Posts tagged with "Games":

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New gallery-building video game lets aspiring architects play art connoisseur

Move over Minecraft—a new video game is letting aspiring gallery designers build their own art worlds. In the massively multiplayer online (MMO) game Occupy White Walls (OWW), players can build their own galleries, raise in-game cash by ticketing other players for entry, and expand their art collection using an algorithm that learns what type of art the player enjoys. OWW’s developers claim that with a toolkit of 1,762 and counting distinct architectural components, players can build any type of gallery they’d like, from MoMA PS1 to classical European art museums. Every gallery can be placed in its own specific context as well, from the urban metropolis to the middle of an infinite void. Players will need to not only place art, which ranges from 18th-century pieces to contemporary works, in a pleasing place to view it, but need to control for lighting, viewing angles, the appropriate frame, and more. In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, developer StikiPixels described their approach as taking the introverted, thoughtful world of gallery design and turning it into a social experience. Everyone’s creations can be patronized by real-world players who can buy the art on display and fuel further expansion. Another goal of OWW, according to the developers, is to broaden players’ artistic horizons without breaking the bank. Players are given options of (real world) pieces to display, and the game’s art discovery AI, DAISY, will give recommendations on future works that can be approved or dismissed. As DAISY gives more recommendations, the AI refines its suggestions across the entire player base. OWW is currently available for free through the game distribution platform Steam as of November 14. The game is still in the early access phase and may change before its official release, and the developers are soliciting feedback on how they can improve the experience.
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You can dodge trash fires and the Pizza Rat in this new MTA video game

For New Yorkers, it’s no secret that the MTA is rapidly deteriorating. Practically defined by delays and diversions—and not to mention the impending L train shutdown—the financial and political behind-the-scenes of the subway system has come under increasing scrutiny. While numerous articles, commentaries, reports, and angry tweets have been published on the state of the MTA and its causes, Everyday Arcade has released what might be the first video game on the crumbling system, MTA Country. Styled after a classic Nintendo-style platformer (its name references the 1994 SNES game Donkey Kong Country), MTA Country is a ride through a roller coaster of subway tunnel. For players, the goal of MTA Country is to get its main character, Gregg T (Gregg Turkin, a lawyer, NYPD Legal Bureau member, and much meme-ified face of the NYPD’s “If You See Something, Say Something” subway campaign) to work. Luckily, he has help from his friends Bill (de Blasio) and Andrew (Cuomo). After watching the trio be launched from a trashcan, gamers can ride down tracks collecting coins as they leap over track fires, stopped trains, broken rails, the notorious Pizza Rat. Graffiti in the background reads “Giuliani was here,” among other commentary. Without giving away any spoilers, users skilled enough to collect all the letters that dot the tracks will be in for a special high-speed transformation à la Elon Musk and rocketed off to a new destination. Luckily for New Yorkers, MTA Country also works on your phone, making it an ideal way to pass time when your train inevitably gets stuck.
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Procrastinate for hours on BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group's website-turned-videogame

1980's video game addicts should stay away from the BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group website. The Copenhagen, Denmark-based international firm's homepage has long featured pixelated font and colorful icons representing their myriad projects. Recently, BIG teamed up with Danish website design firm Ruby Studio to add a playful spin on a layout that seems—at least in retrospect—ripe for a video game transformation. Inspired by the 1986 game Arkanoid, users can now slowly delete the firm's projects (complete with sound effects). Enjoy!
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This SimCity-like game warns against unbridled development and gentrification

If the board game Monopoly didn't warn its players of the evils of capitalism enough (as it originally intended to do), then Nova Alea certainly tries harder. Developed by Pittsburg-based game designer and teacher Paolo Pedercini, Nova Alea is a simple yet informative game that strives to instruct its players about the effects of boom and bust culture in relation to the housing market.

In the game, users are required to buy property when prices are low and sell just before the "bubble bursts." Set on a rotating square grid, various forms rise as their value grows, only to to disappear when the market shifts. On the surface, the aim of the game is to accrue as much profit as possible through buying and selling at the right times. However, shortly after this brief introductory period of the game's basic principles, players are made aware of the consequences of their profiteering actions.

Once a resident of Brooklyn and now living in the up-and-coming Garfied area of Pittsburg, Pedercini is well versed in the effects of runaway housing markets. In fact, it was his experience that was the source of Nova Alea's inspiration. Pedercini also wanted to offer something different compared to the likes of SimCity, giving the chance for players to deal with the social implications of unrestricted development while also providing a lens to see how contemporary cities and districts are developing and urbanizing. It is cast in a similar vein to the likes of other recent games like Block'hood, where players are faced with the inconvenient negative effects of what they choose to build.

