Brenda’s games

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Apr 302009

Brenda Brathwaite is one of my many brilliant friends from the game industry, and this is some of her recent work:

The object of Train is to get a collection of people from Point A to Point B by placing them in a boxcar and sending them on their merry way. Played among a group of three people, players draw cards from a pile that can impede other players or free them from existing obstacles. The first player to reach the end of the line wins.

The destination? Auschwitz.

The “game” didn’t stop there, however. The game board, pictured above, is an allusion to Kristallnacht – Brathwaite explained that she needed to break a fresh piece of glass each time she “installed” her work in a new location to properly evoke the violence of the experience. She even typed the game’s instructions on an actual SS typewriter, which she purchased solely for that purpose.

There were audible gasps in the audience when Brathwaite revealed Train‘s shocking conclusion; one attendee was so moved by the experience that she left the conference room in tears.

— The Escapist : TGC 2009: How a Board Game Can Make You Cry

You should read the whole article. I could add commentary, but I am sure you can guess the sort of thing I would say.

Apr 302009

This was cool — State Representative Nancy Landry of Louisiana just held a town hall meeting in Metaplace. A big part of the event was Q&A sessions with a middle school class run by teacher Margret Atkinson of Northwestern Middle School, and in attendance were the state’s Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek, and the school’s principal, Debby Brian. I believe a few blog posts elsewhere and a video of the event are forthcoming. Eidt: and here’s one.

I was asked to give brief remarks on digital citizenship, and here they are:

So I was asked to make a few comments about digital citizenship, and I think the thing that most strikes me about an event like this is the fact that citizenship is the same whether it exists in the real world or a digital framework. Here we all are at this wonderful event, and the things that we are talking about in this cartoony, digital world are big important, real world issues, like funding for science education, and the legislative process.

Online communities are a VENUE, not an end in themselves. They are just a new way for us to engage in very old practices. And I think that if we managed to transplant some folks from ancient Athens and given them an intensive course in language and computer literacy, they would be perfectly at home with the substance of the discussions today!

At the same time, I think that it also highlights how important that digital literacy IS; after all, without those lessons, they would be less able to participate. And as our society’s tech capabilities grow, I think it’s wonderful to see that our society — and legislators — and principals and school superintendents, and teachers — are willing to invest in that literacy so that future voters, citizens, will be able to participate to the best of their ability using this new technology.

So I want to just say thank you to all of you for taking the plunge!

Apr 282009 is a personal finance site that won the judges’ award at TechCrunch40 the same year that Metaplace won the audience award. It helps you do budgeting and other such dull tasks, all in slick interface.

Despite the zillions of products out there to do this, we still managed to wheel, deal, and borrow ourselves into a financial crisis (that is still ongoing, though swine flu may be eclipsing it just now). Clearly, something was lacking in the appeal here, for if said product category were truly successful, we wouldn’t be in this fix.

Now, Mint is in closed beta on a feature that turns personal finance into a game, complete with points earned for doing things like socking away some cash into the savings account each month, or switching to a credit card with annual rewards. Get enough points in a sustained way, and you too can be a Financial Guru.

This seems like a fairly straightforward harnessing of game-style incentive systems towards a laudable goal (though I should note that said credit card with rewards is likely from one of Mint’s partners). But honestly — money is points anyway, isn’t it? Why is it that we value the cash less than the flat-screen TV?

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Richard Bartle’s IMGDC keynote

 Posted by (Visited 8704 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: ,
Apr 252009

…is quite wonderful. It basically makes the case that freeform play (and even user-created content) should be the elder game on top of a more directed and guided play experience — and that we don’t tend to see this because of historical divisions between player types.

Here’s the PDF.

PS, I’ve periodically gone digging to find the origin of the term “elder game.” Anyone know? This old MUD-Dev post references the moment when it probably became common currency…

Apr 242009

I spent some time with the folks from the Avault lately, and now here’s the result, the Adrenaline Vault Podcast, where we talk about (if I recall correctly) Metaplace, World of Warcraft’s dominance of AAA games, why critics of videogame violence don’t quite get it, and more.

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