The Real Chaos of Campus Gun Laws

New legislation in Georgia shows ambiguous campus-carry laws might create a greater burden than the guns themselves.

ATLANTA—Last week, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a bill that will allow Georgia weapons permit holders over 21 years of age to carry concealed firearms in most parts of the state’s college and university campuses. The impacted schools include the Georgia Institute of Technology, where I teach, and the University of Georgia. Here, as in other states where similar laws… read more

Video Games Are Better Without Stories

Film, television, and literature all tell them better. So why are games still obsessed with narrative?

A longstanding dream: Video games will evolve into interactive stories, like the ones that play out fictionally on the Star Trek Holodeck. In this hypothetical future, players could interact with computerized characters as round as those in novels or films, making choices that would influence an ever-evolving plot. It would be like living in a novel, where the player’s actions… read more

CRISPR Has a Terrible Name

Why does a revolutionary gene-editing technology sound like a candy bar?

Imagine this: What if scientists had a tool that allowed them to edit genes directly, altering their underlying DNA? The science-fictional applications, like designer babies or Frankensteined organisms, would be obvious—although ethical and legal rules in science and medicine might prevent such uses. Immediate applications would be more mundane, but also more significant: understanding and treating disease, manufacturing new types… read more

Pepsi’s New Ad Is a Total Success

Every feature of the “Jump In” ad benefits the company—even the act of pulling it from the airwaves.

Before it’s an ad for shampoo or cat food or cola, every advertisement is first an ad for capitalism. Without a privately-controlled industry jockeying to compete with one another for consumer dollars, there’s no need for advertising. People would wash their hair with Shampoo, and feed their cats with Cat Food, and quench their thirst with Cola. Without competition, there… read more

The Video Game That Claims Everything Is Connected

Instead, it shows how individual and unique things really are.

I am Rocky Mountain elk. I somersault forward through the grass, toward a tower of some sort. Now I am that: Industrial Smoke Stack. I press another button and move a cursor to become Giant Sequoia. I zoom out again, and I am Rock Planet, small and gray. Soon I am Sun, and then I am Lenticular Galaxy. Things seem… read more

How Monopoly’s New Tokens Betray Its History

The metal thimble has a very particular Depression-era provenance.

This week, Hasbro announced the results of an online vote on the future of tokens in the board game Monopoly. The results are startling: the boot, wheelbarrow, and thimble have been expunged from the iconic game, replaced by a Tyrannosaurus rex, rubber ducky, and penguin. Voters passed up over 60 other contenders, among them an emoji and a hashtag. It’s… read more

Tech Start-Ups Have Become Conceptual Art

An edible drone doesn’t need to feed the starving to do its job.

Let’s catalog a few important moments in the history of conceptual art: In 1917, Marcel Duchamp signed and dated a porcelain urinal, installed it on a plinth, and entered it into the first exhibition for the Society of Independent Artists. In 1961, Robert Rauchenberg submitted a telegram reading “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so” as… read more

Tenure, a game by Owen Gaede

The example title that opens my book Persuasive Games

In 2007—ten years ago!—I published Persuasive Games, a book about how computer software, and especially games, make arguments. In it, I advanced a theory of “procedural rhetoric,” or argumentation through process and model instead of oration, writing, image, and the other media formats typically associated with rhetoric. The book opens with an anecdote about my session with remarkable game. Remarkable in part because it offered such a… read more

‘Artificial Intelligence’ Has Become Meaningless

It’s often just a fancy name for a computer program.

In science fiction, the promise or threat of artificial intelligence is tied to humans’ relationship to conscious machines. Whether it’s Terminators or Cylons or servants like the “Star Trek” computer or the Star Wars droids, machines warrant the name AI when they become sentient—or at least self-aware enough to act with expertise, not to mention volition and surprise. What to… read more

The Wisdom of Nokia’s Dumbphone

The smartphone’s ubiquity has made it boring and oppressive. A new, retro handset opens the door to a different future.

They weighed heavy in pockets and jackets and bags, for they were thick and bulky, not lithe and narrow. Harried professionals never clutched one ostentatiously to say silently, “I’ve got better things to do than listen to this pitch or order this coffee.” Fashionable youth never dangled one nonchalantly from fingers as a flirty pique. Nothing was less sexy or… read more