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by Sean Miller

30 Jun 2015


Biophilia (One Little Indian, Ltd., 2011)

As an app developer, I’m interested, for self-serving reasons, in app design. But as someone with artistic pretensions, I’d like to consider apps beyond good design. What I’ve been increasingly interested in is app aesthetics in the fullest sense of that word. The other day, I did a little poking around on the intertubes in search of, for lack of a better keyword, “app as art”. I was looking for developers who design and publish apps with the specific intention of making them artistic (however they choose to define that loaded term). As it turns out, there’s not much out there.

As you know, smartphones, and accordingly, the software that makes them “smart”, haven’t been around for long. IBM made the very first smartphone back in 1992. They called it Simon. It was clunky, monochromatic, and not all that smart. It sold for US$899. The first smartphone to sell in decent quantities (at least in the States) was the Kyocera 6035, which came out in 2001. The smart part of its functionality was based on the Palm OS. It was basically a PalmPilot duct-taped to a cell phone. Setting the notorious corporate incursions of the “Crack”-berry aside, smartphone adoption didn’t explode into global consumer consciousness until the release of the very first iPhone, back in the Pleistocene epoch of 2007. The first Android device followed shortly thereafter in 2008.

by L.B. Jeffries

10 Sep 2009


From EVE Online

From EVE Online

There have been two absolutely amazing MMO stories coming down the blog pipeline and both deserve mentioning.

The first is Jim Rossignol’s four part series over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about his five year experiences with EVE Online. It chronicles the formation of a small raiding corporation called The State and their wanderings across the massive universe of EVE. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, it’s a startlingly open game where players form enormous corporations and alliances. Resources must be mined, transported, and developed at player created stations. The need to ferry supplies and control markets, all controlled by players, make his stories of pirating and raiding groups fascinating both as a social experiment and purely because of how complex these online games are becoming. Fondly remembering a long conflict with another corporation Rossignol writes, “The few months in which we fought, toe to toe, is something I’d love to be able to recreate or recapture, but I know it’s lost. A singularity in the history of gaming. It was so valuable: a time when the kind of game I’d always dreamed of had come to pass: carving out our niche in a living universe, protecting the weak, working as a team to make money and bring down enemies.”

From Ultima Online

From Ultima Online

The second is a collection of musings by a former GameMater or GM of the now defunct Ultima Online. The game was one of the first graphically depicted MMO games and drew heavily on MUDs and previous Ultima games for its design. What made it unique was what a hostile and wild place the game became when contrasted to modern MMO’s. If someone unprepared stepped outside of town, thugs would descend on them immediately. The game was ridiculously unbalanced as well, allowing for master players to basically dominate the scene. Being a GM in such a culture, which resembled Hobbes’s state of nature more than a civil online game, allowed one called Backslash to collect a long list of stories. So many that he’s posted three essays so far with hopefully more to come. You can check the first post out here. He comments, “As an ex-professional deus ex machina, I have a brain full of these stories that bubble up unbidden in my memory from time to time. I thought you might enjoy if I shared a few of the more interesting stories I took part in.”

You can’t make stuff like this up.

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