CNN Money investigates the crazed market for the video games of yore, fueled by the likes of RetroLiberty, a YouTube channel about finding vintage video games at swap meets or parking lot deals, and Videogamesnewyork, a shop specializing in vintage game gear from the last century.
We are pretty big Her Story fans at Offworld (read my interview or Laura's critique). So you might imagine that this bizarre tribute, starring a puppet owl, might be kind of up our alley.
HootStory is a "pseudo-games jam exercise" about an aging owl with all kinds of things to say about his lifetime in game development (try the relevant search terms "cocaine" "ubisoft" and "strippers", as well as the classic "murder"). It's set, of course, in its own charming old-school desktop interface (check the Recycle Bin for an apology to Her Story creator Sam Barlow).
Created by Groundshatter, it's a free (but kinda big) download—get it here.
From The Museum of Classic Chicago Television: "Here's a commercial for the videogame Pitfall! by Activision and featuring at the beginning a very young-looking appearance of the actor Jack Black - rockin' the pith helmet."
If you grew up in the comfortable eighties, you might still have memories of the 16-bit console war, the perverse thrill of wishing for a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, and then arguing with other children on the playground about which was better.
These days being a Sega Genesis fan is a little bit weirder -- you chose the camp that would be basically out of the hardware market by the new millennium. A new book, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works brings that beauty and weirdness to full-color life in a celebration of the Genesis by Guardian games editor Keith Stuart (disclosure: he commissions, edits and pays me when I write about games at the Guardian, which is sometimes).
A 30-page history of a 1990s video game console serves a certain niche audience, but the 28 interviews with the people responsible for Sega’s hardware and most cherished games are more digestible and should pique the interest of anyone who owned the system. And there are dozens of glossy pages containing design documentary, hand sketches, key art, title screens, and photography. It's easy to zone out, turning between one drawing and the next.
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works is available for £35.00, while an extra £15 gets it to you by Christmas.
You might know artist and designer Keita Takahashi for his iconic, idiosyncratic Katamari Damacy (previously). Last year, he joined Funomena to work with longtime friend and Journey producer Robin Hunicke on a brand-new game.
At Sony's PlayStation Experience event this weekend, Takahashi presented the first trailer for that PlayStation 4 game, called Wattam, which introduces a cube-like "mayor" character.
"The idea for this game came from when Keita was playing with his two-year old son, and wondered about what if all toys lived, and connected by themselves?" Hunicke writes. The word "Wattam" is derived from the Tamil and Japanese words for "making a circle" or "making a loop," as Takahashi worked with his friend Vikram on the project.
"This new word acknowledges one of the game’s core inspirations: making connections between different types of things," says Hunicke.
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.
In each episode of Gweek, I invite a guest or two to join me in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. This time my guests were:
Ramez Naam, a computer scientist and the H.G. Wells Award-winning author of three books, including the sci-fi thriller Nexus, which has been optioned as a film by Paramount and director Darren Aronofsky. The follow up title, Crux, came out in August.
Danimal Cannon, a touring chiptune and heavy metal musician who occasionally composes music for indie video games. His album Parallel Processing was recently launched as the soundtrack for the new game Wave Wave on iOS.
This episode of Gweek is brought to you by:
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In 2010, Ed Fries, a former Microsoft VP of game publishing, programmed an Atari 2600 version of Halo. The game, titled Halo 2600, has now been added to the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Smithsonian magazine interviewed Fries:
I don’t want to get too caught up in "Art" with a capital A in a sense, because then it becomes this whole kind of pointless argument about what is art to begin with. I think what matters is, can we tell human stories in a way that affect people—maybe change how they feel about themselves, or the world or exposes them to something that they haven’t been exposed to before? And in the game business, that simple thing is actually pretty hard. I mean, it’s taken us many years and a lot of technological advance to be able to make realistic characters on a screen that look like people, that don’t look like robots, that move like real people, that when they talk, the way their mouths move or eyes sparkle. You know, that doesn’t make you feel like you’re looking at a puppet—that makes you feel like you’re looking at a real human being. Once you get past that, then you open up the door to tell real stories about real people but in a way that’s different than a movie because the player’s in control. And that’s the promise for video games.
Michael Thomasson, 31, has the world's largest collection of video games. The Buffalo, New York man's basement is filled with approximately 11,000 games (and consoles to play them). According to the Associated Press, Thomasson started collecting when he was 12 but sold everything twice: first, to buy a Sega Genesis, and then in 1998 to pay for his wedding. Thomasson is featured in the Guinness World Records 2014 Gamer's Edition that, unfortunately, does not include any photos of fat twins riding motorcycles or Robert Wadlow.
"My Super Mario Rock Opera goes up at Joe's Pub this Saturday, August 17th," he says. "The one-line pitch: Mario becomes self aware. Would love to see some happy mutants there!"
I ran into him recently at our blogging pals Laughing Squid's barbecue in Brooklyn; he shared this news with me there, and I knew many of our readers would dig it.
As many of you may remember, Jonathan wrote me a song --all for me! it was amazing!--called "Kittens in Space," to cheer me up when I was going through treatment for breast cancer, and gagging on chemotherapy. The song worked. Watch it below.
PBS Digital Studios profiled Ralph Baer, the “Father of Video Games”
Ralph Baer’s inventing career began following a two-year service in the military during World War II. Returning home from Europe, he went to school on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.S. in Television Engineering. In 1955, he joined an electronics firm called Sanders Associates, which did work for the military. Still there in 1966, he began work on an electronic box that would allow people to play games on their televisions. The working invention was later licensed as the Magnavox Odyssey and became the first home console system for video gaming in 1972. Last year he celebrated his 90th birthday – the same year the Odyssey turned 40. Here he talks about those early days of video game history and why now, at 90 years old, he's still inventing.