October 31, 2009

Eludamos Posts New Issue, Seeks Articles, Volunteers

from Post Position
by @ 9:13 pm

Those of us who study computer and video games are very fortunate to have two free, online, peer-reviewed journals that do not assess page fees: Game Studies and Eludamos. And, there is at least one more free, online, peer-reviewed journal that does not assess page fees and includes articles about computer and video games: Digital Humanities Quarterly.

That’s the preface to my mentioning that a new issue (vol. 3, no. 2) of Eludamos is now out.

Also, that journal has issued a new call for papers:

October 30, 2009

Flanagan at MIT, Hood Museum

from tiltfactor
by @ 7:27 am

Tiltfactor’s Mary Flanagan will be visiting MIT’s Gambit lab on Monday 2nd November, for Introduction to Game Studies. Later in the day she is speaking at the MIT series Purple Blurb about her art practice as it relates to her theory of Critical Play.

On Tuesday 3rd November, Flanagan is speaking in a Lunchtime Gallery Talk at 12:30pm related to the exhibition currently on, The Art of Sonia Landy Sheridan.

October 29, 2009

Mary Flanagan Speaks in Purple Blurb, Monday 11/2 6pm

from Post Position
by @ 8:42 pm

On Monday (November 2) at 6pm in MIT’s room 14E-310,

The Purple Blurb series of readings and presentations on digital writing will present a talk by

Mary Flanagan.

Mary Flanagan

author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT Press, 2009)

Mary Flanagan is the creator of [giantJoystick], and author of [theHouse] among other digital writing works. She is Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth, where she directs Tiltfactor, a lab focused on the design of activists and socially-conscious software.

So many great minds~

from tiltfactor
by @ 1:33 pm

First there is the series of conversations with folks like Kate Hayles, the Guerrilla Girls, and Brenda Laurel that is happening at Tiltfactor in the variable_d salon held in Hanover NH!

Second, a symposium on complex systems will take place next Friday (Nov. 6) that I thought would be of interest to many of you. It’s on Complex Systems and will be held in Spanos Auditorium at Thayer.  Keynotes will be given by Duncan Watts (Yahoo!), George Conrades (Akamai Technologies), and John Donahoe (eBay).

Fantastic! Join us!

Landscape of open source games

Yo Frankie! An open source platformer created using Blender.

Yo Frankie! An open source platformer created using Blender.

I recently gave a presentation on the landscape of open source software in computer games at the Univ. Rey Juan Carlos, where I am currently visiting the Libresoft research group. My slides are available here.

While much of the talk covered well-known libraries (SDL, OpenAL), game engines (Ogre, Irrlicht), physics engines (Bullet, Tokamak), and content creation tools (Blender, GIMP), there were a few surprises. One was how many open source game-creation systems I found (4, more than the zero I expected). These are Game Editor (2d with export to some mobile devices), Construct (2d, some 3d), Novashell (2d), and Sandbox (3d). Another surprise was the game Yo Frankie! (pictured above), which has very high quality animation and artwork, and was produced using Blender.

October 28, 2009

It’s All (About) Fun and Games

Koster's "A Theory of Fun in Game Design

Koster's "A Theory of Fun for Game Design"

I’m a new member of the lab here, and that means that I’ve got a lot of learning to do. I need to learn about the different projects in the lab, learn about the various systems involved in those projects, and even about programming languages used in those systems. But I also need to learn about the theory that drives those systems, and more broadly, the theory that motivates the work in the lab. So for the past few days, I’ve been reading articles–and even a short book–about the theory of fun in games.

October 26, 2009

Invisible GeoCities

from Post Position
by @ 8:18 pm

GeoCities, founded in 1995, grew to become the third most visited site on the Web in 1999, when it was bought by Yahoo! for more than $3.5 billion. It offered free Web hosting in directories themed as different cities. Many people published their first page and first site on GeoCities. The Archiveteam has been working to save as much of it as possible; this wildly individual Web work won’t be completely lost to us as much of the pre-Wayback Web is. But at midnight Pacific Time, the plug will be pulled on this significant and populist piece of the Web. Here is, not an archive, but at least a peek at some of what will go dark.

