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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for thought. For rumination, cogitation, cerebration, introspection, meditation, reflection, ideation, speculation, theorization, and – in some unlikely event – understanding. The Sunday Papers are a kind of fuel for all these processes.

  • For rich thoughtfood, you might want to turn your attention to mod maestro Robert Yang’s epic series The Philosophy Of Game Design, which he has recently completed over on The Escapist. In the course of this epic he examines what makes a “good” game, and what the relationship between games and thought, via the lens of classic philosophy, might be. He concludes: “This, I think, is the hardest question facing videogame design today, that no one wants to bring up: What damage is being done by videogames, and what is the designer’s responsibility to mitigate that damage? How are today’s videogames shaping thought?” The first part is here, then two, three, and four.
  • Ooh, mild controversy! Speaking at the London Games Conference, BigPoint CEO Heiko Hubertz said: “If you look at a game like Star Wars from EA and BioWare, they estimated a development budget of more than $100 million. This is an online game for many million of subscribers, so a big publisher does not understand that a subscription model is not the future. With micro-transactions and longer lifetime maybe I see a chance for this game but I don’t think that EA or BioWare will be profitable with this game. Ever.” EA and Bioware will have something to say about that, I suspect, but the man also has a point. The market has changed, even if people don’t want to believe that free-to-play is a profitable model. It absolutely is, and the “oh that game has gone free-to-play because it is failing” is now only half true. That game has gone free-to-play because WoW has all the subs-paying audience, and Dungeons & Dragons Online is printing money.
  • Someone else with something to say about commercial models in games is PopCap founder John Vechey, who talks about social gaming’s relevance to PopCap’s titles over on GameSetWatch. Choice quote: “We have Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook… But we’re looking at all of our other games across all of our platforms and they could made better with social relevance. And it’s not that every game would be FarmVille. I’d probably kill myself and stop playing games.” I think I will keep playing games after I am dead, if that’s cool.
  • Kotaku’s The Many, Many Deaths Of PC Gaming. Moderately amusing, and actually a good reminder of what has happened in the past decade.
  • Rick Dakan has a few words to say about New Vegas’ two prostitution plots in Sex Workers and Sex Slavery in ‘Fallout: New Vegas’: “I think we’ve about gotten to a place where sexual relationships in video games can be interesting, believable, and not simply puerile big-boob-athons. The latter still exist in droves of course, but I’ve seen realistic and even moving tales of sex and love told in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect and probably in some non-Bioware games too. However, I don’t recall playing another game that’s delved as deeply into or explored the different sides of prostitution the way that Fallout: New Vegas does.” What’s interesting, says, Dakan is the way the game handles both the lighter and darker side of this subject, leaving the morality in your hands.
  • Bit-tech take some time to argue that stealth games are dying. Did you even notice? No? That’ll be because they are stealth games… sorry. Worth a read, anyway. While you’re over there, those Bit-tech boys point a sceptical pair of eyeballs at 3D gaming, too.
  • Cheating in games seems to have caught the limelight a little in this past month. Josh Bycer spends some time examining the varying degrees of cheating in games. He breaks it down to four categories and, I think, misses out a good deal of what is interesting about cheating. Hmm! Ideas for an RPS Op Ed brewing… Hold that thought.
  • Unrelated to gaming, but nevertheless sounding like the basis for a French adventure game, Kieron lobbed this over during the week: the “true” and by that we mean real, if not some kind of complex hysteria/hoax, story of the lampshade that drives its owners mad. Actually pretty grisly once you start looking at the details.
  • Inevitable: Augmented reality tattoos. How long before tattoos that are somehow games? And in writing that I realise that they must already be, I just don’t know about it.

Right, I’m off to sit by an open fire and tell tales of when I was a lad, back when TV theme tunes sound a bit more like this awesome little collection of spookular electronic music by Pye Corner Audio Transcription Services. Beautiful stuff.

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Jim Rossignol

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