If you’ve read Thomas Pynchon latest novel, Bleeding Edge, and played around in the virtual world Second Life, you will come away convinced that Pynchon spent time in SL.
And today, a new document leaked by Edward Snowden and reported by ProPublica show that spies from the nation’s intelligence apparatus also spent time in Second Life (and massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft).
In fact, there were so many spies “hunting around in Second Life,” the document noted, that “a ‘deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions.”
Second Life’s chief technology officer, Cory Ondrejka, even gave a presentation at the NSA. (He’s now the director of mobile engineering at Facebook.)
With its use of sound and interactivity, the Device 6 app isn’t a novel. … Right?
Read more. [Image: Simogo]
China is in a frenzy for Airplane War, a cellphone game in which players wage aircraft battles and compete against their friends for high scores. Within two hours of its release in early August, the game was reportedly downloaded 180 million times. Stories of its addictive qualities have cropped up almost as quickly. According to one such tale, two drivers pulled over on a highway, one next to the other, just so they could finish their games. Another account describes serious thumb injuries; the South China Morning Post reported that two Hangzhou women were even hospitalized.
Airplane War’s success is the latest feather in the cap of WeChat, a Chinese messaging platform that has accumulated nearly 250 million users in less than three years. By combining games like Airplane War with free text-messaging, video chatting, and photo sharing—think WhatsApp meets Skype meets Instagram—WeChat has come to rival Sina Weibo, China’s most prominent social network.
Read more. [Image: Walter Newton]
There’s no end to MedicationMeditation, an unwinnable computer game about treating depression and anxiety.
Common gamer wisdom says that in order to achieve maturity, realism, and thematic complexity in video games, developers have to add cutting-edge technology: vivid graphics, plausibly animated characters, advanced systems of artificial intelligence. So the notion that a sophisticated story experience is best attained not by marching forward technologically but through restraint and good design is somewhat radical.
Yet that’s exactly what the four-person Fullbright Company set out to prove with Gone Home, a new PC release that’s being widely lauded as one of the best storytelling games in some time. It does a few remarkable, even brave things, thematically—like exploring the relationship of two teenage girls in love, and focusing only on a troubled family. But what makes Gone Home a special achievement among games, though, is all the things it doesn’t do. Many developers have longed to incorporate literary storytelling elements into video games for a while now—but they often stick to the formulas of commercial action thrillers anyway. Gone Home represents a necessary shift in focus, and it does so in a no-frills way that other video-game developers would be wise to take note of.
Read more. [Image: Fullbright Company]
This is a real game, and it was showcased at a Russian Orthodox youth festival.
The drive from Tucson, Arizona, to Las Vegas, Nevada, takes approximately eight hours when travelling in a vehicle whose top speed is forty-five miles per hour. In Desert Bus, an unreleased video game from 1995 conceived by the American illusionists and entertainers Penn Jillette and Teller, players must complete that journey in real time. Finishing a single leg of the trip requires considerable stamina and concentration in the face of arch boredom: the vehicle constantly lists to the right, so players cannot take their hands off the virtual wheel; swerving from the road will cause the bus’s engine to stall, forcing the player to be towed back to the beginning. The game cannot be paused. The bus carries no virtual passengers to add human interest, and there is no traffic to negotiate. The only scenery is the odd sand-pocked rock or road sign. Players earn a single point for each eight-hour trip completed between the two cities, making a Desert Bus high score perhaps the most costly in gaming.
[Image: Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 via Kotaku]
In its latest episode, PBS’ Off Book series explores the creativity and innovation at the frontier of independent video game design. “In the beginning, video games were actually independent ventures,” Jamin Warren, a journalist and editor of gaming magazine Killscreen, explains. As game design grew into the multi-billion dollar industry it is today, he says, creative teams became larger and lost some of the freedom that smaller studios have. Like indie film, however, independently created games are flourishing. With the rise of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, creators have been able to raise six-figure budgets directly from fans to create games outside the mold of mainstream games.
As with some of their previous titles, Telltale Games is releasing The Walking Dead episodically in five segments, each around two to three hours long. Storylines branch out from a common beginning in the backseat of a police car where you first assume the role of the game’s protagonist and player character, Lee Everett.
Soon after, in typical zombie story fashion, chaos ensues. You wake up from a car crash, tapping a button repeatedly to extricate yourself from the tangle of glass and metal. There’s a harrowing sequence where the cop that was escorting you to prison wakes up and tries to gnaw at your leg while you scramble out of your handcuffs and attempt to load a shotgun. You limp your way to a nearby house. Searching for food in the kitchen, you hear the answering machine play the last calls of a desperate mother trying to reach her child. Softly, the girl’s voice crackles through a walkie-talkie. You begin to speak. The two of you take down the undead incarnation of her baby-sitter, and the relationship is sealed. She is your ward, wherever this adventure takes you.
After that, the story is largely up to you. Do you hide in the house until nightfall, or hope that daylight is safer? An old and grizzled farm-owner asks you, a younger black man, where you were going before the attack. Should you tell him the truth and stoke any number of bilious racial sentiments that have most likely survived the apocalypse? And more pressingly, whom should you save when the zombies return—the tech-savvy geek being pulled out of the window by the arms of the undead, or the quick-witted journalist who can handle a gun who’s being dragged out of the room? It’s impossible to say how far these choices will take you right now, but so far the promise remains that The Walking Dead could produce the same serialized dramatic heft of any good TV show.
Read more. [Image: Telltale Games]
- I want to raise $6.5 million to build and grow my new company: TheBoostle.com
During the last millennia, many popular new media properties have...
- Intellect, n.
The ability to use reason and other functions of the brain in human beings, including doubt and curiosity — in essence thinking. Not...
- “You will hate Los Angeles." That’s what English people said to me when they heard I was heading west, to the land of low-fat milk and sugar-free...”