There is a new book by Cory Doctorow, and it's about games.
In the virtual future, you must organize to survive
At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual “gold,” jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world’s poorest countries, where countless “gold farmers,” bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.
Mala is a brilliant 15-year-old from rural India whose leadership skills in virtual combat have earned her the title of “General Robotwalla.” In Shenzen, heart of China’s industrial boom, Matthew is defying his former bosses to build his own successful gold-farming team. Leonard, who calls himself Wei-Dong, lives in Southern California, but spends his nights fighting virtual battles alongside his buddies in Asia, a world away. All of these young people, and more, will become entangled with the mysterious young woman called Big Sister Nor, who will use her experience, her knowledge of history, and her connections with real-world organizers to build them into a movement that can challenge the status quo.
The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister’s people must out-think the system.
When I’m in a really intense firefight in a game, I’m a total wreck, emotionally. Sure, it feels good to vanquish my foes, but sometimes it’s just nice to get a break, and dying is — among, uh, other things — certainly a break.
Part of this has to do with the intriguing aesthetic question of precisely how the first-person-shooter represents the player after the moment of death. Multiplayer Halo online offers my personal favorite death vignettes. The instant you die, the game shifts to a third-person camera perspective and follows your body as it slumps to the ground or, more often, goes pinwheeling through the air.
This sudden switch in camera angle — from first person to third person — is, in essence, a classic out-of-body experience, of exactly the sort people describe in near-death experiences. And much like real-life near-death experiences, it tends to suffuse me with a curiously zen-like feeling. The emotional narrative goes like this: During the gameplay, I’ll be desperately fighting for my life, ducking behind pillars, firing spastically, and synaesthetically wincing each time I take gunfire. Just when I think I’m safe, I’ll turn a corner, and whoa — find myself face-to-face with another opponent who slams me with a surprise punch, killing me instantly. The final attack will give me one final jolt of amygladaic shock, and then …
… hey, I’m dead, and my body is floating through the air, and I’m watching myself just sort of tumble around lazily, like a ragdoll.
It’s amazingly peaceful.
Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn are new media artists who have embraced realtime 3D game technology as their artistic medium of choice. Realtime 3D is the most remarkable new creative technology since oil on canvas. It is much too important to be wasted on computer games alone. This manifesto is a call-to-arms for creative people (including, but not limited to, video game designers and fine artists) to embrace this new medium and start realizing its enormous potential. As well as a set of guidelines that express our own ideas and ideals about using the technology.
Thank the gods for Google Reader Recommendations. Otherwise I would have missed this informative post by Anna Anthropy on how the IGF is judged:
i judged the igf this year. it was a frustrating experience. i’m going to try and identify the biggest problems with the igf process and suggest some solutions. that’s if the igf is interesting in actually “rewarding innovation in indie games” (its claim) instead of simply being a press spectacle. the competition seems perfectly happy, at present, being a press spectacle.
[…] igf entries are rated in categories such as: excellence in audio. excellence in visual art. technical excellence. (remember when the categories were “innovation in” rather than “excellence in”? maybe they felt they were being dishonest.) why, as far outside of the big games industry and the enthusiast press as we supposedly are, are we still partitioning games like they do, as though a game’s graphics could be judged seperately from its worth as a whole? this is the independent games festival: are graphics and sound really the areas in which small creative authors and developers have the most to contribute?
[….] the igf needs more perspectives. NOT more judges - more perspectives. it needs more people who do not share the same mindset. why even have more than one judge if every judge will value the same done-already physics game (joe danger) or bland, polished commercial title (cogs) the highest? why even have a competition?
Interesting to read that after our two weeks of game business, as it lets you peer more into the processes at work there (and of course, as a game designer, thinking of ways to use them to your advantage).