Back in the mid-90s, late game maker Theresa Duncan made some unconventional, ground-breaking CD games based on the everyday experiences of young girls. There's now a Kickstarter campaign to bring them back and ensure her seminal work isn't lost to history:
This project, by the NYC-based digital art nonprofit Rhizome, will fund the process of putting three games directed by Duncan—Chop Suey (1995, co-created with Monica Gesue), Smarty (1996), and Zero Zero (1997)—online, for the first time ever. With your help, they will be playable in any modern browser via emulation and available for free, for a minimum of one year.Throughout my career as a video game critic, and in recent years a feminist one, I've noticed we tend to treat the advent of girls and women's stories as novel. To lots of us, they are -- for example I'd never read a syllabus on feminist games, or seen work like my friend Nina Freeman's vignette games (Nina just successfully defended her thesis and got a Masters of Science in Integrated Digital Media from NYU, congrats Nina), til my adulthood.
But the games business' particular fixation on newness and "innovation" mustn't divorce us from our obligation to history -- that's what makes Rhizome's work with Duncan's oeuvre more important now than ever.
Read Jenn Frank on Theresa Duncan's memory here, or her piece about Duncan's Chop Suey here. For more on girlhood and the early days of games, here I am in the Guardian on Rachel Weil's feminist art.
Two recent Storify pages provide some fascinating insight on how this group came to conceive of "gamer" as a fictional "ethnicity" with a persecution complex (from Katherine Cross), as well as on how the cultural norms of Chan-style boards drive this perplexing clash with the realms of people's real working and social lives (from A_Man_in_Black). Read the rest
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Mother Jones reporter Nina Liss-Schultz asked Anita Sarkeesian why she thinks she has been targeted by knuckle-dragging assholes on the internet--vicious threats, death, rape, and beatings by haters who happen to be men, and believe that women like Sarkeesian should shut up and stay out of their clubhouse. Read the rest
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Matt Conn wanted to organize a safe event for gaymers — that's people who game and are part of the LGBTQ continuum. The GaymerX event is meant to be inclusive of all people, but especially those harassed, marginalized, or ridiculed in mainstream gaming. The first GaymerX took place August 2013; the next happens in July. We talk about what it's like to help a community be part of birthing a new convention.
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Gen Xers like to complain about not having the flying cars they were promised. But it was the Boomers who were promised flying cars. Unless you're that old, the joke goes, you were promised a cyberpunk dystopia: presently under construction for the Millenials to enjoy.
To kids growing up in the 1990s though— born in an empty space between these "generations" of entertainment marketing—such grand concepts were drowned by the mundane reality of the early web. Too young to be on the pre-AOL net, when it was still cool, but old enough for it to remain a new and strange land, this thinly-sliced cohort experienced a certain yearning bathos, a search for the real in a medium freshly proven otherwise.
In Breathing Machine: A Memoir of Computers, Leigh Alexander captures a powerful scent of what it was like to be born into computer gaming's golden age, to have a taste of a "world bigger than the one you can touch" only to spend adolescence in a world of chatrooms, terrible internet speeds and false frontiers. Read the rest
Read the rest
Nvidia's Shield is the chipmaker's big push into an already well-stocked portable gaming field. Sony and Nintendo sell millions of handsets, yet their lunch's been conspicuously eaten by Apple's iPhone, and other touchscreen smartphones and tablets, in the last few years.
Resembling a large game controller with a flip-out screen, the $299 monster will win no awards for pocketability, prettiness or pricing. With beefy specs, traditional controls and a versatile, open cut of Android, though, it has a strong appeal to serious gamers—it can even control games streamed live from your PC. What did reviewers make of it? Read the rest
Read the rest
"Numerous Japanese teens, it seems, are uploading photos of themselves doing the Kamehameha attack from popular manga and anime series Dragon Ball," writes Kotaku's Japan-based correspondent Brian Ashcraft. There's a photo gallery and it's awesome. Brian had an earlier post at Kotaku about the broader trend in Japan of young women staging photos with manga-style martial arts. Below, one such image found on 2ch, Japan's largest bulletin board, with the heading, "Schoolgirls Nowadays lol".
(Thanks, Brian Lam!)
TL Taylor (author of Raising the Stakes: E-Sports and the Professionalization of Computer Gaming) talks about competitive gaming and e-sports in this short PBS documentary.
Now, the Machinima YouTube channel is publishing a new version of the show, "Sifl & Olly Video Game Reviews." Twisted Junk has an interview with Liam about the reboot, and Chris Hardwick's NERDIST has a Q&A with him here.
The September 16 recent episode (above) included a bit about pandas (around 3:05 in), and then, just like magic, a baby panda is born at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. This is a sign that all is right with the universe.
* Some DVDs of the old MTV originals are available on Amazon.