Play Anything
News

Ian Bogost’s Play Anything and the sublimity of boredom

In the strata of books about videogames, I offer the following overly simplistic codification: 1. Books about a specific game or game developer 2. Books about a specific period of time in the history of games 3. Books about how videogames are art, dammit And then there’s Ian Bogost’s new book Play Anything, which isn’t so much about games as distinct artifacts as it is about why games and play are an essential strategy for navigating the banality of the world. Sometimes the experience of grocery shopping, of sitting in traffic, of attending meetings, can feel like an elaborate series of…

Codex Silenda
News

A wooden book filled with puzzles is the coolest new toy

The Codex Silenda is a set of intricate wooden puzzles that quickly reached its funding goal on Kickstarter many times over. It’s the kind of object you’d expect to be hand-carved by a slightly eccentric artisan, but it’s laser-cut, and one of the reward tiers gets you the pieces, which you would then assemble into the puzzle yourself. As it turns out, the laser-cutter can do for the mechanical wooden toy what the printing press did for books. There were books before the printing press: painstakingly hand-copied manuscripts with margins full of knights jousting snails, but hand-written and hand-bound books…

Make Your Own Video Games
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Anna Anthropy’s new book aims to teach game design to kids

Game maker Anna Anthropy is no stranger to book publishing. She’s contributed to multiple anthologies in the past, including Merritt Kopas’s Videogames for Humans (2015) and Seven Stories Press’s The State of Play (2015). She’s also written multiple works of her own, including 2012’s Rise of the Videogame Zinesters and Boss Fight Books’s 2014 critical overview ZZT. This November, Anthropy has another book planned for release. But her demographic is a little different: she’s writing videogame guides aimed at young kids. Published by No Starch Press, Make Your Own Video Game!: With PuzzleScript, Scratch, and Twine is an all-ages approach…

Feature

A people’s history of PlayStation Home

Released at the end of last year, Postcards from Home has the feel of a curio: a weighty tome assembled exclusively from images captured within Sony’s discontinued virtual world, Home (2008-2015). Its author, the Spanish photographer Roc Herms, has explored games before, whether making absurdist use of the Game Boy camera or documenting an enormous LAN party from the perspective of the hardware. But it only takes a few pages for the scope of Postcards from Home to reveal itself as something much more empathetic, even human, full of penetrating longform interviews that explores the digital architecture of Home as…

News

Facial recognition lends itself to creepy digital portraits

You shouldn’t have to carry ID when you go to grab a coffee. Coffee is not a controlled substance, though it sure is wonderful (and possibly addictive). That does not stop nominally just societies from demanding that their citizens identify themselves while out and about. Inevitably, the burden of these policies is unevenly shouldered by different groups. This problem could easily solved by no longer demanding that citizens identify themselves at every turn. There are, however, two problems with such a proposal. First: Good luck getting municipal politicians and police forces to agree. Second: The elimination of identification requirements means…