Is Amazon's water-resisting plastic bag for your phone better than a plain ol' Ziploc?

Amazon offers this heavy plastic bag with a locking seal to let you use your phone in the water. Ziploc has long been my favorite beach case for my phone and kindle, wonder how they compare?

This less than $3.00 plastic bag does a great job of keeping the sand and sea water off (or out) of my iPhone 7+. You can easily use the touch screen through the clear rubber surface, and take photos through the material.

Alternatively, there is another better-known brand of plastic, well sealing bag that has served me well for years: the Ziploc Freezer Bag! I use them for sous vide, kids lunches, throwing crap in the freezer, and reading my kindle in a hot tub.

Comparatively, the AmazonBasics is purpose built and will take more impact and abrasion than a Ziploc. The Amazon also has a handy lanyard, the only way I know of affixing the Ziploc to me is duct tape (duct people, duct.) I think the Ziploc freezer bag more reliably activates the button-less haptic button on my iPhone 7+, however.

The price seems to float around on the Amazon bag. For $3 it is worth having around if you are going to spend a lot of time at the pool or beach.

AmazonBasics Universal Waterproof Smartphone Pouch

Ziploc Freezer Bag, Gallon, 28 Count via Amazon Read the rest

The Offworld Collection available to order

The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it's the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You get the ebook immediately upon purchase. Read the rest

What was it like working a Nintendo hotline in the 80s?

This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word 'gameplay', and experiences from Nintendo 'play counselors' from the 1980s and 90s.

You can now own the Fez soundtrack on gorgeous translucent colored vinyl

Disasterpiece's remarkable soundtrack for Fez has been released on beautiful pollen-colored vinyl, alongside a striking red-and-gold physical release for the game itself.

Ancient adventure texts at last unearthed

Well, this is wonderful—Jason Scott, creator of the GET LAMP documentary and tireless historian in the service of games, is releasing a huge trove of scans from the archives of Infocom veteran Steve Meretzky.

Infocom, of course, was a leading developer of mysterious and beautifully-written computer text adventure games in the 1980s. Meretzky's carefully-kept notes—over 9000 scans, says Scott—document numerous aspects, from design to business, of what was widely considered the company's golden age, in which it produced famous games like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, and the remarkable, pioneering A Mind Forever Voyaging, written and made by Meretzky himself, among others.

Jason Scott writes of these documents, which will live at The Infocom Cabinet:

For someone involved in game design, this is priceless work. Unfettered by the crushing schedules and indie limits of the current industry, the designers at Infocom (including Steve, but not limited to him by any means) were able to really explore what made games so much fun, where the medium could go, and what choices could be made. It’s all here.

One of the challenges in the video game space is that design knowledge is often prized tightly behind the doors of competitive game companies, and then lost when the tides of business change or studios close their doors. Software and hardware age, and works younger than a decade can be fundamentally impossible to access. The work of archivists like Scott is often unsung but essential to the memory of the medium, and his TEXTFILES.COM has become a virtual museum of all manner of computer history. Read the rest

You are the Animal Inspector, and some pets just aren't any good

In a world where pets are taking up too much space, you have to decide which goofy, startled animals are useful and which are not. But can you save your own sweet furry buddy?

Can games exist without players?

This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us interviews with the developers behind Cibele and Uriel's Chasm, as well as a meditation on games that aren't meant to be played.

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In just a few keystrokes and five scenes, the most striking game about guns

A shot rings out in the dark, lighting up one of dozens of faceless windows in front of you. This game is about the feelings that follow.

Learn coding with Minecraft? It's not just for kids

The developers of Minecraft have created a new tool designed to teach coding to kids—but it has a lot to offer grown-up newbies, too.

Relieve stress with Trumpiñata, a Donald Trump piñata app

Stressed by Donald Trump's offensive views about Mexicans? Transform him into a piñata and whack away.

Did you know Carl Sagan designed a game?

This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us writing on witch folklore, the intimate language of games, and a lost design doc made by Carl Sagan.

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Cibele and the end of an era for internet lovers

Nina Freeman's heartbreaking, intimate new game about young love in an online game points to fast-disappearing strangeness in virtual spaces.

An audio murder mystery game where you walk to find clues

Wonderland is a wonderful idea for a game. It's an old-timey audio drama that lets you solve a puzzle at the and of each chapter—and if you can't, you can walk with your phone to get clues. Read the rest

Meet the secret new horror mistress of video games

The delicate, literary works of Kitty Horrorshow are some of my favorite discoveries of 2015.

Can diverse character art invite you into a game genre you normally avoid?

Strategy games can be forbidding, but these striking character designs send a considered message of welcome.

Aurion imagines a new history for Africa, free of its imperial past

Investors may have balked, the internet at large has proved more open-minded about opening the wallet.

Black characters in video games must be more than stereotypes of the inhuman

America’s “vision” of the Black male body is one of threat, menace, and labor. Unfortunately, that's exactly how they end up represented in games.

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