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Go on a virtual tour of Don Draper’s apartment

Don Draper, John Hamm’s suave protagonist in the dearly departed series Mad Men (2007-2015), didn’t so much as work in advertising as embody the field. At an instinctive level, he understood that aspirations wrapped up in objects need to be made tangible, and that advertising is a means to that end. The Draper home, then, was a central part of the man’s riddle. It wasn’t a showroom—no home ever is. Carpets don’t stay white forever. But if it wasn’t simply there to sell its contents, it was still there to sell an idea or a lifestyle or—failing all that—the man himself. That…


The Nightmare Valley of The Source Engine

Upon walking into St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican with a close friend in January, our jaws simultaneously dropped. He had never seen anything like it before. As he gazed up at the infinitely mathematical marble and gold ceiling, he said, “I think this could be the only structure like this to exist outside of a dream.” But I had seen something like it before—in a videogame, and one that I remember today only through dreams. //// There are certain types of physical and geographical structures which, until just a few decades ago, could rarely be experienced within the realm of…


Waiting Rooms is a building-sized game about the struggles of bureaucracy

When I left the Rubin Museum of Art’s Waiting Rooms exhibit, I had 14 yellow tickets, 24 pennies, and a form with a picture of a unicorn on it in my pocket. It sounds like the random hodgepodge of garbage a quirky Tina Fey character might carry, yes, but within the world of the exhibit, it was a veritable fortune. Created by architect Nathalie Pozzi and game designer Eric Zimmerman, Waiting Rooms is a building-sized game about bureaucracy. In it, the museum is divided into a series of nonlinear rooms, each with their own arbitrary task to complete as well as…


A landscape of memory; returning to Shadow of the Colossus

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// It’s hard to calculate the distance from the clifftop to the sea below. My body, my eyes, the trembling in my legs tells me it is far, too far. Yet I can make out the marbling of the dark water as the foam traces fractal patterns after every impact. The white spray flash-bulb frozen against grey stone. The glassy shapes traced by swirling currents. These details feel close, painfully close. Perhaps it is the rhythm, the yawning…

PS2 Slim

PlayStation 2, the videogame console from outer space

This article is part of PS2 Week, a full week celebrating the 2000 PlayStation 2 console. To see other articles, go here. /// What makes a videogame console successful? Forget about software libraries and units sold, I’m talking about the design of the actual box that you hook up to your TV. At first blush, the Nintendo GameCube seems pretty notable. It’s downright adorable with its purple color scheme, cute miniDVD discs, and stout, blocky profile—and let’s not forget the notorious handle on the back to be used for carrying the console around like a Playskool oil lantern. The GameCube…

Wireframe church

Wireframe church looks like a videogame’s debug mode made real

Ruins force the present to live right next to the distant past. In Rome, traffic passes by the Colosseum, which has mostly survived and been restored, but sites such as the Circus Maximus are obvious because of their absence. There are no cafes or shops on this enormous oval, and it’s surrounded on all sides by a uniform and evenly-sloped hill that suggests human labor, but the open park is all that’s left to suggest there was something there. One imagines the spaces that used to be present—stadium seating, booths for the wealthy—stretching up beside and above them. In ruins,…


What cyberpunk was and what it will be

This is a preview of an article you can read on our new website dedicated to virtual reality, Versions. /// We often forget when predicting the future that it will inevitably continue to change. Whatever we dream up, however utopian or dystopian, will be subject to resistances and reimaginings. It will be a temporary state. The future will get old fast and there will be no end of history, despite frequent claims to the contrary, until the last human breathes the last breath. Travelling through modern metropolises at night, particularly in Asia, the temptation is to dwell on how prophetic…

Zaha Hadid

An appreciation of Zaha Hadid, modern architecture’s greatest woman

The architect Zaha Hadid, who died in Miami last Thursday at the age of 65, was one of design’s great optimists. Only an optimist could dream up the billowing curves of Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliyev Center, which sprout from the ground, rise like sine curves, and blend into one another without ever meeting at right angles, and think “Yes, this building can live unburdened by earth’s gravity.” Only an optimistic could spend decades drawing fantastical jagged futurescapes—impressive works of art in their own right—while breaking ground on precious few projects. Only an optimist, one imagines, could make headway in a male-dominated…


Imaginary skyscrapers belong in a videogame

An architecture journal announces a competition to design hypothetical skyscrapers. Anyone can enter. 489 teams do. What could possibly go wrong? Here, then, are the 3 winners and 21 honorable mentions from eVolo’s 2016 Skyscraper Competition. One might even argue that it’s a glowing success. Sure, the winner of this skyscraper competition, Yitan Sun and Jianshi Wu’s “New York Horizon” is actually a subterranean structure, but who among us could possibly get hung up on such ontological pedantry? try to say it doesn’t feel videogamey And sure, “New York Horizon” would create new and exciting public spaces by dropping Central Park below…