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by L.B. Jeffries

19 Jan 2010

Jim Rossignol’s This Gaming Life is a casual discourse on the growing culture of multiplayer gaming. It isn’t so much an exercise in New Game Journalism as it is a look at the way that players are beginning to reflect their gaming lifestyles in the real world. From the celebrity culture of South Korea to Iceland’s bold experiment in EVE Online, all are explored as Rossignol argues the merits of online games as an after the fact situation. They are here to stay and are only getting more popular.

Rossignol describes his interest in games as casual until he took up a boring job and a copy of Quake III. He writes, “Cold mornings, adolescent disinterest, and a nagging hip injury had meant that I was banished from the sports field for many years” (7). A lot of the opening pages are spent justifying this decision, beginning with the point that, like any amusement, it’s the user who makes such decisions into something positive or negative. He points out that the art conversation hasn’t been relevant since DuChamp put a urinal on a wall and writes, “The reason for arguing that games—at least some games—deserve to be classified as art is that it offers gamers a more positive, culturally sanctioned way to describe what they do. It suggests that games are not mere trivia” (18). Borrowing from Ian Bogost’s Procedural Rhetoric, Rossignol explains that the focus of a game is complex experimentation. The plot of Super Mario Brothers is not really the point of the game, it’s about “learning how to run, jump, and open treasure chests” (20). Rather than try to make some bold argument for education or deep human experiences, Rossignol dismisses most of these claims in favor of championing what games already do quite well: fix boredom. He cites a text by Lars Svendsen that points out that boredom is in reality a very real problem today. It was not even in the English language in 1760, being coined to describe “the feeling that there’s nothing worth doing”. It’s not a matter of sitting on your ass; it’s finding nothing meaningful in your life that you want to work for. Rossignol writes, “The bored are not necessarily unhappy with life; they are simply unfulfilled by circumstances, activities, and the things around them” (31). Games are valid then to him because they help to solve this.

by Rob Horning

19 Jan 2010

I’m several weeks behind on this, but this interview in The Onion with the watermelon-smashing “comedian” Gallagher is pretty astonishing (h/t Best Show on WFMU). Is it performance art? Is he using the interviewer as “a prop” in an elaborate metaroutine? Is he, as appears most likely, just a talentless, bitter crank and an ingrate? Every time I laughed while reading it, I felt ashamed on several different levels. Is there a little Gallagher in all of us, threatening to escape as we drift into old age? Is it only a matter of time before we will suddenly come back to ourselves and find that we’re holding the sledgehammer?

Also interesting, from the interview’s daunting comment thread: this article about Gallagher’s brother purportedly performing as “Gallagher Too” with the intention of usurping him.

by Diepiriye Kuku

19 Jan 2010

When more folks today seem interested in protecting their anonymity online, and are even concerned with the death of a social networking account following an actual physical loss of life, it’s important to take a few moments to step back and reconsider the beauty of remembrance and its potential for immortality. For example, Dan Fletcher’s widely circulated article discussing net-death, “What Happens to Your Facebook After You Die?”, appeared on Time.com in October 2009. The article was prompted by the blog entry “Memories of Friends Departed Endure on Facebook”> posted by the social network’s founder, Max Kelly, who spoke about “memorializing” instead of deleting profiles, allowing users to visit friends for as long as their server is up. Kelly’s thread that was prompted by the death of his own best friend, and his own desire not to simply forget. Fletcher’s article demonstrates that many folks genuinely want to know that the net has the ability to forget, though seasoned users know about the near immortality of the cache!

Unlike most other people I know who are around age 30, I think about death a lot. As a gay man, I grew up in a time and place that placed death at my doorstep. HIV/AIDS has lost its initial tag as the Gay Plague (G.R.I.D.), though the attachment to the lives of gay men seems indelible. Although I am trained in, and now work towards HIV/AIDS prevention efforts, and have over the years befriended many people living with AIDS, I still vividly recall the first time that I knowingly met a seropositive individual.

by Bill Gibron

18 Jan 2010

The next time the movie moratorium committee meets, here’s hoping that they can sneak the over-the-top balls-out gunplay action effort onto their already swollen agenda (somewhere between the lame RomCom, fright flick remakes, and the stand-up joke fest CG family film). A couple of decades back, when visionaries like John Woo illustrated how powerful and dramatic a slow motion firefight could be, we were more than willing to pay attention. Now, several years and several hundred imitations later, there is no need to wallow in such stylized self-aggrandizement.

When Joe Carnahan released Smokin’ Aces back in 2006, the revved up arch ammunition experience was seen as something of a revelation. Sure, the characters were thin and more or less cartoonish, but with a wanton weaponry appreciation matching few and a fever dream pitch to the presentation, it looked like the man responsible for Narc and Blood, Guts, Bullets, and Octane had finally reconfigured the action film. But in the last couple of years, his varied vision has been usurped and bettered by Michael Davis (Shoot ‘Em Up) and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted).

by David Reyneke

18 Jan 2010

The United Palace, a renovated 1930’s New York City movie theatre, set the majestic backdrop for Vampire Weekend’s epic hometown return. Filled with thousands of screaming teenagers and adults alike, the sold out show was positioned as the type of gig to be talked about for months. The question, however, was coming off of the release of their sophomore album, Contra, was the reception of new material going to be as welcomed as some of their debut’s classic cuts?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

'Cube Escape' Is Free, Frustrating, and Weirdly Compelling

// Moving Pixels

"The Cube Escape games are awful puzzle games, but they're an addicting descent into madness.

READ the article