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Posts Tagged ‘video games’

Persuasion

November 7, 2013 | by

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen will never be allowed to rest in peace but will instead, in perpetuity, act as a vague and grotesque figurehead who is required to comment on every social issue of the day, speak dialogue she never uttered, chase zombies, star in movies, breakdance, leap around Etsy, dabble in molecular gastronomy, inspire jewelry feuds, headline summer camps,  appear on banknotes, and, occasionally, be sexy. Because WHAT IF JANE AUSTEN REWROTE ALL THE HOUSEMARTINS B-SIDES AND THEN THEY WERE ALL ILLUSTRATED LIKE VARGAS GIRLS AND THEN WE MADE THEM INTO TAROT CARDS AND THEN IT WAS A MUSIC VIDEO AND IT WENT VIRAL? WHAT IF THAT HAPPENED?

Rant over.

All that said, this new video game, Ever, Jane, looks fun. As the creators explain it on the Kickstarter page,

Ever, Jane is a virtual world that allows people to role-play in Regency Period England. Similar to traditional role playing games, we advance our character through experience, but that is where the similarities end. Ever, Jane is about playing the actual character in the game, building stories. Our quests are derived from player's actions and stories. And we gossip rather than swords and magic to demolish our enemies and aid our friends.

I thoroughly enjoyed playing the prototype. I won’t pretend to have deepened my understanding of Regency England, but it certainly furthered my knowledge of role-play games. And everyone walks really fast.

 

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Hell Is Other Gamers

August 13, 2013 | by

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I am perfectly willing to believe that The Novelist, a video game that follows the quotidian struggles of a writer named Dan Kaplan, is a thought-provoking exercise for anyone who plays and an interesting evolution in the way we think of gaming. I also believe that, for anyone who writes, playing it would be an existential nightmare. Says the game’s creator, Kent Hudson,

There’s no winning or losing … You play through and get a story that my hope—and this sounds so pretentious—but my hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question in nine different ways over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values. And by the end … maybe your guy has written the greatest book ever but his wife left him and his kid is getting in trouble at school at the time. Well, I guess when push comes to shove you’ve decided that career’s more important than family. Or vice versa.

I wanted to test the game out, but just reading this induced a sense of crushing panic about all my bad life choices. (I’m also terrible at games and my Dan Kaplan would obviously be a sad sack who ended up alone in an SRO.) That said, do read the entire, thoughtful Kokatu piece on The Novelist’s development; it’s fascinating stuff. I’ll be in the corner, weeping.

 

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Our Books Lack Feelings, and Other News

March 21, 2013 | by

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  • Over at Ploughshares, an interview with book artist Melissa Jay Craig.
  • Putting his money where his mouth is, so to speak, writer Tom Bissell has written a video game, Gears of War: Judgment, the fourth in a military sci-fi series. This trend has endless possibilities. (Cue Joyce Carol Oates for Xbox 360.)
  • An algorithm finds that the emotional content of books is on the decline. (Although there’s probably more sex.)
  • Conversely! “Morn shows that he was not immune to the forces that had so dramatically acted upon his father, though his own political convictions would thrive within the rococo folds of his language.” Two new books allow us to see a new, less detached side of Nabokov. 
  • Horror writer James Herbert has died, at sixty-nine. 

 

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Discipline and Punish

January 10, 2013 | by


One way or another, we’re all running away from Foucault. In this distressing online game, you can actually run away from Foucault with your fingertips, rather than by merely existing in society. It’s scary, all but impossible, and totally futile. Well, of course; that’s the whole point. But who, apart from some people I know back at my upstate New York small, progressive, liberal-arts college, would actually play it? Real life is punishment enough.

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Steampunks and K-pop and Swag: A Day at New York Comic Con

November 6, 2012 | by

Much has been said and written about New York Comic Con. It’s weird, it’s magical, it’s overwhelming, it’s hell on earth, it’s the best event in the world. If you’ve ever attended, it’s easy to see how all of these things could subjectively be true. Only one thing seems objectively true, however: Comic Con is utterly unique (unless you count San Diego Comic-Con, which seems to be the only comparable event in the United States, and which I’ve never attended).

Here is a list of things you can buy at Comic Con: the video game Just Dance 4, anime DVDs from Japan, K-pop posters, books titled How to Be Death and Victorian Sexual Positions, your zombie portrait drawn for $19.99, your superhero portrait photographed for $10, a steampunk corset, potions, comics-related earrings, sriracha-themed boxer briefs, “premium” (the seller’s word, not mine) hugs for $2, a photorealist painting of superheroes for $2,495, Nancy Drew manga, the Bible as manga, an autograph (free), and a picture of a girl dressed as hipster Hitler (also free).

One thing they don’t sell yet: strollers. But it’s only a matter of time. As a man I overheard on Sunday afternoon astutely observed, “Yo, they should sell strollers here! They’d make a killing.”

At Comic Con—and for many blocks north, south, and east of the Javits Center, which hugs the West Side Highway—you can see adults and children alike dressed up as Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Superman, Captain Marvel, Mario, Luigi, Transformers, and at least a hundred other characters I couldn’t identify. People attend discussion panels while painted blue or stroll the aisles in their underwear.Read More »

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Playing the Field

August 11, 2011 | by

Kacie Kinzer, Tweenbot, 2009, cardboard, paper, ink, batteries, motor, and wheels, 36 x 8 1/2 x 14 in. Photo © Scott Rudd

On a recent balmy night, in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art, I watch a dozen adults hop excitedly between platters of white, gray, and black arrayed in a circle. They move at a waltzlike pace, stepping, stopping, pointing. This strange spectacle isn’t an art project, exactly, but a game: part of a one-night arcade organized by the magazine Kill Screen for MoMA’s exhibition of interactive objects, “Talk to Me.”

The game is called Starry Heaven, after Kant’s epigram that the two things that fill him with wonder and awe are “the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” The rules of Starry Heaven, however, are decidedly unfriendly to anyone following the moral law within him. As players move from disc to disc toward the center of the circle, they must conspire with each other to point at another player on an adjacent disk, banishing him. “It requires them to collaborate with their fellow players—and to stab them in the back,” says Eric Zimmerman, who designed the game with Nathalie Pozzi, an architect. “It tells a perverse moral fable.”

Another game, in the museum’s lobby, takes a more laissez-faire approach to pitting players against each other. It has only one rule—to follow the instructions that appear on a screen—but the game’s title, BUTTON, for Brutally Unfair Tactics Totally OK Now, encourages players to break it. As I walk toward the five-foot-wide screen, it tells the four men standing in front of it that the first one to hit his button ten times will lose. They run, dive, grabbing their bucket-size rubber buttons from the floor—and then they stop, seemingly at a loss. Cautiously they press their own buttons, watching each other: a suicide pact. Then, one of them grabs his neighbor’s button and starts bashing it furiously. People in line cheer as the screen shows his competitor’s animal avatars blasted by lightening bolts. He walks away with his arms raised in triumph. Read More »

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