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You Are Mountain

A strange video game from the Her animator bests Spike Jonze's film at depicting what a relationship with an alien really would be like.

Near the start of his relationship with a computer operating system in Spike Jonze’s Academy Award-winning film Her, Samantha the OS (Scarlett Johansson) helps Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) play a videogame. Called “Alien Child” by the filmmakers, the game seems familiar enough to be plausible to viewers, yet foreign enough to induce estrangement. The same could be said of the film’s high-waisted… read more

OAuth of Fealty

Resignation beyond sorrow on the Facebook Platform and beyond

In recent weeks, Facebook has been sending emails imploring me to complete a survey about how they might improve their development platform. I’d been deleting the messages, but after the third request or so, I decided to click through. For those lucky enough to have avoided it, the Facebook Platform is a set of tools and services that allows developers… read more

The Great Pretender

Turing as a Philosopher of Imitation

It’s hard to overestimate Alan Turing’s contributions to contemporary civilization. To mathematics, he contributed one of two nearly simultaneous proofs about the limits of first-order logic. In cryptography he devised an electromechanical device that decoded German Enigma machine’s signals during World War II, an accomplishment that should also be counted as a contribution to twentieth century warfare and politics. In… read more

Innovative Leisure

An exhibition of new games for the Atari

I’m curating an exhibit of new Atari games at Babycastles, which opens this Sunday, November 13th. It’s called Innovative Leisure (a term I lifted from an early Atari slogan) and will take place at a new art games arcade at Death By Audio. The show exhibits games by Sonny Ray Tempest, Ed Fries, and Simon Quernhost. The event starts at… read more

What’s in a Medium?

A response to Mike Thomsen

The New Inquiry published a review by Michael Thomsen of my latest book How to Do Things With Videogames. It’s just the kind of review an author hopes for: fair, thoughtful, based on a thorough reading, and full of new ideas and observations. I’m grateful to Thomsen for writing it. Thomsen raises an objection that I’ve been waiting for and… read more

Mission Uncritical

Facebook and Software Architecture

I’ve been thinking about software architecture lately, mostly as a result of continuing to suffer at the hands of Facebook’s horrific platform and API. For those who haven’t tried to use it, Facebook’s platform is notoriously atrocious. It’s badly documented and doesn’t always do what the documentation says. It breaks regularly. It rolls out changes without notice. The entire architecture… read more

Diskinect in the Living Room

Why physical movement games are incompatible with our homes

The Microsoft Kinect is available today, and with it come innumerable reviews of its successes and flaws (find a summary of them at Gamasutra). A common property of many negative reviews is the enormous amount of living room space Kinect requires, far more than most people will have in a sizable home let alone a modest apartment. I wrote about… read more

Check-Ins Check Out

On check-in mechanics and games as loyalty programs. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.

I am one of those frequent flyer freaks. I count my elite qualifying miles and plan trips to maximize their accrual. I orchestrate complex bookings based on the class of service available and my ability to upgrade it. I can tell you which seats are optimal on a Delta 767-300 versus a 767-400. I can explain the intricacies of award… read more

Premature Sunsets

Will XBLA's Game Room ever support new games for old systems?

Back when the Nintendo Wii first came out, I wrote about a hope for it, specifically for its Virtual Console feature. Here’s what I said: Without exception, the Virtual Console has been touted as a digital distribution channel for new games and “classic” games from vintage consoles. But the Virtual Console suggests an application for serious and independent games that… read more

Presentation Software Sucks

Here are some features that would make it better.

I do a lot of presentations. They come in various forms: class lectures, conference papers, keynote talks, corporate presentations, and business pitches, to name a few. Often I use slides and visuals in these talks, and I do so in various ways. In my class lectures I try to use slides as a way to reinforce the key ideas from the… read more