Monument Valley
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Videogames and the Art of Deception

The visual arts have a rich history of deception. Every painting that attempts to condense the world into two dimensions exploits flaws in the way our eyes work, fooling us into perceiving depth and distance through the use of vanishing points and skewed proportions. Optical illusions trick us into seeing differences in color that don’t exist, while portraits painted to look straight ahead seem to follow us as we walk past. The advent of film and TV pushed the art of deception even further. Green screens convince us that the hero truly is dangling from the lip of a 60-storey…

compthermoforminglead
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New thermoforming technique offers a faster alternative to 3D printing

With the advent of 3D printing, it’s easy to imagine a future where industry is as simple as pressing a few buttons on a computer screen. Just take any computer-generated 3D model, send it to a 3D printer, and within a few minutes to a few hours, you’ll have an actual, physical object that you can hold in your hand. The problem, then, is the wait. Whereas a three hour wait for a small statue might be bearable for individual use, large-scale production houses may not be able to afford the lost time when compared to more traditional methods. To…

Industrial
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Imagining the technological singularity with Factorio

The trouncing of the world’s top Go player by Google’s AlphaGo AI has led more than a few people to speculate on how we’ll be feeling the ramifications of this victory in the near future. What this speculation mainly concerns is the question of what will happen if software continues to eat the world with such a voracious appetite that we are only beginning to truly fathom. For now, “Big Data,” the truly massive collection of data that humans collectively generate through any and all combinations of internet browsing history, biometrics, credit card payments, and more, provides the equivalent of…

Cat++-gif-header
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Cat++ turns our feline obsession into a coding language

Cat++ is a code developed by Nora O’ Murchú, an Irish new media art curator, designer, and academic. Oh, and a cat lover, of course. Created during a residency at Access Space in the UK, Cat++ is thought of as a one-of-a-kind “cat simulator.” The coding alternates cat interactions with random and uncontrollable events that are translated through a series of 8-bit-esque animations. The code is based on real cat characteristics and assigns different dynamic visuals to user input. What’s even more wonderful is that O’ Murchú invites others to expand on the code with more cats and behaviors for new and unexpected…

aerialboldlead
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New word processor lets you type letters with satellite images

Imagine painstakingly combing through the entirety of Google Maps trying to find buildings, pools, and other structures that resemble letters, then compiling those images together to make new fonts created wholly out of aerial imagery. That’s exactly what creators Benedikt Groß (a computational designer) and Joey Lee (a geographer) did while working on Aerial Bold Typewriter, a new word processor that allows users to easily type full sentences using satellite images of various man-made structures. “Satellite and aerial imagery are rich with stories,” write the duo, explaining how they came up with the idea for the Typewriter. In 2013, they released a…

Wolfenstein
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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…

minecrafthill
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The AI being forced to climb Minecraft’s highest hills

Somewhere in Microsoft’s New York offices right now, an artificial intelligence is busy repeatedly trying and failing to climb a hill in Minecraft (2011), as if a modern day reenactment of the Sisyphus myth. This AI is being watched by a team of five computer scientists, and its many deaths are being meticulously recorded. Its name is Project AIX, and it’s part of a new open source initiative from Microsoft to advance not only games, but artificial intelligence as a whole. It’s a project not dissimilar to the one going on at Germany’s University of Tübingen entitled Social Mario, the concept of which…

mariolearning9
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Social Mario teaches AI to learn by imitating each other

As videogames are frequently focused on having a single human player interact with dozens or even hundreds of computer-controlled characters at a time, they tend to be particularly fertile ground for development of artificial intelligence. This is why it should come as no surprise that when the Chair of Cognitive Modeling at Germany’s University of Tübingen decided to create new ways for artificial intelligence to grow and interact, they opted to do so through the lens of Nintendo’s Mario series. Dubbed Social Mario, the project’s concept is simple: Rather than reacting to players or following the scripted commands of a programmer,…

stemgirls3
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The wearable tech that’s getting girls into coding

This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel. Taking friendship bracelets into the digital age, Jewelbots teaches young girls to tinker and code their way into the exploding world of wearable technology. Whether it’s the Queen of Coding Grace Hopper or the new wave of women innovation engineers, fashion brand CEOs and musicians, young girls today have a growing number of role models who use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in their recipes for success. Having more role models is critical, but according to the founders of Jewelbots—the so-called friendship bracelets for the iPhone era—the next…