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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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

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The Secret History of the Robot Car

How self-driving vehicles took off

After attending the 1964 World’s Fair, the science-fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote an essay in The New York Times imagining a visit to the World’s Fair 50 years in the future, in 2014. Among his predictions: “Much effort will be put into the designing of vehicles with ‘robot-brains’—vehicles that can be set for particular destinations and that will then proceed there without interference by… read more

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Why Anything but Games Matters

On isolationism in game development; my Indiecade 2014 talk

A couple months ago, I was talking to a friend in technology media. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m in tech,” he started saying. He paused for a beat. “Then I think, at least I’m not in games.” He wasn’t even really talking about the Voldemortian “you-know-what” that was indeed the original impetus for our conversation. That’s just the latest example.… read more