Jun 232017
 

Five years ago, I was asked to put together a list of the best articles on the website. I did, and it’s been linked as “recommended posts” up on the menu under the Blog section for a few years now.

Just the other day, I was asked by Jordan Amaro (@JordanAMAR0) whether I was ever going to update it. Probably at some point, but in the meantime here’s a list of the ones I think are best from the last five years.

Looking over the list, the things that jump out at me are: a lot more posts about the game business and trends, about general topics like creativity, and about the intersection of the virtual with the real — the way tropes from online worlds are impinging upon our daily lives. I also note quite a lot of looking backward in these: game histories, postmortems, etc. Of course, this was also the period that encompassed the Great Formalism Wars of 2012, which seem overblown given hindsight. And lastly… despite my feeling I am hardly posting anything, this is a pretty nice list for five years!

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Game talkMicrovision emulator release

 Posted by (Visited 955 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
May 072017
 

I’ve been working for a while–five years!–on my emulation arcade cabinet, entitled Press Start: Emulating Videogame History. I started with a stock cabinet and control panel, and have been gradually modding it with stuff, like a robotics-driven auto-rotating monitor, LED lighting that matches whatever game is launched, and additional controls. I’ve been slowly working on getting emulation set up on it for everything historically important from Tennis for Two on forward.

But that’s another story. I mention it only because it led me to this little project.

The very first handheld console that supported cartridges was called the Microvision, and it was made by Milton Bradley in 1979. It had a 16×16 pixel LCD screen, and of course the only color it supported on that screen was black. Only a dozen or so games were ever made for it, and it was pulled from the market only two years later, losing the popularity contest to Nintendo’s Game and Watch series as well as the myriad other handhelds that emerged around the same time. It would take until 1989 before someone else gave the handheld cartridge idea a shot — that device was called the Gameboy. In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Microvision helped inspire the Game and Watch series.

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Game talkPodcast with Keith Burgun

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Apr 132017
 

I did a 90 minute interview with Keith Burgun of Clockwork Game Design and Game Design Theory fame. We talked about all sorts of things — my emulation cabinet, the state of game design theory, naturally occurring ludic systems — and argued towards the end over whether a games are made of games. There’s a shoutout towards Katharine Neil’s recent work, especially her wonderful article giving the history of late 90s/early 2000s attempts to codify game design practices.

You can listen here: Game Grammar and Game Design Theory – Interview with Raph Koster – keithburgun.net

Game talkRecent videos & interviews

 Posted by (Visited 995 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
Apr 102017
 

I tweeted about these, but neglected to mention them here on the blog, so here’s a roundup!

First up is my favorite, this video by Zoyander Street of Critical Distance, for First Person Scholar. He was in town and came by my house to talk games; we ended up in my loft, where I keep the boardgame collection and do boardgame design, talking about abstract games and their rich history. You can just barely see the arcade machine off to the left there; it’s got a huge chunk of videogaming history emulated on it.

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Game talkCommentary on “Still Logged In”

 Posted by (Visited 1758 times)  Game talk
Mar 152017
 

I seem to have touched a bit of a nerve with my talk at GDC! (The page for the talk with slides and video is here). Some of the coverage and links so far:

While the official talk title is “What Social VR and AR Can Learn From MMOs”, it gradually becomes quite clear that anyone working in tech nowadays — or for that matter, anyone interested in the future of real world governance — should watch it too..

Why are new VR/AR developers so slow to learn from past MMO experience?

“I think a lot of them don’t even think to look,” Raph tells me, “or think with the goggles first, like I mentioned in the talk. After all, social media web people didn’t look either.”

New World Notes

It also hit BoingBoing, where Cory Doctorow wrote quite a little essay around it:

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Mar 052017
 

I have put up a page containing both a slideshow and a PDF download of the talk I delivered on Friday at GDC 2017.

I think it came out a bit more somber than I had anticipated, certainly more somber than the sample slides I submitted. We shall see what the long-term reaction is, as I pulled no punches in describing the awesome responsibility people have in building online communities.

I was also losing my voice, so it was very much a deliberate and slow presentation compared to my usual “high speed brain blast” as one attendee once described my usual speaking style.

Not only was this in the afternoon of the last day, but I was opposite the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, which is one of the best-attended sessions at GDC usually. So the room was definitely sparser than usual. That said, there were several old virtual worlds hands present to confirm what I said, backing me up during the Q&A period, and there were also a number of current developers of both social VR worlds and even social AR games like PokemonGO. (In fact, I heard a few members of that team were in the audience, and I hope I didn’t offend by picking on their game so much).

