I suppose the big game industry news of the day is the cancellation of the yearly E3 tradeshow (who gives a crap, it was just a big marketing fest), but more interesting is the announcement of a new technology for digitally capturing super-high resolution models and motion of actors, called Contour. See articles in the NYTimes and Wall Street Journal. It’s developed by entrepeneur and inventor Steve Perlman (veteran Apple guy, General Magic, WebTV) and to be demoed at this week’s Siggraph in Boston. See and read more at his website, Mova.com.
July 31, 2006
July 28, 2006
The links have been piling up, time to unload… First, interactive narrative oriented links:
- Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames, the first reader on the topic of game writing, written by the IGDA Game Writers SIG
- Generating Comics Narrative to Summarize Wearable Computer Data, GaTech Masters thesis, Jason Alderman
- Script of Ernest Adams’ GDC05 talk on interactive narrative
- The End of Things: endings in interactive narrative, Jason Rhody
- Ron Gilbert on his disappointment with lack of good story in games
- Chris Crawford reacts to being the anti-Christ
- A list of first-timer foibles when playing IF
- “Blade Engine”, a free game engine and construction kit aimed at making Visual Novel easy to construct, that strive for a higher level of plot and character depth than Choose Your Own Adventure books
More really great links:
- Will Wright and Brian Eno in conversation on the joys and techniques of “generative” creation (I’ve yet to read/watch this, but it looks great)
- Walking out of the uncanny valley alive?
- Bumptop: enriching the desktop metaphor (awesome!)
July 26, 2006
well, the opening of Game/Play at London’s House of Technology Termed Practice [HTTP] 22nd July was fantastic! This was the premiere of my [giantJoystick] (see below… ah… you can’t miss it)
as well as several amazing screen-based games pieces.
I was impressed with the games in the show,
July 25, 2006
A short, melancholy article on “The Short, Happy Life of Infocom” is now in The Escapist. The piece is by Lara Crigger, who also wrote the April Compuer Games cover story on IF. Like many such articles, it casusally mentions that Infocom is dead, dead dead dead, not alive. This one is illustrated with a photo of a gravestone, once again following the “IF is history!” formula for such pieces that Jeremy Douglass has pointed out. Why don’t we see articles like “Back Before DOS Bit the Dust,” “Origin Systems: Once Great, Now Toast” or “Dreamcast: Fun, and Six Feet Under!” more often? Or do I just not notice these?
GTxA’s neighbors to the north at Simon Fraser University are making a move that will shake the academic digital media landscape. This coming season they are hiring six assistant (or possibly associate) professors and four lecturers in Interactive Arts and Technology — which is a very fast scaling up in the academic world, especially for a young field like ours. After this, students and faculty will be ranking digital media programs differently.
The deadline for applications is early: 15 September 2006. The ten positions are:
July 24, 2006
Tadhg Kelly over at particleblog (whom I recently linked to) has posted a good rant about the “interactive storytelling community’s” misguided notions of the nature and feasibility of interactive stories. In particular he points out that stories are delicate structures, so how can they be made interactive? The age-old question, but I like Tadhg’s take on it.
Please read his full post before reading my comments below, which I also posted on his blog.
July 23, 2006
I get most of my news either online, by radio or PBS TV, but I do indulge in physical delivery of a few magazines and the Sunday New York Times. It seems every third week or so over the past few months, the Sunday NYT Arts & Leisure section has headlined with an article on videogames, a notable new trend of coverage for the paper. Today I opened the paper to find a big spread on serious games by Clive Thompson (whose journalism I blogged recently), leading with a screenshot of Peacemaker developed by CMU grad students, followed on inner pages with several large screenshots of Gonzalo’s Madrid, Sept 12, three (!) screenshots of Ian’s Take Back Illinois, and ICNC’s A Force More Powerful. Plus lots of quotes by all. Very cool! Congrats to all for the great coverage.
July 21, 2006
I guest-edited a just-released issue of the Iowa Review Web focused on the ways that different forms of new media writing reconfigure concepts of place and space. Another way of looking at the issue, however, is as a Grand Text Auto takeover of Iowa’s finest web journal. The issue features Jeremy Douglass’ interview with Nick Montfort on his interactive fiction Book and Volume and Brenda Bakker Harger’s interview with Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern on their interactive drama Façade. I also interview Shelley Jackson on the various manifestations of the human body in her corpus of work, and interview Jane McGonigal on alternate reality gaming. A short introduction contextualizes the various approaches that authors of electronic literature have used to conceptualize space and place. I hope that you’ll visit, read, and enjoy. Thanks to the authors and contributors and to Iowa Review Web Associate Editor Benjamin Basan for helping to put the issue together.
