effort to promote and market it, some people still bought and gave the Sega Master System a chance. Perhaps it was the 3-D glasses or it's unique ability to read multiple media inputs... or perhaps that the original version of the system had a secret game built right into it (and it was unbeatable!). [more inside]
In a must-see interview for tabletop gamers everywhere, Colonel Louis Zocchi talks about modern mass produced plastic dice and why they utterly fail at being random: Part 1 - Part 2
Do you have a yearning to be online? Do you suffer from difficulty concentrating or sleeping, irritation, or mental or physical distress? According to doctors in China, you might have an internet addiction. [more inside]
Obama Advertising in Video Games Obama campaigning in XBox 360's Burnout Paradise. Although Mark Warner did it first with his video appearance in Second Life, Senator Obama has gone one step further and is advertising on Xbox 360. [more inside]
What can one learn from the design choices of past games? John Harris discusses different game aspects, 20 games at a time, at Game Design Essentials. You can read on 20 Open World Games (where generally the player is left to his own devices to explore a large world), see your destroyed controllers in a new light with 20 Difficult Games or check out 20 Mysterious Games (that rely on algorithmically-generated content or emphasize secret-hunting), 20 Unusual Control Schemes and 20 Atari Games. What about roguelikes, you say? [more inside]
"A Solitaire Civization game that's compact enough to play on a plane ... Using only a pad of paper, a pencil, and a specialized deck of cards, lead your civilization through the ages to become ... civilized." A free "print-and-play" board game. [more inside]
Games auteur Messhof has been mentioned once before on metafilter but his latest (windows only) game, Randy Balma Municipal Abortionist, hasn't. It's trippy, frustrating, disturbing, short, and totally free. You might like to play some Punishment first to get an idea of this guy's sensibility before heading straight for the ubercrazy.
Ken Levine, creator of Bioshock, gives a funny and inspiring speech about growing up geek before the internet and the era of 'geek chic'. (SLGV, and annoying age check)
Will Wright's PC game Spore was released yesterday. The 'Sim Everything' game from the creator of Sim City and The Sims takes the player from cellular growth to space colonization with several stages in between. Reviews are in, and the consensus is that it's good but not as legendary as its scope (and multi-year development cycle) would suggest. The game's 'draconian' DRM has sparked controversy, causing Amazon users to bomb it with one-star reviews.
Most gamers have never heard of Braunstein. Sad but true. In the hierarchy of self-awareness you’ll find the circle of gamers who know what D&D is (a very, very large circle), then inside of that is the circle of gamers who know what Greyhawk is (large but smaller), and inside that the circle who knows what Blackmoor is (smaller still). And then in the very center, vanishingly small, are the people who’ve heard of Braunstein. Which is a pity, because Braunstein is the granddaddy of them all.Braunstein: the Roots of Roleplaying Games by Ben Robbins. The first role-playing game was run by soldier David Wesely in 1967, his group including none other than D&D co-creator Dave Arneson. This past GenCon Braunstein was revived! Here's what the players had to say. Handouts from an earlier Braunstein revival. David Wesely's post-game comments. [via Rob McDougall] [more inside]
According to a new report, children in Sweden are becoming increasingly concerned by their parents' internet habits. "This summer she has been sitting up all day and all night and she forgets what's important to me. And when she's not at the computer she's like a lost soul. She just looks straight ahead and says nothing. I'm not doing so well." Dr Jerald Block from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland is pushing for internet addiction (and its three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations and e-mail/text messaging) to be included as a common disorder in the next update of the DSM (DSM-V). "The relationship is with the computer. It becomes a significant other to them. They exhaust emotions that they could experience in the real world on the computer... It's much more acceptable for kids to talk about game use, whereas adults keep it a secret. Rather than having sex, or arguing with their wife or husband, or feeding their children, these adults are playing games..."
Tetris has changed over the years. The latest game mechanics are well-documented and allow for techniques more complicated than those of us used to earlier iterations could possibly imagine. And of course, you can have it any way you want it. [via]
At last, a study on video games that is grounded in common sense. Two scientists say their results can best be summed up in one word: relax. It's okay for kids to play videogames. What's more, parents can enjoy gaming with their kids. The relationship between videogames and violence is anything but causal. One interesting finding: those middle school boys most likely to bully others are the ones who play no videogames at all.
Delta Green - be part of the conspiracy. The latest sourcebook for Delta Green, the cult modern day Call of Cthulhu setting, is being financed via fundable. If the target for funding is not met it’s release will be delayed... if it is released at all. A niche setting within a niche system in a hobby in decline, Delta Green is still intensely well loved by those who know about it, making them a good target for the ransom model. Will thinking outside the usual publishing business models save pen and paper RPGs?
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.
Los Angeles libraries offer video games to kids - Yes, they play Guitar Hero in the library these days. Over half of the LA public libraries are offering video game nights to encourage kids to visit libraries. Also, this Friday is 'gaming @ the library day', part of the effort to get children more comfortable at the library.
