Game talkA few more random numbers

 Posted by (Visited 6765 times)  Game talk  Tagged with:
Jan 282010
  • Number of people who have ever registered for Twitter: 75m (but only 17%, or a bit less than 13m, sent a tweet in December) [1]
  • Number of Wii consoles that have ever been sold: 67m [2]
  • Number of iPhones sold to date: over 30m [3]
  • Number of active Farmville users this month: 74,806,786 [4]
  • Number of tickets sold to see Avatar: 76,421,400 [5]
  • Number of tickets sold to see Gone With the Wind: 202,044,600 [5]
Jan 282010

Got an email today from Jason Rohrer, asking if I was going. Alas no — not only did my son have surgery yesterday, but I have jury duty on Monday. 🙁 But the event looks very cool:

The Art History of Games is a three-day public symposium in which members of the fields of game studies, art history and related areas of cultural studies gather to investigate games as an art form.

Also featured in the conference is the premiere of commissioned art games by Jason Rohrer, Tale of Tales and Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman. The three commissioned games will be on display at Kai Lin Art (800 Peachtree St. N.E.) from Thursday, February 4 through Tuesday, March 2. The opening reception will take place Friday, February 5 from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

Read on for more details:

The symposium will be held Feb. 4-6 in the High Museum of Art’s Rich Auditorium on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., in midtown Atlanta.

For more information, please contact


Brenda Brathwaite’s game Train will be on display as well, and Eric & Nathalie’s game is non-digital, so this looks to cover both the videogame and boardgame side of things.

There’s an afterparty too:

just finalized the details of the Art History of Games After Party; Sat Feb 6th. 7-10pm @ W Atlanta Midtown sponsored by Indiecade and IGDA Atlanta.

It’s an Indie Game Slam Open Mic where you can sign-up to give a 3 minute overview of your game.

Here is the Facebook invite:

Game talkThe Global Game Jam 2010

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Jan 262010

The Global Game Jam 2010 | January 29-31.

You still have 2 days, 2 hours and 8 minutes to register for the Global Game Jam™ and join game developers from around the world in a 48-hour marathon game-developing weekend. From 5 o’clock Friday, January 29 until 5 o’clock Sunday, January 31, anyone who has ever wanted to create their own video game will have the chance to join others at 138 locations in 39 countries around the world.

You still have time to sign up!

Game talkBuy games for Haiti

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Jan 212010 is doing a clever charity drive for Doctors Without Borders and Haiti — give a $20 donation, and they will give a coupon for $1481.31 worth of digitally downloaded RPGs and materials. You can also give $5 or $10, and they will match the donation

Donate $20 and get a coupon for over a thousand dollars in RPG titles. After you make the donation, you will receive the coupon code in your email. It will also be available in your order history.

via Gamers Helping Haiti $20 Donation with Coupon – OneBookShelf, Inc. |

They are apparently already overwhelmed with the response, so are asking people to wait a few days to grab their downloads.

Game talkYour brain on games

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Jan 212010

There’s an article on CNet about measuring the size of a few areas of the brain, and comparing them to your success at different aspects of playing a specific game. This was a study done at UI by a host of research groups.

Researchers found that players with a larger caudate nucleus and putamen did best on the variable priority training, while players who had a larger nucleus accumbens did better than their counterparts in the early stages of the training period, regardless of their training group. This was unsurprising, since the nucleus accumbens is part of the brain’s reward center, and a person’s motivation for excelling at a video game includes the pleasure that results from achieving a specific goal.

This sense of achievement is likely highest in the earliest stages of learning, Erickson said: “This study tells us a lot about how the brain works when it is trying to learn a complex task. We can use information about the brain to predict who is going to learn certain tasks at a more rapid rate.”

via Want to be a better gamer? Size matters | Health Tech – CNET News.

The science keeps validating large chunks of A Theory of Fun… The article, though, focuses on size and has an emphasis on a sort of genetic predestination:

Research has already shown that expert gamers outperform novices across several measures of attention and perception, while other studies have found that training novices on video games for 20-plus hours rarely results in measurable cognitive benefits–a contradiction that suggests that brain structure itself, not training, could predict gaming abilities, according to the study.

