January 31, 2010

Help Heather Over the Finish Line

Heather Logas only has through tomorrow to make the crowdsourced funding goal for her indie storygame — or all the funding pledged so far is lost. Heather describes the game by saying:

Remember those Choose your own Adventure books you used to love as a kid? The game is a bit like that, if it was the fevered brain child of Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and H.P Lovecraft.

January 30, 2010

Playable Fictions MFA deadline nears

At UC Santa Cruz, the Digital Arts and New Media MFA program is organized around collaborative research groups. For those applying this year (deadline February 15th) I’ll be leading a group on the theme “Playable Fictions.” This is a great way for writers, game designers, and related sorts of digital media artists to get an MFA while working in the midst of groups dedicated to pushing the boundaries of this field: the EIS lab in particular and also the larger interdisciplinary DANM cohort. We have a great list of faculty to work with here, including Michael Mateas, Warren Sack, Sharon Daniel, Marilyn Walker, Jim Whitehead, Arnav Jhala, yours truly (Noah Wardrip-Fruin), and many more. While most EIS members are CS PhD students, DANM has been a fruitful entry point for artists like Aaron Reed and Mike Treanor. If you’re interested, feel free to contact me with questions about the work we do and/or contact DANM for admissions questions.

January 27, 2010

Help Us Bring Deeper Characters to Kodu

Kodu Game Lab EIS PhD student Teale Fristoe spent last summer at Microsoft Research working on Kodu, the exciting new platform for game creation. Now we’re developing a proposal to extend Kodu with support for deeper characters, social situations, and dynamic stories — providing the first high-level computational support for the kinds of games that research shows girls want to create. We’re looking for your input!

Specifically, we’re seeking seed funding through the HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition. They’ve just opened the first phase of the competition, which involves public comments on very short (300 word) summaries of the ideas. There are hundreds of them. If you comment on our proposal now you can help us make it better — and also help it stand out from the crowd.

January 26, 2010

D&D banned in prison

from tiltfactor
by @ 8:45 pm

In our director Mary Flanagan’s home state (coincidentally also home to D&D creator Gary Gygax and GenCon), Dungeons & Dragons is not allowed to be played in prison. In a recent New York Times article, prison officials were noted as saying that Dungeons & Dragons could “foster an inmate’s obsession with escaping” his or her incarceration situation. Another great discussion on this situation by Professor Ilya Somin at George Mason at this legal blog.

It is difficult to imagine anything but D&D as a wholesome family activity after this commercial:

January 25, 2010

Global Game Jam Featuring Awesome Speakers

The second annual global game jam at UCSC is coming up, kicking off on Friday, January 29th. But even if you aren’t participating in the jam, you should still come by the Simularium at 4:00 pm on Friday to check out the great speakers we have lined up. This year, you’ll get to hear from:

A renown indie game designerEdmund McMillen (http://edmundm.com/), renown indie game designer

Technical artist and avid game jammerKate Compton, EA/Maxis technical artist and avid indie game jammer

Founder of Gaijin GamesAlex Neuse, founder of local Santa Cruz game studio Gaijin Games (http://www.gaijingames.com/)

All of the talks should be great, so I hope you can make it!

If the ACM had a Special Interest Group on Games, would you join?

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a prestigious professional society serving the interests of academics and professionals with interest in computing, broadly viewed. Within the ACM, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) serve the needs of specific communities of interest by operating conferences, fostering publications, and generally promoting the creation and spread of knowledge about the topic.

Along with the other members of the board of SASDG, I am working on a proposal to the ACM for the creation of a new Special Interest Group on Computer Games, to be known as SIGGAME. We’re looking for potential members.

January 24, 2010

StarCraft AI at Super Happy Dev House

I attended Super Happy Dev House 36 and presented a lightening talk about the upcoming AIIDE 2010 StarCraft AI Competition. The competition is interesting to the hacker community at Super Happy Dev House, because the Broodwar API enabling the competition is a reverse engineering project providing direct access to game state and units in StarCraft. There are several projects built on top of the Broodwar API which enable developers to write StarCraft AI in a variety of languages including Java, Python, LUA and C#.

