Jun 272017
 

Some days I wonder if we are completely screwed. So today’s post is a perhaps slightly hysterical outburst.

The news is not paying enough attention to the Petya/NotPetya ransomware, and the effects it is having on the Ukraine and on a bunch of businesses worldwide. I think it may be a harbinger of how the Internet could kill us all.

Based on what little I have read so far… A piece of widely used tax software — one used by the Ukrainian government — did its usual “phone home” to check for updates. Instead of getting back a few hundred bytes of acknowledgement, it got a viral payload. Basically, this tax software served as a means of auto-updating the virus to thousands of targets. The result is not just accounting systems down, though. It’s gas stations and point of sale systems in grocery stores.

This kind of thing basically makes me wonder how long we’ll have the Internet.

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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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Microvision emulator release

 Posted by (Visited 1145 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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Podcast with Keith Burgun

 Posted by (Visited 1162 times)  Game talk  Tagged with: , ,
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

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Recent videos & interviews

 Posted by (Visited 1128 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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