Senderos que se … Intimate, Infinite

Tuesday 19 August 2014, 10:33 pm   /////  

Intimate, Infinite by Robert Yang

Robert Yang’s latest is a first-person-shooter version of Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Garden of Forking Paths.” With a lovingly off-kilter translation (befitting its “original”) and with visuals and (quite minimal) interaction that suits the experience, this is an extraordinary set of linked mini-games, well worth the short amount of time it takes to get through them, and worth offering at least a bit for this pay-what-you-will game.

Check out Intimate, Infinite.

Intimate, Infinite by Robert Yang

Purple Blurb at MIT this semester!

Yes we have Purple Blurb! The first event is in less than a week – sorry for the short notice; I hope you locals can join us. Here are the details:

Monday October 1, 5:30pm in 6-120

Rafael Pérez y Pérez, Fox Harrell, and Nick Montfort

In conversation about narrative generation and MEXICA, GRIOT, and Curveship

Three creators of poetic and imaginative systems speak about computational creativity, narrative generation, and the way systems for this sort of work are culturally generated. Rafael Pérez y Pérez is creator of the plot-focused MEXICA system for the generation of stories and is Profesor/Investigador Titular C in the Departamento de Tecnologías de la Información at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Unidad Cuajimalpa, México D. F. Fox Harrell is creator of GRIOT and the Alloy algorithm, which generates literary and multimedia texts based on conceptual structures. Harrell is associate professor of digital media at MIT in CMS/WHS, a principal investigator at CSAIL, and head of the Imagination, Computation, and Expression Laboratory. Nick Montfort developed Curveship, an interactive fiction and text generation systems that allows for parametrically controlled narrative variation. Montfort is associate professor of digital media at MIT in CMS/WHS and head of the Trope Tank.

Thursday November 8, 5:30pm in 32-155

Tracy Fullerton

“Finer Fruits: Experiment in Life and Play at Walden”

A joint event with the CMS Colloquium

Walden, a game, is an experiment in play being made about an experiment in living. The game simulates Henry David Thoreau’s experiment in living a simplified existence as articulated in his book Walden. It puts Thoreau’s ideas about the essentials of life into a playable form, in which players can take on the role of Thoreau, attending to the “meaner” tasks of life at the Pond – providing themselves with food, fuel, shelter and clothing – while trying not to lose sight of their relationship to nature, where the Thoreau found the true rewards of his experiment, his “finer fruits” of life. The game is a work in progress, and this talk will look closely at the design of the underlying system and the cycles of thought that have gone into developing it. It will also detail the creation of the game world, which is based on close readings of Thoreau’s work, and the projected path forward for the team as we continue our sojourn in experimental in play.

Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is an experimental game designer, professor and director of the Game Innovation Lab at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she holds the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair in Interactive Entertainment. The Game Innovation Lab is a design research center that has produced several influential independent games, including Cloud, flOw, Darfur is Dying, The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, and The Night Journey – a collaboration with media artist Bill Viola. Tracy is also the author of Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, a design textbook in use at game programs worldwide.

As always, all events are free and open to the public. The Purple Blurb series is supported by the Angus N. MacDonald fund and Comparative Media Studies / Writing and Humanistic Studies.

Games, Stories, and a Three-Part List

Saturday 1 October 2011, 11:43 am   //////  

I’m in Montréal at Experiencing Stories with/in Digital Games Concordia University. I’ll be offering some remarks, entitled “Deinventing the Wheel,” about language and interaction. That will be on the next panel, which focuses on Mass Effect 2.

I won’t elaborate right now, but the current panel, which includes the Tale of Tales folks, made me think about the relationship between Passage, Tao, and The Graveyard.

Passage in 10 Seconds

Saturday 27 February 2010, 8:27 pm   ////  

If you never found the five minutes to play Jason Rohrer’s Passage, previously discussed, you can now play Passage in 10 Seconds as interpreted by Marcus Richert. Thanks to Jason Scott for the link.