October 24, 2009

The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 5:39 am

I’m organizing a small conference, The Network as a Space and Medium for Collaborative Interdisciplinary Art Practice in Bergen, which will take place from November 8-10 at UiB and at Landmark Café. The gathering is focused on the increasing use of the network as a space and medium for collaborative interdisciplinary art practices including electronic literature and other network-based art forms. Researchers will present papers exploring new network-based creative practices that involve the cooperation of small to large-scale groups of writers, artists, performers, and programmers to create online projects that defy simple generic definitions and disciplinary boundaries. Panel topics (abstracts) include:

October 22, 2009

Calling all animators!

from tiltfactor
by @ 9:03 am

Dartmouth College has a Tenure-Track Assistant Professor position available for an Animator. In two years (or less?) this person will be leading the animation area down the hall from Tiltfactor in the new Visual Arts Center. Work with great colleagues, collaborate with Tiltfactor, make friends at the nations’ first Center for Cartoon Studies the next town over, create great art, and teach excellent, creative Dartmouth students. Many things are possible here! Hurry – applications are due in November!

October 21, 2009

Platform Readings: Jaguar, Pseudo 3D

from Post Position
by @ 10:27 pm

As an Atari Jaguar owner, I suppose I have something of a soft spot for the system, but I really do wish that it had more than one awesome game. There’s a recent article on the failure of Atari’s last console by Matthew Kaplan. He ends up singing of the Jaguar rather as if it has been the Great White Hope, sadly fallen to Japanese consoles, but touches on several interesting aspects of the console along the way. Technology, pricing, and marketing are all discussed in some detail. This will help us remember the “64-bit” claims that were made for the system and the never-shipped VR helmet that made appearances at trade shows. Thanks to Jason Scott for this link.

&Now in Buffalo

from Post Position
by @ 10:40 am

I’m not up to a writeup of the recent &Now: A Conference of Innovative Writing and the Literary Arts, a festival/conference (”festerence,” as someone noted) which just shuffled through Buffalo. But while you are waiting for the deadpan article in Harper’s about the event, these should be worth about 3000 words.

&Now conference attendees wait for Nathaniel Mackey's keynote reading.
This sticker, unrelated to the conference, was an ad for something. The URL washed away, rendering it art.
Stephanie Strickland joins me at The Century Grill, where it's bacon night.

October 20, 2009


from Post Position
by @ 5:36 pm
Babyfucker, Urs Allemann, trans. Peter Smith, biligual edition, Les Figues Press, 2010

Babyfucker, Urs Allemann, trans. Peter Smith, biligual edition, Les Figues Press, 2010

“… mirrors and copulation are abominable because they increase the number of men.” —Borges

Tiltfactor at Montreal Games Summit

from tiltfactor
by @ 7:17 am

Tiltfactor’s Mary Flanagan will be speaking on the panel, “Designing For Impact: Where the Talk Meets the Walk,” with several other internationally recognized social impact game makers. “As the medium of games matures and new experimentation and exploration of the medium flourish, many game designers, educators and activists of all stripes are turning to games to address key international issues such as poverty, global conflicts and climate change. Games such as Food Force from the UN’s World Food Program and Darfur Is Dying are being played by literally millions of players. Yet what exactly are the end results? Is it enough to simply track numbers of plays or players and declare the game a success? Or is the emerging field finally ready to start looking more seriously at how to design for concrete impact in the real world? What if the game began with a petition, a march or a dollar amount needed and designed back from that real-world outcome? How do we build this new step into a design process already very well established? This panel of leading game developers and educators will discuss how a new paradigm of game design is needed to take this emerging field from Talk to Walk. Featuring Tracy Fullerton, Chair of EA Innovation Lab at USC, Mary Flanagan of Tiltfactor Lab, Alexander Eberts, Co-founder and VP Products, Akoha, and Suzanne Seggerman (moderator) President and Co-founder of Games for Change.”

October 17, 2009

Computer Game Maps Sought for Exhibit

from Post Position
by @ 11:15 am

Hand-drawn, player-created computer game maps are sought for a traveling exhibit in the UK. They’re needed soon – by mid-November. Thanks to Ian Bogost for letting me know about this.

October 15, 2009

Morpheus Biblionaut

from Post Position
by @ 7:51 am

Writer, publisher, and collaborator of mine William Gillespie just read (yesterday afternoon) an extraordinary piece here at the &Now festival in Buffalo. The multimedia piece is Morpheus Biblionaut, which he created with Travis Alber of Bookglutton.com. Gillespie pulls out the stops for this tale of an American astronaut and poet who returns to earth to find almost no radio activity, except, perhaps, for one signal. Plug in, isolate yourself for a space of time, and read this one!

I presented right after on ppg256, my series of poetry generators.

