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Expanding the brand

All content on this site is related to interactive entertainment (I do try, honest). However, if the connection is too tenuous, I use my other blog.

Update: My other blog is no longer accessible as of August 2007.

pr0n once again in the vanguard

I'm sure that by now you've read Sex in Games: Rez+Vibrator on Game Girl Advance. If you haven't, do: it describes a new social context for gaming (specifically multi-player gaming), a new way for (some but not all) women to get interested in games, and an inkling of a future form of entertainment. No, really. This piece (the article) got a lot of reactions from all over the place (geographically and otherwise).

Now check out this eBay item, a patent for a "Method And Device For Interactive Virtual Control Of Sexual Aids Using Digital Computer Networks". A bargain at $15,000,000!

(Thanks to Mark Barrett, who wishes to remain anonymous, but did wittily send this to me with the subject "Potential business opportunity", thus almost making me discard it as spam.)


"The popular video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City has been nominated for a prestigious design competition in the United Kingdom.

However, the game's depiction of violence and sexual material is so graphic that the competition's organizers, the Design Museum in London, have refused to display the actual game as part of an exhibit depicting the nominees."

Read all about it.

(From Frans Mäyrä on the DiGRA mailing list.)

No time to explain

The capability to rapidly develop and deploy groupware applications can make a big difference in game development. If you can build the app you need when you need it, you'll be more flexible and can support more of your work processes.

Creating a reputation in 3 easy steps

Mark Barrett has been one of my best friends ever since we met on CompuServe in 1995. He is also one of the smartest and most articulate people in the games business. I would have said that even if he hadn't just added a link from his site to my site. (No, really.) He has a deep understanding of both writing and interactivity, and this has allowed him to identify some blind spots that many game developers have. You should hire him to write your next game design, or just to ridicule it, I mean perform a critical evaluation. Alternatively, you could read some of the excellent articles he has published on his site.

In related news, I've added a link to Tobias Mayr's website. He is a good friend of mine here in Vienna with whom I regularly have interesting discussions on game design and related topics. Plus he buys way more games than I do, saving me hundreds of dollars per year.

Linking to his site may motivate him to add some more content to it, or at least to make it work at all.

Game addiction

This article on addiction to MMO games in the Sunday Times was just posted on the DiGRA mailing list by amoss.

Steve Meretzky did a roundtable on the subject at the GDC in 2002, and Wired did an article on it about a year ago. However, to my knowledge, this is the first article on game addiction in the mainstream press.

Are these the first rumblings of a backlash similar to the violence debate? Is the fact that both the Sunday Times and Wired focus on MMO games significant?

Links: An article on ethical issues discussed at GDC 2002 in Another article on ethical issues discussed at GDC 2002 (in French).

Slashdot on Liquid Narrative

I've been reading the Slashdot comments on the Liquid Narrative story, which is titled 'Infinite Games'. Nothing much interesting there, except a post from someone who took an AI class with R. Michael Young:

"I had an AI class with him. In one of those classes, he demoed this stuff. It was using the Unreal Tournament engine. Two demos he gave. One, two characters were put in a maze, without scripted moves and only knowledge of their immediate surroundings, and the knowledge of where they want to be and how to open doors (seemed like they had to go press and hold triggers or something, it's been awhile. Wasn't too terribly exciting by itself. This is along the lines I think when I think about traditional AI research, but doesn't strike me as very useful to a game..

The other was the user walked around an aquarium, and fish swam however they saw fit. The interesting part was the plaques that gave information about the animals. There was a database of factoids, and some rules about grammar and various languages, but no pre-written plaques. When viewed, the plaques contained a generated paragraph which presented some of the facts. The paragraph was always different every time you looked, and it could do it in several languages. This demonstrated how it could be used in an educational application, but also how it could be used to make NPC dialog more dynamic and realistic ('Times are Tough...').

The ultimate goal was to have a few stated conditions, and maybe end conditions, and allow the gamer full control over the environment, and have the story adapt to the conditions the player causes, if the story as planned to that point becomes impossible due to a players actions (say player is on an island with only one boat around, and he is expected to go to another island, but destroys the boat instead), a new story is generated on the fly. The computer adlibs. Also, if the game absolutely, positively requires that the player go to another island, some mechanisms can be put in, such as if the boat is not there, helicopter or another boat comes in and the occupants conveniently walk away from it.

He described the goal to be a fully interactive story, that is never the same twice through. A very interesting boon to RPGs as we know it. The aquarium demo at least showed promise for better NPC dialog. I don't know if they have anything to show the evolving story yet though... "

I think the best remark is right at the end:

"I have a hard enough time winning finite games."