The session was filmed, so hopefully video will be forthcoming; once it is, I will post a link to that as well.

Game talkMiscWritingSome updates

 Posted by (Visited 1533 times)  Game talk, Misc, Writing  Tagged with: , ,
Feb 252017
 

Wow, I have been slacking off on the blogging. Not since October? Yeesh.

What’s happened is that I have been posting updates to Twitter, instead. Which this blog does notify (as well as Facebook), of course, but it does mean the site itself gets neglect!

So, to catch you up!

  • I am speaking at GDC 2017 next Friday, 1:30-2:30pm, on the topic “Still Logged In: What VR and AR Can Learn From MMOs.” This talk will be going over lessons painfully learned going clear back to the text mud days, on issues like harassment, governance, importation of bias to the virtual world, and much more. It’s cross-listed on the Design and Advocacy tracks; I think this latter means that I am allowed to be grumpy on stage.
  • The 10th Anniversary Edition of A Theory of Fun for Game Design goes to press in Korean next week! It looks like the picture on the right, and I hope to get a copy soon. Meanwhile, despite the book’s advanced age, it continues to get featured regularly in various places, such as this podcast.
  • I improved my “history of all videogames” arcade cabinet with upgraded robotic parts so that the monitor now smoothly auto-rotates from horizontal (for landscape arcade games and most home consoles) to vertical (for stuff like Centipede, Raiden, and of course, Vectrex emulation). I did a lengthy write-up of the process and am incredibly tickled that it’s now stickied on the ArcadeControls.com forum (the central hub for anyone building or restoring arcade cabinets) for reference for anyone else who wants to do the same. Video of the rotation is also at that link.
  • My 2014 talk on “Practical Creativity” also keeps getting attention, most recently as a GDC Video on YouTube (also on preceding link), which also has prompted folks to request a PDF of the slides, which was helpfully assembled by @B4ttleCat on Twitter. Grab it here.
  • You can also find an abridged version of my little piece on Games design and UX design in Portuguese now, thanks to Andressa Antunes. This is another one that seems to have legs, and gets cited a lot lately.
  • I managed to make it, despite a cold, to Doctor Cat’s amazing marathon “Gaming Legends” Twitch stream of interviews of developers. Video was posted up a while back. I encourage you to check out all the videos, if you have a full 13 hours of free time… there’s some amazing stuff in there. Scott Adams, Jordan Weisman, Steve Meretzky, Bruce Shelley, Lord British, John Romero, and lots more.

There’s been quite a lot more, but maybe I should just direct you to the Twitter feed (which is now working again in the sidebar).

Um, I’d promise to blog more often, and particularly, not just make it be random brags and updates about talks but back to meaty articles. But my track record hasn’t been great. Tell you what, once I get back from GDC, maybe people might throw me questions. 🙂

Game talkMy UAH talk: Digital Bards

 Posted by (Visited 3159 times)  Game talk
Oct 172016
 

CulOlhYWAAARDBHI just posted up the slides and a video of my talk at the University of Alabama Huntsville, called “Digital Bards: Interactive Media and the Evolution of Storytelling.”

The video is an audio recording plus the slides; something I suppose I ought to do more often. It’s also two hours long, because there is a full half hour of Q&A at the end. Alas, the slides have basically no text on them, so the recording is really the only way to get the gist.

The talk is indebted to Matt Worch’s GDC talk on oral and print culture, which I have showered praise on before. It takes quite a while on the history of authors pushing against the conventions of print culture (as described in my post on interactivity) before giving a brief tour of some of the ways in which games are and aren’t traditional storytelling forms. So it’s fairly academic — but if you are interested in any form of digital storytelling, whether it be adventure games, hypertext, or walking simulators, it might be of interest.

Plus, I called Dungeons & Dragons “the most important advance in the field of literature in the last 500 years.”

Sep 282016
 

I recently had the chance to sit down with Markee Dragon, during AGC. It was at the offices where they are making Crowfall, but we didn’t really talk about Crowfall. Instead, we talked about… fish tanks.

Or more exactly, about game design in general, and then about how there are systems in the world around us which provide inspiration, and how a lot of them, like gardening, just have really bad user interfaces. Which led us to fish tanks, and the rich and complex game system that exists in one. So we kind of started designing that game right there on the fly.

It was a highly entertaining conversation, for me at least — and now Markee has released the video, so maybe it’s entertaining for you too!