Archive for February, 2009

“For a quality experience…” An I Love Bees retrospective

ilovebees It’s been nearly four and a half years since the release of Halo 2 on the original Xbox console. The game is remembered for a number of reasons—online functionality, the story, perhaps even the hype. But for a select group of fans, Halo 2 is remembered fondly not for its play features, but for the Halo 2 ad campaign: The Haunted Apiary, or I Love Bees.

I Love Bees is an ARG, or alternate reality game. What that means specifically is hard to quantify, but ARGs tend to share a few common characteristics. They are played in real time over a finite length of time; they involve group efforts in puzzle-solving, either online or in the real world; their stories are told in rather unconventional ways, ranging from clothing lines to trading cards to false newspapers to in-game websites in games over the years. As for I Love Bees, the main action of the game occurred at the website of the same name.

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Daily Linksplosion: Friday, February 27, 2009

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Reaching out to the elusive over-25 female GameStop shopper

To its credit, this GameStop employee training video is very cute. I really kind of mean that.

Here are some notes I scribbled down as I watched:

GameStop says: Don’t scare off the nice middle-aged lady with your “gamer jargon.”

Jenny adds: Don’t attack the nice middle-aged lady with questions at the front door.

GameStop says: Do ask a ton of questions! What is she looking for? Customize your recommendations for the nice lady customer!

Jenny adds: But talk a little faster, a little less like your customer is an idiot.

GameStop says: Lady shoppers are divided into “hunters” and “gatherers.” Hunters know exactly what they want and make a beeline for it. Gatherers are ‘browsing’ and are therefore more susceptible to suggestion. Both invariably require your special brand of expertise!

Jenny adds: Don’t forget the third category of female GameStop shoppers over the age of 25—they’re called “gamers.”

P.S. If you try to upsell me on that free subscription to Cosmo (8:26), I will cut you.

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Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, February 26, 2009

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8-Bit Investigation: Gruesome, or awesome?

I don’t remember how I ended up with Aled Lewis’s illustrations open in a Firefox tab—I probably followed a delicious link or twitter tweet in the middle of the night—but here it was the next morning, still on my laptop, being all awesome.

Aled’s game-themed art and T-shirts are rad. (Even his decidedly ungeeky designs, like Freaks in the Funhouse and Mexican Standoff, are pretty excellent.)

8-Bit Investigation at

But this one: this one is the one I want. Because I like crime shows and Law and Order and TV about forensics and Police Quest adventure games and morbidity. I would totally play this shirt. And it’s on sale! Nine measly bucks for a girls’ XS or XL! (Sorry, boys—maybe they’ll reprint it.)

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Daily Linksplosion: Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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“Now, Retro Game Challenge is hot!”

Retro Game Challenge, the English-language version of GameCenter CX: Arino no Chosenjou, launched earlier this month in North America. Its sequel is slated for release in Japan on the 26th (tomorrow!).

What follows are six minutes of an intriguing 23-minute program that aired on Japanese television on the 17th. It is meant, in turns, to promote Arino no Chosenjou 2, to give a history of the GameCenter CX television show, and, seemingly, to generate still more interest in the television show’s ongoing localization project.

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Another Space Invaders T-shirt

Yup, another.

Actually. I’m trying to sound surly, but the truth is, I’ll never get sick of these.


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I Love the 80s: Michael Ian Black is REALLY into Ms. Pac-Man

“And dere’s one special lady who’s found her way through my vinyl-treated denim shirt and into my heart—and that’s this lady behind me. Meez Pac-Man.”

In an Angle Dance -caliber performance, The State’s Michael Ian Black—surrounded by dancers clad in Blade Runner raincoats—sings a love song to a Ms. Pac-Man upright arcade cabinet.

Dig that pompadour!


Michael Jackson’s old arcade games up for grabs


They told him, “Don’t you ever come around here,
“Unless you’re really good at Soul Calibeer”
There’s Frogger in their eyes
And Crystal Castles in their leers
So beat it, just beat it

This April, Michael Jackson will auction his arcade collection, including Frogger, Soul Calibeeer, and an old Zoltar machine. Zoltar, you guys.

Check out the Julien’s catalogue—either MJ doesn’t own a Moonwalker, or he ain’t sellin’ it.

