1. My parents took me to see Groundhog Day while it was in theaters, and at the time I didn’t think much of it. This is to say that too cool for elementary school Ben Johnson thought it was kind of a dumb movie about a guy who can’t die or something. So imagine my surprise when years later it kept coming up as an example of Great Comedy.

    Older, wiser Ben Johnson regrets the error. It’s a good movie. But even I came away with a deeper understanding of just how well the gears in that movie turn by listening to the Scriptnotes Podcast discussion of Groundhog Day.

    [direct mp3 link]

     
  2. image: Download

     
  3. 21:53 25th Feb 2014

    Notes: 22

    Reblogged from babycastles

    image: Download

    babycastles:

We’re excited to announce a month-long pop-up arcade at the Ace Hotel!
The Armory Show partnered with the Ace Hotel to put together a free, open to the public installation and we are so excited to have been invited to be a part of this. The exhibit is called Art Video Games in China and was curated by our friend Brian Ma. We’ll be bringing our arcade cabinets of course, and maybe some other stuff too?? We’ll definitely keep you updated in the time leading up to the show.
Dates: March 6-31 2014
Location: The Gallery at Ace Hotel New York, 20 W 29th Street, New York NY 10001

    babycastles:

    We’re excited to announce a month-long pop-up arcade at the Ace Hotel!

    The Armory Show partnered with the Ace Hotel to put together a free, open to the public installation and we are so excited to have been invited to be a part of this. The exhibit is called Art Video Games in China and was curated by our friend Brian Ma. We’ll be bringing our arcade cabinets of course, and maybe some other stuff too?? We’ll definitely keep you updated in the time leading up to the show.

    Dates: March 6-31 2014

    Location: The Gallery at Ace Hotel New York, 20 W 29th Street, New York NY 10001

     
  4. The PixelTron

    The PixelTron is a project Liz and I created for the 2012 Northern Spark outdoor lighting festival in Minneapolis. Originally called the PixelTron150, it is a 15 x 10 grid of pixels, each measuring 6” on a side, leading to an overall screen size of 7.5’ x 5’ x 8”, housed in a custom-built arcade cabinet that stood 8’ tall and 8’ wide, with a total depth of about 4’.

    image

    Each pixel is lit from behind by a single color-changing LED, similar to the kind used for the lights on the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.

    image

    The PixelTron accepts an arbitrary video signal and can be used to show absolutely any image, game, or video imaginable. However I created a custom game for the festival, a 3-player racing game called Low-Rez Racer that was designed specifically for a resolution of 15 pixels by 10 pixels.

    image

    As part of Northern Spark, the game was installed on the Minneapolis Riverwalk near the Stone Arch Bridge between sundown and sunup, and was played near-constantly the entire time by people aged 5 to 65 and of varying levels of sobriety, totaling about 2000 players in one night. We received kind words from many passers-by, including Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, representatives of the Walker Art Center, and The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

     
  5. Thoughts On Why I Like Minimalism in New Games

    I’ve been playing a couple of games that have gotten me thinking about maximalism in video game design recently, Blizzard’s Hearthstone beta, which is a collectable card game, and the iPad port of Full Control Studios’ Space Hulk, an adaption of the Games Workshop board game.

    Both of these games are obviously influenced by AAA videogame aesthetics. On top of a base of a fairly well established gameplay tradition (Magic: the Gathering, and Space Hulk / skirmish miniatures, respectively) they layer on 3D animation, character voices, and lots visual effects. These are, of course, unnecessary for gameplay, since both games could comfortably be played with cards, dice and paper. They’re entirely spectacle.

    In particular, my experience with Hearthstone was to install, play for about 2 hours until I thought I had a pretty good sense of the game in my head (Magic: the Gathering, but built for speed, and with slightly larger numbers), and then uninstall. I uninstalled not because I wasn’t having a good time, but because it didn’t seem to be doing anything to resolve the basic tension of collectable card game design: the promise of putting together a strategy only to be surprised when it is undone by playing against someone with cards you’d never seen before, versus the reality of dominant strategies evolving and being available to anyone willing to spend the effort to put a dominant deck together.

    I think back to times in my life when I was more interested in spectacle: mostly when I was a teenager. I don’t think it was so much that I was easily distracted by shiny objects and now I’m somehow more resolute, but rather that a lot of gameplay was still brand new to me, and given the option to explore a new idea a couple of ways, I’m happy to pick the pretty one. These days, I’m less interested in spending time on something that seems new, but really isn’t, and so I’ve developed an attraction to sparer aesthetics that make it easier to tell whether I’m dealing with something new or not before I spend a lot of time with it. Maybe that’s because I’m a game designer, and so finding clever things in games is a big part of my life, or maybe it’s because I’m just older and more aware of my own mortality.

    In any case, I can understand why the sort of maximalist design choices that make me and a lot of my jaded game-literate peers roll our eyes are still so effective at pulling in new players, even if they turn folks like us off.

     
  6. Because of the great response to my “Ludic Century” essay, NYU has invited me to participate in a panel discussion about Eric Zimmerman’s Manifesto, beside Zimmerman, Abe Stein, McKenzie Wark, and moderated by Heather Chaplin!
The panel, on Thursday, November 14th, is free, but requires an RSVP, which you can find links to, along with more information about the panel, here.
You’ll get to see me punching game theory way out of my weight class, but maybe you can just think of it as a little light gladiatorial entertainment to get your blood pumping for the main event: PRACTICE, which starts the next day.

    Because of the great response to my “Ludic Century” essay, NYU has invited me to participate in a panel discussion about Eric Zimmerman’s Manifesto, beside Zimmerman, Abe Stein, McKenzie Wark, and moderated by Heather Chaplin!

    The panel, on Thursday, November 14th, is free, but requires an RSVP, which you can find links to, along with more information about the panel, here.

    You’ll get to see me punching game theory way out of my weight class, but maybe you can just think of it as a little light gladiatorial entertainment to get your blood pumping for the main event: PRACTICE, which starts the next day.

     
  7. "The Ludic Century," A Fooferaw

    I’ll start with the background.

    NYU Game Center professor Eric Zimmerman wrote a manifesto to appear in a forthcoming book, The Gameful World. In this manifesto, Zimmerman lays out an argument that the 21st century will be a century of ludic revolution as the 20th century was a century of information revolution.

    About a week later, MIT Game Lab researcher Abe Stein publishes a retort on KillScreen. His fundamental concern is that Zimmerman’s manifesto relies too much on digital technology, and as a result marginalizes cultures and persons who aren’t privileged enough to participate (the poor, the non-coastal non-urban, the developing).

    I think both are fundamentally flawed, for different reasons. However, there are things being addressed here that are scratching at a breakthrough, and I am of the belief that “it’s complicated” is more than a relationship status, but the way of the world.

    So:

    Read More

     
  8. Compare & Contrast: Free-To-Play Monetization vs. Mind Control Strategies

     
  9. 10:24 20th May 2013

    Notes: 3

    How to compose a successful critical commentary:

    1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

    2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

    3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

    4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

    — Daniel Dennett, Intuition Pumps
     
  10. 20:23 13th May 2013

    Notes: 8

    “The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.

    The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius - a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in in general circulation.

    "A genius working alone," he says, "is invariably ignored as a lunatic."

    The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find; a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad.

    "A person like this working alone," says Slazinger, "can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shaped should be."

    The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain everything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be. “He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting,” says Slazinger.

    "Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey.”