IGF Finalists Announced

Monday 4 January 2010, 11:26 pm   //////  

The 2010 Independent Games Festival finalists have been announced. Especially interesting to me are the finalists and honorable mentions for the IGF Nuovo Award, an award intended to “honor abstract, shortform, and unconventional game development which advances the medium and the way we think about games.” My collaborator, Ian Bogost, has a game in the finals: A Slow Year, a suite of four 1k games for one of his, and my, favorite platforms … which means that he’ll be brining an Atari 2600 to GDC this year to display his wares.

Every Day the Same Dude

Monday 4 January 2010, 6:51 pm   ////  

From a 4 January 2010 conversation between Mary Flanagan and Nick Montfort:

nick: so, I just have this question about the way you (and someone else) reacted to gender stereotyping in a nightmarish/dystopian/stereotypical game environments nick: you wrote While there are some glaring stereotypes that take away from its freshness and originality (especially in regard to gender; the character’s wife is in the kitchen with a frying pan in the morning and tells the character he is late for work; the office execs are all male, etc.) about Every Day the Same Dream [previously on Post Position] nick: it struck me because I was describing a student project to a poet mary: y nick: one which was completed before that game launched nick: but had a similar stereotyped/nightmare world made of words in 3D space nick: one of which was “wife” nick: and my poet friend said “spouse”! mary: ok…. nick: but I don’t understand why these negative-valence spaces that embody stereotypes in all these other ways nick: are supposed to be equitable when it comes to gender mary: well… mary: I am not partial to other stereotypes either mary: unless they are spoofed in incredibly interesting ways mary: but nick: I read Every Day the Same Dream as having entirely white people, too mary: for example if I brought them all up all the time, I’m a horrible harpy broken record, and that isn’t my point in life. But not bringing things up = acceptance mary: yes exactly mary: I agree and I had that in there and then cut it out. mary: for reason above. nick: well, I guess I would point those things out as being consonant with the project rather than as taking away from it nick: the game (and my student’s project) seems to be saying “here is an even more exaggerated version of the stereotypical world” mary: well that could be. But everdayness, monotony, boredom could be happening to two people following that routine, two men, women, or one of each if we’d like. Or three for that matter. It just the frying pan and housewife just needs to go. nick: well, they do, eventually &smiley; mary: Since there are more women than men, why could not the character be a woman going to a drudge job? nick: but you’re trying to make the game an image of reality instead of nightmare hegemony mary: you could make the office workers men and women of different races mary: it annoys me — I have not collected the numbers, but it annoys me that existentialist moments appear to happen more with male characters. 1984. etc. nick: then, I’d argue, the game would not become more realistic or effective; it would have this sort of parody of workplace diversity in it mary: well I did add diversity to the LAYOFF game. Everyone started white, the artist (who was Asian) defaulted to white) mary: well then perhaps that would speak to me as a player as an effective parody mary: mock diversity says something else, and is interesting. especially in college ads. nick: yes, but I see that (LAYOFF) as trying to poke a hole through the abstract, we-don’t-expect-this-to-represent-reality type of game to show something about the real world nick: which is admirable, but it isn’t the same project as these other games mary: I guess I am rejecting the repeated aesthetic of abstract commentaries that use a represention of all white men. nick: I’m asking because I’ve heard the same comment twice about the same type of game, from two people whose perspectives I very much respect, but I don’t understand the problem with this particular context – with a dystopian game exhibiting sexism among other stereotypical ills mary: ah ok nick: so it’s not that the sexist portrayal is wrong for the context, but that you could have made a different game which made the same point without it? nick: maybe? mary: yep mary: and possibly a more interesting game, through reworking or challenging these stereotypes mary: but that remains to be seen in implementation nick: Jason Rohrer gets complaints about Passage having only a guy avatar as an option mary: i can see that. nick: of course, he also has described Passage as autobiographical (although I argue with his use of that term) mary: it’s not automagically horrific to include men in a game! nick: sure, and it’s not automatically good in every way to include a hot chick avatar mary: right. mary: it is about intentionality mary: and I don’t think molleindustria was intentionally critiquing white heterosexuality. mary: in fact… nick: do you think if the sexism in Every Day the Same Dream were somehow called out as such (I don’t have any ideas about how), and critiqued, it would be better? nick: perhaps even better than making a gender-neutral version? mary: possibly! mary: but that isn’t the point right now. mary: of that game. nick: I’d say it was being critiqued about as much as the automobile was mary: and granted, 6 days, its a miracle. nick: yep nick: well, it’s worthwhile to think about how to improve on a 6-day project like that, though mary: Hm. It feels different. The automobile isn’t on the receiving end of dates who have sexist attitudes, or jobs with racial bias. Possibly certain critiques are touchier than others. nick: I guess my feeling is that a sexist world (treated critically) would be more in keeping with the project, or with a project like that, than a gender-neutral one nick: maybe it’s easier to critique the automobile mary: that could be true. Then husband and wife could both go to work, but he brings home twice the salary and she still has to cook mary: that makes it more interesting to me. nick: ha mary: it pays attention to a lived condition. mary: a detail. see what i mean. could be the same for race and such. but details are hard to put into ‘dreams’ and broad strokes, unless we think about it cleverly mary: I appreciate your inquisitveness here nick. nick: I guess the game includes a lot of stereotypes, and from my standpoint I don’t see it buying into any of them. but some do call for more critique and treatment nick: I appreciate the convo mary: Bringing this stuff is actually harder than ignoring it and moving on. mary: but I think we need to tease out these implications mary: not all stereotypes are created equally nick: I think we should do a blog post, actually mary: ok i’m game.

