Tag Archives: society

‘On the internet, no one still knows you’re a dog’

John Markoff,  former technology reporter for the New York Times, in an interview on Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode podcast:

On the internet, no one still knows you’re a dog. I think identity and the fact that you disconnect [real] identity from your internet identity has proved incredibly vexing for society. It played out in this election. It played out in Brexit. (It was a factor in both—I don’t know if it was a deciding factor—but I actually do blame the internet.)

I grew up with John Perry Barlow and his manifesto in WIRED in which he argued that cyberspace would be this “Socratian” abode above the grimy politics of the world. Then I realized I was wrong.

The internet is simply a reflection of all the good and the evil in the world.


What’s striking to me is that what the science-fiction world saw in the ’80s and ’90s has actually come to pass; the cyberpunk sensibility. There was a book written by Vernor Vinge in the early 1980s called True Names. The basic premise of that was you had to basically hide your true name at all costs. It was an insight into the world we’re living in today.

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Polygon Human Angle: Queer Games

Mattie Brice, developer of Mainichi:

If I was to watch [Mainichi] be played anywhere it would be upsetting. Maybe upsetting is a good thing. I think we should be upset by games. I think that’s a valid emotion to happen. It’s not meant for me to feel good. It does make other people feel good because in a sense, this game has been validating. Many people are like, “Oh! I’ve had that experience too. I’m not alone.”

Human Angle is such a beautiful series.

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59% of Americans play video games

Owen S. Good of Polygon on the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 2014 Survey:

Other questions asked of the survey is whether parents view video games to be a positive part of their child’s life; a majority — 56 percent — said yes, though some could view the figure as low given the nature of the question.

I’d say the 56% is positive and more than likely an upward trend seeing that the average gamer age is now 31. Most of today’s parents of 0~10 year-olds grew up with games. I believe they would likely state that games were a positive influence on their lives.

Erin Hoffman, Lead Game Designer at GlassLab Games on how commercial games can engage players in social causes:

Computers and video games have a history of teaching technology skills just by being the way they are, so to be able to get them into classrooms is a very powerful thing. I think you can make the argument that the new SimCity is the most sophisticated toy that’s ever been developed, and it’s just mesmerizing to look at and it’s very real and empowering.

I’d like to think this sentiment is shared by adults who grew up with video games.

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If you love games, you should refuse to be called a gamer

If you love games, you should refuse to be called a gamer

A delightfully provocative read about the idea of gaming as a community. I will also recommend that you swing by GamesAndLearning.org and play through Gone Home:

Video games are the most profitable medium in the entertainment industry. In the early 1990s Nintendo generated more annual profits than all of the American film studios combined. But despite its size, the medium’s audience is often referred to as a homogenous group. Players and commentators talk of the ‘gaming community’, as if the cross-cultural, socially diverse mass of humans who play video games is somehow uniform in gender, race, age and class. The idiocy of the term is only too clear when applied to other media such as literature (the ‘reading community’?), music (the ‘listening community’?) or film (the ‘observing community’?).

– Simon Parkin, NewStatesman

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Why video games are more Britney Spears and less Pink Floyd

Why video games are more Britney Spears and less Pink Floyd

The answer for IGN’s Mitch Dyer may lie on the Dark Side of the Moon. However, Toxic is a damn good song.

“Money, means, and the ideas that figure out how to do it without getting dull and standing on a soap box, which quite frankly nobody wants to listen to, and if they do they will go to documentaries. But as we are seeing, the more audiences realize that deeper content reflecting relevant truths can be more refreshing and engaging, [the more] we see documentary films having greater successes than ever in history. This is reflective of an evolving appetite that more people want more meaningful content and want to walk away from their experiences with more lasting impressions that add ‘more value to their lives.'”

– Lorne Lanning, Oddworld CEO

I find it oddly coincidental that two similar arguments on the lasting power of video games were published by two of the largest video game publications on the same day. What is the catalyst?

The bulk of the indies that reach the market are more akin to the early days of gaming. There is much more experimentation; however, indie devs in this evolved market are not making games to turn a profit but express themselves through the means created by gaming forefathers, thus unintentionally shaking gamers out of an empty dark-age before it has time to swallow us whole.

I’m giddy thinking of the ideas and stories Ken Levine could tell without the pressure of sales figures. I can’t be the only one who wished BioShock Infinite were simply an exploration game rather than FPS. Alas, shooters sell. Maybe Cyan could bring him in as a consultant on Obduction?

