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In Virtual Reality, Finally a World for Men

Decades hence, a citizen relives a famous photograph.

“Oh, that was a long time ago,” I said, looking at the old photograph on the battered tablet, hoping to demur. Rows and rows of men bearing one of the earliest visor headsets. “That was a long time ago.” “Were you there?” Huxley asked. Her big eyes—we used eyes again, by then, at least some of the time—were blood-red from… read more

Taste the Feeling 12

Things You Can’t Talk About in a Coca-Cola Ad

A “Profanity API” for a user-generated marketing campaign censors vulgarity, Pepsi, belching, and murder—but also Bill Cosby, capitalism, the Book of Genesis, and tacos.

When Daniel Joseph, a York University doctoral student studying labor and technology, found out about Coca-Cola’s GIF the Feeling promotion, he knew exactly what he wanted to make with it: a Coke-branded critique of capitalism. An accessory for Coke’s newly launched “Taste the Feeling” global ad campaign, GIF the Feeling is a website that allows visitors to fashion Coke ads by combining… read more

Yurika Miki (R) and her mother Yoshiko take photos of raw beef liver sashimi before eating them at a restaurant in Tokyo June 28, 2012. While Japan has a reputation as the home of sushi and sashimi, one item is about to be taken off the menu as Japan's government looks to ban the popular dish of raw liver in sashimi style. The dish, which consists of raw beef liver sliced up into bite sized chunks and then served with onions and sauce had become a popular dish across the country. Picture taken June 28, 2012. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS FOOD SOCIETY) - RTR34CQ5

Offloading Affective Labor to Customers

Companies once asked only their employees to feign heartfelt devotion to their products. Now their customers are expected to do so too.

Dining recently with friends, everything looked the way it always does. The menu boasted appealing but ordinary fare—antipasti and starters, wood-fired pizzas, freshly-made pastas, meaty mains. I noticed that a handful of the menu items were printed in red, and I asked the server why. “These are our signature dishes,” he explained. “They’re the ones that are most shared on… read more

Children look at wrapped gifts on the ground as a man dressed as Santa Claus (not pictured) climbs a building to hang them during a ceremony in the northern Italian ski resort of Selva Di Val Gardena December 8, 2007.   REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi   (ITALY) - RTX4J9A

The Deeper Meaning of Black Friday

Giving a gift is an act of competition as much as generosity.

Get $100 off the iPad Air 2 at Best Buy. Save $50 on the Xbox One Gears of War Bundle plus get a $60 Target Gift Card. At Walmart, one can buy a Samsung Smart HDTV for under $200. Under $200! These are the marks of Black Friday, the annual bacchanal for consumer excess. And excess, it is normally thought,… read more

A mascot dressed as a character from the mobile game "Candy Crush Saga" walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the IPO of Mobile game maker King Digital Entertainment Plc March 26, 2014.    REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES  - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY ENTERTAINMENT)   - RTR3IO03

The Logic Behind the Sky-High Candy Crush Deal

In its seemingly exorbitant purchase of the popular app’s creator, Activision Blizzard is just playing the game.

The fact that Activision Blizzard bought Candy Crush creator King Digital startled people less than the sheer size of the deal: $5.9 billion. As many noted, that’s almost $2 billion more than Disney paid for either Marvel or Lucasfilm. It’s more than twice the $2.5 billion Microsoft paid for Minecraft maker Mojang, a property that feels like it has more long-term staying power… read more

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The Car That Killed Glamour

Tesla and the end of the automobile as an object of desire

The Tesla Model S is a supercar without equal. Recently, the P85D trim broke the Consumer Reports rating system, earning a score of 103 out of 100. They rounded down to just 100, calling it “closest to perfect we've ever seen.” The Model S accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in under 3.5 seconds, via an electric motor that produces… read more

gamelife

In the Habit

A Review of Michael W. Clune's Gamelife

I am on an airplane reading Michael W. Clune’s Gamelife, a memoir about growing up playing computer games in the 1980s. I’ve just finished eating the smoked salmon and kiwi on the “fruit plate” I was offered by the flight attendant but had initially declined. Just like I had declined to review Gamelife for this publication, initially. For reasons, too. Michael… read more

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The Internet of Things You Don’t Really Need

Smart devices turn every industry into the computer industry, and dupe consumers into thinking their lives are better for it in the process.

Atlanta turns yellow for two weeks in April. Streets, driveways, terraces, cars—everything cakes with pollen. It’s the trees that cause the worst of it. Pine, oak, sweet gum, sycamore, mulberry, hackberry, birch, willow. Prolific itching, sneezing, and car-washing ensue. Grilling season officially begins when the pollen subsides. This year’s was particularly grievous, and perhaps that’s why I was so eager… read more

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A Master Key to the Ultimate Dumb Device

The future of the iPhone could be a way of tethering people to Apple products even when they don't want them anymore.

Lock-in. That's what we call it when you're dependent on a specific vendor for particular services. When you buy a single-serving coffee machine boasting convenient, mess-free coffee inserts, like Keurig K-Cup or Nespresso, you're bound to its brand of coffee pods. When you purchase digital music on iTunes, proprietary formats and digital rights management (DRM) make it difficult to listen… read more

Steroid Slugger

Steroid Slugger

An unpublished 2007 New York Times newsgame

In 2007, my studio Persuasive Games embarked on a series of newsgames published by the New York Times. It was Kind Of A Big Deal At The Time, because it was the first real attempt for a major newspaper to publish videogames as news content (rather than as puzzles). We completed two games, Food Import Folly, about the effects of reduced… read more