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Posts Tagged ‘video games’

“Aestheticized Loot,” and Other News

June 20, 2014 | by

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“Six different artists made these paintings.” Photo via Vulture

  • An excerpt from Marilynne Robinson’s next novel, Lila.
  • Discovered: twenty unpublished poems by Neruda.
  • As video games move from amusements to art, game designers should be increasingly concerned with presenting moral dilemmas in their games … Rather than having choices presented ‘as either/or, good/bad binaries with relatively predictable outcomes,’ games should strive to present ‘no clear narrative-or-system-driven indication as to what choice to make.’”
  • The photographer Eilon Paz has released Dust & Grooves: Adventures in Record Collecting, featuring pictures of, yes, record collectors and their daunting collections. Among the specialists: a guy who only collects The White Album; a guy who only collects Sesame Street records; the Guinness World Record holder (no pun intended) for largest collection of colored vinyl.
  • “A large swath of the art being made today is being driven by the market, and specifically by not very sophisticated speculator-collectors who prey on their wealthy friends and their friends’ wealthy friends, getting them to buy the same look-­alike art … It’s colloquially been called Modest Abstraction, Neo-Modernism, M.F.A. Abstraction, and Crapstraction. (The gendered variants are Chickstraction and Dickstraction.) Rhonda Lieberman gets to the point with ‘Art of the One Percent’ and ‘aestheticized loot.’ I like Dropcloth Abstraction, and especially the term coined by the artist-critic Walter Robinson: Zombie Formalism.”
  • Among the World Cup’s rules and regs: sex laws. Some teams are banned from pregame intercourse; others are only barred from certain forms of it. E.g.: “France (you can have sex but not all night), Brazil (you can have sex, but not ‘acrobatic’ sex), Costa Rica (can’t have sex until the second round) and Nigeria (can sleep with wives but not girlfriends).”

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Tolkien by Jansson, and Other News

June 16, 2014 | by

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  • The dirty secret of poetry is that it is loved by some, loathed by many, and bought by almost no one.” (That may be dirty, but is it a secret?)
  • Everyone can rattle off the names of alcoholic male writers—it’s time to give the women their due. “Jean Rhys was briefly in Holloway prison for assault; Elizabeth Bishop more than once drank eau de cologne, having exhausted the possibilities of the liquor cabinet. But are their reasons for drinking different? And how about society’s responses, particularly in the lubricated, tipsy twentieth century; the golden age, if one can call it that, of alcohol and the writer?”
  • Among the artists to have illustrated international editions of The Hobbit over the years: Tove Jansson, Maurice Sendak, and Tolkien himself.
  • No one can explain the success of “A Dark Room,” a best-selling game composed of words and not much else—harking back to the earliest computer games of the seventies. “These language games draw on a tradition of using language patterns as a form of play that precedes computers by thousands of years, something to which more recent video games remain indebted.”
  • Look to 1984—the year, not the novel—for a curious episode from the annals of bioterrorism: “In rural Oregon, a small religious sect led by an Indian mystic was busy organizing a massive voter-fraud campaign that nearly enabled it to take over an entire county … The Rajneeshees would try to depress turnout among regular voters by poisoning thousands of residents with Salmonella.”
  • Journalists reporting from more than ninety countries are collaborating on a new project called Deca: “Once a month, Deca publishes a nonfiction story about the world. Somewhere between a long article and a short book, each piece is written by one member, edited by another, and approved by the rest.”

 

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Proust Says “Pipe Down,” and Other News

June 3, 2014 | by

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Will you please be quiet, please?

  • In which Penguin Random House unveils its new logo and “brand identity.”
  • Proust’s letters to his noisy neighbors: “It seems almost too perfect that Proust, the bedridden invalid, would have sent notes upstairs, sometimes by messenger, sometimes through the post, to implore the Williamses to nail shut the crates containing their summer luggage in the evening, rather than in the morning, so that they could be better timed around his asthma attacks.”
  • Where are erotica writers having sex? In the doctor’s office. At the Louvre. On the Haunted Mansion ride at Disney World.
  • Making an unlikely appearance in the Times Op-Ed section this morning: our Art of Nonfiction interview with Adam Phillips.
  • “When I find myself having to defend the narrative force of video games, I like to give the example of a real experience I had in my childhood involving the game Metroid. In this science fiction adventure, we guide a bounty hunter called Samus Aran … he wears armor which covers his whole body, until, at the end, after finding and destroying the Mother Brain, Samus … removes his helmet to reveal that he is really a woman … I had controlled a woman the whole time without knowing … Narrative sublimity is possible in the medium of electronic games.”

 

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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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