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Blurred lines: Social media and news media feeding into each other
November 19, 2014 | 7:35 pm

On GigaOm, Matthew Ingram expresses fascination with the way that the news media and social media have collided and blurred the lines between each other, in the context of the recent Uber scandal. We’re increasingly seeing major news stories break and grow in social and new media—Twitter, Facebook, blogs—with the traditional media being relatively slow to catch on. Rather than issue press releases, public figures and companies are issuing quick responses via Twitter or Facebook. So is this a good thing or a bad thing? That depends a lot on your perspective. Obviously if you’re...

Disney sees big growth from mobile as gaming monetization options multiply
November 16, 2014 | 12:26 pm

disneycomic_thumb.pngDisney has announced new mobile gaming products in news that highlights just how profitable mobile gaming spinoffs have become for creative and media franchises. Quoted in GigaOm and elsewhere, Disney Interactive president James Pitaro claimed that Disney is now the world's sixth largest mobile gaming company, and looking at an over 50 percent rise in users since the same period last year, with players spending 75 percent more time on the games. Pitaro also claimed that the Disney mobile-based Club Penguin platform was the most popular virtual world for children, and that total usage hours of the Frozen Free Fall...

Writers and GamerGate
October 24, 2014 | 10:25 am

tropesvswomen_thumb.jpgAnyone not living under the same rock that many of its adherents crawled out from under will surely know by now about GamerGate, the supposed activist movement to defend traditional computer gaming standards and values, which has mushroomed into an umbrella grouping for all kinds of self-righteous victimhood, hate speech, intimidation, trolling, and even death threats. The whole thing started around a woman journalist, but writers have by and large been out of the front line on this story - until now. For one thing, Theodore Beale AKA Vox Day, a fairly notorious right-wing science fiction author, apparently thought he could use...

UK childrens’ storytelling app Story Box seeks Kickstarter support
September 9, 2014 | 12:25 pm

UK game designer Simon Keating, "a designer in the games industry for 20 years" and creator of "the characters and stories for Croc : Legend Of The Gobbos" as well as "a multitude of other titles" is seeking Kickstarter support for his new project Story Box, "a fully interactive 3D experience engine for kids and their grown ups," as the introduction explains. "Users can read, play and create fun 3D interactive stories and learning experiences" in the app, built for iOS and Android, "for children (ages 3+) and grown ups." The outline continues: "Children have the space to play, create and discover using...

Designers & Dragons vol. 3 now available to Kickstarter backers
August 28, 2014 | 10:54 pm

ddvol3A quick update on the Designers & Dragons Kickstarter, whose first volume I reviewed a few weeks ago. The second volume in the 4-volume series, covering the 1980s, has been available for a while to those (such as myself) who kicked in at least $15. Today, the ‘90s volume came out. The second and third volumes are PDF-only for now, since the EPUB and MOBI versions take time to craft, but they’re coming. The fourth volume will be released in a preliminary draft form without an index sometime before the Kickstarter completes. I haven’t had the chance to look...

Mobile game Ingress has implications straight out of science-fiction
August 26, 2014 | 7:11 pm

braceletSo, this past weekend I took part in my first ever “Anomaly,” a big local event for players of the Ingress game (which I wrote about for Answers here) by Niantic Labs, a subsidiary of Google. In these events, players in certain towns gather together and fight over specific virtual bits of real territory, needing to hold as much of it as they can at specific time points when the score is counted. It was a great deal of fun, and very involved. The Resistance (the faction I play) is very well-organized around these parts. We met at 10:30...

GenCon is this weekend; are you coming?
August 11, 2014 | 5:56 pm

20140508_171116_HDRGenCon is coming up this weekend, at the Indianapolis Convention Center (that kind of flat building at right, visible between those two red towers) here in scenic Indianapolis. Are any of our readers planning on attending? It would be cool to have the chance to meet some of you! I’m highly excited about it; this is the first time I’ll be attending as a resident rather than an out-of-towner. I can bicycle home at the end of the day rather than having to drive a rental car down to my brother’s house. I’m probably going to be around Thursday and...

Review: Designers & Dragons Vol. 1: The ‘70s
August 8, 2014 | 5:23 am

designdragon70s I’ve finished reading through the first volume of the RPG history from that Kickstarter I mentioned the other day, and I have to say that I’m very impressed. In fact, I plan on nominating it for the “Best Related Work” Hugo when the 2014 Hugo nominations come around. It’s just that good. As I explained in the last article, this history is split across four volumes, divided by decade. However, the decade only refers to the period in which the company was founded. The approach the book takes is to trace the history of each company from...

Scrabble gets an update with new word options
August 6, 2014 | 4:51 pm

scrabbleI saw this fun little story in several media outlets today! The Scrabble people have updated their official player's dictionary and added some new word options. They run the gamut, from media-inspired (chillax, bromance) to the techie (selfie, hashtag). The 5000-odd new additions also included new additions to the power player's two-letter word options ('te,' a note on the musical scale) and qajak, an Inuit form of 'kayak' which is notable for being a Q word which will not require a U. As with all legal Scrabble words, new additions had to be between two and eight letters, listed in a real...

Evil Hat Kickstarts Designers & Dragons, a four-volume history of role-playing games
August 6, 2014 | 2:18 pm

designdragon70sHere’s an intriguing Kickstarter from Evil Hat Productions, the folks who ran a highly successful KS for pulp tie-in novels to their Spirit of the Century game, and several other Kickstarters besides. This one is for a four-volume history of role-playing games entitled Designers & Dragons. Previously published in a single volume, it has been revised and expanded by its author to four full books. And this Kickstarter looks like a great example how to do things right. For starters, they set the goal to $7,500—a reasonable level for printing and shipping the first volume. Perhaps unsurprisingly, just a...

Zombies, Run! and The Walk cross a pedometer with audiobooks
July 13, 2014 | 2:35 pm

Screenshot_2014-07-13-14-28-56Mobile technology is really bringing about some interesting new forms of gaming, isn’t it? Lately I’ve been experimenting with an Android/iOS smartphone game called “Zombies, Run!” while I play Ingress. I had heard from friends that it was a pretty good game, and after finding out that it worked just as well on a bicycle as on foot, I decided to give it a shot. The premise of Zombies, Run! is that you’re “Runner 5,” a rather quiet military operative sent in to help a small settlement called Able Township by running missions to fetch supplies, deliver messages, and...

Evil Hat’s Atomic Robo copyright notice smooths the way for gamers making copies
July 7, 2014 | 6:53 pm

robonoticeHere’s an amusing case of a publisher getting copyright right. Evil Hat, who’s been mentioned here a few times before for its FUDGE-based Spirit of the Century role-playing game and Kickstarter projects, has a great copyright notice on its Atomic Robo RPG. Right after the bit about not storing the publication in a retrieval system without permission, it continues: That said, if you’re doing it for personal use, knock yourself out. That’s not only allowed, we encourage you to do it. For those working at a copy shop and not at all...