Mailbag: High Seas

 Posted by (Visited 6109 times)  Mailbag, Music
Dec 212012


You probably don’t remember me, but I played Metaplace a while back. We talked a lot about your ship game and you shared a link with me of the music you made. I cannot find that conversation!! Nor can I find the music on your site (unless I forgot what it was called). It was epic and I want to listen to it again.

Also, I know that Metaplace is no more but is the High Seas game out there anywhere to play for fun? If not, you should host it on your web server. It would be epic to play it again 🙁

– Crystal

I am tickled that anyone remembers either the game or the music! Especially given that we are coming up on the third anniversary of the closing of… hard to believe it has been that long.

The music is called “The Knyghte’s Daliaunce,” as it was not originally meant as a pirate tune at all. I posted it up on the blog (with a chord chart) ages ago. It is also on the general Music page along with links to my album (it’s not on the album though). I really should record a new version of it sometime. Anyway, here you go:

Continue reading »

The Sunday Song: Zombie Christmas Trees

 Posted by (Visited 11059 times)  Music  Tagged with: , ,
Dec 092012

We chop the poor trees down, then stick them in embalming fluid to keep them alive for a few weeks while we use them as our helpless servants; then we throw them away to wither in a landfill. If that isn’t a zombie, what is?

This little ditty came about because of something my daughter said — I don’t remember what exactly. But she rolled her eyes a lot when I said that it gave me this idea. If you like, you can think of it as a spiritual sequel to “Dead Cheerleaders.”

download here

I just wrote this yesterday and recorded it in a few hours today. I play it up at Capo VII, fingerpicked, but in the recording I added a couple more guitars to give it body and it sort of turned into a 70s country rock song. Sorry about that. The fingerpicked line is on the Baby Taylor, and the rhythm parts are on the Blueridge, and I just doubled it through an amp simulator to get some crunch and space in it. And added a bass part and a fake Hammond organ.

Continue reading »

Help me revise A Theory of Fun!

 Posted by (Visited 12528 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 052012

Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of the publication of A Theory of Fun as a book. The publisher is planning a second edition in full color!

The contract isn’t signed just yet, because I owe them an outline for the revisions. Needless to say, I get to do revised text, and this is where I would like to ask for help. The book is so widely used by folks in the industry that I want to make sure that it has all of the right stuff in it — updated science, latest thinking on game cognition and learning, new thoughts on game ethics — all of it.

I would love to get more eyes on the problem. So if you’re up for it, I would love for as many people as possible to

  • (re)read the book – hey, it’s short!
  • make a note of everywhere you want to argue, and tell me where and why. I’ll argue back in the actual text (well, I’ll try to make my case better, how’s that).
  • make a note of any useful or cool references, science, news, or whatever that fits with what is already there. A lot has happened in ten years.
  • any errata? (I already know about the mistake in the drawing of the go board… anything else?)

I realize this is a huge favor… needless to say, anyone who helps will get acknowledged in the new edition.

Another thing that has come up occasionally is use of the book in a classroom setting. If anyone here has ideas on how to make it better for that use, I’d love to hear about those too. Are you an academic who has used the book in a classroom setting? Do you have study guide questions or discussion topics? I am currently unsure whether this sort of material would land in the book or on the website, but given how widely it’s used for this purpose, it seems like a great resource to make available.

Finally, there’s the possibility of adding other new stuff. I don’t want to try cramming game grammar into a single new chapter, but… if there were additional material of some sort in the book, like a whole new chapter, what would you want it to be?

Feel free to add whatever you can in the comment thread here, or to use the contact form to connect with me on this (I’m not going to post an email address here, to avoid spam, but if you use the form, I can email back).

I’m excited about this — though I do expect that most of my time will be spent coloring the cartoons. 🙂


Nov 302012

How Games Think title slideI have finally gotten around to posting up the slides and the notes for my talk delivered in Shanghai just before Thanksgiving.

The notes are actually pretty representative of the actual speech as delivered — we had real-time translation going on, so I kept the pace very deliberate and avoided my usual rattle-stuff-off-a-mile-a-minute sort of delivery. If you go to this link you can see the slides as individual images with the notes interspersed.

If that isn’t to your taste, and you want just the slides, you can find a PDF of the slides here instead.

Afterwards, one of the Chinese attendees came up to me and told me it had been “a faith-building talk.” I can only presume that the folks working in the industry in China have the same crises of faith that we do here in the West. 🙂

There was some coverage in Chinese, I am sure, given that there were reporters there from a few sites. But the only article I’ve found from China is this one. However, Gamasutra was there, and wrote up an article.

Continue reading »

Keynoting GDC China

 Posted by (Visited 11128 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , , , ,
Nov 132012

I’ve been sadly neglectful of this blog! In the last few weeks, particularly, because I have been fighting off some sort of nasty flu thing… still have a lingering cough, in fact, and it’s been more than two weeks!

So that meant that while I was flat out in bed, I missed the official announcement about the talk I am giving at GDC China this weekend. It’s been years since I was in Shanghai, so I am looking forward to this!

As far as what the talk is about… well, it’s sort of an extension of the lines of thought from the Project Horseshoe talk Influences and the GDC Online talk It’s All Games Now, and even a little bit from the Theory of Fun 10 Years Later talk. Basically, it’s about the patterns of thinking that games tend to encourage… and how these ways of thinking may be affecting us culturally. After all, if games do their work in large part via neuroplasticity, then that means that the cognitive habits we are picking up as gamers must be having an impact on how we think about, well, everything.

What might those cognitive habits be? And what impact might that have?

It’s a keynote, and supposed to be “inspirational,” so it’s in a lot of ways a rather light treatment of the subject… but I think there’s a lot to dig into there, and not all of it is unalloyed good… instead, it will be a picture of trade-offs. For example, just recently I read an article on how the neural pathways for empathy and the neural pathways of logical thinking seem to be mutually exclusive; you can’t do both at the same time. You have to emotionally detach yourself to be able to do true systems analysis, but if you are conditioned to approach the world analytically, does this mean that you are conditioned to avoid empathy? Pure speculation, and of course the answer will not be clear-cut.

Anyway, here’s the details on the talk:

Continue reading »