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Videogames and the digital baroque

During the 17th century in Europe and her colonies, mankind was forcibly removed from the center of the universe and cast adrift in an indifferent cosmos devoid of greater purpose or meaning. This was accomplished not by any supernatural power but by advancements in technology, particularly optics: telescopes could chart the motions of previously obscure celestial bodies while microscopes could, for the first time, see the living cells that made up human bodies. Earth turned out not to be the center of the universe but one of many planets that orbited the Sun; an average star among countless others in…

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Return Of The Obra Dinn’s historical fiction gets even eerier in new demo

Lucas Pope, of Papers Please (2013) fame, has been working on his new project, Return of the Obra Dinn, for nearly two years now. Back in October 2014, he released the first build of the game, which ran for 10 minutes in length and showed off its stylistic 1-bit rendering. Updates on the game’s progress since then have all arrived in the form of a devlog, except the latest, which comes with a new demo to play. It features a host of improvements, such as a new intro sequence with fully voiced dialogue, a remodeled top deck, a new flashback, a small…

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The Lion’s Song aims to depict the loneliness of history’s greatest minds

Originally created as a short title for a 2014 Ludum Dare game jam, old-timey narrative adventure game The Lion’s Song is now getting a full release. According to a new trailer for the game, four episodes are planned in total, expanding it beyond the “finely honed short story” of the original and into an extended interrogation of academic life in fin-de-siecle Austria. The game stars three different turn-of-the-century artists and scientists as they struggle to find inspiration and learn how to cope with the pressures of success, as well as those of their time period. “To succeed in a world of…

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Optikammer will let you play with the 19th century’s weirdest toys

In 1878, famous industrialist Leland Stanford (yes, that Stanford) wanted the answer to a very important, deeply contested question: do all four of a horse’s hooves ever come off the ground when they gallop? So he did what all millionaires do and he spent money, commissioning the photographer Eadweard Muybridge to photograph a horse in motion. The resulting series, known as Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, is perhaps one of the most famous early images and a precursor to the technology that would be used by the Lumière brothers in the 1890s to produce films. By taking 24 cameras and rigging them around a track,…

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The demolition of Japan’s videogame history

In the eastern region of Kyoto, Japan, there lies an area named Higashiyama, filled with shrines, temples, and the Kyoto National Museum. It was here in Higashiyama that Nintendo built an office complex with buildings adjacent to one another that the company’s greatest designers worked in. Almost everything videogame-related that Nintendo developed before the year 2000 came from the complex known as 60 Kamitakamatsu-cho—from the original Game & Watch and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), to Donkey Kong (1981), Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), and Metroid (1986). But while these games can still be played the buildings…

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1979 Revolution shows the nastier side of Iran’s historical uprising

1979 Revolution, the upcoming adventure game following the political revolution that took place that year in Iran, just got a new trailer. It’s the most in-depth look at the game we’ve seen so far, and it paints a desperate picture for both the country and the game’s photojournalist protagonist Reza Shirazi. Neutrality no longer seems a viable option The trailer opens in a small interrogation chamber with Shirazi in handcuffs and a prison jumpsuit, scratches and bruises marking his face. A menacing, clean-cut man wielding a club addresses him. “In a clear voice for the machine,” he explains, gesturing to…

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Ancient India: The Birthplace of Modern Game Design

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel Ancient India produced some of the oldest and longest surviving games in history, and though the country’s videogame creators face modern day challenges, its contributions to game design are undeniable. They’ve gone by many different names and variations, but games like Chess, Chutes and Ladders, Parcheesi, and even the six-sided die are all believed to have originated in ancient India. Mostly created during a turbulent and formative time in the country’s history, the nature of these games gives a better understanding of the ideas, values, and social climate surrounding them.…

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The peculiar future of videogame history

The history of videogames maps directly onto the history of computation. At least, that’s how speakers cast it at GDC this year. Chelsea Howe, Chris Crawford, Dave Jones, Graeme Devine, Ken Lobb, Lori Cole, Luke Muscat, Palmer Luckey, Phil Harrison, Raph Koster, Seth Killian, and Tim Schafer (phew) each talked about one aspect of videogame history in which they were personally involved. The keynote was both an homage to GDC, the event, and to GDC’s prime mover, that repugnant, beautiful monstrosity known as ‘the videogame industry’. At the 30th iteration of an event that has become one focal point for…

1979 Revolution
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1979 Revolution to explore the Black Friday Massacre this April

1979 Revolution, the adventure game series based on political events in Iran that year, will see its first episode released on April 5th. It’s something I’ve been waiting for since playing a demo of the game on an iPad at an exhibition titled “Sensory Stories: An Exhibition of New Narrative Experiences” at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image in July last year. I had primarily attended the event for the short films the Museum was showing on Oculus Rift, but it was 1979 Revolution that impressed me the most. The demo I played followed fictional photojournalist Reza Shirazi as he covered…