The Sciences, The Humanities, and Design

Nelson on Cross on Design

Mark Nelson wrote up an interesting bit on design as the third discipline, in which he suggests that design is a kind of third-term offset against the old science/humanities split. Mark notes that Whitehead is a precursor to such thinking, albeit in his educational writings rather than his metaphysics: There are three main roads along which we can proceed with… read more

How Atari 2600′s Crazy Hardware Changed Game Design

Wired's Chris Kohler on Racing the Beam

Chris Kohler, author of Power Up and games writer at Wired penned a nice piece on Racing the Beam for Wired’s Game|Life blog. One of the ideas we discuss in the book that Kohler picks up on is the fact that the Atari was manufactured and supported until 1992, albeit in increasingly smaller numbers. Today it’s almost impossible to imagine… read more

Designing For Tragedy

What would a thoughtful game about a tragedy look like? From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.

A month after the Virginia Tech massacre, 21 year-old Australian hobbyist animator and game developer Ryan Lambourn created V-Tech Rampage, a web game that recreates the massacre’s events. He released the game on his personal website and popular Flash portal Newgrounds.

Turning the Tables on In-Game Ad Design

On the uses of in-game ads for cultural reference. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.

Monopoly has a long, complex, and generally unknown history. Perhaps the most surprising historical curiosity about this classic game about being a real estate tycoon is that it was originally created with an entirely different set of values in mind.

Game Design Education: Integrating Computation and Culture

Co-authored with Janet Murray, Michael Mateas, and Michael Nitsche. Published in IEEE Computer Society, June 2006.

Electronic games are growing rapidly as a cultural form, a set of media technologies, and a global industry. Humanists are looking at games as a new expressive genre like drama, opera, or movies, social scientists are examining them as a new form of collective behavior, computer scientists, engineers, and industrial designers are finding them a new focus of invention. New… read more

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Video Games Are Better Without Characters

The real legacy of SimCity is its attempt—and failure—to make complex systems the protagonists instead of people.

In the mid-1980s, the easiest way to check out the latest computer games was to go to a bookstore in the mall. Past the John Grisham and the bargain history books in the B. Dalton Bookseller, you’d find Software Etc., a small island of boxes amidst bound volumes, and a few computers on which to play the latest releases. It… read more

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The End of the Big Mac

The burger's demise won’t be marked by a declaration in a quarterly report, but by a collective appreciation for the comfort it offered America.

If you like to lunch on two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun, you’d better act fast: McDonald’s has announced plans to phase out the Big Mac. Okay, not really. But social media ate up the news of its axing, published by the satirical site Daily Buzz Live at the end of last… read more

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Game Studies, Year Fifteen

Notes on Thoughts on Formalism

I know it’s been a long time since I blogged—really blogged, you know, in the style of that form—for three reasons. First, because I’m talking about blogging in the first sentence, and second because I’m sending you here to read the prerequisites for this post. You’ll want to read the linked piece and as many of the subsequent pieces linked… read more

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The Cathedral of Computation

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy.

Algorithms are everywhere, supposedly. We are living in an “algorithmic culture,” to use the author and communication scholar Ted Striphas’s name for it. Google’s search algorithms determine how we access information. Facebook’s News Feed algorithms determine how we socialize. Netflix’s and Amazon’s collaborative filtering algorithms choose products and media for us. You hear it everywhere. “Google announced a change to… read more

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Winning Isn’t Everything

I used to think that games would be the dominant medium of the 21st century. The reality? They’re too big, too complex, and too smart for that to be true.

It’s hard to turn around in video game circles without hearing someone proclaim that “games are the dominant medium of the 21st century.” Deus Ex and Epic Mickeydesigner Warren Spector has a lecture built around the idea. The author Tom Chatfield devoted the subtitle of his book Fun, Inc to the concept. Journey composer Austin Wintory’s uttered the quip in an interview. Film critics writing about recent documentaries about games have even let… read more