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I'm Drew Breunig and I obsess about technology, media, language, and culture. I live in New York, studied anthropology, and work at PlaceIQ.

Posts tagged gaming
Nintendo believes in a standard. Our standard.

Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi, who died September 19th, expressing the key to Nintendo’s successes – and failures.

From David Scheff’s excellent history, Game Over.

The New XBox can Detect Your Heartbeat

So says Ars. Here’s the applications I’m anticipating:

  • Detection of feelings for an in-game character by measuring heart rate when they appear on screen.
  • Dialing 911 for heart attacks that occur on the couch.
  • Meditation training.

Any others?

Simulation Supplements for Urban Childhoods 

Nick Paumgarten on Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto:

In his games, Miyamoto has always tried to re-create his childhood wonderment, if not always the actual experiences that gave rise to it, since the experiences themselves may be harder to come by in a paved and partitioned world. “I can still recall the kind of sensation I had when I was in a small river, and I was searching with my hands beneath a rock, and something hit my finger, and I noticed it was a fish,” he told me one day. “That’s something that I just can’t express in words. It’s such an unusual situation. I wish that children nowadays could have similar experiences, but it’s not very easy.”

(Via The New Yorker)

The first videogame platform, the 1960 PDP-1. Yours for $120,000. Today $120k buys you a little over 600 XBoxes.

(via Vint Chip)

Consider this man’s humdrum playing.

Now consider the reaction Sega Genesis programers would have if you went back in time and told them we’ve replicated their cutting edge hardware in software, are running it on our phones, and playing their platform fighting levels that take place on subways on actual subways.

The future is strange, here, and we’re already over it.

Exploiting Virtual Gaming Economies 

During beta testing for Star Wars Galaxies, one player discovered developers had no plans to regulate the in-game economy. Immediately, he stopped obsessing over making the game great for fans and started building a business plan.

It worked:

I was now making real-world money for making virtual money by making real money. It was amazing, and it worked perfectly. I would transfer 10 mil credits to Tan; he would pay me via bank transfer. He would then sell the fake money for real money at around a 100% mark-up. The player would get his 500k or million, and turn around and buy my merchandise for 1.5mil. This happened across the board, at all levels.

I remember with crystal clarity when I realized I was making more money from this enterprise than I was at my full-time job. I quickly decided to expand and hired four guys in Singapore to play 24/7.

Soon the money was stacking fast and I needed to expand again, and again. At the peak, I employed 12 men and women. I controlled, for the most part, the economy on four servers, and I was bringing in almost a six-figure salary.

The whole piece is worth a read just for the character study.

The author starts out contributing, “I made copious suggestions, everything from combat to social aspects. I complained for a week about how the zabrak horns should look.” Once he discovers the economic loophole, he becomes absorbed in gaming it. From a nest of computers, soda, and snacks he takes over virtual star systems, space ports, cranks up prices, and expands.

Finally he becomes frustrated as developers compensate for a tight economy by increasing the abilities and assets with which a player starts. Fascinatingly, his frustration comes more from the dilution of the game itself, rather than the hit to his finances.

One of the goals we had in designing our letter distribution was to give players letters that would allow them to form words much more easily than in other word games,” Holme said via e-mail. “In [Words with Friends], we put four Hs into the bag and set their value to 3—a big difference from Scrabble, which uses two Hs worth 4 points.” … In other words, he amplified the number of what Bettner calls the game’s “explosive moments.
IEEE Spectrum on Words with Friends, explaining why I put up with EA’s horrible, official Scrabble app instead of using Words with Friends. (Scrabble doesn’t need explosive moments and easy words. Many, if not most, games are better not being ‘optimized’.)

So, so good. How many other shops will use Kickstarter to fund passion projects this year and at what point will Double Fine eschew publishers for every game they make?

Double Fine Just Used Kickstarter to Fund their Next Game 

Their goal was $400,000. They’re at $532,459 in less than 24 hours. Why this matters:

Keeping the scale of the project this small accomplishes two things. First and foremost, Double Fine gets to make the game they want to make, promote it in whatever manner they deem appropriate, and release the finished product on their own terms. Secondly, since they’re only accountable to themselves, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what game development of this caliber looks like from the inside. Not the sanitized commercials-posing-as-interviews that marketing teams only value for their ability to boost sales, but an honest, in-depth insight into a modern art form that will both entertain and educate gamers and non-gamers alike.

Over a six-to-eight month period, a small team under Tim Schafer’s supervision will develop Double Fine’s next game, a classic point-and-click adventure. Where it goes from there will unfold in real time for all the backers to see.

Funded.

Our Whale Dependency

Could someone do an investigative report on “whales”, the people whom spend upwards of $10,000 a year on social games? Given the ecosystem these people support, it would be nice to understand who they are and their motivations (addiction? copious wealth? high allowances?).

At first whales seem like a quirk, a funny did-you-know story for light conversation. But thanks to details within Zynga’s and Facebook’s IPO filings we can see that any bubble that might exist is being built on the backs of whales. Consider:

Given their intricate relationship with social media, it would be best if we understood the motivations of whales, if only to understand what external factors could affect the industry. Combing through news and search results, the best descriptions or examinations of whales I could find were two or more years old. As we build more and more businesses around social media and upload more of our lives online, the need for whale understanding becomes more of an imperative.

Update: I’ve been asked for an example of a risk which could emerge. Older, somewhat thin numbers show Saudi Arabia to be a whale hub of sorts. Does this mean that a green revolution in Saudi Arabia, one which more evenly distributes oil funds or upsets the status quo for the wealthy would decimate a % of whale earnings? Perhaps. I think it would be wise to update our understanding with more robust, more recent numbers.

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