That would be new research I need to track down, if so — the studies I have read repeatedly mention the brain’s plasticity and the measurable effect that training has.

Miscdanah being brilliant

 Posted by (Visited 7065 times)  Misc
Jan 192010

Let’s take this scenario for a moment. Bob trusts Alice. Bob tells Alice something that he doesn’t want anyone else to know and he tells her not to tell anyone. Alice tells everyone at school because she believes she can gain social stature from it. Bob is hurt and embarrassed. His trust in Alice diminishes. Bob now has two choices. He can break up with Alice, tell the world that Alice is evil, and be perpetually horribly hurt. Or he can take what he learned and manipulate Alice. Next time something bugs him, he’ll tell Alice precisely because he wants everyone to know. And if he wants to guarantee that it’ll spread, he’ll tell her not to tell anyone.

Facebook isn’t in the business of protecting Bob. Facebook is in the business of becoming Alice. Facebook is perfectly content to break Bob’s trust because it knows that Bob can’t totally run away from it. They’re still stuck in the same school together. But, more importantly, Facebook *WANTS* Bob to twist Facebook around and tell it stuff that it’ll spread to everyone. And it’s fine if Bob stops telling Facebook the most intimate stuff, as long as Bob keeps telling Facebook stuff that it can use to gain social stature.

via apophenia: Facebook’s move ain’t about changes in privacy norms.

ReadingRobert B. Parker Has Died at 77

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Jan 192010

As many of you know, I read plenty of detective novels. Today the news comes to me that Robert B. Parker has died.

He of course, wrote all the Spenser novels (which became the TV show with Robert Urich), the Jesse Stone novels (which became the TV movies starring Tom Selleck), the Sunny Randall novels, a bunch of excellent standalone books, and recently a few Westerns — Appaloosa was filmed with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen in a remarkably faithful adaptation now on DVD, and he sequeled it a bit ago with Resolution.

Parker was a spare writer. His later work is almost exclusively dialogue. When I would read a Spenser novel, I would usually end up forcing a passage on my wife as an example of “here’s how to do it.” His economy managed to get across enormous emotional content, and his last books were way beyond being pulp.

Luckily for me, I have a huge backlog of Parker books I have never read. I may go on a shopping spree, because I’m going to miss him.

Game talkFirst-Person Tetris

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Jan 142010

First-Person Tetris. Basically, as you play, you rotate blocks. But when you rotate the block, the screen rotates. It is very cool to see how much this single difference in the feedback and controls changes the game — practically a game grammar example! 🙂

MiscThe Haiti earthquake

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Jan 122010
The National Palace

The National Palace

It seems that every few years there is a major earthquake somewhere I have lived. Now it is a major one near Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

I hear the hotel where I lived for two years partly fell down. The hospital where one of my brothers was born has collapsed. Schools have crumbled, and even the Palace. I hesitate to think what the slums look like now, given that they were mostly cardboard and aluminum and rotting wood to start with.

Haiti is not a country that can afford a disaster like this. Its infrastructure is almost non-existent. People literally use sewage as drinking water for lack of anything else, and vast areas of the country are hugely deforested. A common part of the diet is “cakes” made of clay and water.

This page has info on where to donate and how to help: Impact Your World – Special Reports from

Update: photos can be found here. And apparently, the UN headquarters (Hotel Christopher) collapsed as well. It’s not clear how damaged Hotel Montana is.

How to donate:  per the White House, text “HAITI” to “90999” to donate $10 to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill.

Game talkSF UX Book Club doing Theory of Fun

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Jan 122010

Saw this go by!

The San Francisco UX Book Club will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, January 20th at 7-9PM.

The meeting will focus on “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” by Raph Koster. Kevin Cheng ( will be moderating.

We are still trying to confirm the venue. I’ll update that information later this week!

Wish i could be a fly on the wall! It’s interesting to see the book used for UX design discussions.

There’s a Facebook page where the event is getting coordinated. So if you are in the area, maybe you’d like to check it out!