berlin second life 1
News

You can visit an historically accurate 1920s Berlin in Second Life

In 2007, Jo Yardely visited Second Life (2003) for the first time. She looked around, took in the view, and left immediately. “[Second Life] was a place where weird people spent all their time chatting about uninteresting things,” she said on her blog, “pretending they were having virtual hanky panky or spending real money on virtual rubbish.” You risked being griefed. Most of the simulations looked “horrendous.” Everyone’s fashion sense was terrible. Nine years later, Yardley runs one of the most successful historical simulations in Second Life. Her version of 1920s Berlin has over 100 tenants and regularly hosts events that…

HOUND
News

Videogame lets you command neural networks to manipulate evolution

“It took 4400 million years for the first life to appear on Earth,” is the opening line to the website for HOUND, a recently announced game project by its 18-year-old solo creator, Nikita Shesterin. And if, on reading that, you just thought, “hang on… that’s not right,” then Shesterin believes you’re the right audience for his game. HOUND hands you a universe replete with evolving creatures and ecosystem, and then gives you the controls to fiddle. You can create a physical model, perhaps of something as simple as bacteria, and then watch it evolve into a variety of new species—billions…

Logistic
News

Installation reveals the game-like complexity of life on the Scottish isles

Off the Western coast of Scotland, the Hebrides are a set of islands somewhat removed from the mainland. Scottish Gaelic is most prevalent there, but the furthest island out appears to be named for a non-existent saint, while some get their names from Norse or even pre-Celtic languages. 1973 horror film The Wicker Man is set on a fictional island among the Hebrides, and so is The Chinese Room’s Dear Esther (2012). There’s a misty sense of uncertainty brought on by the distance between the far-flung islands, and by the fact that travel from one island to another has historically…

No Pineapple Left Behind
Review

No Pineapple Left Behind spends too long in the classroom

You are a school principal. You see a student who is being bullied. His parents ask for you to keep an eye out on him, make sure his feelings aren’t hurt. There will be hell to pay if he is sad when he goes home. You could stop kids from picking on him. Or you could help his self-esteem. But the easiest way to not get an earful from the student’s parents? Have his teachers use lasers to turn him into a pineapple. In No Pineapple Left Behind, from Subaltern Games, you play as this peculiar principal. You have to…

emojisimulator1
News

Replicate the world’s most complex systems via emoji

What if you could mod a game as seamlessly as playing it the way it was written? In Nicky Case’s latest simulation tool, A Simulation in Emoji, just that promise is fulfilled. In the introduction for A Simulation in Emoji, Case writes, “there is *no* difference between playing and making, between reading and writing.” This is because Case has given you, the player, all the tools already, to an endlessly customizable extent. But just what is being customized? A simulator for anything and everything—through emojis. Case is no stranger to life-simulation tools. Case first made waves in 2014 with Coming…

We Are Chicago
News

We Are Chicago aims to dispel media myths about poor, black families

When thinking about the black neighborhoods in Chicago‘s south and west side most people will probably see death statistics. This is what the media thrusts into the public’s face time and again. It’s hardly an isolated incident; while purported to be based in fact, these statistics are trumpeted around for their racially charged implications. Bring it up again and again and those who are distant and unfamiliar with these neighborhoods can only associate them with gangland murders. What else do they have to go on? Being poor and black becomes enough for everyone else to fear you. And it seems to…

minimetrolead
Review

Mini Metro makes mass transportation sublime

I don’t remember much from Jeen-Shang Lin’s Soil Mechanics class. Beyond a vague inkling of his whiteboard doodles and that time he paused mid-lecture to remark on my unexpected presence, most of it remains a formula-laden blur. Except for the one time he mentioned Pittsburgh’s North Shore Connector project. I can still recall his perplexed laugh. “Pittsburgh has some beautiful bridges,” or something like that, he said. “The people know how to build them, how to fix them … so why the hell did they decide to dig a tunnel underneath the Alleghany?” A shrug. More laughter. Then back to…

before
News

Before continues to take shape as the prettiest prehistorical survival game

Cavemen games seem to be the next big thing, a natural evolution of the survival genre. Now that the post-apocalypse is becoming a little tired, it makes sense to reach way back to pre-civilization for something fresh. Big titles like Far Cry Primal and WiLD may be the ones people are talking about, but the first recent example that comes to my mind is Before. Before had its biggest public debut during The Game Awards last year, but its creators over at Facepunch Studios (behind Garry’s Mod and Rust) have been posting updates here and there on the game’s progress…

Where2
News

Make friends and hack reality when Else Heart.Break() drops on September 24th

Else Heart.Break() makes me want to smoke cigarettes. It’s not that I don’t value my health. It’s that being a smoker seems to be the easiest way to people’s hearts in the game. If you smoke, you can say “yes” when strangers ask if you have either a) a lighter, or b) a smoke. With that icebreaker a whole range of social possibilities open up. “So, what’s your story?” the person might ask as they take their first drag, thanking you between pursed lips. You’ve met someone because you both smoke and now you’re chatting. The alternative is remaining seated…