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Games

GenCon 2013 Interview: M. Sechin Tower, Lead Developer at Exile Game Studio
April 15, 2014 | 9:00 pm

GEDC1287During GenCon 2013, I had the chance to speak with Sechin Tower, Lead Developer at Exile Game Studio and author of Mad Science Institute. I asked him about Exile’s use of Kickstarters for publishing its game products, and this is what he had to say. Me: Tell me what Exile’s been doing with Kickstarters. Sechin: Exile has been a recent comer to the Kickstarter market, but we’ve found it extremely useful to not only jumpstart a project that would take a little longer to get going, but to also get the word out and to give people a...

StoryBundle releases video game book bundle
April 2, 2014 | 7:47 pm

The Humble Indie Bundle started out selling video games, but branched out into e-books down the road. This makes it almost, but not quite, symmetrical that its competitor StoryBundle, who started with e-books all along, has now come out with a bundle of…e-books about video games. The base price for this bundle is $3, which gets you six DRM-free multiformat e-books, mostly non-fiction: How to Do Things With Videogames by Ian Bogost Atari Inc.: Business is Fun by Marty Goldberg and Curt Vendel SCROLL: Collection 01-11 by Ray Barnholt...

Who is more relevant now: BookExpo America or GenCon?
March 28, 2014 | 7:29 pm

avenue-close-up Earlier today, Susan wrote about Book Expo America adding a celebrity author convention this year. I find this interesting, but I wonder what they're trying to prove here. Not many of those celebs are known for being writers; they're celebs who are also writers. (Martin Short? Angelica Huston? Really?) And even the ones who are writers, like Grisham and Stan Lee (who didn’t even write for a book publisher to begin with), became so famous for their writing that now they’re more famous for being famous. Why don’t they just drop all pretense and get Snooki in...

Story Cards tablet CCG gamifies reading for K-12 students
March 12, 2014 | 2:58 pm

storycardsHere's an intriguing game I just learned about. Educational publisher Amplify, makers of the Amplify Android tablet we covered last year, has come up with a way to gamify classic literature, in the hopes of getting students interested in reading it. Story Cards is a turn-based character-driven CCG. Players unlock character cards with specific abilities by reading the books they come from, and can gain bonuses by answering trivia questions related to the books in question. The game supports both single-player and multi-player modes. Students can build their own decks and compete with the game or each other. The...

Fan artist complains of Anita Sarkeesian’s unauthorized use of Dragon’s Lair fan art
March 9, 2014 | 4:27 am

tropesvswomenHere’s an interesting conundrum concerning fair use of Internet artwork. It all started when an artist going by the moniker Cowkitty created some fan art of Princess Daphne, a character from Don Bluth’s Dragon’s Lair video game. Some time later, feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian crowdfunded a series of YouTube videos called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. And promotional material used for the $150,000 Kickstarter campaign, which collected a number of female characters from video games, made use of Cowkitty’s fan art without asking permission. (The video series allegedly made use of footage from various YouTube “Let’s...

FutureCoast peers into online games future
February 15, 2014 | 1:50 pm

futurecoastIn a recent discussion about the making of a new collaborative game set in the near future, headlined "The Making of FutureCoast," Stuart Candy of the Situation Lab spoke with game designers Ken Eklund and Sara Thacher about just what they accomplished and how it all came about. It's a game with a future, and word is getting out. Wired magazine recently ran a story, and more media pickups are sure to follow. TeleRead is on the trail now. So what is FutureCoast? As Candy describes it, the project was "a collaborative cli-fi (climate fiction) storytelling game, created by the PoLAR Partnership...

How much would you pay for a phone installed with Flappy Bird?
February 10, 2014 | 4:24 pm

Too much of a good thing can be tough to handle. Dong Nguyen the creator of the viral game Flappy Bird couldn’t handle the quick rise of popularity of his game – even though he was supposedly making a lot of money off ads – so he took it down. This has caused people to find alternative methods to finding Flappy Bird, one of which may cost people thousands of dollars. Several smartphones and tablets that have the game installed already have sold on eBay for more than $3,000 – all the way up to $10,100. Are all these auctions legit? Probably not. I...

Assassination game Dustcloud closes its Kickstarter project, plans to relaunch in 30 days
January 25, 2014 | 3:00 am

30daysJust a brief update on an article from a couple of weeks ago: Dustcloud, the laser tag assassination game using short-range radio zap guns that link by Bluetooth to a smartphone, has decided to cancel its Kickstarter and relaunch in 30 days with some changes. The writing was pretty much on the wall: almost halfway through the 40 day period, it had only reached about $28,000 in pledges—just over 1/4 of its goal. As the Kickstarter progressed, they noticed a lot of reluctance around the idea of having to pay a nickel each for the virtual bullets (“speks”) for...

Dustcloud brings virtual assassination to the digital age
January 9, 2014 | 10:23 am

dustcloudEverything’s better with smartphones. Reading, navigating, playing silly games…and possibly, that might soon include laser tag. Yesterday I found out about a game called Dustcloud, which is undergoing a Kickstarter right now that wants to combine laser tag, the game of “Assassin” (often played with water guns or paintball pistols), GPS, and social networking, for a geolocation-based game you play anywhere, on the spur of the moment, with total strangers. It’s been getting some good buzz from news sites such as Engadget, Re/code, and Time. It looks exciting, and I’ve gone ahead and kicked in for it, but I must...

Steam Machines: Pretty-looking boilers, but just full of hot air?
January 7, 2014 | 12:21 pm

FalconNorthwest_Tiki_03-980x1313Last night at CES, Gabe Newell of Valve spoke for about seven minutes about the new SteamOS/Steam Machine initiative. 13 different Steam machines were shown at the conference. The controllers would be sold separately by Valve, and other companies could make their own controllers too. Newell said that beta testers say the Steam box is "the best thing since the beginning of time," and that Valve would be pushing them harder to say what was actually wrong with it so they could improve it further. Valve currently has 250 games compatible with SteamOS so far,...

Marvel, Netflix titles vanished because of impermanence of contracts, not digital media
January 2, 2014 | 3:00 pm

deadpoolBecause I’m sure sooner or later someone’s going to bring this up as an example of the impermanence of digital media, and how you should never buy anything from a digital store because they can always take it away from you, I figured I’d better cover it first. The big news that broke in the video game scene yesterday is that Marvel, a subsidiary of Disney, has just pulled a number of popular computer games based on its properties out of all digital distribution outlets: Steam, Xbox Live, and PlayStation Network. The games include Deadpool, several Spider-Man titles, and several...

Borderlands 2 bar code reader app is a clever new use for smartphones
December 13, 2013 | 4:16 am

Screenshot_2013-12-13-03-32-36Here’s an example of a game company doing something pretty clever with mobile technology to increase engagement on its PC game. Gearbox, the wildly creative company behind Borderlands 2, has released a free mobile app for iOS and Android that scans UPC or QR bar codes and associates them with a randomly-generated loot item from that game. The first time a code is scanned, it randomly generates a loot item; thenceforth, that code is associated specifically with that item so people can tell their friends what to look for. It’s completely agnostic with regard to the price of...