Glancing at the home page of the NYTimes, I spied a new article about election-year political videogames — featuring Ian Bogost and his till-now-under-wraps, about-to-be-released game, Opinions! The article reports that Ian, who as GTxA readers know was co-developer of the Howard Dean campaign game, was hired two months ago by the Democratic National Convention to create a game “for the Democratic convention committee. … In Opinions, the player performs an action in each of six minigames simultaneously, seeking to achieve a balance among them. Actions in the minigames, each corresponding to a domestic or international policy topic, affect the ease of playing in the other minigames.” Sounds cool!
June 30, 2004
There’s an email interview with me just up at E-Boredom, a low-gloss site covering movies, comics, and the Nintendo Entertainment System, none of which I discuss in my interview. I hope they still liked talking to me.
I think I look kinda fetching right under that cheap Web hosting ad banner.
trAce Online Writing Centre, which has served as one of the most important organizations in new media writing since 1996, has put forth a call for abstracts for a planned book, intended to complement the trAce website. Essays are invited both about the evolution of the trAce community and about the individual and collaborative creative projects published by trAce. Abstracts are due in October and the volume is planned for publication in 2007.
Three upcoming conferences explore interactive narrative and characters from an AI perspective.
Update 7/7/04 (Andrew): A fourth has been added at the end of this message.
A special track on artificial intelligence in music and art will be part of the 18th international FLAIRS conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, May 16-18, 2005. They invite original and unpublished contributions on AI applications in the analysis, composition, generation, interpretation, performance, evaluation, classification, and data mining of artifacts from various creative endeavors and fields, such as visual art, graphics, video, music, sounds, architecture, design of physical artifacts, sculpture, literature, poetry, etc. Besides being published in the FLAIRS proceedings, a selection of papers from this track will appear in a special issue on “AI Tools in Music and Art” to appear in the International Journal on Artificial Intelligence Tools (IJAIT). The submission deadline is October 15th, 2004.
A EUSAI2004 Workshop on Life-Like Robots in Ambient Intelligent Environments will be held November 8th, 2004, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. Whereas previous work focussed on the social aspect of robots and life-like virtual characters, this workshop wants to explore the field of interactive life-like robots that are situated in an ambient intelligent environment. Questions to be investigated includ:
- How is life-likeness created?
- What software architecture is needed?
- Will the user feel more comfortable in the presence of a life-like robot, than in the situation of a machine-like robot?
- In what ways does a life-like robot interact with its Ambient Intelligent environment?
Marc Boehlen and I explored some of these issues with Office Plant #1. It’s nice to see a whole workshop organized around this theme. Submissions are due September 10th, 2004.
June 28, 2004
I recently returned from TIDSE 2004 (Technologies for Interactive Digital Storytelling and Entertainment). Here’s the first part of my trip report from this conference.
Norman Badler (keynote)
Norman Badler opened the conference with a keynote titled Embodied Agents and Meaningful Motion. He began by describing the gulf between the world of computer graphics and the world of artificial intelligence, noting that virtual humans must integrate techniques from both fields in order to support compelling interactions between real and virtual people. He described his own work on the EMOTE motion quality model, based on Laban motion analysis, that provides a parameterized model that procedurally modifies the affective quality of humanoid motion, given 8 high-level parameters. The best part of the talk was his list of the myths that many virtual humans researchers are guilty of believing (he noted that he didnít mean to single out any one researcher, and that he himself has been guilty of believing many of these).
June 26, 2004
New media artworks that aren’t digitally distributable are near-invisible until they have good, accessible documentation. Screen — a collaborative project I helped create in Brown’s virtual reality “Cave” — just became visible today.
Now, in addition to the interview mentioned by Nick, the feature at The Iowa Review Web includes both a Screen overview video and a document of the entire piece. Michelle Higa‘s work on the second of these is so artful that I think of it as a single-channel video artwork in its own right, rather than simply documentation.
June 25, 2004
It’s been making the rounds after an upgrade: Dennis Jerz blogged about the program written, and text produced, by Peter Norvig at Google. (Norvig is co-author of the excellent textbook Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach.) Norvig claims that his generated text, currently 17,259 words in length, is “the longest palindromic sentence ever created.”
