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November 29, 2005

Game Log

The last 48 hours:

Posted by SWEAT at 11:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2005

Game Log

The last 12 hours:

Posted by SWEAT at 08:59 PM | Comments (0)

Games For Which I'm Grateful

Continental Rummy
Bogotá, Colombia, circa 1975. My cousins introduced us to this game. It is a variation of Gin Rummy that has loose house rules. We play eight hands, with multiple decks. The hands get progressively more cards dealt, from six to twelve per hand per player. The hands vary in complexity of gameplay as the goals of each hand changes. For example:
  • 01: six cards dealt, build two trios or sets of three of a kind
  • 02: seven cards dealt, build one trio and one escalera or straight flush of four cards
  • 03: eight cards dealt, build two escaleras
  • 04: nine cards dealt, build three trios
  • 05: ten cards dealt, build two trios and one escalera
  • 06: eleven cards dealt, build one trio and two escaleras
  • 07: twelve cards dealt, build three escaleras
  • 08: twelve cards dealt, build four trios
Sometimes there would be eight or ten cousins and four or five decks all at once. We came to know each other as we played. We continue to play this game with friends, old and new.

Posted by SWEAT at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

Game Log

In the last 24 hours:

  • Mexican Train dominoes: Ken, Anne, Alejandro, Natasha, Karin, and me; Ken taught us how to play this variation. We kept score, but I don't remember who won.
  • Continental Rummy: Ken, Anne, Alejandro, Natasha, Karin, and me; this is a variation that my cousins taught me on my visits to Colombia as a kid; we kept score and I won
  • Harvest Moon for GameBoy Color: Esteban and Diego while I looked on; they just got this game today at a used game store
  • Kirby for Game Cube: Esteban and Diego; they just got this game, used, today
  • Eightball pool: Alejandro, Natasha, Esteban, Diego, Karin, and me; three games, my sons played well and sunk the winning ball twice
  • Continental Rummy (again): Alejandro, Natasha, Karin, and me; we played until very late; Natasha won

Posted by SWEAT at 12:15 AM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2005

Games For Which I'm Grateful

Massively Multi-Player Freeze Tag
San Antonio, Texas. Circa 1975. Blessed Sacrament Parish School. For several years, while I was the age my children are now, my school had a vacant field one acre in size. We would pass the time during recess playing a multi-grade game of freeze tag that seemed to have begun long before recorded history and which would go on forever. The play spanned the entire field, which felt like an entire universe. We played in teams that divided up along intuitively obvious lines, those that had cooties (girls) and those that didn't (boys). As I think back to it, and do the math, there would be no fewer than a hundred players each day. Each grade had thirty-five kids, and first through fourth graders would play, yelling and screaming with glee at the top of our lungs. The fifth graders were known to have achieved a level of sophistication beyond our reach. They stayed indoors during recess and played Jacks. It seems that they had managed a kind of cooties detente. The fifth grade boys could bring themselves to sit down with the girls – without exploding – and play a genteel game, competing without antagonism. It seemed inconcievable to us running on the field as fast as we could, rescuing our frozen comrades, that anything like peaceful coexistence with those strange creatures could ever come to pass. Something very powerful must happen in the summer between fourth and fifth grade. The game eventually came to an end when construction began on the grand new church that the parish erected on site. Even though the field has been transformed, I can't visit the site without remembering the bliss of the bell that signalled recess.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Game Log

R: I should have started this sooner.

Last 24 hours:

  • Dominoes: four players, Alejandro, Natasha, Karin, and me; 12/12 and 7/7; kept score but didn't keep track of who won
  • Scrabble: two tag-team players, Natasha and Karin, Alejandro and me; Alex and I started strong with Quasar, but Karin and Natasha came back strong; Karin assuaged my ego and allowed Zeno, a proper noun from Greek mythology, which allowed Alex and I to eventually win
  • Fifa! Fo! Fum!: I had to fix the game in the Planet Colombia exhibit; thank you Game Pad Companion

Posted by SWEAT at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

Fifth Anniversary of Crosser and SWEAT

Five years ago the first generation of SWEAT convened to begin making Crosser! The project was completed during the second week of December, 2000. Now Crosser has circled the globe, and continues to be an influence among those making socially conscious videogames. My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to those collaborators during this thanksgiving season: Miguel Tarango, Francisco Ortega, Marco Ortega, Ryan Molloy, Tomas Marquez-Carmona, Carmen Escobar. You helped turn a whacky idea into an enduring work. Gracias.

Un abrazo grande,
Rafael Fajardo, director

Posted by SWEAT at 12:58 PM | Comments (1)

Smart Bomb

R: National Public Radio's Talk of the Nation hosted a conversation with the authors of the book Smart Bomb during their show Monday the 14th of November. The authors, Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby, generously allowed NPR to share chapter one with us. Chaplin and Ruby reveal a newbie's sensibility to the analysis of videogames through the course of their conversation. They did, however, spend four years researching and writing. I will with-hold judgement on the outcomes until I get a chance to read the book.

