ReCore, robots, and us

ReCore belongs to a grand storytelling tradition. From Forbidden Planet (1956) to Big Hero 6 (2014), Isaac Asimov to Fallout 4 (2015), science fiction has long been preoccupied with the bond between humanity and machines. So have I, for that matter—my earliest memory is being hospitalized for pneumonia at age two and getting to interact with a remote-control robot in the hospital’s playroom. There’s something incredibly powerful about the notion that we’ll one day create automated beings with superior intelligences and mechanical bodies that’ll outlive us all. First announced at last year’s Microsoft E3 Briefing, ReCore is the story of a young woman named Joule Adams…

Binary Domain

Binary Domain and the importance of shooting robots

A third-person shooter in which you destroy thousands of robots using big guns and lots of bullets. That could be a description for both Binary Domain (2012) and Vanquish (2010). They’re both science-fiction and both published by SEGA. And each of them is styled in a way that might be described as “very Japanese.” But where Vanquish quickly gets old, Binary Domain is alive, vibrant, and keeps you hooked until its end. The difference is revealed in the characters. More specifically, it’s found in the cutscenes. As game-makers continue to explore new methods of interactive storytelling, I understand why cutscenes…

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There’s an upcoming game about exploring a dystopian city as a cat

In October of 2015, French duo Koola and Viv released a screenshot of a cat sitting in a dark alley, silhouetted by a hazy red light as the sun filtered in from some unknown opening above. This scene is the first glimpse of the as yet untitled “HK project,” an experiment in third-person exploration that promises to be a pioneering influence on the genre of “cat adventure videogame.” Early glimpses of gameplay send our feline protagonist across pipes and up air conditioner stairs, to its end goal of talking to a bunch of robots, probably. Though the creators haven’t said…


The most subversive uses of drone technology

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Initially known to many for their military use, drones have evolved quickly into tools for creating and enjoying new experiences. They have become flying extensions of the human desire to innovate, help people and have fun. Nearly four million commercial drones are expected to sell this year, rising to 16 million a year by 2020, according to a new report by Juniper Research. “Three years ago, this technology was so expensive, so unattainable, that only the professional cinematographer could afford it,” said International Drone Racing Association CEO Charles Zablan in…

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Why visit your relatives when you can send them creepy robot cats?

Well, this is creepy. Toymaker Hasbro has taken it upon itself to solve the problem of senior isolation by creating “Companion Pets,” which is a less horror film way of saying “mildly robotic cats.” These cats do not even appear to occupy the uncanny valley. They look stiff and plasticky and move in about three mechanical ways. But maybe they could occupy your grandmother, and wouldn’t that be nice? At this juncture, I should clarify that “Companion Pets” is apparently not a hoax. The toy’s website includes the following statement: “HASBRO’S JOY FOR ALL is proud to support Meals on…