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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for waiting. Pass the time by reading some of the things that might have been said about videogames during the week. Will they change the way you think FOREVER?

  • The Guardian talk with Dan Houser about the GTA games: “This game, if we get it right, will be a step toward some kind of organic living soap opera,” says Houser. “You have these three characters and they’re all living when you’re not with them. What that means, we don’t really know yet, we’re only getting it working for the first time. But it feels to us something powerful.”
  • The tale of Valve and the Greek economist: “In a typical experiment, Valve can set four different prices for the same item in different markets simultaneously, then track how that affects players’ trades. They must act fast: Players usually figure out the experiment within 30 minutes and try to game it—a fairly good simulation of how real financial markets behave. The company is transparent about the research, both out of a general desire to treat its users right and because its success comes from customers: Many of Valve’s hit games, including Team Fortress II, are based on modifications to old games that users hacked up just for fun. So the company emails users about its experiments, and Varoufakis blogs about his work on the Valve site.”
  • Quintin Smith and Leigh Alexander ask “Do you Dyad”? “You’ve told me Dyad is about beating yourself. Is the pleasure you get from self-surpassing enhanced the more illogical and surreal the circumstances are? Do you get some kind of gratification from searing your retinas in front of a broken system screaming techno at you? My favorite thing about this game is the multichromatic FAILED screen. You get it a lot. Are you a masochist, Quintin? Is there something you haven’t told me?”
  • Polygon on Iron Ribbon’s gaming equality campaign: “The various gaming communities that have come together to support Iron Ribbon have all agreed that while harassment and abuse is rampant within certain gaming communities, it is not possible to paint every gamer with the same brush stroke, nor is it fair to accuse all gaming communities of perpetuating discrimination. Of the many video game community leaders and event organizers Polygon spoke to, all agreed that it was a tricky problem to tackle and there is no quick fix.”
  • “To The Games I Will Never Finish”. I saw John “Lego Star Wars” Smith perform a song about this very topic a few years back.
  • Troy Goodfellow on Molyneux’s tears: “I’m not a language prescriptivist. Words evolve and usage changes, and I have come to reluctantly accept that “begging the question” is now lost to barbarians. Still, I think definitions and categorization matter, especially when you are making judgments about whether a given object is similar to or better than another. If Peter Molyneux thinks Cityville is a god game, then we can agree to disagree (personally, I’m not even sure I have a good definition for god game), though it thereby presumes that all city-builders are god games since CityVille is a minor city-builder. But if he thinks that people look at Cityville as the defining example of a god game, then we have many bones to pick.”
  • Beefjack talks “The Second Coming Of God Games”: “And I mean, I’ve spoken to publishers recently – obviously people have noticed Maia and wanted to discuss it with me – and again they’ve gone ‘well this has always been a really small niche, and you’re going to need to make it social and add micropayments and stuff’ and so I think publishers are still afraid of going for anything that’s less than a multi-million pound extravaganza, and I think god games have been considered too complex, or perhaps going after a certain market where everything’s gone very wide ranging now.”
  • Rab has started a Tumblr. He’s been saying some stuff about Kickstarter: “But these capitalist animals, Molyneux and Braben to name but two, are transforming Kickstarter into a shopping website for products that don’t yet exist. They package their products with ridiculous “bonuses” that the gaming audience are paying small fortunes to secure. This is the same game audience that, just a few years ago, was laughing Bethesda out of the room for charging a small amount of cash for horse armour. And we at least knew something about that game.”
  • Interesting little piece from the FTL guys on how working towards competitions forced them to deliver: “The deadline of people wanting to play this game, and ultimately judge this game, was the motivation to get this into something playable,” he said. “These deadlines would come up every 3-4 months, reminding you that it has to be a balanced, functioning game that people can play. That was important for us because we don’t have marketers or publishers telling us we have to do anything.”
  • Occasionally I am compelled to link articles I wish we’d done on RPS, like this one about making Skyrim ridiculously pretty.
  • And with that in mind, here’s the compulsory DeadEndThrills link.
  • An interesting take on the “games in the classroom” discussion: “Because dys4ia requires active participation by the player, it draws them into the logic of a system bigger than the individual. It gives non-trans players a tiny glimpse of the frustrations of living in a society that tells you over and over that you do not exist, and that, when it on occasion deigns to admit that you do, then drops obstacle after obstacle in the path of your desires and goals. Here, one student said that the game helped them to better understand the process of transition and all of the institutional and societal barriers involved. Another told me that the game helped them to better understand the idea of ideology as a force bigger than the individual, something that can structure one’s options and choices in life without one’s knowledge or consent.”
  • An interview with our free games columnist, Porpentine: “The purpose of a puzzle is to provide resistance. For me, that resistance doesn’t need to be coercive or challenging, just interesting and aesthetic. My mechanics are to be touched. Games are perhaps the most intimate art because the player must remain touching at all times. They must touch or the game does not exist.”
  • Cliff Harris questions “Kickstarter inequality“.

Music this week is a collaboration between Nils Frahm and Olafur Arnalds.

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Jim Rossignol

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