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The Sunday Papers

Sundays are for meditating on a mountaintop. By Monday you will be an enlightened warrior, ready to use your perspicacity to fox oafish opponents in medieval China.

  • Firstly, I want all of you to visit Shut Up & Sit Down. No excuses! No, not even you Man Who Says He Can’t Play Boardgames Because Of Allergies. The site has been relaunched by former-RPSer Quintin ‘The Boy’ Smith, and bard-like RPS-contributor Brendan Caldwell. Have a read of this article for a taste of what they’re up to.
  • I missed this at GDC, but a few people said that it stood out from the developer rants session, and I can see why. RPS chum Mitu Khandaker (developer of Redshirt) on race representation in videogames: “I’m 100 per cent able and willing to identify with white male characters – I don’t need characters to look like me to identify with them. That would be really weird, right? I don’t feel alienated – I don’t need a developer to pander to me. Except… if you’re white, you’re kind of always pandered to, even if you didn’t ask to be. If you’re white, it’s not very often that you’re asked to identify with a non-white character. I’d grown up having to do something none of my white friends had ever had to do. I hadn’t even thought about that.”
  • Mike Rose compares the modern SimCity to the classic SimCity 2000, and concludes the old simulator isn’t quite as good as we remember: “One area that SimCity 2000 did model better than the new SimCity was the highways. Obviously you can’t build highways in the new SimCity and you’re forced to connect up to those that are already provided, but these rarely become clogged up. SimCity 2000’s Northenden highways were as clogged as the real thing, and showed exactly why I wouldn’t be found dead around there during peak time (although you can see from the above picture that there’s a sudden disappearance of cars partway along the highway, as if cars can just jump onto the highway and then not actually use the full length of the road – again showing that SimCity 2000 models traffic based on what is nearby, rather than logic.)”
  • A gun owner and violent game developer offers his perspective on the games and gun debate: “The NRA (an organization, which ironically, I stopped supporting because of their support for the last failed “Assault Weapons” ban), cast the first stone with their stupid casting of blame onto old video games and movies as a cause for the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This was a blatant misdirection and such obvious flailing designed to deflect the discussion from guns. Even folks like me groaned in disgust. The NRA made themselves look like idiots by holding up copies of GTA, Mortal Kombat, etc. But then the games media took the bait.”
  • Chris Donlan on Michael Cook’s game-making AI project: “For a few zany days last month, ANGELINA decided that the Home Secretary Theresa May was far worse a person than Bashar Al-Assad, the president of Syria.” For more on this project go here.
  • Edge Online ran a piece featuring a former LucasArts employee, discussing its rise and subsequent collapse: “We also seemed to have a knack of hiring really great people. They may have been brought on for a lower level position, but if they had a great idea for a game, and seemed to have the ability to pull it off, we were often willing to give them a chance to take it further. Of course, I remember the times that policy paid off, like Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick designing Maniac Mansion. Or Dave Grossman and Tim Schafer starting as ‘SCUMMlets’ and moving up to project leaders/game designers.”
  • Richard writes a Bioshock 2 retrospective: “There’s more to it than raw mechanics though, and while it’s far from one of the best sequels ever made, giving it a chance reveals it as one of the smartest. Its moment of genius? New creative director Jordan “Fort Frolic” Thomas (an odd middle name, admittedly…) and team taking the original game and ruthlessly inverting all its themes. Same city, new perspective.”
  • PC Gamer publish Cara on on Porpentine’s “Twine text game revolution”: “They play with our ideas of what a text is. We think text is static, an immovable object, but they exist interlinked with the world around them. Those Fighting Fantasy books we used to stick our fingers in: those digits are keys or mouse buttons now. Those early parser text adventures are now in tabs on a browser, and text moves and is in colour and has music, sfx, and can be embedded with moving images, can respond to you, talk back, can play with that old idea that text might be flat transmission only. And the text can play tricks on us in ways we never dreamed when we were playing Acheton on a BBC Micro and thinking that there was nothing more potent than white text on black.”
  • Killscreen on Hide & Seek’s Tiny Games: “Tiny Games for funerals maybe? [Laughs.] Let me think. A few years ago, we did a project called The Boardgame Remix Kit, and one of the remixes was a Valentine’s Day-themed, two-player Monopoly variant, called Divorce. It’s kind of inappropriate. For the first half of the game, you and your partner are playing together, trying to assemble as much property as possible. Then, a game event happens that triggers the divorce, and you’re trying to end up with your share of the loot.”
  • Rab writes a beautiful piece about cultural cringe: “When Kieron Gillen proposed his manifesto for New Games Journalism, I lampooned it within the show. Not because I thought it was a bad idea. Far from it. I lampooned it because I thought it would lead bad writers to write some awful arty-farty prose about games. Which would be embarrassing, yeah? I’m ashamed of that too. I think I was cringing.”
  • Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton on Bioshock Infinite’s violence: “…what the shit just…”
  • Minecraft’s most beautiful libraries.
  • I don’t know what this is, but it made me laugh. And that’s enough.
  • The beards of GDC.

Music this week is Crippled Black Phoenix’s Rise Up & Fight.

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Jim Rossignol

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