Duke Nukem Forever, the Chinese Democracy of the video game world that has been in development since 1997, seems to have gotten a release date of May 31, 2011. Nonetheless, it seems some people will feel that this game isn't the "real" Duke Nukem Forever -- it's just something that was hacked together and rebranded as such (like Commodore/Amiga has been doing lately). [via Techdirt]
Violent, mostly compelling trailer for the forthcoming game Homefront, which looks like a playable cross between The Siege and Red Dawn. Which is appropriate, since the trailer credits the game to "the writer of Red Dawn," John Milius.
Kill Screen Magazine. Has anyone seen this? It's a video game magazine from prominent writers who have written for the New Yorker, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and The Onion.
this was pretty HOTT last week in the advertising/planning/creative community that dominates my twitter feed.
According to the latest rankings...
Top 5 Awesomest:
Bottom 5 Inadequatest:
1. Kevin Federline
2. Mitt Romney
3. Sanjaya Malakar
4. Robert Pattinson
5. The Hills (sorry, Rex)
Now go forth, and be more awesome. -- FB
You may remember Passage, the small yet surprisingly poignant lo-fi game that asked players to meditate on mortality. Now, Jason Rohrer has a new game coming out called Sleep is Death, and it looks promising. [via] -NA
Three gorgeous iPhone games that really make the most of the multi-touch surface:
Eliss came out last year -- it is unbelievably addictive and super challenging. It's been on everybody's best-of iphone lists, but if you haven't played it yet, get thee to the app store! In the words of the developer, Steph Thirion: "Warm up your hands, you're up for some serious finger gymnastics in the bizarro galaxy."
Colorbind by Daniel Lutz, is only about a month old, and it is just as much fun as Eliss- but in a much more relaxing way. You're weaving colored strips to connect the corresponding dots, and it's challenging, but pretty zen at the same time. As Mr. Lutz says, "Colorbind is easy to play, hard to master."
Bebot is not exactly a game, but he is pretty much the cutest synth robot best friend you will ever have. You can thank Russel Black at Normalware for this one.
Shoutoutout to my #1 homeslice JSTN for turning me on to all the best iPhone things. :DS
Forget Wii Remote and Project Natal: It's now possible to play pinball with your mind. Here are some photos of the brain helmet you have to wear. --ADM
Jimi Hendrix's stepsister, Janie Hendrix, let it slip during an L.A. Times interview that a Hendrix edition of "Rock Band" video game will be coming before the end of the year. Any new Hendrix music in the Rock Band franchise will be part of a slate of new products being planned to coincide with the 40th anniversary of his death. --MM
Some people were creeped out seeing Cobain sing in the Guitar Hero 5 trailer, but I don't think anyone was prepared for the sight of him singing Bon Jovi in the unlocked version:
Guitar Hero 5 - Kurt Cobain Trailer. It still seems weird to see that Daniel Johnston tshirt.
Daniel Radosh Is Having A Good Week. Indeed his is! He just got hired at the Daily Show, and he has the NYT Mag cover story on The Beatles: Rock Band (out next month), which I predict you will enjoy.
Remember when games were the future of news? NYT's texting while driving game. [via]
Everything's a game: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid dashboard. [via]
This is pretty great... there's a British game show called Golden Balls that concludes with a segment called Spilt or Steal that directly borrows the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. There are many YouTube clips, but the best has to be this one.
Wired reveals all the puzzles from the last issue.
Wait, Playboy is dying? How can that possibly be? Obviously, they haven't been playing Playboy Manager! (It's a massively multiplayer online game where you manage playmates.)
Game Theory Dictionary. Lose yourself.
For anyone who saw The King of Kong: Steve Wiebe set a new Donkey Kong Jr record.
The new issue of Wired is guest-edited by J.J. Abrams, so one should expect some mystery. But that mystery manifests itself in literally dozens of puzzles within the pages, many of which Steven Bevacqua was the first to solve. But he confesses in an NYT story that he is still stymied by some. On the Wired side, Tom gets the quotes: "Blog posts can effectively summarize a story and give you the takeaway idea. [But print publications are still better suited to conveying] the nuance and effort of understanding the complexity of an idea and why it matters -- what the riddles and wrinkles are within an idea." LOST viewers take note: numerological hints!
