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The Sunday Papers

Sundays, like every other day, are for the written word. It’s part of what makes us human: those ants of script crawling across page after page. Those wisps of intellectual ether frozen into ink and pixel. If there was nothing else to do besides read, we would still experience lives of extraordinary richness. Unless you were just reading reviews of Call of Duty games. Then it’d be shit.

  • Edge Online talked to Jon Blow and Chris Hecker, at the same time. Well, they actually take turns to say stuff – Edge Online isn’t some creature of miraculous dual-consciousness and doubled attention centres that can interview people in parallel. It’s just a guy. Gary Edge. He’s okay. Anyway, in the interview Hecker says this: “There’s a kind of punk theory going on in the industry right now. Frank Lantz, the head of the NYU Game Center, talks about this all the time. We’ve got developers like Mark Essen, the guy who did Flywrench and is doing Nidhogg now – they show their games in art galleries, and they’re brash and loud. It’s a cool movement. There’s a comparison to be made with music here. Big bands like Led Zeppelin or The Beatles took their craft farther and deeper. You can throw together a song and bash it out and if you’re naturally talented there’ll be something cool there – but you’ve got to develop your craft, and a lot of these kids they just don’t take it anywhere – they throw together a game in a weekend, then go on to the next thing.” And much more besides. Go read.
  • Design Reboot’s Against Dilettantism is a well-argued read, and apt to lots of game design blather that we hear at the moment, particularly from big companies. Here’s how it begins: “Designer, know thy shit. The less pithy formulation being that the onus of expertise lies with the designer. I suppose that’s a little opaque; I am suggesting that a more research-driven approach benefits all game design, that it is central to sustaining the creative lifeblood of the form. And what’s good for the form is ultimately good for the business.”
  • The Archaeology of Fallout 3. Which is a concept that has been around since at least System Shock, but it’s interesting to focus on it. Speaking of Fallout 3, I was in a phone shop the other day and I was talking to the chap behind the counter. He really liked Fallout 3 he said, because there have never been a game like that before. I wasn’t sure what he meant, and so delved a little into his reasoning. And what it boiled down to was that he knew nothing of RPGs. He had never played any, never even heard of them, really. All he knew was shooters. Along came Fallout 3 which it shooter visuals and all this other stuff, and it blew his mind. An interesting bit of perspective there, I thought.
  • Ars Technica like to tackle the big issues, and here’s one: the pricing of indie games. Are the antics of indies and sale-mad distributors devaluing the entire market? Probably.
  • NGamerMag’s Top 10 Stories of 2010 is absolutely amazing.
  • FuckYeahMidwinter.
  • Hacktivist games – there’s a hot topic that no one is writing about. No one except Strongman Games. Here’s a snippet: “Any innocuous-looking match-three game on a games portal could be a concealed weapon, although I suppose portals have mechanisms in place to prevent this.” I’m not so sure.
  • This is fairly interesting. “Virtual worlds pioneer, Jon NEVERDIE Jacobs, has revealed that he has brought his fiancé back from the dead as an avatar, and part of the launch of his latest virtual destination, the new Club NEVERDIE.” And so on. People are awesome, aren’t they?
  • What is happening to APB? Find out here.
  • The Wall Street Journal interviews the man who led the CODBLOPs development team. Dave Anthony is his name. Here’s a sample quote: “He types his notes on his iPhone. “I think of it as my third arm,” he said.” Okay!
  • BigDownload end the year by talking about the future of PC games. It turns out that there’s nothing very surprising about the future, because most of it is happening already. For another take on the future of games have a read of this.
  • While we’re over at BigDownload, check out their interview with the designer of the Back To The Future games.
  • This Hollywood Reporter piece on the links between Tron and videogames is interesting, because you can see why it should make sense. However, if you’ve played movie-related games for the past 30 years, you might have a different perspective on things.
  • Nukezilla applies Ebert’s rules for reviewing stuff to videogames. Some of it makes sense, and some of it – we know through having done this stuff for a few years – doesn’t. See if you can see which is which!
  • This essay by [SPECULATIVE NOVELIST] Bruce Sterling, which examines Wikileaks, Assange, Manning, and the context around the entire Cablegate issue, is one of the best piece of writing of 2010. Everyone should read it.

And for something to listen to… Well, there’s this. Merry Day After Christmas On The Internet, everyone.

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Jim Rossignol

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