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“Generation Gaming” alludes to several video games in an extremely short period of time

This video, set to Dan Bull’s new track “Generation Gaming,” is actually pretty amazing:

Taking control of / Somebody else’s console / With no remorse / That was so debauched! / My only thoughts were total scores on Tony Hawk / Or running amok in smug-g-ler’s runs / Smug-g-lin’ guns and drugs for fun / And pullin’ a gun on any NPC I see or stumble upon / GTA3 / made me inclined to kill repeatedly / The spinal chills / Of Silent Hill / Are still on my mind and creepin’ me / The fuck out!

Want more? Last month, Dan Bull released his first album, Safe—generously, it’s available as a free download, too, if you can suffer the lower audio quality.

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Dangerous High School Girls loses one of its distributors

In January, the IndieGames blog noted that the Writers Guild of America has nominated Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!, along with a handful of other, bigger-budget AAA titles, for excellence in game writing. IndieGames went on to describe Dangerous Girls as a “social board game.”

Interested, I downloaded the Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble! demo. Each morning for maybe a week, I sat down with a cup of coffee and played Dangerous Girls until my eyes began to burn. I complained that it was innovative, interesting, but not always fun to play; I also purchased the full game.

Spoilers follow.

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DIGAREC’s book on games philosophy and ethics: it’s free!

Last May, the Digital Games Research Center (AKA the Zentrum für Computerspielforschung, AKA DIGAREC), together with the University of Potsdam’s Arts and Media Department, hosted the Philosophy of Computer Games 2008, a three-day conference for which “international speakers and scientists were invited… to discuss the ethics, aesthetics, phenomenology and politics of computer games.”

Now, with the continued assistance of the University of Potsdam Press, DIGAREC has collected, edited, and published the sum total of the May 2008 conference. The result: a finished book, Conference Proceedings of the Philosophy of Computer Games 2008, with keynotes and lectures divided and edited into chapters.


Essays include “The Concept of War in the World of Warcraft,” “The Space-Image: Interactivity and Spatiality of Computer Games,” “The Rhetoric of Persuasive Games: Freedom and Discipline in America’s Army,” and “Différance at Play: Unfolding Identities Through Difference in Videogame Play.”

Incredibly, DIGAREC opted to publish the book as a free, downloadable PDF—but make no mistake, this is a proper book (with an ISBN and endpages and everything!), suitable for your Kindle or e-reader. It’s a pretty hefty tome. Oh, and yes—it’s all in English. (My German isn’t that good.)


Pac-Man Dossier: breathtaking

The “Pac-Man Dossier” was posted to MetaFilter on Thursday (I’m usually two days behind the curve), and it is about to be everywhere else. Because, friends, it is astonishing. I am going to spend the next several hours reading it more carefully.

Diagram of Pac-Man 'cornering' -- I want this for my wall

I liked this paragraph a lot:

The game starts with Pac-Man at 80% of his maximum speed. By the fifth level, Pac-Man is moving at full speed and will continue to do so until the 21st level. At that point, he slows back down to 90% and holds this speed for the remainder of the game. Every time Pac-Man eats a regular dot, he stops moving for one frame (1/60th of a second), slowing his progress by roughly ten percent—just enough for a following ghost to overtake him. Eating an energizer dot causes Pac-Man to stop moving for three frames. The normal speed maintained by the ghosts is a little slower than Pac-Man’s until the 21st level when they start moving faster than he does. If a ghost enters a side tunnel, however, its speed is cut nearly in half.

The Pac-Man Dossier is full of diagrams, tables, and videos. It catalogues strategies, cheats, oral histories, and beyond, with plenty of anchor tags for easy skimming. It is blissfully, unapologetically intricate. I am slack-jawed.

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Rogue, roguelikes, and Rogue for your iPhone

Every morning, my mom hops onto her twelve-year old Hewlett-Packard PC and reads the news.

Specifically, she reads MSN. She only visits websites and articles that have been linked to from MSN.

The twelve-year old computer sits on my childhood desk in my childhood bedroom. When she reads the news, I am usually still asleep in my childhood bed. She likes to read the news aloud.

rogue-ibmThe Ten Greatest PC Games Ever,” she read aloud.

“Oh, cool,” I said sleepily, “read them to me.” I sat up to put on my glasses, then lay back down. “Let’s see if we can guess them in advance. Uh, Doom or Quake. Diablo or Starcraft. OK, go.”

Midway through the list, my mom hesitated. “Number six. Um. ...Rogue?”

“Really! Who wrote that,” I said, sitting up in bed.

A long pause. “Benj …Edwards,” my mom said.

I snapped my fingers. “Of course!”

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