ebogjonson.com's videogames and other cracks archive

on videogames and other (generally interactive) things

August 21, 2007

i'm a african - dead prez machinima

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas + Dead Prez + machinima = ? [via wayneandwax del.icio.us]

Posted by ebogjonson at 9:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 29, 2007

one way to do it

There are times when I'd like to live like this:

Meet the "users": We don't talk, we don't like you, we just want to play

I'd like to introduce you to one of the more unknown tribes in the online community. We rarely talk about them because they're not as annoying as the griefers or as rampant as the "I have to take a bong hit now" people on Xbox Live, but they're out there. I'm ashamed to say I'm one of them. We're users. We don't hook up our headsets, we mute your voice, and we just play the damn game. We're not here to make friends, and if you extend an invite, it will just get rejected. We rarely leave feedback. For us online gaming isn't social; most people on Xbox Live aren't worth being social with. You may be on the other end of the line chattering away about the game, but we're not listening.

See, for the users, online play is just a way to supplant a game's AI. I don't want to hear how good/bad I did after a race. The only reason I'm playing you at all is because it's more fun to play against a human brain than the computer. I've been yelled at, told to hook up my headset, or belittled during a game of Poker before I started to just mute everyone as a matter of course. People want to buddy up when they play online, but I just want a more human-acting opponent. Please don't talk to me, just provide me with competition. I know I'm using you, but I'm getting increasingly comfortable with it.

Sure, I talk when I'm playing with friends or people I already know, but honestly online opponents are an infinitely renewable resource. If you're annoyed by my behavior, just don't play. I'll find someone else. I'm not proud of using people this way, but it makes games more fun to play. Humans make human mistakes, and even mediocre players use more realistic tactics than the computer.

This behavior is moving outside of the world of Xbox Live and onto the PlayStation 3. When I play Calling All Cars online, I don't even plug in my headset. I just like playing against other cars that act like humans are driving them. I know it's selfish, but I don't plan on stopping.

Posted by ebogjonson at 7:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 30, 2007

la bella mafia

front

Me, Mike Vazquez, Anand Balakrishnan Sukhdev Sandhu and Binyavanga Wainaina are all in the new issue of Bidoun.

Mike is also in Slate this week.

What's that Ice Cube lyric again?

Had to do a week in the county
A piece of cake it was just like a party
Cause in the county you know everybody

back

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

March 23, 2007

if they're so smart why does the movie suck?

from gaming site kotaku:

Reign Over Me must be one of the first Hollywood films, if not the first, to deal with games thematically and intelligently. While other industry pundits try to figure out how to take the latest blockbuster game and turn it into a movie or vice versa, Reign Over Me already has an insightful leg up: Let the games speak for themselves. Characters bond through games and lose themselves in them, only to find themselves again. They enjoy the simple act of play. "We're starting to get people in Hollywood who have perspective of what the video game experience is like," says Roush, "what it can feel like. And all that gets integrated into Reign Over Me." [full article]

The writer of the above article is right to key in on the fact Reign Over Me uses an old game - Shadow of the Colossus - as opposed to promoting a PS3 title, but too bad the rest of the movie seems to be sentimental pap. I haven't seen Reign Over Me, so maybe the whole thing will turn out to actually have something novel to say gaming, but I somehow doubt it.

Sometimes gamers are so desperate for to be taken seriously that we'll see profundities where there's just a game. A crap movie dealing might deal with your pet interest "thematically and intelligent" is no breakthrough.

