An Atari Travels

My VCS Goes to GDC

As you may remember, I brought my Atari out to GDC for the Independent Game Festival. It’s been having an unusual time indeed during its travels, and I believe it hasn’t seen this much excitement in some 33 years. Here are some highlights: In the Delta SkyClub Stowed under the seat in front of me At the baggage carousel In… read more

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Shaka, When the Walls Fell

In one fascinating episode, Star Trek: The Next Generation traced the limits of human communication as we know it—and suggested a new, truer way of talking about the universe.

On stardate 45047.2, Jean-Luc Picard leads the crew of the Enterprise in pursuit of a transmission beacon from the El-Adrel system, where a Tamarian vessel has been broadcasting a mathematical signal for weeks. The aliens, also known as the Children of Tama, are an apparently peaceable and technologically advanced race with which the Federation nevertheless has failed to forge diplomatic relations.… 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

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

The Cost of Fees

Would I be doing what I do now had I been subject to today's University of California graduate tuition and fees? Probably not.

My graduate school experience was unusual, at least for someone pursuing a humanities PhD. While I did teach some, for much of the time I was in grad school I was also working in the technology and entertainment industries. In part this is because I was an immovable ass who wasn’t willing to give up my interests in computing in… read more

Inequality in American Education Will Not Be Solved Online

With funding tight, the state of California has turned to Udacity to provide MOOCs for students enrolled in remedial courses. But what is lost when public education is privatized?

One night recently, it was raining hard as I drove to pick my son up from an evening class at the Atlanta Ballet. Like many cities, Atlanta’s roads are in terrible condition after years of neglect. Lane divider paint is so worn as to become invisible in the wet darkness, potholes litter the pavement. But this time the danger was… read more

The Art of Video Games

A review of the catalog that accompanies the Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition

This review was published in The American Journal of Play 5:1 (Fall 2012). You can also download a PDF of the review provided by the journal.   The Art of Video Games: From Pac-Man to Mass Effectby Chris Melissinos and Patrick O’RourkeNew York: Welcome Books, 2012. Contents, images, credits. 215 pp. $40.00 paper. ISBN: 9781599621098 The Art of Video Games,… read more

Did you know, road trips are just gamified cars?

Gamification has reached such a fever pitch that its proponents have begun sounding like parodies of themselves. An amazing recent specimen is comes from Mashable, under the title “9 Strategies to Gamify Your Startup”. The entire article is “worth reading,” so to speak, but this one’s my favorite: When people have a measurement, they work harder to see that measurement… read more

The Broken Beyond: How Space Turned Into an Office Park

All the exciting parts of exploring the solar system have been leeched out. What's left is the drudgery of the everyday and the dreams of the rich.

All the exciting parts of exploring the solar system have been leeched out. What's left is the drudgery of the everyday and the dreams of the rich. The Shuttle, its escort, and traffic (Reuters). I am a Space Shuttle child. I ogled big exploded view posters of the spaceship in classrooms. I built models of it out of plastic and… read more

Food Insofar As They Give You Food

A tiny note on first class air travel

I fly a bajillion miles a year and as such I have access to the first class cabin on almost every flight, which makes me a lucky bastard as much as a privileged one. I thought I’d share, from a plane of course, just one humbling notes on modern first class travel just to assure the purported-rabble that things up… read more