November 11, 2003

Play Misty With Me

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:49 am

Just discovered a discussion that occurred a few weeks ago over at buzzcut about the lack of emotion in games, similar to the discussion we had recently here about the lack of games that address the “human condition”. Buzzcut is written by David Thomas, who also writes for Reading his blog I just discovered he was at LevelUp (here’s his pics), but I didn’t happen to meet him. It always sucks when you later realize you wish you’d met somebody in person when you had the chance.

November 10, 2003

“What Is a Game” Conference

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:42 am

I’ve given myself an hour to writeup my impressions from the LevelUp conference, which will be a challenge because it was a busy 3 days. I’ll give some highlights, anyway. (Here’s a WSJ article previewing the conference. And here’s some pics courtesy of Reality Panic.)

It was an energetic event in a pleasant city called Utrecht, at that town’s University, about 10 miles south of Amsterdam. The city center had pretty canals lined with restaurants, cafes and shops, an clean and efficient train and bus system, and lots of well-dressed people on bicycles. Our weather was pretty warm, making our 20 minute walk to and from the hostel enjoyable.

I arrived at 7am local time (1am body time) on an “overnight” flight from Boston, and the conference started at 9am — and I made it on time! (Just a wee bit tired, but the sunlight shining through the large windows of the Rem Koolhaas building where the conference was held helped keep me awake.) Everyone was surprised at how many attendees there were — about 500 in total, perhaps 20% American, and overall probably half students (grad and undergrad) from northern Europe. The lobby was lined with GameCube, PlayStation and XBox game consoles, so games and gamers were always in your peripheral vision as you chatted between sessions.

Aww… or Aaah?!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:37 am

Terra Nova links to a personal account of a first kiss in the virtual world, There. It’s both sweet and disturbing to me. (Mostly because everybody looks like J.Crew models, but I know you can create less perfect-looking avatars. Which suddendly reminds me of the new reality show Average Joe I was just watching last weekend. I knew I wasn’t crazy when I alluded to just such a connection…)
(And I’m further unsettled (and intrigued) by the link in the Terra Nova post’s comments to… I didn’t know such a site existed yet! Wow… see you there… gulp?)

November 7, 2003

America’s Army

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 5:53 pm

This is probably old news to most of you, but I just heard about the US Army’s latest recruiting tool, America’s Army. The army spent $4.5 million to develop the game, and is reporting that it has been wildly successful. In a Chicago Tribune story, the game’s project director, Col. Casey Wardynski, reported that on the night of Oct. 28 alone, “1.3 million games got played . . . At six minutes a game, that’s 150,000 hours of game play, where kids were virtually inside the Army.” Wardynski praises the game as a cost-effective recruiting tool. The game takes kids from basic and special forces training to virtual battlefield operations.

I guess it’s one way to keep those body bags filled.

What’s next? The CIA could be at work on America’s Effective Intelligence: Mission One — Learn to Translate Arabic. Maybe the State Department is working on America’s Diplomats: Mission One — A Nonviolent Solution.

Nah. Where’s the fun in that?

November 3, 2003

Opinion-Changing Play

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:09 am

Game designers and academics Ian Bogost and Gonzalo Frasca have begun a new blog called Water Cooler Games that “explores the emerging field of games [that] want to do more than simply being fun: they want to make a point, share knowledge, change opinions. This includes new genres such as advergaming, newsgaming, political games, simulations and edutainment.” I’ve added it to our blogroll.

I’ll be curious for a discussion that talks about the fine line between persuasion and propaganda, vis-a-vis political games…

On the blog Gonzalo mentions that his political commentary game Sept 12 (discussed recently here on GTxA) has now gotten over 100,000 unique hits.

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