Posted by ebogjonson at 7:10 PM | Permalink

March 1, 2007

purty

by Rosemarie Fiore

The above image is a time-lapse photo of a session of the game Tempest, done by an artist named Rosemarie Fiore. (hat-tip Grand Text Auto)

Tempest was one of my favorite games growing up (along with Robotron.) There's something terrifying about it: the vector-graphics are chilly, frighteningly minimal, and the combination of crescendo and crashing during gameplay suggested to me that there were horrors worse than losing. Like playing forever, for example, finding yourself eternally pitted against nameless, implacable, completely schematic enemies. Denied rest or aid.

tempest

robotron.jpg

My love of Robotron, with its similarly stripped down, unwinnable and burdensome mandate to save the last human family, strikes me now as being a way to work through a mix of domestic and social condundrums. These ranged from the ways I didn't fit into my own family, to the pressure I felt as the black kid at the white school to love the white people around me as desperately as possible. Our pluckly, loyal, traitorous little hero (radioactive mutant? Alien? Only wikipedia knows for sure.) inevitably gives his life holding what seems to be his own kind back as long as possible, this while the idiotic last family he's defending (sworn to defend? drafted? coerced?) bumbles stupidly about, blind to both their own peril and his heroism until (of course!) they turn on him at the drop of a hat.

Although I don't remember these as simultaneous events, I read Soul on Ice about the same time Robotron came out (1982), which maybe explains why I would often make a perverse, completely opaque point of only saving the blond mother, leaving the dad and the son what I imagined were just deserts. The white kids at school had, of course, not read Cleaver (neither had the black kids back home, for that matter), so they just thought I was being typically weird. But playing that way always cracked me the fuck up, the desire to rescue/run-away-with white women while whole generations of white men disappear around you adolescent racial fantasy at its finest. "Insurrectionary act," indeed!

Posted by ebogjonson at 9:49 PM | Permalink

September 30, 2006

the day the nerd hath made

golper_small.gif

Special Heavy Gaming, motherfucker. Call me crazy, but I dream of taking home the bronze joystick.

Posted by ebogjonson at 6:51 AM | Permalink

September 5, 2006

Ayiti: Cost of Life

ayiticol.jpg

I've been meaning to do a post on serious gaming forever, but, you know how it goes. The idea of using games and game experiences to effect social change strikes the expected chord in me, and it also dovetails with practical experience I've had that suggests the bulk of social networking and community activity in the black web space operates according to rules that are relatively game-like.

Anyway, this caught my eye:

Playing 4 Keeps is an innovative youth media project, in which a team of Global Kids Leaders at South Shore High School are gaining leadership and game design skills that they will use to develop and produce a socially conscious online game each year. Once produced, the game will have the potential to educate thousands of young people about a critical global issue. The program is a collaboration with the award-winning online game design company gameLab (gmlb.com), and the GK Leaders at South Shore will work closely with gameLab's experts to produce their game.

[...]

This year, participants chose to focus their game on the general topic of poverty as an obstacle to education, based on their learning about the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and about obstacles to receiving an adequate education that youth face around the world. They then decided to use Haiti as a case study and setting for the game. Ayiti: The Cost of Life is a role-playing video game in which the player assumes the roles of family members living in rural Haiti. Over the course of the game, the player must choose among and balance various goals, such as achieving education, making money, staying healthy, and maintaining happiness while encountering unexpected events. The player must make many decisions that contribute to or detract from achieving his or her chosen goals. [link]

The game isn't finished yet, but you can sign up for updates about it here.

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 4, 2006

nifty

whatis.jpg

I am absolutely going to make a million of these using this tool. It takes anything you write and creates a cassette label. via boing boing.

Posted by ebogjonson at 10:06 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2006

just us folks dancing on the head of this pin

ov_ga_mir203.jpg

From the Virtual China blog, this link to Chinese online gaming giant Shanda. From what I've been able to tell, Shanda's online games (like the one pictured above) have close to 30 million subscribers. Since I'm bent in predictable directions, that figure echoed for me in racial terms, as in: Holy Cow! In China there is a single gaming company servicing almost as many gamers as there are African Americans.