Twitter-based viral gaming thingamajig for Terminator Salvation. You're supposed to follow @Resistance2018 and then go to Resistance2018.com.
I should have applied more thinking to those Tweets (reax) yesterday, but props to Galpert for turning them into a visual.
Is World of Warcraft more addictive than coke? Erm, yes -- but only one makes you wander around Times Square looking for people to talk to!
Want to be a successful wide receiver? Play lots of Madden NFL 09.
Recommended: If Gamers Ran The World. It's an essay that transposes game theory on top of public policy without trying to force bad metaphors. It argues that key gaming concepts -- scarcity, complexity, efficiency, failure, etc. -- are all effective tools for understanding governance. [via]
Dear Uncle Grambo, I've missed you. -Love, Rex
While Gawker Media slashes its network, could BoingBoing pick up the slack? A new launch: Offworld, a videogaming blog.
Ridley Scott will direct a movie based upon the board game Monopoly. Although SlashFilm calls it the worst idea ever, it overlooks how good Clue was.
At the new New York Tech Meetup last week, Charles launched the ImInLikeWithYou API for multiplayer games.
In the "Television" section of the New York Times: Playing God, the Home Game, a review of Spore. Metacritic has links to more.
Rosenbaum takes on the puzzle people: Crossword, Sudoku Plague Threatens America! "Doing puzzles reflects not an elevated literary sensibility but a degraded letter-ary sensibility, one that demonstrates an inability to find pleasure in reading. Otherwise, why choose the wan, sterile satisfactions of crosswords over the far more robust full-blooded pleasures of books?" And: "Sudoku has been turning ordinary humans into pod people for less than a decade."
Spore hatches in a few weeks, so expect a bombardment of Will Wright interviews and profiles over the next month. Here's an interview in Fast Company: The Simemperor.
I wonder if the uncanny valley can be applied to Rock Band: Drum Rocker, a realistic drum kit for the game.
Totally weird and cool: trailer to the game Heavy Rain. In an interview, the designer compares the narrative structure of gaming to porn: traditional narrative is used to initiate play. [via]
Fake Or Not. A game where you guess whether the boobs are fake. NSFW, DOY.
Word nerd alert: an official version of Scrabble for Facebook might kill Scrabulous. (Or not.)
Onion News Network: World of World of Warcraft.
The SciFi Channel is apparently working with game designers on some type of new show, according to this LAT story. It sounds like it's mixing TV, MMORPGs, and ARGs, which sounds either magnificent or disastrous.
Jane McGonigal at the New Yorker Conference: Saving the World Through Game Design. She's great. A few months ago, I did a Pecha Kucha (definition) presentation related to my life-becoming-a-game idea. Lookie, there's video! I roll out the Prius, speed dating, Run Lola Run, ImInLikeWithYou, Lost, TiVo, EveryBlock, and many others as examples.
Why Lost Is the Best Game Show in TV History. "This is as much a game as a story." Tomorrow is going to be a very big deal.
Continuing with our theme of verisimilitude in Grand Theft Auto, here's a Flickr set with side-by-side comparisons of the fake Liberty City and somewhat less fake New York City. (See also, only vaguely related, Kottke's post on the uncanny valley, which takes up the recent New Yorker article on photoshopping.)
Game: Name That Theme Song. [via]
Fittingly, NYT drops its Grand Theft Auto IV coverage in the City section of the paper today. (The other appropriate section might have been Travel.) It's a long tour of the game's version of NYC, told from the perspective of a New Yorker (Dave Itzkoff, also known for covering sci-fi for the NYT Book Review) who wants the neighborhoods to resemble his version of the city. The conclusion is effectively a topographic take of the Uncanny Valley conundrum:
If I truly believed in Liberty City as a functioning community, how could I open fire on my fellow simulated citizens (even if they shot at me first)? How could I tread all over the social contract in a ripped-off truck full of bootleg prescription medication?
It's not the game's fault that it can't perfectly replicate the infinite variety of New York. But it sometimes comes so close to pulling off the illusion that it invites you to look for the imperfections.
