posts about or somewhat related to ‘gaming’

I think one of my favorite rivals is a car salesman from Texas. The guy is darn good… because he knows how to read people, and it translates directly into the game. He’s well into his 40’s, and the people new to the adult-age division take him for granted, assuming he’s just some kid’s dad. Then mind games happen, and they have no idea what hit them.

If you actually talk to the people in the adult division, you’d be amazed at how different everyone is outside of the game. I’ve met lawyers, consultants, hospital workers, bioinformatics specialists, personal trainers—heck, even one porn star, believe it or not.

Charles “Chalkey” Hornstein on other adults he’s met at Pokémon tournaments. Pacific Standard, The Adult World of Competitive Pokémon Players.

FJP: Things we didn’t know until a few minutes ago — there’s an invite-only Pokémon World Championship. Six hundred competitors played it out in Vancouver last August.

Happy 35th, Space Invaders
Created this month in 1978 by Tomohiro Nishikado for the vending machine company Taito in Japan.
Yes, kids, them’s the graphics we had back in the day. And it was awesome.

Happy 35th, Space Invaders

Created this month in 1978 by Tomohiro Nishikado for the vending machine company Taito in Japan.

Yes, kids, them’s the graphics we had back in the day. And it was awesome.

Best Dad Ever, or Best Dad Ever?

A developer dad was upset that his daughter was upset, and his three-year-old daughter was upset because of Donkey Kong.

Seems she didn’t want Mario to save Pauline but instead wanted the roles reversed and have Pauline save Mario.

So what’s a dad to do? Re-engineer, of course:

My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She’s played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn’t in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else am I supposed to do? Now I’m up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. I’m using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I’ve redrawn Mario’s frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline.”

You can follow Mike Mika on YouTube. If you’re interested in the Donkey Kong Pauline patch, you can download it here (zip).

Digital Parenting: Father and Son Edition
A frustrated father in China hired hitmen to put an end to his son’s online gaming. But not the gun-toting analog-world type. Instead, he found players in the role playing games his son played and set them to attack.
Via Kotaku:

Unhappy with his son not finding a job, Feng decided to hire players in his son’s favorite online games to hunt down Xiao Feng. It is unknown where or how Feng found the in-game assassins—every one of the players he hired were stronger and higher leveled than Xiao Feng. Feng’s idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.

FJP: Filed under nerdtastic parenting.
Image: Screenshot, World of Warcraft.

Digital Parenting: Father and Son Edition

A frustrated father in China hired hitmen to put an end to his son’s online gaming. But not the gun-toting analog-world type. Instead, he found players in the role playing games his son played and set them to attack.

Via Kotaku:

Unhappy with his son not finding a job, Feng decided to hire players in his son’s favorite online games to hunt down Xiao Feng. It is unknown where or how Feng found the in-game assassins—every one of the players he hired were stronger and higher leveled than Xiao Feng. Feng’s idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.

FJP: Filed under nerdtastic parenting.

Image: Screenshot, World of Warcraft.

Piracy is almost always a service problem and not a pricing problem. For example, if a pirate offers a product anywhere in the world, 24/7, purchasable from the convenience of your personal computer, and the legal provider says the product is region-locked, will come to your country three months after the U.S. release and can only be purchased at a brick and mortar store, then the pirate’s service is more valuable.

Most DRM solutions diminish the value of the product by either directly restricting a customer’s use or by creating uncertainty.

Our goal is to create greater service value than pirates, and this has been successful enough for us that piracy is basically a non-issue for our company. For example, prior to entering the Russian market, we were told that Russia was a waste of time because everyone would pirate our products. Russia is now about to become our largest market in Europe.

— Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve, a game and entertainment company (think: Half-Life and Portal), via an interview with the Cambridge Student

Where Scientists Fail, Gamers Succeed

For 15 years, scientists struggled to figure out the molecular structure of an enzyme of an AIDS-like virus found in rhesus monkeys. Deciphering the structure, they believed, could lead to an HIV/AIDS cure.