"Impossible prices drove old residents away and drained the ones who couldn't leave," a voice says, speaking over the background music as the game continues. "Neighborhoods that made Nova Alea unique were replaced with dull repositories of wealth." Now the theme of gentrification has been established, the voice goes on to implicitly introduce hipsters into the fray. "But in the craters left by the cyclical crisis, the Weird Folk settled." Denoted as green pulsating forms that attract "animal spirits," even the Weird Folk have to leave too, "displaced by the revitalization that they themselves started." Now, however, Nova Alea's habitats and habits have been reshaped, "making Nova Alea unrecognizable to its residents."

The game's narrator adds another dimension when it announces that a resident uprising has forced developers (i.e. you) to slow down. Later, price-controlled properties are introduced, meaning lower profit margins for property moguls such as yourself. As the games comes to a close the narrator proclaims that the Nova Alea has become a "city against its inhabitants. A place made and unmade by money where the delusion of wealth turned everyone into unwelcome strangers."

Nova Alea is available to download for free on Mac, PC and Linux through the developer's website here.

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Help this architecture firm decide what landscapes will 3D concrete puzzles they'll create

Two years ago, Hungarian firm Planbureau successfully crowdfunded LOGIFACES, a versatile concrete puzzle that allowed users to create numerous topographical landscapes with angled triangular concrete forms. Now, the firm has set their sights on a much more intricate puzzle that they are calling LOGIPLACESAimed to enhance "creativity and logical thinking skills," the 16- or 36-piece concrete puzzle is currently going through crowdfunding. However, if as successful as its predecessor, places such as San Francisco, the Grand Canyon, the Alps and Budapest among others will be able to be purchased and constructed as scale 3D concrete model puzzles. https://vimeo.com/143098458 The firm say that inspiration came from working for the What-to-print-in-3D design competition which they went on to win, being awarded the Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer from Freedee. The printer then allowed the firm to create moulds with a 100 micron (equal to one millionth of a meter) resolution, forming the intricate contours of the Grand Canyon and winding streets of San Francisco. "We would like to see beautiful, one of a kind architectural concepts in stores more often, especially in the world of games, where it’s rare to see a toy that also reflects on contemporary design,”says Dániel Lakos, founder of Planbureau studio. As for the long-term, the firms ultimate aim is to one day create any place in the world, such as a "hometown or a company’s headquarters and its surroundings" in the format. Asking for $15,000 in funding, the firm seem pretty confident on achieving their goal stating that they want to add a new place after every $5,000 of additional funding. What that new place will be though, is up to the public to decide. An online poll has been created by the firm with Amsterdam, Porto, Rome, Carcassonne, London, Aspen, Death Valley, Madrid, and Fuji as choices. “We believe that places grow when we fill themwith experiences,” adds Lakos. “LOGIPLACES can give anyone the opportunity to take home these experiences and relive them through a meditating game that’s a brain teaser at the same time.” https://vimeo.com/110613383
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Design a virtual ecological urban block with Block'hood

No, Block'hood isn't an edgy underground LEGO gang, it's actually a neighborhood-building simulator that encourages experimental cityscapes and sustainable and resourceful architecture. Developed and designed by Gentaro Makinoda and Jose Sanchez, players must prioritize their focus on the environment and their creation's impact. Creations must be able to work interdependently alongside surrounding neighborhoods, for if they fail, when a design begins to fall behind in resources available, environments, buildings, and the neighborhood become susceptible to decay and ultimately failure. Users have access to more than eighty building blocks which they can use to develop structures that harvest the sun and wind to create a sustainable environment. Once built, the buildings come to life and the architect's buildings are put to the test to see if they can withstand the pressures of what the simulator's engine throws at it. Players need to avoid the decay of their city block by making sure each unit doesn’t run out of “Resources." Each block therefore has "inputs" and "outputs" and these needn't be learned, as the user is hopefully already aware that a tree needs water to output oxygen and shops need customers to make money. From this a productive network can blossom provided users harness the environment, maximize outputs, generate resources, and avoid decay. A player's little city block quickly and rather peculiarly becomes something that one can easily become attached too. As life manifests within and users add and take away elements, the block and its habitat become synonymous. Together they must work as one, making clever use of resources in a bid to fight the decline which will plunge your creation that you probably (definitely) spent too much time on, into doom. The small victories, however, for when you do implement an innovative combo are highly rewarding: a user's planning intellect triumphs and one is lulled into dreams of doing a Le Corbusier and starting Paris all over again... Throughout the game, (or "simulation" as some  may prefer to call it) players future planners are asked to "envision their neighborhood," being reminded that "there are no boundaries of what you can create." Dreams of being a planner don't appear too far-fetched either, as Block'hood was featured in the 'My Urban Playground' documentary by Luckyday, showcasing how "Block'hood can be used to design the cities of tomorrow."     Block'hood is now available to download on STEAM.
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This online game gives you the chance to deface Corbu's iconic Villa Savoye