Implementation Bergen

from Scott Rettberg
by @ 8:21 am

As we prepare to publish a photo book of Implementation we have been gathering and tagging new photographs submitted by people around the world at a dedicated Flickr site. We have gotten in hundreds of new photos and the process of using flickr to organize the material has been very interesting. I’ll write more about that process later, but for now I wanted to share this. Along with some others I have been putting Implementation stickers up in Bergen. As I photograph the stickers that people have put up, I have been recording the location information and adding that to flickr. Above is a Google maps/flickr mashup created with iMapFlickr. With this map, you can explore Bergen and explore Implementation. Have fun.

January 19, 2010

var_d, pauline oliveros visits january 26

from tiltfactor
by @ 3:49 pm

Composer Pauline Oliveros joins us in our weekly variable_d salon via the
Dialogues. In Dialogues, students and members of the community come with ideas, themes, and questions and engage in a teleconferenced discussion of contemporary issues in the work. Past visitors have included Brenda Laurel, The Guerrilla Girls, and Katherine Hayles.

4pm, Jan 26th 2010
Tiltfactor lab

Additional links to Oliveros’ artifacts:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9GJCL3PpYA
running electric charges through herself

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpJ2JjZhcFI

Pauline Oliveros, composer, performer and humanitarian is an important pioneer in American Music. Acclaimed internationally, for four decades she has explored sound — forging new ground for herself and others.

January 14, 2010

Activism in the Electronic Age

from tiltfactor
by @ 2:57 pm

Please join us in Hanover for an upcoming symposium at Dartmouth College, “Activism in the Electronic Age: The impact of technology on political protest” will examine the recent 2009 Iranian elections and other historic moments of activism involving the use of technology. Tuesday, February 9, 2010 @ 4:30 PM, Location : Haldeman Center, Room 041.

January 13, 2010

“Les deux” / “The Two”

from Post Position
by @ 8:44 am

[English follows...]

Mon générateur d’histoires “The Two” est désormais en ligne avec une traduction française, “Les deux” , de Serge Bouchardon. La version anglaise était auparavant disponible en Python. C’était le second de trois générateurs de 1k que j’avais réalisés à la fin de 2008. “Les deux” génère des histoires toutes simples de trois lignes, mais dont l’effet de sens n’est peut-être pas si simple. Les versions anglaise et française sont à présent disponibles en JavaScript et sont ainsi facilement accessibles sur le Web.

January 12, 2010

Digitally, Literally Yours

from Post Position
by @ 10:13 pm

Here’s YouTube Doubler proof that letters and the digital can live together.

Also, Steve Reich, eat your heart out. And let it be a dish served cold.

January 9, 2010

Gatz

from Post Position
by @ 9:46 pm
Gatz, Elevator Repair Service, directed by John Collins, at American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, Jan 7-Feb 7 2010

Gatz, Elevator Repair Service, directed by John Collins, at American Repertory Theater, Cambridge, MA, Jan 7-Feb 7 2010

January 8, 2010

A Note on the Word “Zork”

from Post Position
by @ 9:46 pm

Yes, It’s a Nonsense Word

The lowdown on Zork’s name, inasmuch as a lowdown has been provided in print, was given by authors Dave Lebling, Marc Blank, and Tim Anderson in 1979 in the article “Zork: A Computerized Fantasy Simulation Game,” Computer 12:4, 51-59 (April 1979):

The first version of Zork appeared in June 1977. Interestingly enough, it was never “announced” or “installed” for use, and the name was chosen because it was a widely used nonsense word, like “foobar.”

January 6, 2010

A Casual Revolution

from Post Position
by @ 7:57 pm
A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players, Jesper Juul, The MIT Press, 2010

A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players, Jesper Juul, The MIT Press, 2010

Juul’s latest, like his Half-Real, offers many insights, particular and general, while being succinct and clear stylistically. The book is not just about matching tile games, although there’s a good chapter on them and their genealogy. It’s about the moment in the history of videogaming where games overflow their “hardcore” niche and begin to appeal to everyone. Juul describes the stereotypes of casual and hardcore games and players; then he demonstrates, using data from many interviews, exactly how they’re wrong. An important, high-level innovation involves figuring out how to study both games and players – in this case, to understand what exactly is meant by “casual games” and how much of what we associate with that has to do with “causal” modes of play. There’s also an excellent analysis of the social space of play in front of the screen, in Guitar Hero and Wii games. A Casual Revolution will be valuable for academics and those in industry, and will help keep the sun shining on games.

