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The Sunday Papers

Words

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Sundays are for putting off everything you’re meant to be doing, everything you want to be doing, and instead playing Football Manager till sleep. Best finish up that first season and post links to some of the week’s finest games writing.

  • This is from the week before, but I only read it recently and it’s worth bringing to your attention: American football team the Green Bay Packers are hooked on Settlers of Catan.
  • On any day in Green Bay’s locker room, you can find starting tackle David Bakhtiari, who introduced the game to the team, rounding up players for a Settlers get-together that night—and there’s no shortage of willing participants. But players may not know what they are in for. Backup quarterback Matt Flynn said he was interested in the game because it was “a nonviolent version of Risk,” referring to Parker Brothers’ notoriously lengthy game of world domination. But Flynn said the players take it so seriously that when he stopped by to play for the first time after a win last month, he was shocked by what happened when he attempted to turn on some celebratory music.

    “I was just trying to play some music—some Pearl Jam, and [Bakhtiari] wouldn’t let me. He wanted to hear the players talk and strategize. He was very serious,” Flynn said. “They take it to a different level.”

  • Kudos to anyone who turns off Pearl Jam. Meanwhile, Oliver Roeder compels you to stop playing Monopoly with your kids (and play these games instead). Which initially seems like it’ll be a good, opinionated list but turns out to be a data analysis based on ratings on the website BoardGameGeek.
  • In this data, one observation quickly becomes clear: According to the users of BoardGameGeek, games get better as children get older. Games for a 3-year-old average a rating of just above 5, whereas games for a 10-year-old average a rating above 6, for example. This isn’t surprising — games get more intricate, strategies more complex, play more engrossing. But there are quality games to be played at any age. To consider games that are fairly tried and true, I’ll restrict this analysis to those with at least 100 user ratings. This leaves us with 2,849 games recommended for children ages 3 to 10.

  • Kate Gray returns to the Guardian to talk about boob physics.
  • You’ll find a range of breast-related mishaps in video games, from over-stuffed, rigid lumps that protrude from the chest like a fist through a wall, to the comically large hooters favoured by fighting games and RPGs, often set in a parallel universe where breasts have the power to wobble violently, completely of their own accord, like a couple of drunken jellyfish in a mosh pit.

  • While you’re there, you should read Keith Stuart’s piece on having his laptop stolen, which is full of practical advice.
  • I didn’t see my laptop being taken and I was not confronted or assaulted by the thieves – but it was a shocking intrusion. I felt vulnerable and stupid, and for a few days, it ate away at my sense of control and security. What really got to me were the little things. I’d just downloaded a bunch of photos of our family Christmas, and there were emails I’d saved from friends and relatives, some of whom are no longer with us. There were sound files of incredible interviews, there was a document full of things I’d learned and studied about autism; things to help me with my son.

  • This piece on “gaming while black” from Joystiq is good, full of detail and data.
  • The stories Allen could tell probably wouldn’t surprise Dr. Kishonna Gray. Dr. Gray is an Assistant Professor at Eastern Kentucky University’s School of Justice Studies, and the founder and director of EKU’s Critical Gaming Lab, a hub for researching the immersive online environments within console gaming. She studies gaming and harassment from the player’s point of view.

  • Ian Bogost starts with a bold claim and then works hard to justify it: the algorithms that affect our lives, through Google and Facebook and Netflix, form “a new type of theology.”
  • Here’s an exercise: The next time you hear someone talking about algorithms, replace the term with “God” and ask yourself if the meaning changes. Our supposedly algorithmic culture is not a material phenomenon so much as a devotional one, a supplication made to the computers people have allowed to replace gods in their minds, even as they simultaneously claim that science has made us impervious to religion.

  • This five-minute video on the creation of a Mario AI is interesting, for the way it learns how to kill things and for the speech commands that order it to feel sad.
  • Half-Life levels from an isometric perspective.

Music this week is Pete Rock’s Petestrumentals. Start here, Spotify here.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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