Tuesday, August 23, 2005


No wonder we have inhuman expectations of beauty. Are we using digital retouching to create an ideal that is physically unattainable?

The big question is "What happens as surgical technology catches up?" Cosmetic surgery is the beginning, but where will it end?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Xbox 360 and Next-Gen Pricing

GameDaily has a nice comprehensive overview of the pricing for the upcoming Xbox 360. The editor's opinion nicely expresses my feeling on the pricing issue:
While early adopters, including this editor [And me. --CJ], may plunk down the cash for a premium edition 360, it's becoming increasingly clear that things are getting out of hand. $400 for a console? $60 for a game? When will it stop? If the industry is to reach a billion consumers as Microsoft suggests, then prices on hardware and software need to start coming down, not going up.

If the industry continues in the direction of ultra-sophisticated, high-tech and mega expensive hardware along with software that costs upwards of $30 million to develop and market, we could soon be facing a crisis. A radical change to the fundamental economy of this industry and the way games are created and sold will become a necessity, if that isn't the case already.
With the PS3 also slated to be expensive, perhaps Nintendo's real "revolution" will be an inexpensive console. Wouldn't that be mind-blowing... especially if they are true to their word about supporting indie developers.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting breakdown of why these prices aren't so bad.

Games Matter, But How?

Clive Thompson has a short post up about Islamic videogames (which seem to be popping up in the news a lot lately). Thomas Friedman recently noted that "Video games matter," referring to Islamic games designed to spread a jihadist message. However, Clive points out that action games quickly become abstracted from their narratives, and therefore they aren't so great for getting across something complex like ideology.
This is, more precisely, the real point about why point-and-shoot action games suck as tools of indoctrination: Their narratives rarely matter. In an action-shooter game, the real narrative -- the one that matters -- isn't the type of uniforms or country you're fighting; it's the the physics. The emotional and cognitive content of the game is just about being physically graceful enough to achieve your goals in fast-moving, fast-changing environment -- a statement that defines everything Half-Life 2 to football.

The problem with Friedman -- and other pundits who don't play games -- is that all they see is what's happening on the screen. And sure, on the screen, you might be fighting Nazis, or contras, or green-blooded aliens, or the Civil War South. But in the gamer's mind, it's all just vectors and motion: After a few hours of playing the game, the external reference points boil away. Talk to chess grandmasters and it's the same thing. They don't look down at the board and think, oh, this is a war-like situation in which a powerful queen is defending a hapless, old, past-his-prime king. They just see abstract forces, the platonic interactions of the game's rule-set. Some masters have told me that they do not even visualize the pieces any more -- just the interactions between them.

If action games aren't so good at ideology, which games are? See also: Games for Change.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Me in Pixels

StorTroopers (discovered in Wonderland) has lately been distracting me from just about everything I'm supposed to be doing. Here's me through my recent history, in pixel form:

Kind of reminds me of "What If..." over at Flip Flop Flyin'.


[Via Kotaku via PixelSumo] UnrealArt is a fantastic project by Alison Mealey, in which striking images are generated from the actions of bots playing in custom Unreal maps.

1 min 1 sec
42 x 42 cm

You got Point
42 x 42 cm

Monday, August 08, 2005

Somebody Gets It

Those chaps at the Economist have a well-reasoned and well-researched article on games, bringing some much needed rational thought to the whole Hot Coffee brouhaha. The concluding paragraph sums it up nicely:
Like rock and roll in the 1950s, games have been accepted by the young and largely rejected by the old. Once the young are old, and the old are dead, games will be regarded as just another medium and the debate will have moved on. Critics of gaming do not just have the facts against them; they have history against them, too. “Thirty years from now, we'll be arguing about holograms, or something,” says Mr [Dimitri] Williams.
I was just saying the same thing the other day.