Super Epic Video Game News. Several Channel 101 alumni are bringing their own distinctive style to game and tech journalism. Perfect for those who love video games, but hate the people that play them. The YouTube comments are an even split between impotent rage and people who get the joke. [more inside]
Female educator & writer comments on male culture - describing video gaming males in their 20s as 'child-men', delaying traditional responsibility by decades compared to previous generations (NPR interview). Inevitable response by gaming community and others in their 20s. Further example on the change in societal isolation that leads to bowling alone, or a new social community structure being born? [more inside]
Looking for something unique to bring to your next gaming session? Star-spawn will cringe in fear when they see you have shown up to battle bearing these long-lost relics of R'lyeh. The dwarves have toiled long in the mines and quarries of Khaz Modan, and even crafted the bones and teeth of great ancient beasts to create deadly weapons for your gaming arsenal. Perhaps most impressive and prized of all these unique equipages is this rare trophy of the cold and frozen north. [more inside]
Lie, bitch, flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder
"Coolest Girl In School has been touted as Grand Theft Auto for girls"
Interview with the Ladies who made it.
The ways of Mean Girls in a game.
"Coolest Girl In School has been touted as Grand Theft Auto for girls"
Interview with the Ladies who made it.
The ways of Mean Girls in a game.
Are You Not DEVO? You Are Mutato! LA Weekly goes behind the scenes of Mutato Muzika, the commercial music studio owned by Mark Mothersbaugh. Mark is a visual artist, composer, oh, and front man for a little band called DEVO who is "spending December at Mutato trying to create an album’s worth of new material and contemplating a method of dispersal in the post-record-company world."
Arden: The World of William Shakespeare is a Neverwinter Nights mod created by the Synthetic Worlds Initiative at Indiana University. You can play it, but it's kinda boring.
"Okay, I work for GameStop, and in one of the local stores, someone returned Spanish for Everyone claiming it was exceedingly stereotypical." And it turns out it kinda was. It's a game for the Nintendo DS, where the framework involves an accidentally stolen DS which is taken by a kid whose father is in a limo, being chased by the police, going back across the border to Ensenada. Luckily, the kid's aunt (who apparently doesn't recognize him other than vaguely) is here to give him a ride as far as Tijuana, leaving him stranded in the middle of a foreign country where he doesn't speak the language! Fun, and it gets worse from there! Here's The Intro, Level 2's cut scene, level 3's cut scene and the ending, featuring a whole mess of cars, "fireworks" and, ahm, drug running? Of course, this'd just be a pile of YouTube links if it weren't for The lead designer of the game popping in to share his 2 cents on it. [via] [more inside]
Trigger Happier "Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It’s offered under a CC license, for a limited time only. I’m not sure how limited that time will be, so grab it while it’s hot." [drm-free pdf]
Most video game walkthroughs on the web are in text form- GameFAQs is perhaps the best-known host for them. Sometimes text just isn't enough, though, and that's when Visual Walkthroughs comes into play, offering screenshot-based walkthroughs for a number of games like Ghost Master, Deus Ex, and Half-Life 2. [more inside]
According to the ESA, the average gamer is "33 years old and has been playing for twelve years" and the average buyer of video games is 38. So then, why do members of the mainstream media, as well as politicians (more here and here) continue to reference gaming as something akin to a child's toy? In the wake of the British Board of Film Classification again banning the controversial Manhunt 2, despite edits to tone down the game from its publisher, Newsweek's N'Gai Croal takes a look at "The Problem (and the Danger) of the continued Infantilization of Videogames".
A chimpanzee plays Ms. Pac Man (WMV, some Japanese)
The Crossing is a new FPS game where single-player and multiplayer modes meld in one. At any point, any Non-Player-Character might not be an NPC at all, but another Player. It is likely that, as in a game of tag, players will just take turns to be "it" like Agents in the Matrix, but... wouldn't it be great if we could all be "it" at the same time? Quantum Gaming might just be the way to model such a swarm of gamers. [more inside]
In the grand tradition of Killer comes Humans Vs. Zombies, a campus game that's growing in popularity. From its origins at Goucher, it's spread to a reported two dozen colleges. An interview with the game's moderator is here, and you can watch the 45-minute documentary from one of the games on Google Video
M.U.G.E.N [wikipedia] is a 2D fighting game engine, originally developed by Elecbyte and released in 1999. The engine is highly customizable; characters, backgrounds, and sound files -- whether from existing games or original works -- can be easily integrated. Some examples of the engine in action [youtube]: Homer Simpson vs. Peter Griffin, Ryu vs Popeye, Green Power Ranger vs Osama Bin Laden, Fat Albert vs Juggernaut, Marvin the Martian vs. Duck Dodgers. Also, game crossovers: Homer in NES Land, Thunder Force III vs. Duck Hunt. [mi] WARNING: some of the videos are very loud.