Archive for October, 2010

Mushroom Man

Girl, you thought he was a man. But he was a mushroom.


Learn to Play’s digital and analog game art

note: Umm, this finished draft is dated 09/14. Sorry I didn’t post it earlier.

Learn to Play, a gallery exhibit slated to open at Cupertino’s Euphrat Museum of Art, promises challenging, playable game art for its attendees. Some of the digital installations will ring familiar: there’s Jonatan Söderström (Cactus); Mark Essen (messhof); Superbrothers; and more.

Chicago’s own Jake Elliott’s playable piece will interest vintage Sierra fans, as it’s essentially Roberta Williams’ Mystery House, transformed into an unhappy, domestic drama.

The Learn to Play exhibit runs proper from October 4 through November 24, but rubberneckers can catch its preview September 17-18.

Learn to Play
Euphrat Museum of Art
De Anza College
21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard
Cupertino, CA 95014-5793


Daily Linksplosion: Friday, October 29, 2010

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Daily Linksplosion: Thursday, October 28, 2010

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Quotables (on game-making and art, sort of)

Reality—real life—the newspapers and the newsmagazines and what goes on across the street—these are the materials of great art, but not art itself, though I am conscious of the semantic difficulties inherent in the word “art.” Let us say that “art” points to a cultural, and not an aesthetic, phenomenon: that a wilted spider put inside a picture frame somehow, magically, becomes a work of “art,” but that the same spider, untouched, unnoticed, is still a work of “nature” and will win no prizes. This is a definition of art that greatly angers traditionalists, but it pleases me because it suggests how Gestalt-like and shapeless life really is and how necessary we writers (and scientists, and map-makers, and historians) are to make it sane.

—Joyce Carol Oates, preface, Handbook of Short Story Writing, 1970

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Castle of Illusion

I am going to try something new—just this once, I promise.

I’ve been thinking about Austin all wrong.

I grew up in Texas, so Austin makes me panic. I’ve long thought of the state’s best city as my Other Andersonville, a fantasy wonderland where my high school classmates are hiding behind trees on street corners, waiting to ambush and humiliate me. And ditto to you, hometown H-E-B.

But recent events conspired to position me an hour away from Austin, so I packed my two duffels and my laptop bag and hopped into my car. I drove northward to my friend MC’s house: I think we used to call it the Trash House, or if we didn’t and I just made that up, I guess I’ve offended some people. No, I think we called it that. I performed a rap there once, in German, to the third-largest audience of my life. I was about 21 then.

Brandon Boyer, the writer, recommended that I time my long Austin weekend to Venn itself with an indie games developer get-together he organizes. I thought the beer part sounded pretty good, so I parked across the street from the bar and meandered in, maybe a couple hours late.

At that hour the bar was desolate, because everyone was already in the backyard. I got directions to the now-obvious EXIT sign and stepped outside. Brandon waved me over. Then he nudged his friend, who made space at the picnic table. I wedged myself between them.

“This looks like that place in San Francisco!” I said to Brandon, feeling homesickness and something else.

“Zeitgeist?” he said.

“Yeah!” I said. Yeah, that was what.

“Yeah, it’s the one place out there that looks like Austin.”

He explained everyone’s Thing in a hurry. The get-togethers are successful in that a lot of artists and developers show up, so if you think I remember any names or projects I didn’t write down in the moment, you are kidding yourself. I was way out of my element. I explained to Brandon that Indie City Games in Chicago was more like a symposium, with demonstrations and a projector and playtesting.

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Daily Linksplosion: Monday, October 25, 2010

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Trick or treat! It’s a’me, Luigi!

Piranha plant n luigi 2

Happy Halloween, almost! Here, a crafty mom has outfitted her son Levi as Luigi. And check out young Liam’s Piranha Plant costume! Way better than store-bought—as if you could buy a Piranha Plant off-the-rack anyway.



Here, commercial illustrator Zara Picken conveys a friendly dialogue exchange as a game of Pong. I think the whole thing—the X-Ray blackboard, the starkly simple cutout figures—makes for a striking image. And because I sincerely cannot remember the last time I had a conversation that felt like a ball was zinging back and forth between two like minds, maybe I am also wistful.

I’ve had little luck finding the exact source of the original image, but a peek at Ms. Picken’s portfolio uncovers this charming rendering of a Nintendo controller, commissioned by Who Knows.

Late edit: In semi-related pseudonews, Alex Litel just referred me to Pong-versation the game, which is itself a heteronormative wooing simulation. In it, the blue paddle plings conversation topics at the pink paddle in an effort to pique her interest.


Nerd City Online episode 102

In late September I recorded a podcast with Nerd City Online’s Ben Spencer, Max Minor, producer Jim Kyle, and um, a fourth guy, whose name I think is Joe (unpictured).

For almost the whole thing I’m “UMMMMM” this, and “I have no answer” that, and then just as we are finishing I’ve suddenly found my stride, very “I love Miller High Life in a bottle!” So I am, as per usual, the weak link in an otherwise solid production. My failings notwithstanding, you’ll love Nerd City, a Chicago-centric culture-cast about comics, movies, video games, toys, and more.


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