A Beautiful Game to Start Your 2010

Thursday 31 December 2009, 11:48 pm   ////  

Every Day the Same DreamMolleindustria has recently released an excellent short game with the music of Jesse Stiles. In Every Day the Same Dream, you play a man who awakens (continually) to your alarm going off, your clothes waiting to be put on, your television that cannot be watched, your wife who cannot be kissed good morning, traffic, and a seemingly endless cubicle farm where you work. A crone figure in the elevator suggests that you can break away from this routine, somewow. The music hits just the right point between the humdrum repetition of the workday and the idea of an alternative to these. The almost entirely grayscale game doesn’t write a prescription for the player’s happiness, and some of the steps are much sillier than others. Nevertheless, the game hints at how people can explore the everyday and escape the oppression of the ordinary. That’s not bad for six days of game development work and for a few minutes of your time.

Lots Has Happened and Is Happening

Wednesday 18 November 2009, 5:57 pm   ////////  

Andrew Stern’s company Stumptown Game Machine released their Touch Pets Dogs, published by ngmoco for the iPhone. On this social network, everyone knows that you’re a virtual dog. Versions of it are in the top 10 free apps on the iPhone App Store now, and in the top 100 of pay apps.

Rover’s Day Out is the winner of the IF Comp. (Dogs everywhere!) The game is by Jack Welch and Ben Collins-Sussman. Broken Legs by Sarah Morayati took second, Snowquest by Eric Eve third. Congratulations to all authors! If you haven’t played the games yet, they’re still there waiting for you.

CYOA visualizations are the talk of the town: Mainly this extensive site that considers many books in the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure series, but also this PDF mapping Journey under the Sea.

People on the Interweb donated $25,000 to Jason Scott, the textfiles.com, BBS Documentary, and Get Lamp guy. Man, it’s so easy to get money on the Web. Maybe you could do it too, if you first spend years, in your spare time and without pay, saving BBS files, saving Geocities, documenting computer history, and generally amassing a larger archive of digital media history than almost every university in the world put together.

Truly “indie” artgames made the New York Times Magazine. Jason Roherer leads the charge, but many of the usual suspects are quoted in this look at how non-industrial gaming is augmenting and challenging games of the commercial sphere.

A new issue of Game Studies is out, with these articles: “The Character of Difference: Procedurality, Rhetoric, and Roleplaying Games,” “Moral Decision Making in Fallout,” “Cheesers, Pullers, and Glitchers: The Rhetoric of Sportsmanship and the Discourse of Online Sports Gamers,” and “World of Warcraft: Service or Space?” Game Studies is free to everyone! No page fees for authors! Peer reviewed! The future of academic publishing, already here, and about games!

JayIsGames hosts an IF contest and calls for interactive fiction authors to create escape-the-room games. The deadline for this Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7 is January 31. Z-code only, unfortunately for those of us wedded to Curveship, but that lets you use Inform 6 or 7.

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