Metal Gear Solid 2 Retrospective: Be Careful What You Wish For
The initial technological threat in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is Metal Gear RAY. It is an “anti-Metal Gear,” a mech designed to destroy what came before. It is singularly focused on destroying the past, and so is Metal Gear Solid 2. This game is the anti-Metal Gear game. It is the great deconstruction that many fans consider the series’ greatest betrayal. Players wanted to be Solid Snake again, but instead, this game showed them how different they really were from Snake.
Anyone who knows me personally knows this has been a common whine for me every time a new “ironic”/ “critical” / parody VN becomes a primary object of discussion for a short window: Despite the long history, popularity, and measurable influence of the visual novel genre, when one emerges it is often framed as a novelty, and this framing is usually accepted by the press. They’re just so wacky! Even outlets who are typically more oriented towards, y’know, videogamey-games try to critique or provide context to this tendency, they tend to focus on narrative content and comparison to non-VNs. I’m fascinated with visual novels, not just for their narrative but for their form and structure as software and videogames. I hardly consider myself an expert or hardcore fan, I just regularly seek them out and enjoy them. Even with just my cursory knowledge, I want to add something to this discussion (which may be a few months late at this point… but it always comes up again), about important features of the visual novel form, from a Game Studies perspective.
The Data Center as Technological Wilderness − A.R.E. Taylor
A recurring feature in images and imaginations of the data center is the complete absence of human beings. Drawing from ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the data center industry, this essay approaches the visual form of the depopulated data center through the analytic of “wilderness”. Often connoting a domain of “pure nature” uncorrupted by human presence, the concept of wilderness productively resonates with the representational strategies of the data center industry, where the visual elimination of human workers optically configures the data center as a posthuman “pure machine”. Through the experimental juxtaposition of “natural” and “technological” wildernesses, this essay explores how the infrastructure fiction of the depopulated data center intersects with fantasies and futures of technological progress, nonhuman security, automation and data objectivity.
For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps
#mignon - c’est une grande tradition des géologue aussi en France et de certains cartographes américains qui « piègent » leur cartes pour prouver les plagias éventuels. QUelques exemples dans le livre culte de Mark Monmonnier (comment faire mentir les cartes).
The Manifest-No is a declaration of refusal and commitment. It refuses harmful data regimes and commits to new data futures.
1. We refuse to operate under the assumption that risk and harm associated with data practices can be bounded to mean the same thing for everyone, everywhere, at every time. We commit to acknowledging how historical and systemic patterns of violence and exploitation produce differential vulnerabilities for communities.
2. We refuse to be disciplined by data, devices, and practices that seek to shape and normalize racialized, gendered, and differently-abled bodies in ways that make us available to be tracked, monitored, and surveilled. We commit to taking back control over the ways we behave, live, and engage with data and its technologies.
3. We refuse the use of data about people in perpetuity. We commit to embracing agency and working with intentionality, preparing bodies or corpuses of data to be laid to rest when they are not being used in service to the people about whom they were created.
4. We refuse to understand data as disembodied and thereby dehumanized and departicularized. We commit to understanding data as always and variously attached to bodies; we vow to interrogate the biopolitical implications of data with a keen eye to gender, race, sexuality, class, disability, nationality, and other forms of embodied difference.
How the Photo Mode Became a Homogenized Feature of Commodified Games
Shenmue III Is a Masterpiece of the Mundane
These are the deliberate choices Shenmue III makes in service of its goal—emotional verisimilitude. Evoking an intangible truth, rather than manifesting strict realism.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 Is Charming, Frustrating, and Weird as Hell
And then there’s the money. From a few coins to vast hordes of stacked bills, money is the chief collectable in Luigi’s Mansion 3. But as Patrick Klepek pointed out in his review for Waypoint, there’s practically no use for it. Which is interesting, as it raises some questions about the world the Mario brothers inhabit. The game states the ghosts don’t seem to have an interest in money, and yet they stockpile it, launder it (in the industrial hotel laundry rooms), hide it away in secret caches, and sometimes even inside their bodies.