I just bought the game and have only played a little. But the descriptions here and elsewhere sound like NYC run through the mosaic filter on Photoshop. This geographically-confused, post-catastrophe setting resembles Cloverfield more than anything else. (You know, that scene where they get in the subway at Spring St. and end up at 59th St.) Let's compare these two for a second: look how each toys with class, violence, geography, simulation, reproduction, terrorism, sex, and urban geography. This should be the only bar conversation we have for the next couple months.
But back to this desire to adhere to verisimilitude in game play. It's peculiar, especially given the history of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, notorious for its propagation of violence as the narrative of gaming. Yes, peculiar, but also understandable for anyone familiar with the city's grid. The question seems to be, how close of a representation do we actually want? There it is again, the Uncanny Valley, which even popped up on a recent episode of 30 Rock, in the form of Tracy Jordan (himself a refracted mirror of Tracy Morgan) trying to make the first successful porn video game.
Desire and play. I suspect this is what gets lost in the muddled debate about the interplay of reality and fiction in the super-simulation canon. The new cultural critics are "deciders," sprung from both the left (social realists) and the right (values pundits), both trying to impose "this is fiction" and "this is real" logic onto games and movies. But it's not just them -- it is we who, in various ways, all participate in this debate about reality and non-reality, seeking an answer to whether something is either too unrealistic or too realistic.
All this makes me wonder if the question of realism has been overplayed, or if in fact it is the only question, now and forever. All I really want to know is: what makes playing the game so much fun? And how much does "reality" have to do with the answer?
Color me confused by the massive critical repulsion toward Funny Games (someone really needs to write about how the big New York film critics -- yes, all of them, in one way or another -- are so scared of hyper-violence). I saw a midnight showing on opening night and, although it wasn't mind-blowing, I like what it's trying to do. (Has anyone called it "Clockwork Orange for the digital age" yet? If not, I want to see my name blurbed on the DVD.) Anyway, you need a link! So play the Funny Games Game, which involves torturing your friends with phone calls (which I find more repulsive than anything the film could muster!). [via]
Catching up on everything, just found NYT's Dungeons and Dragons flowchart.
I'm going with the meta link farm on the occasion of Gary Gygax's death: BoingBoing, io9, Kottke, Comedy Central, Salon, AP, Metafilter, and Slashdot.
This is a surprise: Play Value is a decent videoblog! Imagine a VH1 show that's about the lost history of video games. Each episode takes up a historical gaming topic, for instance "The Fall of Atari", "Sega vs. Nintendo", or "Tetris: Splitting the Iron Curtain". It's also full of trivia: Nintendo started out as a playing card company, Steve Jobs worked for Atari before a spiritual retreat to India, and so on. [via]
Andy has an interview with one of the ForumWarz developers. (ForumWarz is a web-based RPG that is amazingly detailed and intensely crafted for a precise audience of alpha geeks.)
A release date for Spore has finally been set: Sept. 7. And there's a new trailer. [via]
For a while there, every article about Guitar Hero was insistent in making the point that playing the game does not actually make you a better guitar player. (No shiz!) That will all change with Guitar Rising, a game that requires an actual guitar to play. [via]
Juno -- the video game? UPDATE: 5 Indie Films That Should Be Video Games.
I'm embarrassed that this devoured my Sunday: Learning to Play Using Low-Complexity Rule-Based Policies: Illustrations through Ms. Pac-Man. Finally, those two years of college calculus paid off. Sorta. (See also: robots are learning to lie!)
If I have any regrets for 2007, it's that I didn't play enough video games. And Slate's sprawling epic gaming conversation (17 printed pages) is full of proof that I missed the year's most important cultural happenings. Sure, I put in my time with Desktop Tower Defense, threw the Wii control around a bit, and dabbled in Halo 3. But I didn't play Rock Band, I didn't play BioShock, I didn't play Portal, I didn't play Super Mario Galaxy... I didn't even play Scrabulous!
Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney reviews Rock Band for Slate, which is a nice counterpoint to Rob Walker's bit in last weekend's NYT about the fame aspiration in these games.
Anil's compendium to Portal (which I haven't played yet) is pretty great.
The Ten Video Games That Should Be Movies (and the Directors Who Should Make Them).
Here's a good extension of my life-as-game notion: David Byrne considers Ikea as a video game. [thnx Alan]
If you thought my Wired piece on life-as-game was ponderous, Jaron Lanier at Discover asks Are We Trapped in God's Video Game?
