Despite United “Airlines” best efforts to prevent my attendance I’m at SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans, and twittering about it. And I just ran into the inimitable Ian Bogost, who was just visiting us in Sydney. Now try to tell me that geography still means what it used to mean.
Archive for the ‘games’ Category
Susan Greenfield’s latest book is interesting, but it’s jam-packed with assumptions that I can’t agree with. As I follow each chain of logic based on an unsupported premise, I become more and more exhausted. So I’m afraid I’ve only read halfway through the book so far. I suppose that she might blame this on my short attention span, caused by too much time in front of the Commodore 64 in my childhood. Nonetheless – I can’t quite accept that someone so accomplished and brilliant could write an entire book without something of value in it, so I shall persist.
Meanwhile the press has got hold of the Cliff’s notes. I fully expect that we will now be witness to a “debate” in our own (Australian) media between various people whose entire understanding of this issue is gleaned from the British press’ misreporting of half-understood press releases containing excerpts from speeches made about a book that obliquely references actual research.
So below is my response to the Daily Mail’s scintillating ‘Social websites harm children’s brains: Chilling warning to parents from top neuroscientist‘.
I’m halfway through Susan Greenfield’s book; and although she’s a scientist I’m still waiting for her to introduce some science to support her assertions. It’s full of sentences that begin along the lines of “I often wonder whether” and “It is hard to see how […] this […] will not result in” (both of those examples are from your article above).
Baroness Greenfield’s stature as a scientist and public intellectual make her comments worth considering. However if I may put this the way that she seems to prefer: I often wonder whether assertions of correlation made without evidence of causation might perhaps be claptrap.
I’m in the UTS Games Studio, the denizens of which are demonstrating the cool toys we have there. First is Leena who has embedded various i-cubex sensors in a teddy bear (well, a dog, but she admonishes us to ignore that), a tennis racket any glove. All of these are generating audio at the moment. Greg and Daniel have been playing with our MERL Touchtable. This is a multi-user multitouch display table; its special capability is that it can distinguish between four users. Other touch tables can support lots of users and touches, but can’t tell who is who. They’ve made a simple but very engaging game called Ball Fight that used this capability nicely. The CCS mob is getting quite excited by the artistic possibilities ^_^
We’re live! Just in time for the start of the school holidays, Magic Hopscotch is up and running and open to the public at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. The timing is important because this is a prototype of an interactive artwork designed for children. Doreen Ee, my collaborating technologist, put in a magnificent effort to reconfigure the code for the floor pads that control the piece, after we were compelled to rewire them last week. Shan Weiley, my partner and constant collaborator, has started participant observations and we are already getting some wonderful insights. More later, because i’m writing on my phone and more than a few words is painful The launch is on thursday the 10th of July from 2-4 pm, email me if you’d like an invitation. Heartfelt thanks also to Deborah Turnbull our erstwhile beta space curator and Matthew Connell at the phm.
Update: now tracking this project at Sky Blue.
The inimitable Doug Easterly addressed CCS today on Permeating the Magic Circle – exploring “the physical and conceptual boundaries that demarcate work and real-life from play and game activity”. He’s well known for his artistic practice with SWAMP addressing these very issues. Doug’s research looks into play, drawing on Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and Caillois‘ critiques of it, and of course Czikszentmihalyi on Flow. On that last Doug has formed a beautifully clear exposition of the standard critique of games: that they draw users into a state of Flow not for the high-minded goals of learning or self-actualisation, but instead for the baser purpose of merely keeping them in the game for its own sake, or for the sake of “coin drop” (in the parlance of the video game arcade industry). By drawing out a distinction between flow and device mesmerism, Doug shows that it’s not games, their holding power, or flow itself that is evil – but rather the purposes to which they are put.
The depth of his research is compelling him to dive down into evolutionary psychology, just to find a place to stand… bringing in references from Leda Cosmides [wp], Jared Diamond [wp] and Stephen Pinker [wp]. A PhD is certainly a great excuse to do some absorbing reading.
After the talk we got into an engrossing discussion of hermetically sealed virtual realities (silly) vs. mixed reality (marvellous), mind/body dualism (outmoded) vs. holism (somewhat more sensible) and absolute transhumanism (fun but overblown) vs. whatever is actually going on (much more complicated, and even more fun). Doug saw an early sketch of the mixed-reality piece I’m currently installing down at the Powerhouse Museum, so I’m hoping to get the computer vision part of it working properly before he heads back to NZ at the end of the week. More about that in another blog post
Or they’ll print and bind you one for twenty bucks, pretty good deal. lots of goodness here though including Game Engines as Open Networks and History, Memory, Place, and Technology: Plato’s Phaedrus Online.
While looking for images of Donkey Kong (historical research for the UTS Games Studio, dontcha know) I stumbled across this gem:
Including the faboulous step 3:
• Be Shigeru Miyamoto
There’s a nice thoughtful post here (and the rest of the site looks worth a read as well). What caught my eye was the description of Miyamoto’s virtual garden:
“Before any of the levels had been created Mr. Miyamoto had Mario running around and picking up objects in a small ‘garden’ which he uses in all his games to test gameplay elements.”
Miyamoto is noted for finding inspiration for his game designs from his other interests: playing the guitar and gardening. The gamecube game “Pimkin” was based directly on Miyamoto’s actual garden. So for him, it seems that the virtual and real garden are his ba – his own place, a creative source.
I’m at IE 2007 in Melbourne, and so are Damski and Yusuf and Christy Dena and a number of other people. I have so far enjoyed listening to Troy Innocent, who appears to be making something with resonances of Jaron Lanier’s post-symbolic communication and Leibniz’s Universal Character. And I’ve been very happy to both listen to and converse with Bruce Joy from Vastpark, who is several kinds of clever. And just this minute I’ve been regaled by Christian McCrea and am enjoying a ramble by Darshana Jayemanne on the Nonsense of the Aura. Lots of goodness here