The radio interview and chapter one are available on the Talk of the Nation site.

Posted by SWEAT at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2005

Whole New Mind

R: My colleague, Scott Leutenegger, has had his mind snapped by Daniel Pink's book, A Whole New Mind. It is filed under business literature and seems to make arguments for a holism that I find attractive. The book may certainly help us argue for our approach to curriculum development. I'll extend this entry once I've read it.

Until then, here's an excerpt.

Posted by SWEAT at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2005

Put that down!

R: My good friend Jason Otero went to see Planet Colombia at the Museo de las Americas last week. He told me that – as he went into the room in the back of the museum that has dioramas of ancient Tenochtitlan – he heard a woman reprimand her child, who was playing Seeds of Solitude:

"Put that down! We didn't bring you to a museum so you could play videogames!"

I haven't been able to stop laughing about it.

Posted by SWEAT at 01:39 PM | Comments (0)

Is the future of the book a videogame?

R: I can't believe I didn't find the Institute for the Future of the Book sooner! They are a smart and provocative bunch who maintain an open mind about what possible form(s) the thing we call "book" may possibly take. Of particular interest is the thread on their blog about the commercial videogame release based on the Godfather movies, which were based on the Mario Puzo novels. They mention Gabriel Garcia Marquez's reluctance to license One Hundred Years of Solitude:

Much has been said about the difficulty to faithfully adapt books to film. García Márquez, whose first love is film, defends his refusal to sell the rights of One Hundred Years of Solitude to Hollywood, saying that the screen robs the viewer the freedom of completing the characters of the novel in his imagination. His readers can, for instance, identify José Arcadio Buendía with an uncle or a grandfather. But, he argues, if that character were to be played by Robert Redford, that freedom of association would be lost. It would also be quite difficult to re-create on film the complex time structure of García Márquez's novel, or to render credible the many instances of magical realism that, when reading, one doesn't doubt for a second. Could this be done using electronic media?

This entry, by Sol Gaitan, continues to speculate about the time investment videogame players are willing to commit, and the disbelief we are all willing to suspend when engaged by high quality experiences. Mr. Gaitan doesn't offer any solutions nor does he find any conclusions, but his questions are provocative and deserve further exploration. We obviously don't yet know the full capability of the videogame. Several authors have attempted to describe them as either imperfect movies, or as that thing that cinema aspires to become. This is the first evidence I have found in a while that someone is thinking about the videogame as something a book – or, more specifically, a novel – might become.

Other blog entries include a meditation on Neal Stephenson's Diamnond Age, and another on the game Halo 2, and an older piece on the replacing of books by videogames in the lives of youngsters. Cool.

Posted by SWEAT at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

Essay on Generative Game Engine published in iDMAa Journal

R: An essay that Chad Schmidt and I co-authored about the Generative Game Engine work-in-progress has just been published by the International Digital Media and Art Association (iDMAa) in their journal. It is available as a downloadable PDF on their site. This issue also includes a nice article by David Menchaca where he reviews the state of game studies degree programs in the US.

Link to iDMAa Journal page

Posted by SWEAT at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

SWEAT on Italy.Indymedia.org!

We were mentioned on Indymedia's Italian website back in April! I only just now ran across it. Link.

Posted by SWEAT at 10:05 AM | Comments (0)

SWEAT reviewed on Latino.MSN.com

R: Francisco Miraval has written a story about SWEAT tht appears on Latino.MSN.com. It is a great piece that covers the work in Planet Colombia and our earlier work! The piece also appears on another Spanish language news site, El Imparcial, though oddly without Miraval's byline. Miraval is a reporter for the international news service EFE.

Posted by SWEAT at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2005

Glen's head will explode any moment now

R: Glen has continued to advance and expand his ideas and work on emergent aesthetics. He has found a potential application in disaster planning/response work, which he has also wrapped his considerable mind around.

Link to his convergence of emergence.

Posted by SWEAT at 06:55 PM | Comments (0)

Peace Maker: CMU follows SWEAT model

Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Entertainment Technology has announced that it will be developing a game to teach peace in the middle east. "Students Burak, Eric Brown, Eric Keylor, Olive Lin, Tim Sweeney and Victoria Webb, in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon faculty, are designing the videogame simulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will be available to the public in spring 2006."

The game, Peace Maker, is already receiving substantial press coverage, with a feature also on today's All Things Considered by NPR BBC World Service.

CMU Press Release | Peace Maker Site | UPDATE:NPR BBC Coverage (available at 7:30pm)

Posted by SWEAT at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

Meet Mario's Papa!

Kenji Hall interviews Shigeru Miyamoto, game designer for Nintendo and my personal choice for sensei, for Business Week Online.
Link (thanks to Boingboing)

Posted by SWEAT at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)