I wrote an essay -- "The Game of Life" -- for this month's Wired where I make a wacky assertion: gaming has become the prevailing narrative of our time.
The whole idea started by noticing how several of my daily interactions -- watching TV, reading RSS, dating -- have become very game-like. At first, I didn't know what to call these instances, but I eventually started using the term gaming moments. And then soon enough, a definition arose: "competitive interactions in daily life that involve play." Sometimes the interactions are social, sometimes they are you versus a computer algorithm. But once you've noticed them, they suddenly become ubiquitous.
"Gaming the system," it seems, has become standard operating procedure for everything from booking an airline ticket to battling your TiVo's automated recommendations.
In some ways, this is an admittedly trite argument. Whether you're watching The Wire or reading Shakespeare, you've heard that life is a game. (Nassim Taleb even coined a word for this: ludic fallacy, "the misuse of games to model real-life situations." His criticism is actually directed at a branch of mathematics and philosophy -- game theory -- but the point is still worth recognizing.) Nevertheless, let's look at the evidence: if you stop and look around, you'll find game scenarios everywhere. Like Poe's purloined letter, the notion of "gaming the system" has become so obvious and pervasive that it's almost invisible to us.
In the closing paragraphs of the essay, I hypothesize why so much of our society (particularly social interaction, online activity, and cultural products) seems like a game. My theory has to do with data. (This will sound familiar to anyone who read my earlier essay on predictions, where I suggest that data availability has led to a penchant for prediction applications.) Because we've opened more data (through search engines, APIs, open records, and so on), we've tweaked consciousness just a little bit: now when we encounter data-centric scenarios, we immediately think about how the information can be manipulated.
Anyway, read the essay for yourself. In comments here, I would like to explore other examples where you stopped and said, "this is a lot like a game." I provided several in the essay (reality tv, search engine optimizers, etc.), but some others that come to mind include traffic, dieting, speed dating, and improv classes.
Also, feel free to throw in some websites -- some examples: Farecast.com (where you "gamble" on the future of airline ticket prices), Reality All Starz (where you make challenges for yourself), and GetHuman.com (where you learn how to game automated voice systems).
So now, your turn.
(Also, thanks to Tom, Matt, Robin, Carrie, and Beth, who all helped shape ideas for this piece.)
Slog has an interesting little bit on the anatomy of a blog rumor -- Bungie (the creator of the Halo franchise) distancing itself from Microsoft.
WaPo's Pulitzer Prize-winning book columnist ponders whether video games are art by playing BioShock. [via]
All video game reviews should be like Zero Punctuation's review of BioShock. [via]
Wired's cover story on Bungie and Halo 3. I strangely still don't know anyone over at Bungie yet.
NYT Styles looks at the characters behind the new Donkey Kong documentary.
Ian Bogost (of Persuasive Games -- the book) was on Colbert last night. [via]
Wired's game blog on Roger Ebert's video game reviews.
Decent NYT on why poker is harder than chess for computers to master.
I spent my Saturday night in Portland at the classic videogame emporium Ground Kontrol for Metafilter's anniversary party (photo: me air-quoting Ben and Tif), so the new documentary King of Kong has some nerd resonance right now.
Everyone understands there's a schism between critical acclaim and popular success, right? Sure, it's true for movies, books, and movies -- but, as NYT shows, games are the exception. [via]
Has there ever been a good movie spun off from a video game? If you say Super Mario Bros., you're foolin'. Well, now we have Dead or Alive to contend with. I can't exactly say it looks good, but it could be the best of the genre.
For fun: Human Tetris. Weird Japanese tv show where human try to fit into odd shapes. [via]
Sotheby's is holding a sale this week for "an archive of roughly 2,200 drawings, schematics, diagrams and other documents generated in the early 1980s by Atari."
Another story on the video game farming trade, this time from Julian Dibbell in the NYT Magazine: "The Life of the Chinese Gold Farmer". (Dibbell is the author of Play Money and the canonical work on virtual identities "A Rape in Cyberspace".) Includes a pretty great slideshow and video.
We've seen alternate reality games for movies and for music and for video games, but I believe the game for Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts is the first ARG built around a book. The adventure starts at LostEnvelope.com and includes clues left on Flickr, YouTube, and other sites, all ending a real-world prize. More details at Vulture.