Luigi has no real need for money. The only things to spend it on are bonus lives and collectable location map indicators, and the amount of wealth that Luigi can vacuum up in just the first hour of the game is phenomenal. It’s extraction of wealth for the pure extraction of wealth.
The game is clearly aware of relationships between power and luxury, labor and capital, state and corporation, bosses and employees. There are even nods to collective ownership? But the politics of the game are as inscrutable as the decision to make three of the D-pad buttons do nothing more than make Luigi say, “Mario?”
Nothing ever really comes together, but at times it doesn’t feel like the game wants to be understood. It’s happy to stretch its spooky arms across a hallway of meaning to poke at the player. One more series of puzzles to think about in your time away from playing.
I read every Sonic comic by Ken Penders, and they’re wilder than you could ever imagine
Sure, everyone vaguely knows the Archie comics are weird, and it’s easy to find goofy out-of-context panels. But that’s only skimming the surface. What’s up with the bizarre recurring themes in his stories? The obsession with asshole dads? The weird attempts at mature themes? Dingo firing squads executing civilians? A cartoon bee dying from eating an LSD-laced chili dog? Distasteful allusions to the Holocaust? Implications that teenage Sonic characters were having sex off-screen? Why did any of this happen?
Few can answer this, because few want to analyze over 100 issues of mediocre furry soap opera comics with bad politics. I mean, there’s no shortage of good Sonic comics you could read instead. Who would be stupid enough to do that?
Me. My name is Bobby Schroeder, and I’m stupid enough.
design notes, a bit on definition hell, and building an “art toy”…
I keep talking about this, but I think it’s really fascinating how computer art tools typically are restricted to trying to simulate the art tools that happen in real life. We get very little expression that’s unique to the digital format. You actually have to work pretty hard in Photoshop to simulate glitch art. Even pixel art isn’t very directly supported (you kind of have to work a little to get that).
So when you’re approaching an art tool and the specific goal is to be unique to digital art… designing that is really fascinating. Even just coming up with concepts of “Ok, how do you even support glitch art?” “How should someone draw with a glitch?” is an interesting problem to approach. There’s not defined design language for how you would enable “brokenness” in an art tool.
Brokenness aside, what is unique to computers and how would you properly enable that in an art tool?
Tool design is weirdly a lot like game design. When the tools are very new (unique, and no practical “art language” exists for their purpose), you also have to teach people how to use them. They have to be approachable enough for people to feel comfortable to mess around in them. You can’t have any sense of failure or judgement on part of the tool. If things were presented in such a way as there were “stakes” involved, or some kind of urgency for efficiency looming over experimental tools, then I think people would be too intimidated to explore them.
Like surrealism, abstraction, or a humorous presentation (environment) for them helps a lot.
The tone a program sets is how people will feel inclined to use it.
Subcultural Style and Splatoon
That cycle of subcultural packaging, sale, consumption, dissipation, and renewal is endemic to subcultural growth and transformation. This cycle is discussed by Ryan Moore (2010) and Dylan Clark (2003), particularly in reference to how punk has died again and again at the hands of mass culture, only to be continuously reborn. In part, this has to do with how easily the materials of everyday life can be made into subcultural signifiers. For punk, it could be as simple as a safety pin or as elaborate as a liberty-spiked mohawk. For hip-hop, it could be anything from an oversized shirt or a pair of limited edition sneakers. The meaning is all in how something is worn, in how it is used. It also springs from what is readily, materially available in post-industrial society.
How the 62 Year Story of Art at MIT Shaped the Media Lab Ethos
On the opposite end of the Media Lab complex from the Director’s office resides MIT’s Program in Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT), a long-unrelated program which spent 30 years on opposite side of campus, by choice. In 2010, after the Media Lab tripled its size with an expansion, MIT leadership decided to move ACT into the expanded complex, presumably for more interaction with the Media Lab. While the Media Lab is about “technologies that promise to transform,” ACT is about “critical studies and production.”
