Electron Dance
16Apr/14Off

This Link Drag is Pointless


Last time there were twelve links. This time, merely a dozen. In this episode: thoughts on the first-person screamer, the blurring of casual and hardcore, Facebook makes a play for the next big space, and does art need to have a point?      

Here Be Links

Why do we hate pointless creations?” – Inicus Qvist

A philosopher or scientist pursues their area of interest precisely because they are passionate about it, but they accept that they are exploring the unknown, and so they may turn up with nothing of particular use to anyone. The nature of breaking new ground is that we simply can’t know what we will find, and whether or not it will advance civilisation all that much. So these explorers are supported by an individual or a whole society that recognises this risk of null returns, but has confidence in their passion and competence – if there is anything to discover in their topic of interest, they will find it.

Musings on the Oculus Sale” – Raph Koster

Oh, there will be room for games. But Oculus, in the end, serves Facebook by becoming the interface to other people online. I’d feel better about this if Facebook understood people, institutionally. I’m never quite sure if they do.

New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid” – Martin Lukacs [h/t Tale of Tales]

The disaster capitalists behind Eko Atlantic have seized on climate change to push through pro-corporate plans to build a city of their dreams, an architectural insult to the daily circumstances of ordinary Nigerians. The criminalized poor abandoned outside their walls may once have served as sufficient justification for their flight and fortification – but now they have the very real threat of climate change as well.

Reading and Hypothesis” – Emily Short [related: The Beautiful Dead]

Analogue also gives the player a stake in what happens, because in the present, the protagonist needs to make some decisions about taking sides. The protagonist of Gone Home has nothing to do. She is only a witness, and when she has witnessed the story, the game ends.

Valve plays the long game again” – Tom Bramwell

The answer is that Valve is thinking in decades, not console generations. 10 years ago, Steam had one game: Half-Life 2. Today it’s the only platform that matters. SteamOS has 300 games, including Valve’s own, and they will still work in 10 years’ time when PS4 and Xbox One have been consigned to the attic. Like the growth of Steam itself from zero to 65 million accounts, it will be a gradual process.

A Guest Beyond the Final Frontier” – Oscar Strik [related: Into the Black]

Playing MirrorMoon, I mostly want to be playing Noctis again, which is one of the game’s spiritual parents, and a fellow title from the Italian games underground. I’ve extolled the virtues of Noctis before, but it bears repeating that it is a superb piece of software—heck, let’s call it a game—that makes the explorer into the accomplice of the digital artist.

The Games Industry Is Just A Spectator Sport” – Emily Gera

It’s only in recent years that popular social media has shown its talent for irrevocably breaking down the fourth wall separating consumers from the games industry. In an era of TMZ mentality, one where every action is followed by an equal or greater reaction, the Internet has for better or for worse become the world’s greatest barometer for knee-jerk justice. Now, like a theatre of the rounds, audience participation is at an all-time high.

Lords Of Midnight” – Rob Fearon

And the maps! She drew the most elegant maps of Midnight. Fan art from a 40 year old woman long before the internet gave fan art a name. I wish I still had them but years pass and so much gets lost to time. I’ve lost many things to time, y’know? At least I still have the memory of her sitting at the dining room table, pens and paper everywhere, drawing as I’d try to get another game to load and fail, drawing things from the same passion I had.

US Foreign Policy in Latin America” – Shayda Sabet [h/t Tale of Tales]

The Chilean, Peruvian, Nicaraguan, and Grenadian cases all demonstrate how ideological fear of a second Cuba in Latin America influenced the United States’ foreign policy toward the region and caused it to be costly, irrational, and unfounded. Alternate theories, however, argue that US military presence in Latin America is not unique to the Cold War.

Do Casual Games Still Exist?” – Jesper Juul

What I failed to see here was the way in which high difficulty and punishment can actually lower the required time investment. Super Hexagon or Flappy Bird are so difficult that the required time investment becomes minuscule, and the individual game session is only a few seconds long.

Level With Me, Thomas Grip” – Robert Yang

It started to dawn on me that horror is a way to think about subjects that you normally don’t want to confront. When someone watches a horror film, you can just throw anything at them and they’re much more keen on accepting it and seeing what happens. Maybe it’s like stand-up comedy too, you can laugh at something normally taboo and take it.

Jamming” – Michael Brough

What's the "normal" rate to do art at anyway? Videogames are an anomaly with multi-year projects being typical; a novelist writes about one book a year (plus a few short stories), a painter produces dozens of paintings a year, a musician records an album of a dozen songs every year or two.

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  1. “a novelist writes about one book a year (plus a few short stories)”

    I supply my usual out-of-context nitipick: I don’t think this is true of most novelists!

  2. Yaaay misspelling “nitpick”

  3. Matt, I can always rely on you for an out-of-context nitpick.


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