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Time Magazine on game QA

Time Magazine has an article on game QA. It's incredibly shallow, but hey, it's an article on game QA in Time Magazine. Admirably, it has evolved beyond "Gee! People get paid to play games!" to "Golly! People get paid to abuse games!" A subtle difference.

It mostly involves a golf arcade game. Well, the golf arcade game apparently, but still.

Admits Hanson: "You're just doing the same redundant  thing, over and over again." Sounds par for the course.

Does this refer to golf? Testing? Or video games?

Speed record

Having said that, I found this article on San Andreas' sales very interesting:

In European terms, this figure is likely to be nudging 1.5 million, while US figures could well be in the same ball-park. To sell over three million copies across the world in its first few days on sale would be a truly unprecedented feat for Rockstar, and probably sets a new benchmark for consumer entertainment launches, never mind videogames, with each copy costing consumers an average of UKP 35.45 (according to ChartTrack data).

In gross revenue terms, the game would have generated around UKP 24 million in the UK alone over the weekend, and projected across the world that figure could be as much as UKP 106 million, or put in international currency terms, $195.5 million or 153.97 Euro. Put in context, if a movie were to gross that much at the box office, it would instantly be classed among the all-time greats - that's how big Rockstar's game has become.


As you may have noticed, my posting frequency has not been very high the last couple of months. The reasons for this are obscure. Nevertheless it seemed appropriate, if you are willing to adopt a bizarre sense of logic, to resurrect Jurieland, my old personal blog. Twice the fun, half the coherency. Is this the end of Intelligent Artifice? No, but expect the frequency to remain low for a while.

US Election

The game's not over yet as I write this, but my hope that the mechanisms of government in the US will correct themselves is starting to look like a long shot. On the other hand, my fear that civil war would erupt also has not come true, so far.

Chris Crawford recently asked some questions to rational Bush supporters, and has drawn some conclusions.

Update: Well, it's over. Bah.

Lucky Wander Boy

What have I been doing the last couple of months, while not writing regular entries for this blog, you may have been wondering? (Or not, but for the sake of argument I am going to assume you were.)

The answer is that I've been reading. Books. Fiction. About two books per week, on average. One book that I liked particularly, and which I can mention here because it is, in fact, related to video games in a major way, is Lucky Wander Boy, by D.B. Weiss.

I was so engrossed in this book that I took it along on my recent trip to the Netherlands with only a couple of dozen pages left to read, and finished reading it in the corridor leading from the airport into the plane.

It's a book about a guy who finds much-needed meaning in his life through classic video games, which leads him to write hilarious quasi-intellectual essays on Pac-Man and Frogger. My favorite sentence in the book is from the essay on Donkey Kong:

It is difficult to ignore the similarities between Donkey Kong (the creature) and the demiurge of the Gnostic heresies.
And yes, once you've read the full explanation, it is difficult to ignore the similarities. I would have loved the book just for that sentence by itself, but there's much more to enjoy. The various articles on classic video games not only spoof academic criticism (in my humble opinion), but are actually integrated into the rest of the story in various neat ways.

And then there's Lucky Wander Boy itself, the ultimate rare video game. I won't reveal the excellent explanation for a) why Lucky Wander Boy cannot be emulated by MAME, b) why it is so rare and c) what the game is about. That revelation is what the whole book is about, and it's a fun read, and quite believable.

I never quite figured out the ending, or what the obscure Chinese book about Leng Tch'e, the death of a hundred cuts, has to do with things. I can come up with explanations for both, but none that completely satisfy me. But don't let that keep you from reading the book.

One element of the book was of personal interest to me (I mean, more so than the video games). At one point, the protagonist goes to work for a Hollywood production company called Portal Entertainment (the book is set in the late 90s). These rather clueless people made money from doing the movie based on Eviscerator, an incredibly violent fighting game, with bizarre characters such as the Spectral Samurai. Sounds familiar?

In 1998 I visited a company in LA called Threshhold Entertainment, makers of the Mortal Kombat movie. They were just finishing up Beowulf, a "sci-fi update of the famous 6th Century poem", starring Christopher Lambert. If that doesn't set alarm bells ringing, I don't know what will. I was told someone noticed a similarity with Beowulf at some point during the making of the movie, so they decided to, ah, rebrand it. I also saw the scene where the Bad Girl reveals her character's inner nature by growing huge tentacles from her back and tearing open her own torso. I was told the actress who played the Bad Girl in question was the Playboy playmate of the month in October 1997. All of which did not increase my faith in the overall quality of the movie. But, to be fair, I never saw it.

Anyway. I mean, threshold, portal? Come on.

Read the book.

Pong Mechanik

German artist Niklas Rov built a completely electromechanical version of Pong, called Pongmechanik. Because he has taken down pictures and videos because of bandwidth issues, you may want to have a look here as well. I recommend watching the video: it's hilarious. Also it features joysticks I remember well from my 16-bit computer days.