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The Sunday Papers

Sundays. Sundays are for thinking about the future. No, not your future of buying a dog or getting a divorce, The Future. Not familiar with the concept? Well I'd say it's pretty well documented. I guess you haven't been doing enough reseach. Speaking of which, let's do some now. I've been checking the internet for clues, some of which I present to you here.

  • Let's kick off with responses to the US Supreme Court's decision to protect videogames under The First Amendment. The New York Times has Cheryl K Olson saying: "It's Perverse, But It's Also Pretend", which is an argument you see on these very pages fairly regularly: "Teenage boys may be more interested in the chain saws, but there’s no evidence that this leads to violent behavior in real life. F.B.I. data shows that youth violence continues to decline; it is now at its lowest rate in years, while bullying appears to be stable or decreasing." Then there's this article by Sarah Jaffe, in which she questions the status of pornography, when images of violence seem to be protected. She even goes as far as to ask Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Kieron Gillen for comment. She's serious: "It's not that videogames are different from other media. It's that they're all other media, plus extra stuff on top," says Gillen. He right, you know. (Brainy Gamer's commentary is also good.)
  • Ah, this is lovely: Christian Donlan does a Choose Your Own Adventure retrospective for Eurogamer, in the form of a Choose Your Own Adventure: "Is it fair to classify the Choose Your Own Adventure books as games? Their creator thinks they almost certainly weren’t (I asked him), but I’m not so sure. There’s all that death and mayhem you can cause, for one thing – they present worlds of limited agency, which definitely feels very gameish. Beyond that, with each book, the unspoken objective should seem familiar to a video game audience, as well. Last as long as you can. Get the best ending. Beat M. Bison on a single 50 pence piece."
  • While you're at Eurogamer it's also worth checking out Oli Welsh's preview of Need For Speed The Run: "You need to weave constantly or use elevated train tracks for cover as you pursue the linear course, directed around each bend by walls of neon arrows, as per racing game convention. At scripted moments, control is snatched from you for a few seconds while dramatic cutaway cameras and the ubiquitous slow-motion force your appreciation of the sheer excitement of it all. It looks good, but it disrupts your rhythm, which is already having a hard enough time coping with the sluggish handling and cumbersome weaving technique. Action racing scenes like this are far from a terrible idea, but they can certainly be more entertaining."
  • Gamasutra's interview with Molyneux seems familiar: "I look at Fable III, and it's hard to be completely honest without offending people; but I know, when I read in the middle of a review that said the quality just wasn't good enough, I actually agree with those reviews. I think Lionhead can't afford to rest on its laurels of its fans and produce low-quality stuff. We have lots of excuses, as you always do have excuses; but I don't think that's good enough. For consumers, it's very simple: there's a bright light here, and there's an even brighter light there. They're going to go towards the even brighter light -- and why shouldn't they? You just can't sit on your hands and say, "Well, we know how to do it. It's Fable, so that's the way we do it." You just can't do that."
  • Comrade Betts keeps linking me to this blog about a guy making a procedurally generated world.
  • Uh. Hmm: "Online gamers need to generate around $3 of in-game value per hour for themselves to stay entertained, according to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers."
  • This is a few months old, but I missed it somehow: Kirk Hamilton talks to Jason Rohrer: "There aren’t so many abandoned ruins in Minecraft,” Rohrer points out, “but in Chain-World, that’s all there are. You then have the opportunity to destroy them, or continue the work that the person before you left, or just go off and do your own thing." Great point. Imagine how much more interesting Minecraft would will be if each map generation create a world littered with ruins, rather than simply creating that fresh slate.
  • Further developments in the Langdell case...
  • Leigh Alexander on why games being stupid can be good, and how that actually means it has to be clever: "In order for unadulterated destruction and killing sprees in games to be fun, it has to be funny." Precisely. It's all a wider part of the Roger Rabbit Rule, which can ultimately be applied to almost any situation in life.
  • Weird, elegiac piece from Electron Dance: Stanley Kubrick Is Gone. It's about Bill Williams.
  • John's Rum Doings podcast is going apace at he moment, and this past week he interviewed Cory Doctorow and Alice Taylor, who are about the most interesting married couple I can think of. Worth a listen.
  • This speech by Ernest Hemingway is also worth a listen. Made me a bit teary. Poor old bastard.

Music this week is actually from the SP's original editor Mr Gillen, too, as he suggests Portishead's latest Kraftwerky beat-driven piece, sales of which are supporting Amnesty. It's good!

More soon!

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