The Sunday Papers
Sudays are for getting on a little two carriage local train, chuntering over a precarious track through an estuary, and arriving at the cinema to see Sonic 2. Before you buy your ticket, enjoy some of the best writing about games (and game-adjacent cultural things) from this week.
For GameSpot Saniya Ahmed talked to Muslims in the games industry and gathered their anecdotes and thoughts about including Ramadan in games the way other religious celebrations are.
Games often base in-game events on real-world celebrations, playing them out within the bounds of their own game world. A live-service game set centuries into the future where religion plays no part in the story will have an annual winter event that looks a lot like Christmas - engaging gamers worldwide even if they don't celebrate the holiday. However, Ramadan and Eid, events observed and celebrated by Muslims–the second largest religious population on the planet - is often left out.
MSc and PhD student Jonathan Chan has documented his investigation of a mysterious unicode symbol: right angle with downwards zigzag arrow (there's also an abbreviated Tweet thread which I found eassier to understand).
The AFII is long dissolved in favour of Unicode over their glyph registry; an email from Asmus Freytag, their former president, describes its history just before dissolution. Notably, it appears that anyone could register a glyph with the AFII for a fee of 5$ to 50$ (about 8.60$ to 86$, accounting for inflation). Even if the International Glyph Register can be found, it likely merely contains another table with the glyph, the indentifier, and the short description. To know its origins would require the original registration request that added the character, but it’s unlikely that such old documents from a now-defunct non-profit organization in the 90s would have been kept or digitized.
On The Independant, Hussein Kesvani talks about the fear of logging off as a freelancer living in the digital age. The premise that being offline will become a luxury is an interesting one. It seems ridiculous in a world where so many people don't even have internet access, and yet it is true (as Kesvani points out) that, for example, Selena Gomez is only able to be offline because she employs people to read emails for her.
I fear that logging off for as little as half an hour might mean a missed project or work opportunity – one that might make bills a bit easier at the end of the month. For many of my friends who face higher rents and mortgages, this fear is all too familiar. From copywriters working project to project, computer programmers competing for low-paid app development gigs and digital designers juggling projects – in the ‘gig economy’ this economic insecurity is built-in.
I remain, to put it politely, very sceptical of web3 and all things crypto, it currently functioning in my life as nothing more than an extremely useful shortcut to see whose opinions I can safely ignore. On Vulture, Nilay Patel had a converstion with Chris Dixon, the king of web3 investment bros, and it's interesting in particular because of the informed pushback that Patel is able to give to Dixon.
Let me continue to push on this. You have laid out a story of the web. Web2 centralizes a bunch of cool stuff that was happening with Web1, but you are saying Web3 decentralizes it again. You are investing in a bunch of companies that are ultimately central service providers. A regular person does not want to think about the challenges we talked about, like climate, user experience, or security, and take any of that risk onto themselves. They do not want to set up their own web server, they just want to go to Tumblr or Blogger; they do not want to figure out how to transmit photos to their friends, they just want to use Google Photos or Facebook.
I see the exact same thing happening in Web3. OpenSea is the dominant marketplace, and almost every app relies on their APIs. They are going to sit at the center of it. The underlying protocols may be decentralized, but I think an emerging reality and real criticism here is that at the end of the day, you, Andreessen Horowitz, are going to invest in a bunch of companies who control the user experience for a lot of people.
For The Guardian, Alex Hern went to WASD and spoke to developers about the industry's carbon footprint. It's an interesting read, possibly not for the reasons you're expecting.
But I was surprised, as I toured the event, by how few people had even thought of the question in the terms I was putting it. The back of the envelope maths that had taken me to the event felt stark: a top-of-the-line gaming PC, running a new game at the highest graphical fidelity possible, will draw around 1kW of power; around the same as a kettle. (That’s not counting the electricity required for the monitor, and let’s not even touch on the difficulties of estimating the power consumption of multiplayer components). By contrast, a Nintendo Switch draws just 10W, about the same as a dim light bulb, while playing a game like Breath of the Wild.
Finally, Kat Bailey has a really nice interview on IGN with Final Fantasy's creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, looking back on his career and the series through the lens of playing FFXIV.
“It's like Disneyland, even in the ways they hold back,” Sakaguchi says. “Disneyland is able to create its own kind of reality through detailed rules like not allowing two Mickeys to be in the same place at the same time, right? I love the way that the game pays close attention to its own kinds of rules that let you enjoy it as a [Final Fantasy] theme park, rather than just stuffing everything they feel like into one place.”
Music this week is the album Greyhound Dreams by Sam Russo.