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Some Games and Art / Performance Links

Time to close some tabs.

  • Space Invader has come to Vienna, apparently.
  • Various small games with a message can be found here. One of them is the McDonald's videogame that was in the news a while back. I like the idea, but found it a bit too hard to comprehend the underlying simulation. Another is Orgasm Simulator: a rhythm-action game where you have to convincingly simulate a female orgasm without your male sex partner catching on. Same problem, different approach as in Heather Kelley's Lapis...
  • A biofeedback game where you compete to relax. This reminded me of two things: one is Trans-America Ultra Quiz, an immensely popular (and brutal) TV show from Japan. I can't find a decent description on the Internet (oddly) and I won't try to retell the whole story here, but suffice to say that apparently, at some stage a certain number of people who had lost and were out of the game had one more chance to get in. They'd all get electrodes strapped to their head, and the first one to fall asleep won. How cruel is that? The other thing it reminded me of was Super Tibetan Racer, the opening movie for the 2005 Annecy animation festival, done by students from the French animation school Gobelins (and wouldn't I love to play a game that looks like that).

(Via various places.)

Henry Jenkins On What Happened To Star Wars Galaxies

I've written about issues in Star Wars Galaxies before (one, two), but that was before LucasArts and SOE decided to radically redesign the game without consulting their customers first. My impression has been that this became a major catastrophe, but to be honest I haven't looked at their subscription numbers before and after.

Whatever the case may be, Henry Jenkins just posted an article about the mistakes LucasArts and SOE made when they pulled the rug from under their fans' feet. That Chip Guy also has an interesting analysis on his blog.

My general conclusion is that LucasArts / SOE's move was made with an old-fashioned company-customer relationship in mind, and not the new, participatory, egalitarian relationship that is becoming more and more prevalent - one based on customers who can spread information more rapidly than you, who can talk among themselves faster than you can talk to them, who are passionate and intelligent. It's a very different mindset. Most types of video games are curiously detached from the general intersection of culture and technology. In my opinion, this is because video games tend to be hermetic, culturally speaking (see Second Life, arguably not a game, for a counter-example), and because they typically use the Internet in quite limited ways, if at all. Nevertheless, this is not the case for MMOs, and it's foolish to not show respect for your paying customers.

Update: I just came across an interview with Raph Koster in The Escapist which also discusses the SWG NGE.

Weird Japanese Games Update

I love weird Japanese games, and just came across a whole bunch of them.

This game (I don't even know the title) is the most hilariously girly game evar, and seems to involve chihuahuas in little pink sweaters. Clever move to use chihuahuas: the 'surely it's head will explode soon' tension makes it appeal to men as well. Note the grown man in a fancy suit soberly explaining the pink and turquoise frilly features.

Super Galdelic Hour is a PlayStation 2 game that must be seen to be believed. I can't begin to describe this.

Segagaga is a Dreamcast game by Sega, about trying to keep Sega from going under (in the year 2025, ahaha). Be sure to watch the first video for an accurate depiction of game development, not to mention transforming office buildings.

Trusty Bell appears to be a role-playing game for the Xbox 360 with very nice anime graphics, starring famous composer Chopin. That's right. No more need be said.

Finally, I am quite intrigued by what I am hearing about (and seeing of) Mistwalker's Cry On, a new action RPG for the Xbox 360. It's hard to find a central place holding all the info, and it's not very weird (comparatively speaking - it IS an RPG starring a little girl who can cry tears of joy and sadness, and who is accompanied by a small robot that can become a giant). More later perhaps.

(Via some jokers at Kotaku, mostly.)

Christian Dior Fall 2006 collection

The Christian Dior Fall 2006 collection by John Galliano looks awesome. The best online gallery I've found so far is over at (via Boing Boing). Very video-game-esque. Specifically, some of it reminds me of Tetsuya Nomura's work at Square-Enix (it certainly seems equally impractical). Inspirations apparently include Jeanne d'Arc and Blade Runner, among many others.

Bush got a DS Lite and Brain Age Training for his 60th birthday

This is doing the rounds on the game blogs right now (e.g. Robin, Kim): US president George W. Bush got a DS Lite and Brain Age Training for his 60th birthday, courtesy of Nintendo.

Worth mentioning again, IMO. As a PR stunt, this sure beats sending fake terrorist threat letters to embassies, post 9/11.

In order to make this slightly more interesting than just a repeat of what other people are saying: a recent New Yorker contained a very interesting article about Timothy Leary. I quote:

After his experience with Mexican mushrooms, Leary read “The Doors of Perception” with excitement. This was a style of mystico-pseudoscience that suited him perfectly, a kind of shamanistic psychology delightfully immune to empirical challenges. As it happened, [Aldous] Huxley was then lecturing at M.I.T., and Leary arranged a meeting. They had lunch at the Harvard Faculty Club, which was, and remains, the unlikeliest venue in which to plan the future of a psychedelic movement. But that is what Leary and Huxley did. Huxley’s idea was that, if the world’s leaders could be turned on, the lion would lie down with the lamb, and peace would be at hand. The vision was appealing to Leary. It was, after all, simply psychiatric social work on a global scale, and administered not to convicts and juvenile delinquents but to the political, social, and artistic élites—much more fun. The person Leary eventually teamed up with in the business of spreading acid illumination was not Huxley, who died in 1963, on the day President Kennedy was assassinated; it was [Allen] Ginsberg, a man who took pride in knowing the address and phone number of everyone who mattered in the cultural world. Turning important people on was their mission.

It looks like Nintendo is continuing the mission.

Real-world search on GPS cellphones

This BoingBoing post describes something I've been waiting for for years now: pointing your cellphone at a building and getting information about it. I somehow always imagined this to work by overlaying CG over the video of a cell phone's camera, but not doing it that way (as this project in Japan seems to do) should make it much more feasible while still being supremely useful.

I think connecting the real world with the Internet on a mobile device is going to be another little quantum leap into the future. The technology is all there (to the best of my knowledge): it's all about integration and economically feasible deployment now. The biggest pitfall I see is the mobile operators walling this stuff off, as they tend to, because they want a bigger piece of the pie, and thereby inhibiting innovation.

(Well, when I say the technology is all there - the one big chunk that is not there in hardware is GPS. Didn't I read a couple of years back that Nokia was going to include GPS in a significant chunk of their cell phones? Whatever happened to that? Luckily some people seem to be coming up with other ways of determining location - by triangulating signal strength from nearby cell phone towers for instance.)