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The Sunday Papers

Sundays! Sundays are for wondering what the week ahead may hold, but also for looking back at the previous week’s scribblings of the internet’s mad scribes, and plucking them apart for clues. IS there anything useful in there? What have they been saying? Read on for elucidation.

  • Not really a PC-gaming link winning the Sunday Papers this week, but Ben Goldacre’s request that Susan Greenfield publish her claims about videogames destroying kids’ brains in a scientific paper is reasonable and important: “This week Baroness Susan Greenfield, professor of pharmacology at Oxford reportedly announced that computer games could cause dementia in children. This would be very concerning scientific information. But this comes from the opening of a new wing of an expensive boarding school, not an academic conference. Then a spokesperson told a gaming site that’s not what she means. Though they didn’t say what she does mean.”
  • The Armchair Empire on how LA Noire missed out on cashing in on a great history of Noir source material.
  • A lovely bit of game design theory for a Sunday morning: The Abstraction Of Skill In Game Design. “These days, many games feature a blend of action and RPG elements — is there any way to determine whether a blend is effective? Is there any way to think about the specific target you’re aiming for?”
  • Bitmob on “the realification of video games“: “It has become increasingly apparent that what attracts me to video games are not the video games themselves. It’s not the fantastical worlds, the impossible creatures, nor the far-flung technologies. It’s the medium’s ability to provide experiences based in reality that I cannot otherwise experience due to their respective barriers to entry. Perhaps it is an unintended response to gamification: the realification of video games.” I think that’s sort of true, but I think it’s true of imaginary locations, too.
  • A big video interview with Obsidian by The Game Creators Vault.
  • We don’t have anyone at Blizzcon, but VG247 do, and they’re doing some seriously detailed coverage.
  • I’ve linked to this previously, but it’s worth watching CCP try to mend their image in interviews like this one.
  • While you’re there, Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry suggests some ways you could tune your PC for Battlefield 3. Not sure I agree with all the recommendations in there, mind you.
  • Comics Alliance on the treatment of female characters in Arkham City: “I think the most obvious counterargument is that since the characters constantly calling Catwoman and Harley Quinn “b*tches” are mostly villainous henchmen, it’s simply in character; they’re evil men saying evil things. However, if they’re just bad, angry guys who like to shout profane insults at their antagonists, you’d expect to hear similarly harsh insults shouted at Batman. Except that you don’t, really. He gets called a “freak” a lot, which isn’t nice, but also doesn’t carry the same weight as “b*tch,” especially in the cultural context of men speaking to women. If it’s ok to call Catwoman a b*tch, why aren’t we at least hearing Batman get called an a**hole?” I’ve been playing it a bit on 360, and I have say that it is slightly creepy in its treatment of the female characters. And it is really in the dialogue that it is disturbing, rather in the portrayal of those characters as “sexy” – the constant muttered undertone of sexual violence doesn’t do it any favours. Fortunately: BIFF! And so on.
  • Ian Livingston tweets: “Yes I am writing a new FF gamebook for the 30th anniversary in 2012. All will be revealed soon on http://www.fightingfantasy.com.”
  • Tom Francis on “If Sony’s Michael ad was about a PC gamer.”
  • Related, Gaming Philosophy talks about the great NGJ wars, and their ripples in the now.
  • Over at GamerLaw, Jas Purewal has his own take on the Mojang vs Bethesda “Scrolls” case. From the comments: “As a general rule in my experience (at least under UK law), interim injunction results are a factor when it comes to trial – not least because the trial judge will have the opinion of a prior judge (or his own earlier opinion) to review. However, clearly by trial there has been much more evidence circulated, and further developments may have occurred since then, so there is always scope for something to change the judge’s mind.”
  • Will Wright’s “business cards” are incredible.
  • Nick Bostrom’s take on the Fermi Paradox is an interesting and nuance warning.
  • One of my favourite authors, Will Self, finds his fiction and reality blurring as he faces a rare blood disease.

It would be some manner of falsehood to deny that I have been listening to William Shatner all week. Amazing.

As ever you can mail me with interesting links, or tweet me right up on the twitters. Oh, and we finally have an official Facebook page. Dunno how that works, but there it is.

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Jim Rossignol

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