Game Rules as Art

April 27, 2006

"Why do rules have such power over our minds?"

Rob Humble at The Escapist writes about Game Rules as Art:

"I believe that the creation and selection of game rules is an art form in and of itself. By this, I mean that the rules of a game can give an artistic statement independent of its other components. Just as a poem doesn't need pictures and a painting doesn't need music, a game needs nothing else apart from its rules to succeed as a work of art."


"The thing that is interesting about these two more recent deals is that they speak to virtual worlds as an ecology of businesses rather than as just one business, a subscription service."

Raph Koster

I was just saying to Thomas tonight that 2005/2006 are years I'll remember as very significant in the maturation of the gaming industry.

"Seed" Screenshot

Denmark-based developer Runestone opened their MMO “Seed” to public beta this week. I’d previously applied to the beta, so I got an email this morning and I’m creeping toward a client patch as I type this.

Seed takes place on the colony world DaVinci as the colonists, cut off from Earth by interstellar distances, struggle to survive amidst a massive population explosion and conflict of ideologies. Players will have the ability to influence the course of the story and game development.

Razer Copperhead

With my new Razer Copperhead gaming mouse (smooth like butter!) and a video card on the way to breathe some new life into my aging AGP gaming desktop, I’m chomping at the bit to get in some game time. Though glancing over at the SEED patcher, I’ve got about 16 hours or so before their snail of a patcher finishes its 325 MB download.

Sexual Intercourse FTW

April 25, 2006

We got picked up as a Primetime Show at 102, with 96 votes netting us 3rd place. Not bad, considering that slots 1 and 2 were pretty much a lock.

Watch it! (safe for work; does not contain “hardcore penetration” as indicated)

In addition to the worthy “Cakey” and “Puppet Rapist,” we’re sharing the spotlight this month with the well-writen, hilariously acted “Incredible Drunk” and the inexplicable “28 Day Slater.”

“Sexual Intercourse, American Style,” a short film I directed (and shot and edited,as these things go), premieres at the Channel 102 film festival tonight. There are two screenings at The Magnet, 8:00 and 9:30. I’ll be at both. It’ll sell out quick, so if you’re coming, please make reservations. More details.

The film was written by Mitch Magee and stars Will Hines, Eliza Skinner, Julie Klausner, and Matthew Cornillon. You can see stills on our mypace page.

Audience votes determine which films come back as a “Prime Time Series,” so feel free to bring friends.

Channel 102 is a short film fesitval modeled on Filmakers submit a 5 minute “pilot” which is reviewed by a panel of past festival winners. If the pilot is screened, audience votes determine if it returns the following month as a “prime time series.” I directed a previous 102 series, The Widower, which ran for 3 episodes.

It’s quite a day for House of Uster, my World of Warcraft Guild. Long-time guild member Mark “Hammuster” Lee is featured in two different Onion articles today, in various ways.

In Drunk Will Show You, Everybody, Mark plays the drunk in the photographs.

Baby, You Mean the World of Warcraft to Me reads: “I would climb the highest peak of Mount Hyjal to toil for 100 days and 100 nights in the mines in order to extract the precious ore so that I may fashion you a necklace of the finest thorium. My warrior, Hammuster, devoted his game’s life to the professions of mining and smithing just so that I might accomplish that very thing.”

The love-letter also mentions “I’ve introduced you to my comrades-in-arms in the Ulster guild, and they all accept you as kin,” which I take to be inspired by “Uster.”

Vote for This Shirt

April 20, 2006

My friend Dan designed a shirt for a competition over at Threadless. Please go there and vote for his shirt so he wins $2000. 

t-shirt close up

Distributed Gaming

April 20, 2006

"The Thirteenth Labor" Puzzle Card

Some ARG Gamers over at have created a distributed computing client to help crack the code on the currently-unsolved Perplex City puzzle card #251. “We have now got 911 active clients and have processed 155,725 work units – truely passing the 1% barrier – and more importantly processing nearly 16,000 work units since posting last night,” claimed a 13thLabor blog post this morning. The original estimate called for 250 computers working together for 9 months to crack the code.

Perplex City is an Alternate Reality Game whose business model involves selling randomized packs of collectable brain-teaser puzzle cards (in a further evolution of collectable card games like Magic: The Gathering and Pokemon). The cards each carry a unique ID and players’ solutions can be verified and tallyed on an online leaderboard (my impressive profile). I recently attened a live Perplex City “game night” in NYC, hosted by Micheal and Andrea of Mind Candy (the game’s developer).

Distributed computing allows enormously complex mathematical problems to be solved more quickly by enlisting volunteers to run a program on their computers which uses spare CPU cycles to work on different parts of the problem and share their results with the program’s developers. Popular distributed computing clients include SETI@home and Folding@home, which allow you to participate in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence and protein folding, respectively.


April 19, 2006


How to Make Your Own Totally Sweet Mario Question Blocks and Put Them Up Around Town Because It's Really Awesome

"The Portage County Hazardous Materials Unit and Bomb Detection Unit were called in to downtown Ravenna on Friday morning after seventeen suspicious packages — boxes wrapped in gold wrapping paper with question marks spray painted on them — had alarmed residents."

The teenage girls responsible for the Super Mario Bros-themed project regard it an art installation. "This is not a sinister 'game', it is supposed to be a comment on public spaces being routinely used for advertising (billboards, etc) but not for art (these boxes)," says, where you can see photos of other boxes and read "Poster Child's" article which inspired the girls.


April 19, 2006


On his blog holaolah, Ryan observes that Pabst Blue Ribbon is now sponsoring NPRs “All Things Considered.” He notes “In recent years, PBR has enjoyed a bit of a comeback, especially with live music venues. It’s a fashionable beer for the indie set.”

When I was a bartender several years ago near Union Square, I had a Tuesday afternoon crowd of business men who’d come in to get trashed as cheaply as possible on PBRs and Schaffers. These days, we serve PBR at the UCB Theater for $2. While I see the UCBT as a pretty hip place, my impression of PBRs brand identity has been unaffected. But I guess the evidence speaks for itself. De facto, PBR is fashionable.