When I worked at BlackPlanet.com we had some or another data that suggested 1 in 11 African Americans were BP members, more in big cities and in the HBCU crescent extending from DC, down the coast and darting west along the Gulf. With that data in mind, I would sit on the subway and count off black folks: 1, 2, 3, 4... 9, 10, member. 1, 2 3, 4..., but thirty million! It's difficult to imagine every black person joining a website in much the same way it's difficult for me, even with my hatred of the talking android, to imagine every black person a Democrat. The great galvanization of black folks behind the Democratic party is, of course, a result of the encounter with racism, but as that encounter becomes modulated, distant, transmitted along new axes and lines of force, the choice of party becomes less a matter of life and death and more a question of taste, affinity. Not quite like joining a website or choosing a gaming platform but still not so far away from it as to make the comparison completely without value (rhetorical value, if nothing else.)

Or put another way: if blackness was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, how many total players would there be? What would the character classes be? Skill sets? And how would we understand the various forms of profit to be reaped from the reenactment of virtual identity? Is it like playing World of Warcraft or "playing" Second Life?

More on gaming in China.

Posted by ebogjonson at 3:55 PM | Permalink

August 8, 2006

oh, fudge

Did I just post about getting up early and stuff? Did I mention that I've spent most of the morning on Myspace?

(my first myspace blog posting)

I suppose the logic is that if I get all this wandering, posting, blog reading, emailing shit out of my system before 8AM PST, I am ahead of the game.

Also: This morning I found a very nice blog by black comic / sci-fi writer Pam Noles. She has an interesting post up about a gender-related dust up at the "black creators" panel at the most recent San Diego comic con. (I, of course, had made a not to attend the con that day, but let the usual, proverbial shit got in the way. A lesson to me, let that be.)

Posted by ebogjonson at 8:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

May 19, 2006

uh, did I say "talking androids"?

I just really want to thank god and the Academy for these google results for search string "talking android".

Also: I want to share this just for kicks.

And, of course, it goes without saying that I should link to wikipedia, which just has to have a great entry on Reed and Mumbo Jumbo and the talking android.

Huh. I guess a stub is a start, right? This brings to mind two things:

1 - Every time I try to do a search for something like "talking android" I think with sadness of the old Africana.com article and encyclopedia database that was deep-sixed by AOL and the new managers of AOL Black Voices.

2 - Every time a search for black subject matter on wikipedia produces a stub instead of an article I feel incredibly fatigued. I think: I barely have enough energy to update my dumb blog; now I have to get up early and write and 500 word entry on Ishmael Reed? And what with my copy of Freelance Pallbearers being in a box at my mother's house and all...

Posted by ebogjonson at 3:57 PM | Permalink

May 4, 2006

adam kidron, nina hagen, the slits

Friend of friend Earl W. chose to ignore this website's handy comment functionality in order to write in that Adam Kidron, although responsible for "Nuestro Himno" and UBO, did also manage to produce a few good records by Nina Hagen and The Slits, to wit:

Your hit on Adam Kidron brought back memories, but I think you were a little harsh. Does the verdict of history have room for the fact that the man also produced key records by Nina Hagen and The Slits?

I dunno, Earl; you tell me. The way I see it, a stopped clock is right twice a day, too.

However, I always endeavor to be on the right side of history, so duly noted. Thanks for playing!

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:19 AM | Permalink

April 29, 2006

UPDATED: the day after immigrant-free day

The immigration rallies yesterday were a beautiful, inspiring thing. I have to confess to being a little unclear as to what happens next. Quotes from organizers like ""Now we have to reroute all of the energy and momentum " inspire a mild anxiety about agenda (good luck turning that speeding aircraft carrier around, dude), but overall the marches have impressed me as organized, spontaneous, live things, exactly the stuff of which (I imagine) movements are made. Thousands of people trekked up and down my Downtown LA street looking to get to the action on Broadway, and in several hours of watching I saw only American flags, a minor detail in the grand scheme of things that spoke to the discipline and effective message-management the march organizers had brought to bear. Black civil rights leaders have been trying to pull just these kinds of power moves for decades with nowhere near the results.

Perhaps owing to that aforementioned discipline, yesterday was also Nuestro Himno free (on my block at least), a victory for grown-adults everywhere. Although the reactions to the so-called Spanish National Anthem by Michelle Malkin and her ilk are disgustingly racist and absurdist, there really is no "there there" to this fracaso. Nuestro Himno is a lame crap "We are the World"-type confection, hardly worth anyone's time either way, hardly any kind of threat to the actual National Anthem.