Well … 0wn3d. Here is a palindromic sentence that is 40,000 words long.
June 23, 2004
The term was brought into computer game studies by Gonzalo Frasca, who is well known for his thinking about connecting games with politics and the wider culture. But the term is now used, at least by some, to identify a type of game studies that emphasizes formal aspects of games — at times seeming to bracket off nearly all concern with anything beyond the mechanisms of gameplay.
June 21, 2004
And get your script on, too. You could call it version 2.0, or you might think of it as Grand Text Auto: Advice City, or you might just say “ooo – shiny!” Whatever the case, there have been some changes. It’s been slightly more than a year since we’ve been online, and now we’ve driven Movable Type off into the ocean and are riding in a tripped-out 2004 WordPress, complete with redesign. Sure, the radio stations are the same, but now, all of our templates are compliant, even if our thinking about digital media isn’t.
Nick and I are pleased to announce the publication of a new pamphlet we’ve written, Acid-Free Bits: Recommendations for Long-Lasting Electronic Literature. AFB is the first publication of the Electronic Literature Organization’s Preservation, Archiving, and Dissemination (PAD) project. While we wrote most of the text of the pamphlet, Nick and I are very much building on the work of the last couple of years by the participants in PAD.
June 19, 2004
“Ready or not games are in the gallery.” For a week starting today on the empyre listserv is ‘game to game’, a discussion of game art. Panelists include games and media theorist Melanie Swalwell; Rebecca Cannon, curator of selectparks.net; artists Anita Johnston and Troy Innocent; and moderated by Helen Stuckey.
June 18, 2004
My post-lunch stop by my office led me to miss one panel of Knowledge Held Hostage, but I returned for a discussion of some proposals for change. I’ll point out here, above the fold, that in questions a sinister piece of pending legislation was mentioned: The Induce Act. Now on to the panels…
Today I’m at a conference at Penn called Knowledge Held Hostage: Scholarly versus Corporate Rights in the Digital Age. As you might guess, the conference was not about scholars hoarding rights from corporations. I found it interesting that the opposition between scholarly and corporate rights was encoded in the subtitle, as wasn’t the case in Copyright and the Networked Computer. On the one hand, that leaves out artistic, political, and other rights; on the other, it sets up an institutional opponent for corporations – one that has some societal power and is at least somewhat formidable, if the other opponents you’re contemplating are, for instance, Negativland and a Norwegian teenage hacker.
Sure, you can get Neural – an Italian magazine about “hacktivism, e-music, and new media art” – online, in English. (Or in Italian, of course. With appropriate illustrations and short bits of text laden with technical terms, the Italian stories end up being almost as comprehensible as menus – or more so, if you already know what the story is about.) But there’s something about the printed English magazine that evokes those enthusiastic publications of a decade ago: the early Wired and its predecessors, bOING bOING and Mondo 2000 (“The only magazine with an expiration date in its title.” -Bruce Sterling). This is a spread from the February issue, picturing a “flower installation” in Croatia. While it isn’t hot off the press, I keep finding things to like about it and the news on the Neural site.
June 16, 2004
The 3rd European Workshop on Evolutionary Music and Art, EvoMUSART 2005, will be held March 30 – April 1 2005, in Lausanne, Switzerland. EvoMUSART focuses on the use of evolutionary techniques (genetic algorithms, genetic programming) for generative music and art. Submissions are due November 5, 2004. Topics of interest include:
Bloom and Daedalus wandered through Dublin 100 years ago today, albeit in a Dublin with ontological status different from the one some of us know. For those who haven’t read Joyce’s epic novel and won’t have time to read it all today, there’s always the online classic, Ulysses for Dummies.
The second DiGRA conference will be held at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in one year’s time, from June 17 to 20, 2005. The conference is titled “Changing Views: Worlds in Play”. An excerpt from the press release:
The goal of this conference is to facilitate a richer and more comprehensive grasp of the present and future capabilities and applications of digital games by inviting and supporting work which demonstrates the values, means and ends of ‘changing views’ in and on digital games and games research. This work necessarily embraces interdisciplinarity and internationalism, and is, in sum, work which bridges between and across worlds in play.