Two interesting locative gaming experiences

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 3:48 am

I’m at a seminar in Oslo focused on mixed reality narrative. A couple of interesting projects: Julianne Pierce from the UK artist group Blast Theory presented Ulrike and Eamon Compliant, in which the interactor is put in the role of one of two IRA terrorists, about to undergo interrogration, and Rider Spoke, an interactive performance piece for cyclists. Petr Svorovsky from the Oslo National Academy of the Art also presented Flirtman, a mobile phone game in which players control a human avatar. Petr had some interesting observations about how people related to social codes differently when controlling the actions of another human being than they did when controlling a virtual avatar.

October 13, 2009

Of Late

from Post Position
by @ 6:49 pm

People I know have been up to many things lately, and many of these surely deserve a full, thoughtful blog post. I won’t manage that, so the least I can do is mention that …

Jason Scott continues to back up Geocities, and, in the process of doing this, has posted page-heaps of under construction and email icons. Warning: ginormous.

Jason Nelson presented his new, uncanny, crapcredible game, Evidence of Everything Exploding.

Jason McIntosh has a great video about a non-digital game, Diplomacy, that he and friends did during a day-long session, wearing more-ot-less nationally appropriate hats.

Curveship in AI Magazine

from Post Position
by @ 4:06 pm

Delightfully, the current issue of AI Magazine (Volume 30, number 3, Fall 2009) is on computational creativity. The number offers articles on the field overall; the history of workshops on the topic; computer models of creativity; and creative systems to generate music, stories and their tellings, moves of chess, and humor. The last article is computer-generated in high Hofstadter style.

Pablo Gervás’s contribution, “Computational Approaches to Storytelling and Creativity,” provides a clear introduction to the concept of creativity and the history of the term, analyzes the relevant features that storytelling systems can work upon, gives an outline of work in computational creativity so far, and continues with a capsule summary of several important storytelling systems. The last one of these is my system nn, which I renamed “Curveship” as I started focusing on a public release of the software.

October 9, 2009

Tale of Tales have done it again: The Observational Immersionist Style

fataleTale of Tales just released a new game or rather “experimental play experience” (a phrase surely concocted to appease those who don’t accept their repurposing of the word game).  Anyhow, it’s called Fatale and it is awesome.

Starting with The Endless Forest, Tale of Tale’s have consistently created environments that exist for the purpose of being looked at and explored.  This may not sound all that unique as most 3D games have environments that are explored, but the difference is that these games exist solely for this purpose.  To them, game environments are not containers for gameplay, but rather are the reason for gameplay.  By only affording the player navigation controls, the player’s mind is free to embark on a journey of induction and introspection.  In their own words, Fatale “offers an experimental play experience that stimulates the imagination and encourages multiple interpretations and personal associations.”

October 7, 2009

EIS Hosts the Procedural Content Generation Symposium

On Monday, October 12th, UCSC’s Expressive Intelligence Studio will be hosting a symposium on Procedural Content Generation. Please join us to see interesting talks by speakers Julian Togelius (ITU Copenhagen), Mark Riedl (Georgia Tech), and Kate Compton (EA/Maxis). There will also be a panel on “The Future of Procedural Content Generation”, moderated by Michael Mateas (UCSC), and a number of demos by students in EIS. All events will occur on the UC Santa Cruz campus. We hope you will be able to come!

Further information on talks and scheduling information is after the cut.

October 6, 2009

Metadata Games in the News

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:45 am

Mary Flanagan on Vermont Television A news piece on Tiltfactor’s metadata project aired Sept. 29 on WCAX-Channel 3, Vermont’s statewide television station based in Burlington. The piece features project director Mary Flanagan and one of her students, Danielle Arostegui, from Dartmouth.

A print story also appears on the station’s website.

October 4, 2009

Using StarCraft as a Game AI Testbed



I’ve been interested in developing AI for StarCraft for several years now. I recently came across the Broodwar API project, which provides hooks into StarCraft. It enables developers to query game state as well as issue orders to units. The Broodwar API makes it possible to write custom AI bots for StarCraft.

There are several benefits to using StarCraft as an environment for evaluating game AI. StarCraft is a robust, commercial RTS game that has been around for over 10 years. The game is more complex than current research systems due to its distinct races, deep tech trees and large map pool. Also, StarCraft has developed a large following of players, resulting in a huge number of game traces available for analysis.

October 3, 2009

The Games Begin

from Post Position
by @ 8:56 pm

The 15th Interactive Fiction Competition games are out. You can download them and, this year, play 14 of them online. Voting in the IF Comp is done by the public at large, so you can participate at the ballot box as well as at the prompt.

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