(How do you threaten a song, anyway? The NA isn't a "protectable" state symbol or object like a flag, no one has framed this as any kind of copyright issue, and last I checked there was no official US language (yet), let alone a specific national singing language. Anyone who acts like the Dodgers are suddenly going to start playing it before games is either smoking crack or trying to incite a riot.)

As if this this bullshit story couldn't get any bullshittier, it turns out Neustro Himno is the work of producer Adam Kidron: Brit, Internet fuck-up and hustler-of-ethnic culture extraordinaire. If you're gullible, you may remember Adam Kidron as the man who killed Urban Box Office, but me, I remember him as an engineer of the biggest ethnic media con of all time. Either way, Neustro Himno is a cynical, bandwagon-jumping piece of piece of shit wrapped in corny race/identity rhetoric, just like UBO was. After a period of initial fanfare, expect a bunch of Latino people to wake up in six months realizing Kidron owes them money.

###

UPDATE: So it seems the Preznit had Jon Secada singing the National Anthem in Spanish at his inauguration. Since the Malkinites (can anyone spell "self-hatred"?) are all in snit about how the Dear Leader is betraying them on the immigration front, don't expect this revelation to have much of an impact on their thinking.

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:40 PM | Permalink

December 20, 2005

UPDATED: the chappelle conspiracy

Forget the NSA. The sweet, sweet scent of conspiracy is everywhere. (Hat tip, Kem Poston.)

This account of Dave Chappelle's fall from grace has been pieced together by me, a retired public relations executive who wishes to remain anonymous. my contacts, many of whom were closely related to the individuals involved, enabled me to fairly accurately recount the events that took place. You can take this for what you wish, but it is the truth -- the abhorrent byproduct of the industry I used to hold to such a high esteem.

[...]Dave was haunted by a secret. One that only he was aware of, and one he couldn't share with anyone, lest his comedy empire crumble.

He knew that at the same time he was signing his record-setting deal, there was a secret cabal of powerful African-American leaders from the business, political, and entertainment industries working together to ensure that the third season of Chappelle's Show would never happen.

And who is this cabal, you ask? Household names, all:

Al Sharpton
Jesse Jackson
Louis Farrakhan
Bill Cosby
Whoopie Goldberg
Oprah Winfrey
Robert L. Johnson

the dark crusaders

Read and be very, very afraid for the future of black creativity.

...

UPDATE 8:30 PM PST - Actually, read but don't get too scared. Or get scared at the thought of money-changers in the temple of the crazyblackgenius crack-up. As it happens, chappelleconspiracy.com was registered just a few months ago by WebLinc LLC, a Philly-based interactive agency whose client list ranges from Urban Outfitters to Crayola.

Registrant:WebLinc, LLC
XXX North XXth Street
Suite 200
Philadelphia, PA 19107
US

Domain Name: CHAPPELLETHEORY.COM

Administrative Contact , Technical Contact : WebLinc, LLC
dns@weblinc.com
WebLinc, LLC
XXX North XXth Street
Suite 200
Philadelphia, PA 19107
US

Phone: 215-XXX-XXXX
Fax: 215-XXX-XXXX

Record expires on 06-Oct-2006
Record created on 06-Oct-2005
Database last updated on 06-Oct-2005

Of course, a registration whois proves bupkis, but it does suggest that rather than having found a brother/sister in the site's imagined creator, I have instead been interpolated as a customer/end-user (BZZT! ZAPP!) for WebLinc's client. (I know, I know; they're not mutually exclusive. My hope for complete fellowship springs eternal nonetheless.) Given that Comedy Central will be airing the episodes Chappelle completed before calling it quits, I'd put even money that chappelletheory.com is a viral ad for the new episodes - that or the kids at WebLinc have some serious spare time on their hands. (Third possibility: Chappelle has another project in the works and needs to creating a meme-hole about leaving Comedy Central in order to accommodate it.)

