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The Sunday Papers

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Sundays are mainly for videogames, nowadays, aren’t they? Don’t worry, you can spice things up by reading the best writing about them from the past week.

For Kotaku, Siddhartha Bajracharya wrote about his experiences working as a doctor during the current crisis, and the strangeness of devoting his evenings to The Division 2. It’s a heavy read, but packed with valuable insight into what life is like for those working inside hospitals.

For me, the most surprisingly painful fictions portrayed in the Division are of basic competence and preparedness. In this branch of the greater Clancyverse the dollar flu exploded, shaking the foundations of American society, pushing its brave civil servants beyond their already great efforts as the union collapsed. And out from the shadows, by secret executive order, steps the Strategic Homeland Division, ready and willing and able, trained and primed. It’s the very image of a state fully prepared for even unimaginable contingencies, and the very opposite of what we’ve just seen in real life.

For The Washington Post, Stacey Henley spoke to various women about the widespread lack of pregnancy support within the games industry. As you might imagine, this manifests in many ways.

Even in her executive-level position, Christin felt pressure to constantly work. “I tried my best to keep myself out of work, but failed too often, and the stress had nefarious effects on my breast-feeding supply,” she said. “I went back to work after only two months, pumping three times a day in a small closet at the office — a luxury for most lactating mothers — while answering emails on my phone.”

Several mothers described similar closet pumping stories. Supposedly private pumping areas included meeting rooms in which the mother was mistakenly walked in on, restrooms, and rooms in the office where equipment had been arranged into a makeshift barrier.

For PC Gamer, Lauren Morton spoke to people who make animal noises. As in, for games, with Foley effects and techno-wizardry.

“Friction is one of our best friends for sound design,” Clark says. One of Clark’s go-tos, when he’s looking for a particularly hair-raising sound, is a rubber band scraped along a djembe drum. It makes a horrible screeching noise. On one particular occasion, one of his co-workers was dragging a trash can from their office to the hall and noticed that it made a “great purring, guttural sound.”

In moments like that, Clark’s ears perk up, and he knows it’s time to grab the microphone.

Also for PC Gamer, Joe Donally… “foiled an assassination attempt on the president in a GTA 5 flight sim roleplay server“. Joe’s GTA diaries are always a treat, and this one is a beauty.

I’m back roleplaying in Grand Theft Auto 5’s player-made FiveM servers, this time inside the custom-scripted ‘Flight Sim’—a self-proclaimed flight school RP server that’s full of keen aeronautics enthusiasts, which boasts over 120 real-world airplane models. One of those models is the president’s iconic ride, Air Force One. And if I don’t move my arse, the leader of the free world is going to perish in a ball of flames shortly after its wheels touch the tarmac.

For Ars Technica, Dan Thurot made a lovely list of board games that model the natural world. I realise lovely lists of board games are mostly only helpful right now to people who live with other people who are into that sort of thing, but at least everyone else can inspire their kids’ interest in ecology through vaguely educational board games.

Before becoming a father, I was aware that tiny humans don’t come prepackaged with much knowledge, but I never thought I’d have to discourage gleeful littering or pry little hands free from the dog’s ears. We may still be animals, but respect for nature doesn’t always come naturally to kids (or adults).

Curiosity, though, is easy to foster, especially once the kids figure out that board game night means staying up late and filling their bodies with unhealthy snacks. So, with Earth Day happening this last week, here are some of my preferred board games for inspiring curiosity about the planet and our role on it.

Here’s a neat Wired article from Daniel Oberhaus, about a man with a chip in his brain that circumvents the paralysis caused by his broken spine. He used to have almost no sense of touch, and now he can play Guitar Hero.

To make it happen, Ganzer and his colleagues used an elaborate setup that connects Burkhart’s brain to a computer. The chip in his motor cortex sends electrical signals through a port in the back of his skull, which is delivered through a cable to a nearby PC. There, a software program decodes the brain signals and separates them into signals corresponding to intended motions and signals corresponding to a sense of touch. The signals representing intended motions are routed to a sleeve of electrodes wrapped around Burkhart’s forearm. The touch signals are routed to a vibration band around his upper arm.

Music this week is Bag Full Of Dreams by Lotte Walda.

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Matt Cox

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Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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