Another work-related post, but you'll like this one. Remember that NewsBreaker game? As a follow-up, we created "group game" in select movie theaters where the audience collectively plays the game on the movie screen by moving their bodies. CNet has a story about it, but the real action can be seen in this video clip.
NYTimes.com started a chess blog to coincide with the United States Chess Championship: Gambit.
I already linked to it once, but I'm doing it again because one of my favorite blogs also linked to it today: MSNBC.com Newsbreaker Game. I know, it's no Desktop Tower Defense, but check it out anyway.
Whoa, the trailer to Grand Theft Auto IV looks awesome. Reportedly inspired by Koyaanisqatsi.
Video of the Will Wright keynote from SXSW is now available. It was amazing.
WSJ: "Conscious that an increasing number of adults are going online to play games and do puzzles, a growing number of traditional media outlets are adding games to their web sites." Cited: Hearst, CBS, ABC, NBC, and E!
The new NIN album, Year Zero (out April 17), is being promoted by 42 Entertainment, which you may remember as the alternative gaming agency that worked on The Beast for A.I. and I Love Bees for Halo 2. The narrative of the game/story actually started with a concert t-shirt that had the phrase "I am trying to believe" highlighted amongst the letters of cities. And starting there -- iamtryingtobelieve.com, a site that warns you of the drug Parepin -- puts you on the mission that already includes several other sites. [via]
I haven't been keeping up with all the hype about the Nintendo Wii, but I recommend these two articles: Business Week's "The Big Ideas Behind Nintendo's Wii" and The New Yorker's "In Praise of Third Place".
Funny NPR interview with a professional Rock, Paper, Scissors competitor.
It seems gauche to link to items that both Jason and Robin already got to, but I can't let this Gears of War promo go by. (Song reminder: that's a cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," which appeared on the Donnie Darko soundtrack.)
Kottke put together a pretty thorough Will Wright bibliography.
New Yorker: decent Will Wright profile.
BBC documentary on Tetris: From Russia With Love.
The best part about the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City 3 trailer is that it feels like somone's funny idea of a Phil Collins mashup.
NYT Mag: Steven Johnson on The Long Zoom. The theoretical first couple paragraphs is the best.
NYT has a longish story on the Korean competitive game culture. The audioslideshow version.
Metropolis: The Principals of Play, which looks at how game theory can inform urban design.
Insurance company video obviously inspired by Katamari Damacy. [via] Update: Creators claim it's a coincidence.
Interesting crique of Katamari Damacy, which is disguised as a critique of game theory.
I predict you will buy the next issue of The Believer. It's about games.
The current issue of Harper's (not online yet) has a great five-person symposium (including Steven Johnson, Raph Koster, and Thomas De Zengotita) about video games as a learning device.
NYT Mag takes up the game Disaffected, an anti-advergame that parodies the Kinko's experience. The discussion moves toward a notion called "semiotic disobedience" (pdf).
Interesting Wired column which ponders the 'save gameplay' mechanism.
Caught this on MTV last night: Game Makers Roundtable.
Come Out & Play Festival, dedicated to street games and hosted by Eyebeam.
Podcast Player in Second Life. Pretty cool.
The dude who directed the crazy short film Alive In Joburg (about extraterrestrials who have become refugees in South Africa) has been pegged to direct the Halo movie.
SF0 "is a Collaborative Production Game. Players build characters by completing tasks for their groups and increasing their Score. The goals of play include meeting new people, exploring the city, and participating in non-consumer leisure activities."
Klosterman responds to the criticism of his game column via a GameSpot interview. Chuck's newest column: harshing on Snakes on a Plane's "prefab populism." Uh-oh.
Naughty America is a forthcoming MMPORG for getting naughty online. Like Second Life, but dirty.
Klosterman's "The Lester Bangs of Video Games" seemed to get a thumbs down from blogosphere gamers (though I think most of them missed the point), but Henry Jenkins himself discusses the essay on his new blog. UPDATE: Clive Thompson takes it on in Wired too.
So at some point I'm going to start reading Future of the Book's experimental collaborative book project on gaming, GAM3R 7H3ORY. But here's the hard question: when do I start? By the very nature of the project, it is never done. More thoughts on Future of the Book.