I don't have much truck with purists who think creativity for hire or in the service of advertising is lesser or tainted creativity. Some of my favorite thin, ephemeral things exist only to market solid things, and some (music videos, for example) completely transcend their origins as shills as far as I'm concerned. (Most times at least. There are a lot of bad videos out there.) Still, there's something "funny peculiar" about how chappelletheory.com (assuming it is an ad. Any sleuths out there with info?) harnesses black paranoia. It brings to mind ad initiatives where a non-black-owned product looked to authorize itself through a marketing tie-in or affiliation with a particular civil rights org or institution. chappelletheory.com is a pothead inversion of the organizational-tie-in gambit, where instead of insinuating itself into a demo via the trojan horse of a guaranteeing black institution, the site's wry, smoked-out expansiveness associates with a specific kind of black alienation. It aims itself directly at the mid-brains of the kind of head that sympathized with Chappelle's defection from celebrity while simultaneously resenting his decision to stop bringing the jokes.

If there's a telling (damning?) contradiction at the heart of chappelletheory, it's the site's foundational notion that Dave might have been undone by the inherent conservatism of the black "old guard." Don't get me wrong; I find Robert L. Johnson as odious as the next black commentator, but the thing is that Dave Chappelle had already long cracked the code of how to say funny, true, fucked up shit to/about black people. That's what his comedy is about in the first place, and its success was so monumental precisely because Whoopie and Bob and Bill held no terrors for him from jump. It was the later, uncannily cohered, national dragon that he was having trouble slaying. After all, in his Time interview Chappelle complains not of black rejection, but of white love, of making white folks laugh a little too hard.

So with all that in mind, why does an ad agency make a joke site about Dave Chappelle where the villains are black folks? More on the money: For which client? There are lots of ways to harness the engines of race consciousness, and for all kinds of reasons - fun, profit, aesthetic effect and so on. None of the possible permutations denies or undoes all the ways that chappelletheory is funny. It's very funny, very well crafted. I just want to know who I'm laughing with and at. Dave was always very up front with us about that; put him and Neil's names in the credits, their salt-pepper mugs in the jokes. It's not much to ask that anyone evoking him and his particular comedic FX do the same.

Posted by ebogjonson at 5:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

December 8, 2005

not on the socialnetworking guest list

Artboy Cory Archangel is going to commit Friendster suicide tonight. Hat tip Kottke. Cory explains:

So yeah, if you want to see this live, please come, and if you want to watch the performance at home (yes, ... this is an Internet performance, remember that concept???? LOL!), Friendster me sometime before then, and around 8:40 EST on Thursday(ish), I assume if you keep reloading your browser window on Friendster, I think I will simply disappear from your friend list. Got it? Awesome. C U there, ... kinda.

Conceptual works and performances aren't owned the way a Picasso is, but there is a certain value to be derived from having been, like LCD Soundsystem says, there, even if it's e-there. I'm not sure what the market value is on a "Cory Archangel," and can't predict where an internet suicide might eventually go for, but we can speculate about what kind of cool points are awarded for varying degrees of thereness. (What's the quickest way to convert cool points to cash? Are they EBay-able in any way?) In descending order of speculative value:

    -Having Cory as a friendster and attending live at PS1, all the while "watching" via wireless
    -Having Cory as a friendster and attending the suicide live at PS1
    -Attending the suicide live at PS1 [<--- not really sure about where that one goes]
    -Having had Cory as a friendster and watching online when he kills his profile
    -Friendster member (logged-in) watching online when he kills his profile
    -Non-Friendster member watching online when kills his profile
    -Reading about the suicide on some blog (this particular last may also be first)

Any more suggestions?

Posted by ebogjonson at 1:14 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2005

so so sad, this thing I'm going to miss

Jeez H. Mumblefuck. This is going to be good.

Break a virtual leg, Mike!

Posted by ebogjonson at 8:40 PM | Permalink