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The Sunday Papers

Words And Music

Sundays are for realising you left your brain behind at Gamescom, and now it's lost forever in a sea of videogames. Time to rebuild it. This week's Sunday Papers brought to you by: a desperate last-minute search.

  • Killing The Games Industry, a talk by Ste Curran delivered at the Nordic Game festival, is very Ste Curran. Very. Worth it if you've got an hour.
  • Charlie Brooker writes about keeping his child occupied by stuffing Trials into his hands, and the benefits and consequences that follow. Funny as always.
  • Worst of all, in the iPhone version – which surprise, surprise masquerades as "free" – the bike runs out of fuel now and then, and the only way to refill the tank it is to wait for a countdown to expire (slightly harder for a two-year-old than completing a tapestry), watch an advert (evil) or to purchase in-game petrol from the App Store. I first became aware of this when he screamed and hurled the phone across a restaurant table in a fury. I caved in immediately and, illustrating everything that's wrong with human progress, found myself spending real money on non-existent petrol for a non-existent motorbike in a desperate bid to appease an infant. Spending money to shut him up felt transgressive and undignified – but worse still, I was literally fuelling his addiction.

  • 80 Days is causing a bit of a storm. Pocket Gamer's Chris Kerr tells the story of its creation:
  • The best ideas can hit you when you least expect it, but the inkle team seem to strike gold whenever they visit one place in particular.

    However, they don't retreat to the quiet zen of a Japanese garden, or sink into deep thought beneath piles of books in a picturesque library. No, they go to, arguably, the home of all great ideas. They go to the pub.

    "We were chatting in a pub, just talking about things, when we happened upon the idea of Around the World in 80 Days," says Ingold.

    Related: it's co-created by Jon Ingold, author of the excellent Make It Good.

  • This is a good point well made, about Hitman Absolution's treatment of women.
  • Robert Yang's write-up of ZZT, the book by Anna Anthropy about the game and editor of the same name, is worth a read:
  • For Anna, these ZZT games functioned primarily as a shared culture that helped its players perform identities and develop communities. Each ZZT game talked to another in the language of ZZT. These single player games were highly social, with cameos by community members, persistent in-jokes, and technological "innovations" that eventually became normalized practice. These technical norms also acted as social signifiers to facilitate gatekeeping: e.g. some ZZT games without certain shades of "advanced colors" were not permitted existence on z2, the main ZZT community website at the time. Who deserves inclusion, who deserves to be remembered?

  • As recommended, Shawn Trautman's Tumblr is worth reading for articles, links to freeware games, etc. Like blogging of old.
  • Gawker takes on the surprising Kim Kardashian game and argues that it has a point to make about capitalism.
  • When she does surface, Kim behaves much as you'd expect a divine being to do. She never seems to get jealous or duplicitous or underminery. There is clearly plenty of empty fame to go around, in her opinion!

    But unlike a deity, she is also open-minded and reluctant to pass judgment on others. "It's a big decision," she simply says, when I am summoned to her house to get advice on doing a nude photoshoot, though she'll vouch for the photographer.

  • Tom Senior has finished his excellent Dominions 4 diary over at I linked part one previously, but now there's part two and part three. From the latter:
  • Desperate action is needed. I feed my obelisk some death gems to level up his ability to cast death magic, giving him access to a powerful global death spell called The Utterdark. This throws the entire world into an unnaturally thick darkness. Living creatures can’t see more than a few feet in front of them, and spirits relentlessly attack from the shadows. As a result, income in every province for all factions is reduced by 90% and armies are less effective.

    Sounds like Tom.

  • Falling Awkwardly's doing a great diary of an attempt to "sleep with all the women in The Witcher and survive the experience with my faith in humanity/eroticism/videogames intact." Binders Full Of Women: part one, part two.
  • I mean, obviously it’s sexist and objectifying to make a game in which every time you sleep with a woman, you get a collectable card with her picture on it. I’m not here to get into that. I’m at the point where I choose to find it funny, even as it demonstrates a lot of depressing eye-rolly things about the people making it, and their assumptions about their audience. But I admit, I was curious. As my Guild Wars adventures show, I am hardly averse to the concept of playing a character who sleeps with everyone. In my version, it had been fun, exciting, consensual and hot. It’s a challenge to keep findingnew and interesting ways to initiate sex scenes with people you meet! While the cards were sexist, the concept doesn’t have to be sexist, if you accept that people, notably women, can freely choose and enjoy casual sex, and are not cheapened or sullied by it.

  • How to be polite.

Music this week is the deafening roar of a dozen competing Gamescom stages, but as I climbed inside the cab that would carry me from the train which carried me from the plane, this started to play on the radio, so let's go with that.

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