As they hit dead ends, a few began to think differently, crowdsource the issue and created a multiplayer game within Foldit, a science-based gaming engine.

Ten days later, non-scientist gamers discovered the key researchers had long been looking for.

Via MSNBC’s Cosmiclog:

The problem is that enzymes are far tougher to crack than your typical lock. There are millions of ways that the bonds between the atoms in the enzyme’s molecules could twist and turn. To design the right chemical key, you have to figure out the most efficient, llowest-energy configuration for the molecule — the one that Mother Nature herself came up with.

That’s where Foldit plays a role. The game is designed so that players can manipulate virtual molecular structures that look like multicolored, curled-up Tinkertoy sets. The virtual molecules follow the same chemical rules that are obeyed by real molecules. When someone playing the game comes up with a more elegant structure that reflects a lower energy state for the molecule, his or her score goes up. If the structure requires more energy to maintain, or if it doesn’t reflect real-life chemistry, then the score is lower.

Writes Firas Khatib, a biochemist at the University of Washington, and his colleagues in a paper published in Nature Structual & Molecular Biology (PDF):

Although much attention has recently been given to the potential of crowdsourcing and game playing, this is the first instance that we are aware of in which online gamers solved a longstanding scientific problem.

Is there a badge for that? →

Chinese authorities arrested a young couple for selling their three children in order to fund their online gaming habit.

Via ABC New Radio:

In 2009, Li Lin and Li Juan welcomed their second child, a baby girl, and came up with the idea to sell her for money to fund their online game obsession.  They did so, receiving RMB 3,000 (less than $500), which they spent entirely shortly after.  The couple then proceeded to sell their first child and got 10 times as much for him — RMB 30,000, or about $4600.

Upon having their third child — another boy — the parents followed in their previous footsteps and also got RMB 30,000 for him…

…When asked if they missed their children, the parents answered, “We don’t want to raise them, we just want to sell them for some money.”

Gaming America’s Budget
A while back American Public Media created an online game that lets users tweek spending categories to see if they can get the US fiscal house in order.
Obviously relevant to the ongoing debate about debt ceilings, “Budget Hero” is a nice attempt at “gamifying” a dense topic but critics are bound to have their say. And they do, just take a look at the comments:

This is very poorly designed, with options skewed entirely to the right. Where is single payer health care? Boom! The Budget is solved! Where is a millionaire’s 40% bracket? Where is raising the FICA tax limit to 90% of all earned income, as that is what the 1980’s Greenspan commission used as a key factor in their calculations? Where is the financial transactions tax? Where are tax credits for manufacturing? What about stimulus? Also, your descriptions are inadequate. I can’t tell if your baseline has the Bush Tax Cuts expiring.

Sometimes a game is just a game… until it’s on a news site where it has to be so much more. 
"The sheer number of possible priorities that arise from replay may make the game’s most important statement about the national budget: it’s complex and riddled with conflict," writes Ian Bogost in his co-authored book Newsgames: Journalism at Play. 
Bringing games to journalism is much discussed and there are exciting possibilities. It’s also difficult to keep your game current with the news.
"I’m scrambling to update Budget Hero to reflect the Gang of Six deficit-reduction proposal," writes the game’s creator Andrew Haeg over on Google+ (and a hat tip to Dominick Brady for connecting me to the connection that connected me to Andrew).
Newgames are an interesting hybrid that we’re starting to track. Some think it’s the next great journo innovation. Others are deeply skeptical.
To track the ideas, we just set up a form for people to submit articles and resources to. It’s only been about an hour but some results are starting to come in.

Gaming America’s Budget

A while back American Public Media created an online game that lets users tweek spending categories to see if they can get the US fiscal house in order.

Obviously relevant to the ongoing debate about debt ceilings, “Budget Hero” is a nice attempt at “gamifying” a dense topic but critics are bound to have their say. And they do, just take a look at the comments:

This is very poorly designed, with options skewed entirely to the right. Where is single payer health care? Boom! The Budget is solved! Where is a millionaire’s 40% bracket? Where is raising the FICA tax limit to 90% of all earned income, as that is what the 1980’s Greenspan commission used as a key factor in their calculations? Where is the financial transactions tax? Where are tax credits for manufacturing? What about stimulus? Also, your descriptions are inadequate. I can’t tell if your baseline has the Bush Tax Cuts expiring.