The basic idea of a Lexicon Game is that each player takes on the role of a scholar, from before scholarly pursuits became professionalized (or possibly after they ceased to be). You are cranky, opinionated, prejudiced and eccentric. You are also collaborating with a number of your peers - the other players - on the construction of an encyclopedia.
This encyclopedia is an historic one describing some bounded space - a world, or a nation, or an historic event, or perhaps a person or object. Your scholar should have his own entry on the Wiki, and generally you should stick to one scholar for the entire game. Scholars might very well be played over multiple Lexicon games, sometimes even by multiple players.
The main reason to run a small social network site is that you can create an online environment tailored to the needs of your community in a way that a big corporation like Facebook or Twitter never could. Yes, you can always start a Facebook Group for your community and moderate that how you like, but only within certain bounds set by Facebook. If you (or your community) run the whole site, then you are ultimately the boss of what goes on. It is harder work than letting Facebook or Twitter or Slack or Basecamp or whoever else take care of everything, but I believe it’s worth it.
Let’s go back to Friend Camp. While there are a hundred thousand people we can talk to from Friend Camp, there are only about 50 people with an active Friend Camp login. We call ourselves “campers” because we are corny like that. And campers have a special communication channel that lets us post messages that only other campers can see.
If I make software that makes the lives of 50 people much nicer, and it makes 0 people more miserable, then on the balance I think I’m doing better than a lot of programmers in the world.
Because we’re mostly all friends with each other, this extra communications mode is kind of like a group chat on steroids. For our community it ends up being a sort of hybrid between Twitter and a group chat. As a result of having a community layer alongside a more public layer, we have a movie night, a book club, and a postcard club. Campers visit each other when we travel, even if we’ve never met in person before. We correspond with each other about what we’re making for dinner and trade recipes. They’re the kind of mundane interactions that you probably don’t want to have with perfect strangers but you cherish in a group of people you care about.
We are also able to have moderation rules that are hyper-specific to our own values as a community. It lets us maintain an environment that’s far more pleasant than you find on most social media sites.
It Looks Like a Lake Made for Instagram. It’s a Dump for Chemical Waste.
There is only one problem: The lake is a man-made waste site for a power plant, Heating and Electrical Station Number 5. And that irresistible blue hue is not the color of pristine waters reflecting off the sky, but rather the deposits of calcium salts and metal oxides, according to the electrical company that runs the plant.
Labor and Capital
Animation shouldn’t be an underappreciated aspect of game development. Why? The answer is that how you hold your body betrays things like your socioeconomic status. Laborers typically stumble. Capitalists tend to strut. While it may not seem like a big deal, this actually has important implications when it comes to building worlds like the one in Dishonored 2. Social tensions don’t stand out when everybody in the game seems strangely similar. Characters simply aren’t convincing when they don’t walk the right walk. They need habitus. Animation should, in other words, be given every bit as much care and consideration as character models and voice acting by development studios like Arkane. The result would be much richer worlds.
Uber’s Path of Destruction
In reality, Uber’s platform does not include any technological breakthroughs, and Uber has done nothing to “disrupt” the economics of providing urban car services. What Uber has disrupted is the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency. Its multibillion dollar subsidies completely distorted marketplace price and service signals, leading to a massive misallocation of resources. Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else.
Talk: Plantations of Play – Colonial botany in videogames
Several tutorials on YouTube already teach gamers how to successfully breed villagers and lock them in tiny trade cells for maximum efficiency. A popular approach is to squeeze villagers inside 1 by 1 enclosures where they are stuck to trade items like leather, emerald, and rotten flesh until the player decides they are no longer needed. Some YouTube architects of these trading camps swear on storage boxes which contain the items needed for mass trading. And in case a villager does not yield the wanted results any more, efficient levers can be pulled to drop them into a lava stream beneath the building. A new spot becomes available for the next villager who has already been bred next door inside a breeding prison. Minecraft‘s water physics help transport the villagers from their cradles to their terminal appointments. This is procedural slavery.