New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories (edited by Adalaide Morris and Thomas Swiss) looks like an exciting new collection. I haven’t seen a copy in person, but the contributor list is great. Here’s some of the jacket text:
New media poetry–poetry composed, disseminated, and read on computers–exists in various configurations, from electronic documents that can be navigated and/or rearranged by their “users” to kinetic, visual, and sound materials through online journals and archives like UbuWeb, PennSound, and the Electronic Poetry Center. Unlike mainstream print poetry, which assumes a bounded, coherent, and self-conscious speaker, new media poetry assumes a synergy between human beings and intelligent machines. The essays and artist statements in this volume explore this synergy’s continuities and breaks with past poetic practices, and its profound implications for the future.
July 19, 2006
It’s an early deadline this year for the Game Developers Conference, which will be in San Francisco again, March 5-9.
July 18, 2006
This morning at AAAI ’06 in Boston I heard the king of the Web speak about what he sees as the next step in this system’s evolution: the Semantic Web. The non-semantic Web has plenty of good introductory material on the topic, so I won’t try to paraphrase Professor Sir Tim Berners-Lee — but I will mention what I remember of the brief, interesting question-and-answer period.
The first question (or first three questions, as Berners-Lee called them) were from Google’s director of research and search quality Peter Norvig (also a palindromist). Specifically, he identified three problems that were difficult to overcome in the Web (and which Google had spent a lot of effort working on) and which he saw as causing problems for the more general data-sharing system that Berners-Lee was working on.
Speaking of new digital art shows, it seems GTxA’s Mary Flanagan has joyfully erected a sturdy piece of interactive art at a new UK game art show called Game/Play. Pictured to the right, it’s sort of an Iwo Jima meets Asteroids with Lilliputians, don’t you think? (To follow up Noah’s “Sticker St. Petersburg” post, maybe I should have called post this “Sticking London”)
With a dozen or so pieces in total, the show has four installations alongside Mary’s, including “Fluffy Tamagotchi (teddy bear material, Chicco toy TV set, 25 year old BBC microcomputer and some sensors), which can sing, wave its arms around and shit blue turds.” There are seven screen-based works — three online and four in the gallery, including recently blogged The Endless Forest from Tale of Tales, a funky second-person shooter by Julian Oliver, and your and my favorite digital marital arts game.
Accompanying the show is a catalog (pdf) of 20 specially commissioned texts on art / games / culture, including one by Mary. Mary is at the show, so expect a post with more details in the near future.
July 17, 2006
a wide-ranging scholarly network — an ecosystem, if you can bear that metaphor — in which folks working in media studies can write, publish, review, and discuss, in forms ranging from the blog to the monograph, from the purely textual to the multi-mediated, with all manner of degrees inbetween.
July 16, 2006
Notes from today’s workshop are by Nick and Michael. We’ve tried to takes notes as best as we can to advertise what work is going on, but please consult the actual academic publications of these individuals for the official word about their projects!
Memex Music and Gambling Games: EVE’s Take on Lucky Number 13
Kevin Burns (MITRE Corporation)
Shlomo Dubnov (University of California at San Diego, US)
Bayesian mathematics + information theory, games + music. EVE is a computational theory of aesthethics – a tradeoff between being able to predict and being surprised: Expectations (E), Violations (V), and E’xplanations (E’).
Slot machines could be set to almost any P (probability of payout) and the payout amount varies. They are empirically set to P=0.13, a value that may represent “peak fun.” Enjoyment can be computed in terms of marginal entropies: A “Goldilocks” function showing pleasure at different values of surprise, peaks around 0.13.
Memex music: each note is linked to the next one in a piece (e.g., first note in Beethoven’s Fifth to second note) and is also linked forward to other notes with similar history. Independently, they were set to branch away with probability 13%. Changing the pleasure function to a product rather than sum of terms (surprise * resolve), an S-shaped function arises.
If a player’s/listener’s P and Q vary from the real ones, there is a difference in pleasure. May lead to a theory of aesthetic utility.
July 15, 2006
With my early-summer plans completed, I’ve just posted a copy of my dissertation — Expressive Processing: On Process-Intensive Literature and Digital Media — at my revamped personal website. As I write on that page:
This work represents my initial take on a set of topics that I currently wrap up under the heading “expressive processing.” There are two things I particularly mean to get at with this phrase:
July 12, 2006
The Digital Arts and Culture conferences are, for me, the best in the field. Now the deadline for the next DAC is nearing… As mentioned previously, the deadline for 500-word abstracts for DAC 2007 is August 14, 2006. Full papers will be due December 4, 2006. The conference will be September 15-18th 2007 in Perth, Australia. Don’t miss it.
