Friday, May 3, 2013


I'm having an absolute blast playing The Cave with my grand-daughter. I'm sure it can't be easy to design a video game that 52-year-olds and 9-year-olds agree upon, but somehow Ron Gilbert and the team have done so.

Meanwhile, I'm really enjoying the series of articles that have been appearing in the New York Times over the last few months about video games and the gaming industry:

  • The Nerd as Auteur in BioShock Infinite
    The word “care,” however, doesn’t come close to capturing the effort that went into BioShock Infinite, an unusually cinematic shooting adventure set in a floating city in which the ultimate goal is to rescue a mysterious young woman. Mr. Levine and a team of 200 have been toiling on the game, the third BioShock installment, for more than four years.
  • Same Story, Different Screens: A Video Game That’s Also a Series
    In an unusual arrangement, neither the show nor the video game is a spinoff of the other. Instead, in a process that took five years and three contracts between Syfy and Trion Worlds, the fictional world of Defiance is a collaboration between the companies. The series and the game were developed simultaneously. Each is designed to be a stand-alone piece of entertainment. Yet they also intersect. Events in the show will influence the game. And events in the game will influence the show.
  • Thrown for a Curve in Rhode Island
    “It just felt really good, when this all started, to have the sexy sports celebrity from Boston who seemed to like Rhode Island and showed up in Rhode Island, and who built this exotic new business, even though no one knew what it was,” says the historian Ted Widmer, who grew up in Providence and works at Brown. “It seemed like the digital economy, or biotech, or whatever. But then it turned out that it wasn’t the new digital economy. It was some 13-year-old’s medieval fantasy.”
  • Where the Artists Are the Superheroes
    The company is the world’s fourth-largest game maker, ranked by sales, after Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Nintendo, according to Michael Pachter, an industry analyst at Wedbush Securities. But Ubisoft’s video game production studio in Montreal, where Mr. Measroch works, is one of the world’s largest, with a staff of 2,500. It is here where an overwhelmingly male staff of writers, producers, coders, directors, animators, artists and others come together to create the fantasy worlds of games like Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, into which millions of people escape.

All these articles are good, and worth reading, and there are more linked from the top-level page above.

I hope the Times continues this recent activity of publishing well-written, well-researched, enlightening articles about an industry that many are completely unaware of.

Meanwhile, since I'm on this topic, let me also point to The quest for Shadow of the Colossus' last big secret

Ozzy turned to forums filled with likeminded, passionate devotees. At first he was looking for canny ways to defeat colossi faster, but he soon discovered something far more mesmerising. The hidden garden at the top of the Shrine of Worship, glimpsed during Shadow of the Colossus' final cutscene, was accessible in-game. This is Shadow Of The Colossus' biggest Easter Egg, teased by the mossy growths, handholds and ledges that weave around the exterior of the structure, but not actually reachable until you've completed the game multiple times. The Secret Garden, as it became known, is a final reward for the most dedicated of colossi-hunters: one last challenge and a glimpse of verdant green beauty in a starkly austere land. But it wasn't enough for Ozzymandias and his fellow fans.

"Are there other places you can get to?" Ozzymandias wanted to know. "What else is there?" he asked. "What else can you do?"

Well-built games have always inspired this level of devotion; I remember obsessing over hidden corners of The Bard's Tale back in 1985. And, hey, Bethesda, what's next?

But for now, the weekend is nearly here, and that means my grand-daughter will be over and we'll be playing The Cave...

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