Sundays are for staying at home. Now that I am once again the proud owner of a functional clavicle, they’re also for reading the best writing about videogames. Sorry about the break!
For Vice, Duncan Fyfe looked into how Mastermind, a childhood board game I remember playing at my Grandma’s, was sold as a sexy distraction from “the many abuses of ‘big’ governments”. Fyfe’s piece is also an investigation into Mastermind’s possibly farm-related origins, and how the same idea wound up in Fallout.
There’s also, Ault wrote, a deeper attraction. “In the modern world the average person is constantly reminded of his own powerlessness—the threat of global disaster from bombs, pollution, germ warfare, or what have you; the impact of far-away events such as the Arab oil policies; the many abuses of ‘big’ governments against life and liberty; and the worsening of problems such as crime and social unrest for which there seem to be no clear or effective answers. Unlike most games, in Mastermind there is an answer, one single correct hidden code.”
For Fanbyte, Jack Yarwood spoke to the bullet artists of Grand Theft Auto V. It’s a medium defined by technical limitations, making it both gorgeous and fascinating.
For most players, the walls of Los Santos are unremarkable. A dull patchwork of greys and whites, they blur into the background without any need for recognition. But for a small group of digital artists, these same walls are blank canvases waiting to be painted. Their art implement of choice: Grand Theft Auto V’s vast assortment of weaponry. Firearms equipped, these artists set to work spraying the walls of the city, their bullet marks etching out their masterpieces in stone.
For RE:BIND, Emily Rose thrust her readers into Night Of The Consumer, a horror game about working in retail.
After a short conversation about your newest duties, you passive aggressively fling your backpack into the locker. A recent policy change means no more phones on the floor, not even for emergency family calls, can’t have anyone getting distracted by material reality when re-stocking trinkets and re-processed sugar flakes. Unless of course, you’re the manager, then somehow frequently checking your latest score in Clash Of Feudal Sharecroppers Gaiden II on SocialCloud while lording over the peasants, literally and figuratively, is retroactively justified as vital business.
For PC Gamer, Luke Winkie explored the libertarian sprawl of Decentraland. Think Second Life, but poorer players have to pay rent to land barons. This is not the future liberals wanted.
Decentraland is a truly fascinating concept. It peels back like an onion, revealing a Randian fever-dream built with Roblox textures. Anyone can explore Decentraland from their browser, as long as you first download a crypto wallet extension called Metamask. Molina recommends visiting the Museum District, where deedholders have constructed a network of digital art—put on display with reverence, like a cyberspace version of The Louvre.
For Eurogamer’s consistently delightful “someone should make a game about:” series, Ed Thorn wrote an ode to shipping containers. Someone should make a game about shipping containers.
Eventually, clock hands meet and a bell chimes. And all those containers deemed a little too rusty, or a touch rattley are separated from the pack by the same cranes that lifted them countless times in the past (Pixar, call me?). They are retired now, but ultimately freed from the cycle, and perhaps it’s this transition which has the most game-like promise.
For ArsTechnica, Jennifer Quellette explained what Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks can teach us about peer review. I’m not convinced there is any scientific value here at all, but I did laugh.
For their own gait analysis, Butler and Dominy studied both Mr. Putey’s and the Minister’s gait cycles in the video of the original 1970 televised sketch, as well as the Minister’s gaits from a 1980 live stage performance in Los Angeles. “If silly walking can be defined as deviations from typical walking, then silliness can be quantified using two-dimensional video-based motion analysis,” they wrote. So that’s what they did. Butler and Dominy found that the Minister’s silly walk is much more variable than a normal human walk — 6.7 times as much — while Mr. Putey’s walk-in-progress is only 3.3 times more variable.
Shut Up & Sit Down star (and former RPSer) Quintin Smith has joined People Make Games – but don’t worry, he hasn’t abandoned SU&SD. His first video is about the ancient game of Kabaddi, which is now the second biggest sport in India, and something I very much want to play.
Music this week is Think About Things by Daði Freyr.