July 10, 2006
The DVD magazine Aspect is a great source for high quality documentation of, and commentary on, new media art. They’ve recently released a diverse and intriguing issue on the theme “Personas & Personalities” and here’s their new call, with the theme “Performance”:
Aspect is currently welcoming submissions for our
ninth volume, Performance. This issue will focus on
the broad spectrum of performance art — from the most
traditional interpretations to those integrating
advanced technologies, inanimate objects, passersby,
sites, and beyond.
All submissions must include the following, and must
be postmarked before September 30, 2006.
What a nice way to start my week — an article over at Water Cooler Games called “A paean to Dogz, at whose heels Nintendogs nips“.
A little history lesson is always a good thing, I have to say. Thanks, Ian!
July 7, 2006
Next month’s ISEA will be showcasing quite an array of electronic artwork. While San Jose ain’t quite the Baltic Sea (gang + 1 2 3 4 5 6 7), it’s much easier for North Americans like us to get to. Scanning the list, here’s a few previews that stood out to me, that may be of particular interest to GTxA readers. Text and images excerpted from the site.
Wildlife, Karolina Sobecka
At nighttime projections from moving cars are shone on the buildings in the industrial/abandoned part of town. Each car projects a video of a wild animal. The animal’s movements are programmed to correspond to the speed of the car: as the car moves, the animal runs along it, as the car stops, the animal stops also. Aggressive driving is reflected in the aggressive behavior of the animal. The animals are avatars of the drivers, who, enclosed in their bubble of safety, are separated from the stark and dangerous world of urban reality, as being in a different universe. Several vehicles can be taking part in the performance, creating interactions between the various animals, as the vehicles pass or get closer and further away from each other.
Amy and Klara (also see full project page), Marc Böhlen
Amy and Klara are robot characters capable of synthetic text to speech generation and automated speech recognition, for which the charged world of foul language is under investigation. Swearing offers several interesting conduits into a critique of the under-exposed normative tendencies in automated language representation and social robotics. Why are most smart gadgets and toys friendly and playful, why are they usually modelled as pets or servants? Machines that curse and pick a fight might offer a more realistic preparation for a shared future between machines and humans.
Feral Robotic Dogs (alse see full project page), Natalie Jeremijenko
OUT THERE, in happy family homes, in the offices of corporate executives, in toy stores throughout the globe, is an army of robotic dogs. These semi-autonomous robotic creatures, though currently programmed to perform inane or entertaining tasks: begging for plastic bones; barking to the tune of national anthems; walking in circles; are actually fully motile and AWAITING FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
July 6, 2006
Our Madrid correspondent José Manuel sends word of two games: LocoRoco, a fun-looking, joy-filled PSP game that seems to merge the physics of the noir Gish with the slap-happiness of Quest for the Rest. Additionally, there’s Green, Eggs, and Pan! 2006 winner of the UIUC G4G competition. Strong enough for a man, it’s made for girls, and for Windows, the latter of which keeps me from saying anything more about it. It’s good to see both girl-oriented and PSP-oriented innovation, though, since I usually get word of almost nothing at all in the former category and of little beyond tedious side-fighters and licensed dreck in the latter.
July 5, 2006
“My Beating Blog” is an attempt to take the journaling aspect of blogging into a surrealistic future in which the author literally and metaphorically bares his heart. For three weeks, a series of posts contextualizing heart-rate visualizations, GPS-maps, and personal journal entries will give online users a rare entrance into personal medical-grade statistics, stalker-level location tracking, and the private thoughts of the blogger. Inevitably, issues regarding privacy, exhibitionism, and voyeurism playfully emerge as the blogosphere is infused with biofeedback and location technology. Rather than play into a dystopian or Orwellian future, blogs and biofeedback are given poetic license, reframing our awareness of our own and each others’ beating hearts.
July 3, 2006
Saint Petersburg is a beautiful city, and so when the Summer Literary Seminars invited me to teach a workshop for students interested in hypertext (considered broadly) I wanted to propose projects that would get us out into the streets. Our first project — Sticker Saint Petersburg — was inspired by work like Implementation, Logozoa, and The Bubble Project. Though no one tried to use the opportunity to establish the truth of Nick’s earlier comments on Russian stickers, four of the students (Mike Alber, Ben Stark, Bill Stobb, and Guy Tiphane) have given me permission to put their work online.
July 1, 2006
When Katie walks, this simple pair accompany her side,
When Katie runs unwearied they follow on the road,
When Katie kneels, their loving hands still clasp her pious knee –
Ah! Katie! Smile at Fortune, with two so knit to thee!
Something to puzzle over during your long (or short, for those not in the USA) weekend. To read the answer I propose for this Emily Dickinson riddle (J222), highlight the text in the followng region by dragging over it with your mouse. Of course, feel free to comment and to let me know if you think I’m wrong.