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Games

SimCity turns 25

One of the most influential things I did as a child was spending time on my aunt’s Mac when I’d visit in the summers.  That little LC series machine in the early 90s was my window to a lot of things that would later become a huge part of my adult life (including my current career).  But one thing that stands out as particularly memorable was a packet of 3.5″ disks that contained a game that would shape my entire worldview.  Yes, I’m talking about SimCity, the little black & white game that infected my brain starting around the age of seven – and hasn’t stopped.

SimCity 5

one of my most recent cities – because, yes, I’m still playing

Doug Bierend sat down with SimCity’s creator, the venerable Will Wright, over at the re:form collection on Medium to discuss his games and their enduring legacy on the 25th anniversary of the Sim game that started everything.  I’ve pulled a few quotes that do a really good job summing up my love for the Sim games, but the entire piece “SimCity That I Used to Know” is well worth the read.

Wright’s games—if you can call them that—were uniquely influential for a generation of kids with access to computers in the 90s. [...] An imaginative player could weave their own stories [...]

These toys were especially effective for kids who were at an age when the real and the imaginary seem less distinct. Watching as the little cities exhibited behavior in reaction to the player’s actions created a link between us [and] the game.

“I think that play, in a more general sense, is fundamentally one of the ways that we understand the world, the real world,” says Wright, “as is storytelling. I think the two are both kind of educational technologies, and that’s the part that interests me [...]”

“Players right off the bat were forced to sit down and in fact pick their goals,” Wright says. [...] “At that point, they’re also having to clarify their internal model of the way a city operates…all of a sudden your assumptions become clear to you.”

I certainly emerged from my hunched sessions with my pet cities carrying a new appreciation for the world around me.

Things I’d totally play…

More than once you’ll find yourself asking: Is that stairway really a dead end? And the answer is, probably not.Monument Valley is full of optical illusions that test your spatial reasoning. But it’s your job to figure out what’s real, what’s fake and how you can bridge the gap between those two states using the visual cues from the game.

– Liz Stinson, Wired

 

Re-engage with your practice

installationshot

“I think it’s possible to feel angry with the curator for not selecting a particularly excellent example of your oeuvre.” [...] The game asks the question of how value is determined: not so much by the creator as by how the artwork is received by a community’s power brokers and the world at large.

Art Game by Pippin Barr aims to recreate the soul-crushing and challenging experience of creating visual work for the New York art scene.  I think it also speaks to the creator in all of us who has to interface with those that commission our efforts.

(via Hyperallergic)

Late…but so worth it

I’m glad creator Mike Ando was so patient with his dream of building the linking book from Myst.  As an ardent fan of the game and its sequels, I was beyond excited to see this story pop up on Wired – and the teenager in me flipped his shit while watching the video.  I’ll take one!

Text-based horror

Having played my fair share of text-based adventure games as a kid, I can tell you the joy that was getting to the occasional point when a crazy-awful illustration would pop onto the screen after multiple pages of story whizzed past.  And when we progressed to mostly picture based games, the illustrations were an ever-present fact of storytelling, even if they didn’t really look all that fantastic.

Fast forward to now and we have io9 presenting us with haunting animated gifs in the style of vintage computer games by Uno Moralez.  It’s like Zen & The Art of The Macintosh gone spooky.

DefCon’s Badges: Cooler Than Yours

Part art, part game and entirely cool, the badges put together for DefCon this year also have a purpose:

“Those doing the hardware hacks will have to find someone to do the puzzle side,” Clarke says. “It will drive them to find someone from the other side of the house.”

Learn more at Wired.

And here we are

Two years and some months later, I find myself in a very similar position to one I’ve been in before:  the Mass Effect 3 collector’s edition is installing its first DLC while a new iPad (the third iteration, if that’s even possible) is on the horizon.  Amazing how technology – and time – progresses when you aren’t looking.

*gulp*

Make the jump and you’ll get to the next stage. But if you fluff the event — jump too early and you’ll slam into the adjacent skyscraper, jump too late and you’ll trip over the edge and plummet to your death — it’s game over, forever.

No pressure or anything, right? Still, One Single Life does sound like a thought-provoking – and unbelievably frustrating – art project, if not a game.

(Wired)