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The Sunday Papers

Sundays might seem like they are for rest, but it’s a trick. It’s actually the busiest day of the week, as you attempt to cram in all those things you wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Perhaps, if you are extremely fortunate, you will be able to find time to browse some articles about videogames, too.

  • The Verge on the death of amusement arcades: “Though probably overstated at the time, pinball’s relationship to organized crime certainly existed. The end of Prohibition didn’t bring an end to the mob, but it did require the diversification of portfolios, adding the distribution of vending machines, cigarette machines, jukeboxes, and pinball to the “amusements” of booze and prostitution. LaGuardia’s mission gave voice to sentiments which hearkened back to the moral outrage of the Prohibition era, too, most of which had nothing to do with organized crime. Pinball, a “pointless game,” was attractive to children, and this worried parents and “concerned citizens.””
  • Sunday seems appropriate to link to Jeff Wheeldon’s take on religious lore and iconography in games: “Diablo II expanded into foreign territory, incorporating multiple ancient mythologies, to mixed effect: in one sense they were successful, because they managed to blend these different mythologies together, giving them a sense of continuity; but on the other hand, this had a homogenizing effect, reducing these diverse and powerful traditions into mere variations on a theme and making them all weaker in the process. In trying to blend its rather good wine with other vintages, Diablo II ultimately ended up just watering it down.”
  • Proteus as a writing stimulus for children: “It was interesting to be present while so many screens were displaying the game – there were fourteen computers, each at different locations on the island, along with the electronic whiteboard. The sound from the main computer was played over the speakers, filling the room with David Kanaga’s amazing reactive soundtrack. Other children used headphones. Most were glued to their screens, whilst a few stood back, taking in the view and noting their observations from multiple machines.”
  • Blaming sexism for a lack of women in the games industry is a cop-out, argues EA’s Gabrielle Toledano: “Now let me be clear, issues around sexism or harassment are not something I take lightly. As the head of human resources, I enforce a very strict code of conduct, hold regular employee trainings and support other internal initiatives to ensure a safe and respectful work environment. The issue I have is that the video game industry is being painted as more sexist than other male-dominated workforces. I know sexism exists, but the issue isn’t just in video games. And it’s not what’s holding us back.”
  • RPS chums Leigh Alexander and Quintin Smith write to each other on the topic of Far Cry 3: “You accepted a generic tribal tattoo — oh, sorry, tatau — without complaint. You have a radio, a fully-functioning tablet and generous access to vehicles, so you could try to contact your family; you could try to get a ride to the mainland, get to an embassy, call for help and let your family know your brother has died, that everyone you love is being held hostage by pirates. You could spare a tear, even. Instead you are agreeably slaughtering tapirs for backpacks.”
  • John Teti’s take on Rotting Bikini Torso amused me.
  • Beefjack on the persistence and blurring into real life that happens around Neverwinter Nights 2: “I spoke with Troy, admin and creator of the Persistent World ‘Legacy: Dark Age of Britain’, and he puts it like this: “My goal as a player is to, as much as possible, play and understand the ‘role’ of the character, and understand what it must be like to live in the world he’s living. How his motivations, morality, fears, faith, etc. are different from my own given the circumstances he’s in and what actions should he take and what goals would he have based on those factors.””
  • Jubert on Little Inferno & Plato’s Allegory of the Cave: “The idea is that the slave’s journey mirrors our own intellectual journeys as human beings. We begin life taking the information from our senses to be the ultimate truth. Some never leave this state. Others look around and realise that there are greater forces at work which themselves explain the information received by our senses. As the slave leaves the cave and witnesses the real world, human beings are able to engage their rational thought and begin reasoning out the truth from the lies. Finally, we are supposed to come upon the ultimate truth, or the Form of the Good, which is analogous to the sun, and represents ultimate enlightenment for Plato.”
  • A robot programmed to carve two stools from a single log.

Music this week is Tim Hecker’s Balkanize You. Yeah, it’s old, but Hecker is all I listen to at the moment.

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Jim Rossignol

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