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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are, if you so inclined, already Christmas day. And why not have Wintermas a week early? You’re (probably) a grown up? There’s literally nothing stopping you. I’m going to have another Christmas in April, too, just for the hell of it. Fuck calendars, I say. No one tells me when to decorate my house with tinsel!

  • Dan throws some water in the well-marketed flames of The Old Republic launch: “Whether SWTOR is any good or not is academic at this stage. It’s a supertanker that can’t turn fast, a holiday resort built in boom times. With its brand and the hype, it’s likely to succeed; but it’s almost certainly the last of its kind.” That will seem true, I think, until a company figure out what we will pay a subscription for again. Could that company be Blizzard? It’ll be interesting to see…
  • RPS largely ignore the f2p MMOs out of Asia, but that doesn’t mean they’re not interesting for a subject of study. Take this piece on cutesy fantasy MMO Lucent Heart, for example.
  • And likewise I don’t often link list features, but this list of cancelled games is a good one to link because it’s a feature I’ve often wanted to write, but never actually made the effort to.
  • The minutiae of game creation.
  • An interview with Douglas Wilson. Some context: “Johann Sebastian Joust is set to the music of Bach, and players must move in accordance with the music while trying to swat each other’s Playstation Move controllers to death. I had a chance to play Joust this year with a group of mostly strangers. My thoughts about the game are mostly included in this interview, but one thing that struck me about the game is how instantly and playfully it destroyed physical boundaries between people.”
  • How much money does TF2’s hat market actually create? Could it be as much as $50m a year? I seriously doubt it, but this chap has tried to do the maths: “Hats also drop randomly, or can be created by merging 3 refined metals. These are the most sought after commodity in the economy. But there is another tier to hats. ‘Unusual hats’ are the same assortment of headgear, simply with a particle effect- think steam coming off it, or it being circled by a love heart. So far so weird. Yet people go crazy for them, with prices ranging from around $25 to $2000. Yes. Thousands of dollars for a virtual hat surrounded by a visual effect.”
  • Total Biscuit explains SOPA.
  • Robin Clarke has written a review of Jane McGonigal’s Reality Is Broken: “As for the book’s stated aims – well, we get a bit about how contrived reward systems can influence behaviour, but there’s no real resolution on the issue of how gaming can “change the world” or “fix reality”, beyond the most abstract and general hints. Rather like WoW, the constant piling up of resources and the dangling carrot of important, empowering revelations never leads to a satisfying conclusion.”
  • Linked everywhere, but this article by an armourer on fantasy lady armour is amusing reading: “Why does my opinion matter? I’m an armorer. I make actual armor that people wear when they hit each other with swords. When making armor I have to strike a balance between comfort, protection, range of motion, and appearance. My experience has made me more than a little opinionated on the subject of fantasy armor. I intend to set the internet straight. See below for how to do it wrong, how to do it right, and why you might care.”
  • Gnomes Lair on Continue, and “The Quest for the perfect online mag. It’s a new online gaming mag from one of the former PC Zone chaps. Should be one to watch.
  • Half-Life has the best start to any videogame. It’s certainly one of the contenders.
  • Strong language and even stronger sentiment in this post by Margaret Robertson, on what she did to avoid sexism in the industry.
  • Frank Lantz at Gambit MIT on “Games as aesthetic form”. He’s a clever.
  • Ten videogame foods made real. I know this sort of thing is popular right now, but those ALL look delicious.
  • The New York Review Of Books has a splendid article on apocalypse in art. It even mentions those videogames! Albeit in a peering-down-nose sort of way: “The posters depict a blasted postapocalyptic urban landscape emblazoned with the name of the game in the form of four towering burned-out structures that conveniently spell out the title in capital letters and give an instant visual précis of this shoot-‘em-up survival fantasy. The manufacturer describes the storyline of Rage in terms that tap into a pervasive sense of imminent threat and long-term hopelessness felt by many today, and not just those in the usual boys-and-young-males demographic at which most such amusements are targeted.”

Music this week is The Vanishing Lamp from Beloved Dean of Magic by Kellar. Good stuff, via Gillen.

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Jim Rossignol

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