A man dressed as Father Christmas and children look at a computer screen at a special Christmas post office in the village of Himmelpfort (Heaven's Gate), north of Berlin November 10, 2011. The post office in the village of Himmelpfort opened on Thursday with a special Christmas service, replying to mails addressed to Santa Claus that were sent by children from all over the world. Some 20,000 letters already arrived at the post office and organisers expect to receive some 280,000 letters and wish lists from children writing in 17 languages.  REUTERS/Thomas Peter (GERMANY - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY) - RTR2TTX2

Stop Rebranding Months as Causes

A “Devember” for coding is the latest and most ridiculous of commemorative months.

In his 1996 book Infinite Jest, the late American writer David Foster Wallace imagined a near future in which corporations could sponsor the calendar. Instead of counting up from the birth of Christ, the Organization of North American Nations (O.N.A.N.) develops a “revenue enhancing subsidized time.” Year of the Whopper. Year of Dairy Products from the American Heartland. Year of the… 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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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

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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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Introducing the Supertweet

This is what realpolitik looks like on the Internet.

If you use Twitter, you’ve probably encountered the “subtweet,” a technique we defined last year in The Atlantic as “the practice of talking about someone without referencing them explicitly.” Alexis Madrigal exemplified subtweeting like this: So, “@alexismadrigal is a jerk” is one thing, but “Alexis Madrigal is a jerk” is a subtweet. It was a lesson distilled from the sociologist… read more

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Swing Copters: The Randomness of the Universe, Captured in Pixels

The creator of Flappy Bird is back with a game offering the sublime agony that comes with mastering a craft—and still failing.

Many of the highest-performing professional athletes are also the most superstitious. Serena Williams bounces the tennis ball five time before her first serve, twice before the second. Michael Jordan wore his University of North Carolina basketball shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform. Baseball hall of famer Wade Boggs bore a bounty of superstitions. Among them: He ate chicken before each… read more

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You Are Mountain

A strange video game from the Her animator bests Spike Jonze's film at depicting what a relationship with an alien really would be like.

Near the start of his relationship with a computer operating system in Spike Jonze’s Academy Award-winning film Her, Samantha the OS (Scarlett Johansson) helps Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) play a videogame. Called “Alien Child” by the filmmakers, the game seems familiar enough to be plausible to viewers, yet foreign enough to induce estrangement. The same could be said of the film’s high-waisted… 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

“Hundreds” Is the Haute Couture of Video Games

A new multi-touch puzzle game for the iPad and iPhone is about form, not function—and it's about to become a status symbol.

Some media exists for you to “consume”: to read, to watch, to play. Even though a book, television show, or video game isn’t destroyed by this encounter like a cheesesteak or a firework might be, the creative work is meant to be made a part of ourselves. To transform us in some way. But other forms of media don’t aspire… read more