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1985: Burst and Bloom

1985. Burst of the video game. Bloom of the Millennial. My earliest memory: playing Mega Man 2. More specifically, Mega Man 2’s “Bubbleman” stage. This event sparked a fire of imagination, set technological gears in motion, and built a bridge to the future. There was a majesty in that game that could only be delivered through the limitations of technology and connectedness of interactive control. At the early age of three, I experienced embodiment through an on screen character while simultaneously assuming god-like control over his actions. I could control the protagonist and create my own story.

I was in awe of this technology and aware enough to understand its infancy. The more I used it, the more wonder it cultivated. How are games created? How do they make those noises? What would this look like in five, ten, twenty years? Would I be able to live in these worlds? This wonder drew me to the technology industry.

Enamored, I sought video games as a necessity; something as substantial as food and water. This craving was not isolated to me; it shaped an entire generation.

The sounds, visuals, and interactivity provided a pool of imagination. The limitations of early consoles could not provide orchestral arrangements. Instead, repetitious patterns were drilled into our heads. They not only encapsulated the game we were playing, but they opened the world outside to a new soundtrack, creating a wealth of memories that could be tapped into from a few simple chirps. Hearing these primitive arrangements evolve felt like experiencing the birth of music. As hardware progressed, so did the complexity if the music. Repetitive pieces turned into grand and iconic themes, each game re-shaping the idea and importance of video game music.

While on-screen visuals provided a surreal sense of interplay between man and machine, screenshots were paintings. They opened minds to new possibilities. Images of upcoming games fueled the imaginations of would-be players. Gameplay mechanics had to be imagined. Reviews had to be accepted without video proof. Buying power was dictated by sprite design and blocky imagery.

The sprites we commanded (and spent tens-of-hundreds of hours with) became as familiar and important as The Lone Ranger, Bugs Bunny, and Lawrence Welk to the generations prior. From the introduction of idle animations to voice-over and motion-capture, we watched these on-screen characters evolve from blocky 16 x 16 figures to fully realized personalities. 20+ years later, we remain curious about their whereabouts, relevance, and impact on future generations. Life in a machine.

They were more than games in the traditional sense. Point-systems and completion-percentages were only a sliver of the grander experience. The more we practiced and started over from stage 1-1, the more we understood the core of these systems. Gaming taught us to recognize patterns; to harbor patience and solve puzzles. Some individuals would challenge boundaries in an attempt to break games. We could control the sprites better than our parents could. Finally, control over a domain we could call our own. We knew something foreign to most adults. Some even taught their parents how to play. The student was now the master.

Easter eggs, cheat codes, hidden characters, and secret areas were at the forefront of every schoolyard conversation. They sparked rumors and large threads of conversation; the viral video of the time. The possibility that you may discover something first kept your drive peaked. Discovering in-game mysteries without prior knowledge meant profound, earth-shattering news for friends. Phone calls, bike rides across town, and late night gatherings were the beginnings of web-rings and blogs.

Our deep grasp on game mechanics shaped our understanding for real world systems and industries. We were harnessing a rich understanding for technology exponentially faster than the generations prior. We watched the gaming industry push the boundaries not only of hardware and software performance, but social connectedness. New cultures were birthed. An age where those previously suppressed could now open up and find harmony, respect, and support in like communities. The social structure of these communities flourished with ideas, stories, and education. Technological advancement and waves of new and easy ways for the world to connect sprouted from the minds of “geeks” and “nerds,” eventually reaching a critical mass that welcomed everyone to confess and rally around their obsessions. Sudden realization that those who traced stats of organized professional sports were not so different from those that examined code; those that wore body-paint and jerseys to sporting events were not so different from those who constructed elaborate costumes or donned gaming memorabilia for conventions.

From console gaming’s genesis, my generation has been in the unique position of watching an entire industry shape culture around the world. At an early age, we were empowered with animated characters and settings that we could control. Our imaginations were able to shape stories larger than “looking for a princess in another castle,” filling in holes left by console limitations. Like many media types before it, those born into gaming now simply cannot fathom the excitement experienced while watching consoles and games evolve. We have gone along for a ride, curious about what is next, how to be a part of it, and how we can use it to change the world. The addiction to technological and societal evolution stemming from gaming has spawned a fervor for advancement, simplification, accessibility, and enabling.


This post was inspired by Robert Ashley’s A Life Well Wasted: Episode 3 – Why Game?


Originally published on TheStarrList.com

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Russian government wants to help produce patriotic games

Russian government wants to help produce patriotic games

Interested to see how this pans out. Propaganda or educational?

“A video game has to have not only an entertainment value, but it also has to teach and be conducive to patriotic education,” Arseny Mironov, an aide to Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, who heads the Russian Military History Society, told the Russian newspaper Izvestiya.

– Polygon

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