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Academic Paydom

Tactical lessons from the Steven Salaita situation

For those of you who don’t follow university labor politics, Inside Higher Ed reported this week that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign apparently rescinded a job offer for a tenured professorship in Native American Studies to Steven G. Salaita, a Virginia Tech English professor. Well, not exactly rescinded. Rather, the UIUC chancellor decided not to advance Salaita’s appointment through a usually pro-forma approval process.… read more

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The Future of Luxury: Avoiding People

Services like Silvercar, Uber, and pay-to-play airline VIP programs help keep the new aristocracy away from the rabble

When I power on my phone upon landing at LAX, a text message is already waiting for me: “Hi Ian, Silvercar here! We have your res at 1:00pm today. Let’s roll!” Silvercar rents a fleet of silver Audi A4s at airports in Austin, Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. A slogan speaks plainly on the company’s behalf: “car rental that doesn’t… read more

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What Are Game Developers? A View From the Future

Centuries hence, a citizen reads up on a bygone industry.

I squinted at the discolored reading pad I’d borrowed from the archives. The material was as dry as the title—“Taxonomy of Extinct Terrestrial Tribes”—but these ancient practices had long fascinated me. Take “games,” for example. They were played by adults and children alike, without shame—even in public! I had once scoffed at the idea that beings of my genetic lineage… read more

The McRib: Enjoy Your Symptom

How McDonald's strange, seasonal sandwich explains the rest of its menu

Each year, the McRib makes a brief visit to Earth. Its arrival elicits reactions ranging from horror to awe. And for good reason: this would-be rib sandwich is really a restructured pork patty pressed into the rough shape of a slab of ribs, its slathering of barbecue sauce acting as camouflage as much as coating. “Pork” is a generous term,… read more

Perpetual Adolescence

Gone Home: a videogame about releasing secrets

Originally published at the Los Angeles Review of Books Gone Home is a videogame about releasing secrets, the kind of secrets that you should have known all along. It is set in Oregon circa 1995, and it tells the story of an ordinary family. As the game starts, you find yourself on the porch of an old house. You are… read more

Proteus: A Trio of Artisanal Game Reviews

Three reviews as three lenses through which to approach and appreciate an unusual videogame.

Originally published at Gamasutra One: Nil Person Videogames are narcissistic. They are about you, even when they put you in someone else’s shoes. You are a space marine among hell spawn. You are a mafioso just released from prison. You are a bear with a bird in your backpack. You are a Tebowing Tim Tebow. We may think we play… read more

How the Video-Game Industry Already Lost Out in the Gun-Control Debate

Firearms, not entertainment, lead to mass shootings, and yet gamers have irrevocably become implicated in the conversation over violence in America.

This week, Vice President Biden’s announced the establishment of a task force on gun violence. Invitations for input were sent to the NRA, of course, but also major gun retailers like Walmart and representatives from the video game industry. In response, Kris Graft, the editor-in-chief of video game trade publication Gamasutra, penned an editorial criticizing the games industry for allowing… read more

Meteors

An obscure title at the center of videogame copyright litigation is unearthed 30 years later.

One of the most important precedents in videogame intellectual property litigation is Atari, Inc. vs. Amusement World, Inc., a 1981 case that involved a game called Meteors by the defendant, which Atari claimed infringed on the copyright of its popular game Asteroids. Atari sought an injunction against Amusement World and its president, Stephen Holniker. You can read the entire decision… read more

Words With Friends Forever

On cadence and deep design in the current social games environment. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra

Imagine that you were a big game studio that had built your business around free-to-play social network games. Say that you had recently gone public, but your stock was down sixfold from its IPO price. And let’s also imagine that the social network facilitating most of your business was also taking a hammering on Wall Street. Imagine too that analysts… read more

Academia Still Isn’t So Bad

On Terran Lane's "On Leaving Academia"

Over the last day or so, many of my Facebook friends have been posting UNM CS professor Terran Lane’s reflections on leaving academia for a job at Google. It’s worth a read, and raises some very valid points about the troubles with academia—pay, funding, job security, incentives, isolationism, work/life balance and so forth. But I also find the piece fairly… read more