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1982 high school yearbook with videogame theme

Prosp

Prosssss

London's IDEA booksellers unearthed this 1982 yearbook, from South Plantation High School in Florida, that has a fantastic hand-drawn video game theme. (via the excellent @ideabooksltd Instagram feed)

Gweek podcast 138: From Russia with Doubt

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.

Dean Putney, Boing Boing’s software developer and Gweek regular, whose self published a book of his great-grandfather’s World War I photos.

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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Show Notes:

Ramez's picks:

Geekomancy and Celebromancy by Michael Underwood: Fun, witty, insider-joke filled geek urban fantasy.

How to get the most out of Facebook & Twitter: It’s all about Lists. And an app: TweetDeck.

rubtr: A browser plugin that lets you rebut pages that are inaccurate, and see rebuttals that have been made.


Dean's picks

Wave Wave - upcoming iOS game by Thomas Janson built around a fantastic chiptune album by Danimal Cannon.

The ArtisanVideos subReddit


Mark's picks:

From Russia With Doubt: The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-Be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde A couple of amateur art collector brothers buy $40,000 worth of paintings on eBay, and they are appraised at $50 million.

My Passport Ultra 2TB Portable External Hard Drive I have replaced my external desktop hard drives with these. They are small, quiet, and inexpensive.

And much more!

Interview with Ed Fries, creator of Halo 2600

Halo 2600 me dying

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.
"Demaking Halo, Remaking Art: 'Halo 2600' Developer Discusses the Promise of Video Games" (Smithsonian)

World's largest private collection of video games

Gameeee

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.

Eating hot peppers and reviewing video games

In the curiously compelling Hot Pepper Gaming video series, hosts eat hot peppers and then review video games. Here, Erin Schmalfeld enjoys a habanero pepper before telling us about Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.

Super Mario Rock Opera, by Song a Day guy Jonathan Mann, debuts in NYC Aug 17

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Mann, best known as the Song a Day YouTube star, has a cool new project that those of you in New York can enjoy.

"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.

Read the rest

Video game lets you kill the most scientifically accurate zombies yet

The Last of Us is a new video game about the zombie apocalypse. But not just any zombie apocalypse. The Last of Us zombies are based heavily, and accurately, on a genus of parasitic fungus that really does take over the brains and bodies of non-human animals like tarantulas and ants. Kyle Hill has a lot of delightfully horrifying things to tell you about this fungus at the Overthinking It blog. Maggie

Short film about Ralph Baer, the “Father of Video Games”

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.

Bang bang: Science, violence, and public policy

I was on CBC Radio 1's Day 6 last weekend, talking about some of the reasons why scientists can't answer key questions about guns — whether current gun policies do anything to reduce violent crime, for instance, or whether more guns cause less (or more) violence. In a related debate, you should also read the article on the science of video games and real-life violence that Brandon Keim wrote for PBS' NOVA. The truth is that this branch of science also has big problems connecting cause and effect and, as with gun policy research, the best kinds of experiments can't really be done for logistical and ethical reasons. Maggie

Buckner & Garcia's "Pac-Man Fever" (1982)

NewImage Buckner & Garcia perform "Pac-Man Fever," from the 1982 album of the same name, on American Bandstand. I had this LP and the inner sleeve featured the patterns to maximize your score on the game. The title song hit #9 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single, "Do the Donkey Kong," didn't do quite as well. Other tracks include "Froggy's Lament," "Goin' Berzerk," and "Ode to a Centipede." Due to rights issues, the currently-available "reissue" is actually a re-recording of the original music. The original LP can be easily found for around $40 or check your local thriftshops.

North Korea uses western video game music in propaganda

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea used Jeremy Soule's theme tune from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion in a fiery propaganda video. [Kotaku] Previously: Modern Warfare 3 clips used in NK propaganda. Rob

A helpful reminder: Video game consumption is not correlated with gun violence

The focus on video games as a source of American gun violence is driving me a bit crazy, so I just wanted to toss some evidence out there. Even though most of you have likely long suspected the two things were not related, you'll be happy to know that science agrees with you. Consider this a helpful kit for forwarding to concerned relatives. Here's a 10-country comparison that found no correlation between video game consumption and gun violence. Here's a Harvard Medical School summary that explains why some people claim video games cause violence, and why the studies behind those claims aren't actually telling us that. And here's a PBS FAQ explaining a lot of the same issues. With violent video games (as with everything else) context matters. Maggie

Happy Birthday, Walt! Oswald the Lucky Rabbit will finally get a voice (in Epic Mickey 2)!

It's Walt Disney's 111th birthday today, and there is news from the video game world that probably would have made him smile: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, his pre-Mickey Mouse, silent-era creation, is finally getting a voice after 85 years! Oswald has appeared as Mickey's (silent) partner in 2010's Epic Mickey, but the sequel to the game, Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (which just came out for Wii U, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, and Mac, PC coming in January), will let him speak for the first time ever. Who will be providing the voice of Oswald? None other than the legendary voice actor, Frank Welker, who is now the official, permanent voice of Oswald for any future cartoons. My Disney-loving heart has melted. (via Mashable)

Photo credit: Disney Wiki

Atari Flashback 4 console

NewImage

AT Games has released the new Atari Flashback 4 console, this time with wireless joysticks. It's loaded with Asteroids, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Jungle Hunt, Centipede and 70 more classics, but not E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Here's the menu:

3D Tic-Tac-Toe, Adventure, Adventure II, Air·Sea Battle, Aquaventure, Asteroids, Backgammon, Basketball, Battlezone, Black Jack, Bowling, Breakout, Canyon Bomber, Centipede, Championship Soccer, Circus Atari, Combat Two, Combat, Crystal Castles, Demons to Diamonds, Desert Falcon, Dodge 'Em, Double Dunk, Fatal Run, Flag Capture, Football, Frog Pond, Front Line, Fun with Numbers, Golf, Grand Prix, Gravitar, Hangman, Haunted House, Home Run, Human Cannonball, Jungle Hunt, Maze Craze, Miniature Golf, Missile Command, Night Driver, Off The Wall, Outlaw, Polaris, Realsports Baseball, Realsports Basketball, Realsports Soccer, Realsports Volleyball, Return to Haunted House, Saboteur, Save Mary, Sky Diver, Slot Machine, Slot Racers, Solaris, Space Invaders Space War, Sprintmaster, Star Ship, Steeplechase, Stellar Track, Street Racer, Submarine Commander, Super Baseball, Super Breakout, Super Football, Surround, Tempest, Video Checkers, Video Chess, Video Olympics, Video Pinball, Warlords, Wizard, Yars' Revenge
Atari Flashback 4 (Thanks, Charles Pescovitz!)

MoMA's new videogame collection

NewImageNew York's Museum of Modern Art has acquired 14 videogames that will be playable in a gallery there beginning in March 2013. According to Paola Antonelli, the MoMA's senior curator of architecture and design, these titles are "the seedbed for an initial wish list of about 40 to be acquired in the near future, as well as for a new category of artworks." I'm delighted that my favorite game, Pac-Man (1980), was part of the initial acquisition. The others include: Tetris (1984), Another World (1991), Myst (1993), SimCity 2000 (1994), vib-ribbon (1999), The Sims (2000), Katamari Damacy (2004), EVE Online (2003), Dwarf Fortress (2006), Portal (2007), flOw (2006), Passage (2008), and Canabalt (2009). "Video Games: 14 in the Collection, for Starters"