January 5, 2010

go women in games

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:35 pm
Read about Gaming Angel’s The Ten Most Influential Women In Games Of The Past Decade on Kotaku. Featured are Lucy Bradsahw (Sims, Spore), Kim Swift (Portal), and Kellee Santiago (Flower).

go women in games

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:35 pm
Read about Gaming Angel’s The Ten Most Influential Women In Games Of The Past Decade on Kotaku. Featured are Lucy Bradsahw (Sims, Spore), Kim Swift (Portal), and Kellee Santiago (Flower).

Micro Art Machines

from Post Position
by @ 2:34 pm

Here are some tiny bits of code to generate some amusement and aesthetic value.

The album sc140 features 22 tracks, each one generated by no more than 140 characters of SuperCollider code. You can download 80 MB of MP3 (for the weak!) or grab the source code (less than 4 KB, with all the formatting) and, if necessary, install SuperCollider, which is free in every sense. Here’s a November New Scientist blog post about the album.

Micro Art Machines

from Post Position
by @ 2:34 pm

Here are some tiny bits of code to generate some amusement and aesthetic value.

The album sc140 features 22 tracks, each one generated by no more than 140 characters of SuperCollider code. You can download 80 MB of MP3 (for the weak!) or grab the source code (less than 4 KB, with all the formatting) and, if necessary, install SuperCollider, which is free in every sense. Here’s a November New Scientist blog post about the album.

January 4, 2010

IGF Finalists Announced

from Post Position
by @ 9:26 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

from Post Position
by @ 4:51 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]

Designer Intent vs Emergence: Nissan Edition

Nissan Datsun 510: Fastest Car on the Planet

Forza Motorsport 3 is, as described by one of the designers, “car porn.” And, well, that beauty above? That delicious, glistening, throbbing piece of machinery? That’s a Nissan Datsun 510 from 1970. You’re free to take a moment right now, if you need one… imagining yourself astride the seat, hand gripped on the gear shift, thrusting forwards through the forest…

At least, that’s what Forza 3 would have you think.

Once you’re back from your “moment,” please continue over the jump to see exactly what I’m talking about.

tiltfactor announces game design fellowships

from tiltfactor
by @ 10:23 am

We’ve got a slew games to design this winter term at Tiltfactor (http://www.tiltfactor.org), Dartmouth’s nonprofit game research lab — and you can help, if you are up to the challenge!

gamesinsidesm

We’re asking Dartmouth students to propose to take on one of these five game challenges — more info will be sent on some of the projects upon inquiry. Approved proposals could launch student individuals or teams into game-stardom! Students who develop one of these games for Tiltfactor (with ample feedback from us) up to a working, fun, usable prototype will receive a Tiltfactor Fellowship, which comes with an honorarium of $1,000. Students of course will receive a design credit in the finished work.

January 3, 2010

Short Video & Interview on Interactive Fiction

from Post Position
by @ 7:17 pm

Exploring Interactive FictionTalieh Rohani made a video of about six minutes in which I discuss the basics of interactive fiction and show a few artifacts related to the material history of this form of computer game and digital literature. This video, “Exploring Interactive Fiction,” was made for the recent Jornada de Literatura in Passo Fundo, Brazil, and a subtitled version was screened there. I’m a few months late in putting it on the Tube for anyone else who is interested, but it’s online now.

Also, a short interview with me about interactive fiction and computer games is online at RPG Examiner. Thanks to Michael Tresca for his interest, his questions, and for posting the interview.

Two Articles of Note on Learning

from tiltfactor
by @ 6:55 pm

Tiltfactor is interested in learning and in our context as an academic-focused research laboratory. The essay “Making College ‘Relevant” by Kate Zernike (Dec 29 2009) offers up an interesting take on “training” students for specific careers and jobs. While students and parents increasingly worry about the applicability of students’ future skills, the “Association of American Colleges and Universities recently asked employers who hire at least 25 percent of their workforce from two- or four-year colleges what they want institutions to teach. The answers did not suggest a narrow focus. Instead, 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on ‘the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing,’ 81 percent asked for better ‘critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills” and 70 percent were looking for “the ability to innovate and be creative.’” We’re delighted to see this type of response. Students who work with Tiltfactor , and who learn at Dartmouth College, learn broad thinking, problem solving, and creativity skills while innovating in new forms of communication– in our case, games.

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