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

Engineer inspecting air conditioning pipes

Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers

It undermines a long tradition of designing and building infrastructure in the public interest.

I’m commiserating with a friend who recently left the technology industry to return to entertainment. “I’m not a programmer,” he begins, explaining some of the frustrations of his former workplace, before correcting himself, “—oh, engineer, in tech-bro speak. Though to me, engineers are people who build bridges and follow pretty rigid processes for a reason.” His indictment touches a nerve.… 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

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Don’t Hate the Phone Call, Hate the Phone

Our telephone habits have changed, but so have the infrastructure and design of the handset.

One of the ironies of modern life is that everyone is glued to their phones, but nobody uses them as phones anymore. Not by choice, anyway. Phone calls—you know, where you put the thing up to your ear and speak to someone in real time—are becoming relics of a bygone era, the “phone” part of a smartphone turning vestigial as… read more

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How to Talk About Videogames

A fond look at the preposterous—and yet essential—pursuit of games criticism

This book is available in digital or physical format. Buy from Amazon Videogames! Aren’t they the medium of the twenty-first century? The new cinema? The apotheosis of art and entertainment, the realization of Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk? The final victory of interaction over passivity? No, probably not. Games are part art and part appliance, part tableau and part toaster. In How to… 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