Self-organisation in Video Games:

Political Message v Political Possibilities

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In the above comment on hackaday.com, commenter “matt” is referring to [Masterjun]’s (going by “true” on this message thread) hack, Total Control. In it, the games Pong and Snake were recreated within Super Mario World (1990), using what appeared to be random controller commands. In fact, they were frame-specific inputs exploiting various bugs to alter the source code on an original SNES running an unaltered game cartridge, all done live at the Awesome Games Done Quick 2013 event. Taking into account the very limited resources available, [Masterjun]’s effort in highlighting the flexibility of this medium is remarkable; simply by manipulating known input glitches, [Masterjun] changed the game as we know it. Continue Reading

Subversive humor & games

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Subversive humor can fulfill several different unique purposes. Firstly, humor is approachable; it can disarm critics by cutting through the clutter or noise around issues that make people feel uncomfortable. Humor is often used as a way to ridicule the oppressor by creating a dilemma they can’t win. Creating a situation in which any options (such as responding or ignoring) could lead to ridicule by the masses. This leads to another important element: humor melts fear – when you ridicule someone or something, you no longer fear them or it. It also acts as a healer of sorts, serving as a coping mechanism or as stress relief by highlighting and expressing frustration with problems out of direct control. Lastly, humor gives you power when you don’t have it. It has the ability (even if temporary) to take away the power of the “oppressor,” making it a powerful tool that should be considered in any creative critical process (Sorensen, 2008). Continue Reading

The Art of Papers, Please

Juul's The Art of Failure Meets Lucas Pope's Papers, Please

Commentary - Papers Please

There’s a certain dehumanizing impulse that comes with mastering game systems. It is articulated through the dissonance between Nathan Drake as-he-appears-in-cutscenes and the Nathan Drake whose actions correspond to a controller’s thumbsticks. It is the reason why genetic algorithms have been used to plan the “perfect” build order in Starcraft 2. Processes are fertile ground for privileging economy of action and thought. This is so ingrained in contemporary game design that player progress is often measured by the increasing complexity of game mechanics: by adding new abilities, introducing more difficult foes, more challenging environments, etc. Continue Reading