• "He's going to like that album, and then he's going to ask you about The Police, and he's going to want to know why they aren't together anymore. How are you going to explain what happened to Sting? You know, when he started singing about turtles and ponies and became an obsessive Beanie Baby collector. What are you going to say?" Bill doesn't want to have to explain Sting to Eli.
  • "To justify such an investment in time, a game would not only have to match the content of the course, but provide a learning experience that couldn't be accomplished through reading, writing and class discussion." Todd Bryant on how he integrated playing games into his teaching programmes; some nice ideas in here, notably using MMOs for language tuition, and some commentary on the suitability of various titles for this sort of thing.
  • "Maybe [games publishers] think there could never be enough competition, excitement, betrayal, surprise, defeat, skull-daggery, and general griefer-worthy assholeishness in a game without direct conflict. But the last year’s worth of news out of Wall Street tells a different story. It’s a tale of a system corrupted from the inside by the scheming, cheating, gaming of a few powerful and greedy individuals. If this is not prime material for a videogame, I don’t know what is."
  • "I have this idea in the back of my head — a fool idea of course — that one day, people with the power to do something about it might stumble across the notion of "a stable business ecosystem," and conclude that actually, to sustain industry growth and survival, you might conceivably, you know, want to let developers potentially make a buck from time to time, even if publishers and retailers have the power to strangle them. That rewarding development success breeds more development success, and gives heart to those who want to create good games." I knew about 3D Realms (which is a shame), but not about Gamelab (which is also a shame). Also: Greg speaks Truth.
  • "Economics has been defined as the science of distributing limited means among unlimited and competing ends. On 12th April, with the arrival of elements of the 30th U.S. Infantry Division, the ushering in of an age of plenty demonstrated the hypothesis that with infinite means economic organization and activity would be redundant, as every want could be satisfied without effort." Remarkable article; fascinating for its subject matter, when it was written, what it describes, and the patterns that hold up inside such a regimented economy. A must-read, really – can't believe it took me so long to get around to it.
  • "Our attempts to bridle the player's freedom of movement and force our meaning onto him are fruitless. Rather, it is a distinct transportative, transformative quality– the ability of the player to build his own personal meaning through immersion in the interactive fields of potential we provide– that is our unique strength, begging to be fully realized." Some great Steve Gaynor; reminds me of Mitch Resnick's "microworld construction kits" all over again.
  • "It's an easy, irresistible, almost childish pleasure: the ground meat dissolved into a dark blood-red sauce until they are one and the same; no hacking, slicing or cutting needed; a slurpy goodness; the oily bolognese hanging on to the slippery pasta; guaranteed joy in a world that's just ruled it out." Recipes for ragu.
  • "Suddenly, instead of Pong, Nolan Bushnell unleashes a stark, monochrome rescue challenge on the world. AVOID MISSING PRINCESS FOR HIGH SCORE burns itself into the brains of a generation. A couple of sequels expand the world of this strange new hero and, keen to bring its popularity to bear on the 2600, Atari execs strong-arm Warren Robinett into populating Adventure with mushroom monsters and making the green dragon friendly." Delightful alterna-history from Margaret in her Offworld column.
  • "Soon enough, amid the daily grind of his obsession, he would see in the game itself a way out of the bleak hole he had fallen into. He would take a clear-eyed, calculating look at what he and his fellow players had been doing all those months—at the countless hours they'd given over to the pursuit of purely virtual but implacably scarce commodities—and he would recognize it not just for the underexploited form of productivity it was but for the highly profitable commercial enterprise it might sustain." Fantastic article from Julian Dibbell on IGE, the massive real-money trading operation.
  • "We will both have to take responsibility for our consumption. A product that keeps working for longer uses less-resources in the end. The key ingredient to all this is quality. To make something well, you know, the best you can do. To go the extra mile that it takes to do that. Every stitch, every zip, every little feature considered. The weakest points made strong. Then, and only then, have we made something that will last the test of time. Guaranteed for a minimum 10 years. Each product will come with a hand me down contract. You will sign who you want to leave the product to. This is legally binding."
  • "Trust begins when I can see the design intention of an application." Great stuff from Rands on how sync should work – namely, in the dumbest way possible – and what building trust into application design looks like.
  • "Throughout most of the year, gaming is distraction and entertainment. November separates the proverbial patriarchs from their upstart offspring. In November, the Gamer! and the With Job! blur. I spend my ill-defined work hours thinking, talking and writing about games. And the time I'm playing games become a form of work – a struggle to keep up no less frenetic than that of the clock-manager in Metropolis." This year's November release schedule was crazier than most, too.
    (tags: games writing )
  • "the brains behind the siduhe bridge decided to ignore all those options and break another record instead. they attached the 3200ft cables to rockets and accurately fired them over the valley, becoming the first people to do so." Woah. The photographs are awesome.
  • "This week’s 1UP FM is a fascinating round table/interview with Jonathan Blow, David Hellman, Rod Humble, and Sean Elliott and Nick Suttner from 1UP… If you’re at all interested in Braid, experimental game design, or the ethics of games you should go listen now." In the meantime, Ben Zeigler has provided some excellent annotation for us all.
  • "Over the last few years, there has been a big shift in power and success away from independent studios, and towards in-house, publisher-owned studios. This has been driven by several things, sound economic reasons, competitive reasons, and because the strong independent studios had done a good job at creating a slew of new IPs (which publishers were eager to snap up, as always). In my experience relatively few people in the games industry realise this… So, what’s next? What’s going to happen over the next 3-5 years?" Adam on the business of the games industry, and what's facing it next.

Universal currency

26 March 2006

So we watched Shallow Grave tonight. My second time, Alex’s first; I’d largely forgotten it, so enjoyed it afresh. Anyhow, Alex later asked me what I would do if we had a roommate die with a big stack of cash. I suggested calling the authorities immediately, whilst Alex took the next train home with the money.

Then she commented that she liked David’s plan, securing the money in bonds. I suggested buying Apple products. Alex initially, dismissed this, but I explained:

iPods are universal currency. A Shuffle to two Nanos, two Nanos to a big one. We can launder money through them and they almost hold value. Plus, they’re not much bigger than hypothetical £250 notes anyway.

So if you ever see my suitcase explode, and a thousand iPods go flying everywhere, do be respectful; I’m in mourning.