June 15, 2004
For great justice, a new version of the Zag Glulx interpreter is now available. Zag is written in Java and has done a lot to ease this Mac user’s Glulx woes. It’ll let you run large, multimedia IF pieces such as Narcolepsy and Lock & Key (found on Adam’s IF Page), City of Secrets, and El extraño caso de Randolph Dwight.
The 2004 IF Art Show is now online, with several works, including pieces by Jacqueline A. Lott, Dave J. Malaguti, and Yoon Ha Lee. Marnie Parker’s IF Art Shows (this is the sixth) use something of a visual art or gallery metaphor, but they don’t feature visual art – at least not prominently. The usual text-based format for interactive fiction is the norm, with pieces that are less extensive and riddle-like than usual. As with the IF Competition, a contest, rather than a magazine issue or the like, is used as an organizing theme.
June 11, 2004
You called yourself “ESCAPER.” The oddly compelling miniature Flash adventure Crimson Room was mentioned on here back in February. Now Toshimitsu Takagi’s sequel, Viridian Room, is out. I haven’t done more than fiddle with it, as is the case with another game that Josh Kellar pointed me to, this one by Jan Albartus: The Mystery of Time and Space. Branko Collin on rec.arts.int-fiction linked to what is certainly the most visually appealing and easily clicked through adventure of this sort, a promotional game for The Polyphonic Spree’s new album: Quest for the Rest. It’s by Amanita Design. (The image here is from Quest for the Rest.) It looks like adventure games and interactive fiction may have a rich life ahead of them in advertising, given this and Burger King’s IF-style online video puppet. But it’s certainly the case that Flash is being used for some interesting little online graphical adventures.
Update (6/12): A detailed review of The Mystery of Time and Space follows…
Update (6/12): There’s a more extensive Flash adventure by Amanita Design: Samorost.
June 10, 2004
A NYTimes article appears today about “small, simple, fast and fun” games, many of them from independent developers. The games described include Grow, recently mentioned on GTxA, and IGF prize winner Oasis. Plus, a link to Little Fluffy, which I’ve added to our resources links list. Check out their “Top 20” page.
June 9, 2004
FILE, Festival Internacional de Linguagem Eletrônica (Electronic Language International Festival), will be held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from November 22nd to December 12th, 2004. Submissions are due June 15. FILE will consist of four simultaneous events:
- FILE FESTIVAL – An electronic arts festival solicating works in areas such as web arts, net arts, artificial life, hypertext, robotics, software art, VR, and electronic installation.
- FILE SYMPOSIUM – A symposium on digitial culture.
- FILE HIPERSÔNICA – An exhibition of sound installations and real-time performance.
- FILE GAMES – An exhibition of electronic games. A newly added event this year.
June 8, 2004
In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee and colleagues got to proclaim their new invention, the World Wide Web, with a poster at the ACM Hypertext conference. This year it could be you! The 2004 conference will be in sunny Santa Cruz; the poster and demo deadline is this Friday, June 11.
A new issue of The Iowa Review Web is just out, and this quarter’s featured artist section features our very own Noah Wardrip-Fruin, who is interviewed by Scott Rettberg and Jill Walker, with comments from Josh Carroll and Robert Coover.
Also in the new issue are interviews with Jay David Bolter and Amy Sara Carroll; a review of Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency, by Jay David Bolter and Diane Gromala; and poems by Denisa Comanescu, Rebecca Makkai, and Stephen Dunn.
Dunn and Rettberg both … if Grand Text Auto doesn’t carjack The Iowa Review Web, it looks like Stockton College will.
June 6, 2004
Prompted in part by the all-encompassing “game canon” lists that were provided a while ago (specifically, the ones by Greg Costikyan and by Jesper Juul and Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen), I’ve listed a dozen games for one specific early console – the Atari VCS (a.k.a. the Atari 2600) – which I think would be extremely useful for modern-day scholars of console games to play and study. Without giving anything like a full review of these cartridges, I’ve tried to briefly explain why each is worth considering.