I’ve been an absentee blogger, and I apologize. The last time I posted, in July, I mentioned I had started a new game studio Stumptown Game Machine here in Portland, that has been consuming my time. I had said we were working on a game for a reality-TV show, and in fact it was coming along swimmingly — until the publisher ran out of cash a few weeks before the game was complete. And, they still owe us money. Ah, the fun life of indie game development.
October 31, 2008
October 29, 2008
It only ran from 2004-2006, but let us remember THIS IS FUN TO MAKE A BLOG ON THE COMPUTER WEBSITE.
The deadline for submissions for the Digital Humanities 2009 conference at the University of Maryland this June (22-25) has been extended to November 14th. The joint international conference is the oldest established meeting of scholars working at the intersection of advanced information technologies and the humanities, annually attracting a distinguished international community at the forefront of their fields. Submissions are invited on all topics concerning digital humanities, e.g.
October 27, 2008
A new installation of Scalable City — created by Sheldon Brown and UCSD’s Experimental Game Lab — just opened at the Calit2 Gallery. While I haven’t seen the new version created for this installation (yet) the event prompts me to share a few thoughts about games, processes, and choice that Scalable City has helped me bring into focus.
I believe that games express ideas about the world through the design of their systems. Even a family tabletop game like Monopoly expresses something about the positive feedback loop of unregulated capitalism and its effects — inequality producing greater inequality — during its excruciating endgame. Of course, the systems of family-oriented board games tend, by necessity, to be relatively simple. Their players are responsible for carrying out all the processes involved, which means the rules can’t take too long to learn or execute.
Computer games, on the other hand, can have an immensely complicated set of processes in their repertoire.
October 22, 2008
Zone : Zero
But never met this Fellow / Attended, or alone / Without a tighter breathing / And Zero at the Bone— Stephanie Strickland’s Zone is not just a area of restriction; it is one where number and its limits are revealed, where they play. It is one of zero. One and zero alternate in “Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot,” the Web and print poem about how carbon and silicon, and life and computation, interrelate. This poem and “slippingglimpse” are offered on CD and on the pages. It’s a delight to have them to hand as well as to screen. Strickland is master of the hybrid book of leaves and bits, and she shows her mastery here, one foot on earth, one lifted in air. The book offers poems on war and Gödel, a profound series purportedly about absinthe, and a poem made largely of parentheses. Zone : Zero is a strick land, a spare, encompassing, wonderful sector where nature and language twine.
October 20, 2008
I wish I could make it! The Untitled conference will feature Kenny Goldsmith’s exploding head and much much more.
I’ve been in the process of moving, one of my least favorite activities, so when I had an evening to give myself a break I decided to indulge by downloading “Bring Down the Sky” — the first DLC release for BioWare’s Mass Effect.
It was a pleasure to return to the Mass Effect universe — though, like many others, I was disappointed that so much of “Bring Down the Sky” focuses on the boring peek-a-boo tank combat that was probably the weakest element of the original game.
More troubling, however, was the morality embedded in “Bring Down the Sky.” Explaining this requires a little background. (Also, there are spoilers ahead, so don’t read further if you’d like to avoid them.)
October 16, 2008
I arrived at ITU-Copenhagen just in time for the first keynote of the ninth AoIR (Association of Internet Research) conference – my first AoIR.
Mimi Ito has been studying and speaking about mobile media recently, but the topic she took up at AoIR in her keynote was youth participation in networked publics. Drawing on more than 4,000 questionnaires and more than 5,000 hours of observation, she and her team put together a deep and broad ethnographic study.
October 14, 2008
The Digital Arts and New Media MFA program at UC Santa Cruz is organized around a set of collaborative research areas — and I’m happy to announce a new one in Playable Media. The official description reads:
DANM’s Playable Media research explores the potential of computational systems for the creation of new media forms that invite and structure play. This group works to understand and create new ways for computer games and related forms to engage audiences, make arguments, tell stories, and shape social space. Ongoing Playable Media work combines game design and artificial intelligence research with writing, art, and media authoring.
October 8, 2008
J. J. Abrams, the creator of Lost, says that it would be “really fun” to develop an all-text interactive fiction.
And, a collector acquires an amazing manuscript: A typed-out text by recently departed Thomas M. Disch, specifying the interactive fiction Amnesia.
October 7, 2008
Announced today, the The Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) is a joint research endeavor of Microsoft Research, New York University and a consortium of universities, including Dartmouth College. Tiltfactor will be home to the 3 year research initiative at Dartmouth, where researchers will be evaluating computer games as learning tools. We will be specifically focusing on math and science subjects among middle-school students. The Tiltfactor laboratory anticipates a limited number of student positions in relationship to this research, so please contact us for more information!
Proposals for Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art) are now being sought. The deadline is 15 December 2008.
Five writers will be commissioned to develop chapters for a networked book about networked art. The chapters will be open for revision, commentary, and translation by online collaborators. Each commissioned writer will receive $3,000 (US).
Networked Committee: Steve Dietz (Northern Lights, MN) :: Martha CC Gabriel (net artist, Brazil) :: Geert Lovink (Institute for Network Cultures, The Netherlands) :: Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MA) :: Anne Bray (LA Freewaves, LA) :: Sean Dockray (Telic Arts Exchange, LA) :: Jo-Anne Green (NRPA, MA) :: Eduardo Navas (newmediaFIX) :: Helen Thorington (NRPA, NY)
October 6, 2008
Dear Pod people, I’ve been interviewed by Trevor Dodge and Shane Hinton and am on the latest First Wall Rebate, a podcast “focusing on games and the cultures that spawn them.” If this sounds keen, drink it in through the earbuds and let me know what you think, either here or on the First Wall Rebate site.
October 3, 2008
For those in or near Cambridge, MA:
Monday (Oct 6) at 6pm
MIT’s Stata Center, 32-141
Award-studded “game god”* Steve Meretzky will speak on Monday (Oct 6) at 6pm in MIT’s Stata Center, 32-141.
Steve Meretzky’s first job in computer gaming was at the Cambridge company Infocom, which was the leading interactive fiction developer. Meretzky became the company’s most prolific author, writing Planetfall, A Mind Forever Voyaging, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos and co-authoring The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy with Douglas Adams.
Meretzky has since worked at Legend Entertainment, Boffo Games (which he co-founded), and WorldWinner. He is currently at Blue Fang Games.
October 2, 2008
Moon Stories, The Trials and The Storyteller are three delightful miniature games (perhaps the last is a toy) by Daniel Benmergui. It takes a few seconds to start playing them, and they take a few minutes to master – or, you can check the walkthroughs. Whatever the case, check out the games, in which simplicity and uncanniness of presentation and play are combined in particularly pleasing ways.