Yesterday I attended Jan Rune Holmevik’s dissertation defense at the University of Bergen. While I haven’t yet had a chance to read it in its entirety, from attending his defense, I can report that his dissertation, TraceBack: MOO, Open Source, and the Humanities, includes a great historical overview of the open source movement, as well as a history of LinguaMOO and the development of Encore. His dissertation in Humanistic Informatics also included a program, the Encore MOO system that he and Cynthia Haynes developed. In conjunction with his successful defense, he also released Encore 4.0, which is is distributed free of charge under the terms of the GNU General Public License. Gratulerer Jan Rune!
January 10, 2004
January 9, 2004
You can look at the pages Google determines to be “related” in a new way using Google Browser from TouchGraph. Well, a fairly new way – the system has been out for a while and it or its cousins (Amazon Browser, LiveJournal Browser) have been mentioned here and there, but my advisor, Michael Kearns, showed it to me today since it’s one of the tools we’ll be using in a new undergraduate class this semester, “Networked Life.”
Brutal, bloody images, racist messages, and the suggestion that anyone who creates video games dealing with unpleasant aspects of life should be strangled. It’s all packaged in the local TV news.
Apparently in early November someone named Difenderfer said, speaking of Grand Theft Auto, that “My mission in the game is to kill the Haitians!” Sure, there is confusion about whether Difenderfer is a character in the game or is an outraged yet addicted “viewer” who wasn’t willing to appear on camera. But the basic point is still clear: People shouldn’t be using their television sets to play video games! How can the local TV news and our country’s advertising apparatus defecate down our throats if we’re busy using the TV to expore a rich, simulated word that critiques American culture?
January 8, 2004
Whilst in Texas recently, I read Jill Walker’s Dr. art. thesis, “Fiction and Interaction: How Clicking a Mouse Can Make You Part of a Fictional World.” One important issue it tackled was one that I noted, but didn’t try to tackle, many years ago. It’s the question of what it means when a “real” action in the world (such as your really sending an email addressed to Online Caroline) is also to be an action in a fictional world (given that Online Caroline is not a real person, you have sent an email in the fictional world, too).
January 7, 2004
Chris Crawford recently announced Phrontisterion 5, his fifth annual conference on interactive storytelling, to be held June 26 and 27, 2004, at his home in southern Oregon. Chris says:
This is a most unconventional conference, concentrating on discussion rather than presentation. There will be no lectures or panel discussions; all the attendees (only 30 will be invited) sit in a circle under the towering fir trees and compare thoughts in a structured format.
Phrontisterion offers a unique opportunity to delve deeply into the issues surrounding interactive storytelling with some of the best minds in the world. If you are interested, please contact me by email and I shall provide you with the details.
January 6, 2004
An indie-oriented game site, GameTunnel, has posted its suggestions for the top ten independent games of 2003. (via Slashdot Games)
Interestingly, only one of these games was a finalist in either the 2002, 2003 or 2004 Independent Games Festival. I wonder if this is because these games just aren’t entered in the IGF, or the IGF and GameTunnel have pretty different criteria for the “best” indie games? I’m guessing GameTunnel favors popularity and fun, and IGF favors more radical designs and experimentation.
January 5, 2004
I just ran across Sent, which is being billed as “the first major exhibition of phonecam art in the United States.” The exhibition will include contributions both by amateurs and by invited professional artists and celebs, including Weird Al Yankovic.
Ludologist Jesper Juul has posted the abstract of this Ph.D. disseration. In the dissertation, he presents a theory of video games, argues that comptuers have special affinity for game-playing, and pits the rules of video games against the simulated, fictional worlds in which they take place. To develop his approach he has drawn upon “literary theory, film theory, computer science, sciences of complexity, economic game theory, game design literature, and some psychology.”
The defense is January 16. Jesper, good luck! The abstract certain has whet my appetite; I’m looking forward to reading the whole document when it’s available.
January 2, 2004
Each month on the empyre email discussion list — “an arena for the discussion of media arts practice” — a new set of people are invited to lead the discussion, and this month we have Jill Scott and two GTxA’ers, Nick and Noah. The topic: “Nova Media Storia: Histories and Characters”.
Is new media a field? Does it have a history? What history? And, how does it matter?
Artist and frequent GTxA commenter Brandon Rickman has begun a new (or refurbished an old) blog called antimodal, that kicks off with a critique of Salen and Zimmerman’s Rules of Play. Added to the blogroll.
January 1, 2004
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of Tempest 2000 — an excellent game that, along with the movie Tron, certainly was an inspiration for Rez. So I thought I’d check out what the designer of this game, the Yak (a.k.a. Jeff Minter), has been up to. As it turns out, this programmer of true cult classics, whose company is named Llamasoft, is collaborating with Peter Molyneux (Black & White) of Lionhead Studios on a GameCube puzzle-shooter.