Sometimes a game is just a game… until it’s on a news site where it has to be so much more. 

"The sheer number of possible priorities that arise from replay may make the game’s most important statement about the national budget: it’s complex and riddled with conflict," writes Ian Bogost in his co-authored book Newsgames: Journalism at Play

Bringing games to journalism is much discussed and there are exciting possibilities. It’s also difficult to keep your game current with the news.

"I’m scrambling to update Budget Hero to reflect the Gang of Six deficit-reduction proposal," writes the game’s creator Andrew Haeg over on Google+ (and a hat tip to Dominick Brady for connecting me to the connection that connected me to Andrew).

Newgames are an interesting hybrid that we’re starting to track. Some think it’s the next great journo innovation. Others are deeply skeptical.

To track the ideas, we just set up a form for people to submit articles and resources to. It’s only been about an hour but some results are starting to come in.

Surely someone can come up with a Farmville for news.
Story via AllThingsD

Surely someone can come up with a Farmville for news.

Story via AllThingsD

Now It Can be Told 

A time-lapse video shows 48 hours in the life of an indie developer working on a game called Retro/Grade.

Run Time - 1:16.

H/T: Ars Technica.

Maybe I’m getting old. Certainly I’m an old media journalism snob. But the fact is, when faced with the fact that an increasing number of people can’t process news without a game element, my instinct is to reply… well… fuck ‘em…

Increasingly, though, everyone is a gamer; if not through traditional videogames then through the increasing “gamification” (ugh) of real life. It’s no longer enough to enjoy a meal with friends: unless we check in (and maybe – gasp! – become Mayor!) the experience is hollow and meaningless. Every soda we drink, or cereal box we open, or wrap of cocaine we score is emblazoned with its own QR code allowing us to unlock points or win some unrelated thing; otherwise, why choose that brand? There is almost no area of life – finance, taxation, education, health that remains un-gamified. And now, apparently, it’s news’ turn. Because, let’s be honest, unless I can pull the trigger and take Gaddafi out myself, who gives a shit?

Paul Carr, TechCrunch, War, What Is It Good For? Three Points!

Carr is writing in response to Chris O’Brian’s recent article on PBS’ Idea Lab, Why Are Newsrooms Resistant to Creating Newsgames?

Both are well worth the read. Carr’s, perhaps, just a little bit spicier.

Our early challenge has been to understand why people would want to share live photos with the public, and how we can encourage a new social behavior. Game designers have a lot of experience in that realm, and we’ve studied successful social games to figure out how to power our platform. It’s a different way of looking at a social network.

— Luke Stangel, ScribeMedia.org, Tackable Pins Down The Future Of Social News. • As an aside, I post because I’ve been thinking about what it is and what it would mean to bring gaming elements into the journalism ecosystem. • [Disclosure: ScribeMedia.org is a sister site to the FJP, run by our ScribeLabs overlords… of which I’m one… So I, ah, rule myself.]

"There are lots of Web-based games out there but there are not a lot that really leverage the kind of strengths a newspaper brings."

Via Picture the Impossible:

Picture the Impossible is a community-based game developed jointly by the Lab for Social Computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The game engages members of the community in exploration of the City of Rochester, and encourages both creativity and charitable giving in the community. Players participate in a range of activities, including casual web-based games, games that bring players out to events and locations throughout the city, and games that involve the tangible aspects of the Democrat & Chronicle newspaper itself.

Exploring News Games →

Video games do not offer a panacea for news organisations. But they offer a truly new way for journalism to contribute to civic life by amplifying the how instead of the who. Video games offer models of how the world works and how it might be improved, rather than skin-deep stories about what ails it. That’s why the best journalism of the future might not be read, but played.