Modernism made you mad? One remedy might be smashing your Lego model of Villa Savoye into tiny pieces. If you don't have such a model handy, there's now a virtual solution to defacing Corbu with an online game called Le Petit Architecte. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nG2tOD7Ts0 Creating an “absolute architectural masterpiece” is no mean feat, but that is what players of Le Petit Architecte are tasked with achieving. In the game, you play as an intern attempting to "improve" Le Corbusier's design for the Villa Savoye, situated just East of Paris in real life. The game comes at just over 50 years after Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris' (Le Corbusier's) death which has meant that copyright in the majority of European countries (but not the U.S.) covering his work is no longer valid. Theo Triantafyllidis, a student at UCLA was one of the first to take full advantage of this. Naturally, he came to the conclusion that the first thing anyone would want to do to the Villa Savoye, if given the opportunity, would be to chuck a seemingly endless amount of objects at the house. Each object, of course, has its own sound effect which bears no relevance to its purpose size or shape or life form. An equally odd (and also perfectly befitting) soundtrack accompanies the game. The game was showcased at the #Decorbuziers exhibition in Athens, Greece late last year (on the 50th anniversary of Corbusier's death). Allison Meier at Hyperallergic succinctly stated: "Le Petit Architecte is a fairly simple game — create chaos in the face of modernist serenity. Yet it’s an enjoyably absurd diversion, and provides some digital retribution perhaps for those of us who still cringe over Le Corbusier’s mural defacement of Eileen Gray’s E.1027."
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Architects design an interactive installation at the Smithsonian that calls for participants to overthrow dictators

Viva la revolución? A new interactive installation in Washington D.C. named Starry Heavens aims to use architecture for anarchy by unifying participants and encouraging them into carrying out collective acts of mobocracy. The brainchild of game designer Eric Zimmerman and architect Nathalie Pozzi, Starry Heavens is a quirky neo-political game (of sorts) which features a sleek white, snake-like form that sits above the participants. Below is a grid with black, grey and white interconnected bases, which if anything, is emulative of molecular lattice-like structure. According to The Creators Project, users have to stand on these bases and can only move when instructed to do so by a "central ruler," who is the only one allowed to talk. The aim of the game is for the players (who can join at any time) to overthrow the dictator. After meeting on Craigslist in 2008, Zimmerman and Pozzi have collaborated on similar projects prior to this one. In their first venture in 2009, they created BlockBall for the Come Out and Play festival. This isn't the first outing Starry Heavens has had either as the game in fact was initially designed for a MoMa event, exhibited in 2011. Speaking to The Creators Project, Pozzi explained why the exhibition space at the Smithsonian was a pulling factor. "For the installation at the Smithsonian, the white curve was very much a response to the physical space, we wanted to design a visually striking element that connected the play on the ground with the stunning Kogod Courtyard. The curve serves as a theatrical backdrop for the project and also as the 'heavens' of the title, Starry Heavens." The installation was fabricated by Erik van Dongen of Air Design Studio. Clara Ranenfir contributed to the design. Described by the pair as a "political fable" the installation seeks to use the physicality of the space to enliven themes of power and control, amplifying how this can shift via collaboration of the masses. "Starry Heavens tells an absurdist story of a pointless conflict. Players conspire with and against each other to overthrow a central Ruler, who commands where they can step. Whoever becomes the new Ruler takes over the nonsensical goal of trying to pull down a gigantic helium-filled balloon before they themselves get overthrown and replaced." "The way an architect structures space through material is very much like the way a game designer structures behavior through game rules," Zimmerman explains. "Perhaps architecture can learn to think of itself as a responsive discipline that reflects its environment and its users in a more honest and immediate way." The physicality of architecture in particular appeals to Zimmerman. "Maybe games can learn to be less disposable," he says. "I love the idea of designing a game that—like a building—is meant to last for decades or centuries."
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Notes from the Society for College and University Planning's 2015 Chicago Conference

There’s much to be said about SCUP’s 50th Annual International Conference, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, in Chicago, Illinois, July 11 – 15. Aside from what one must imagine are the typical characteristics of this globe-trotting annual event—mission-oriented indoctrination, relentless networking against seemingly never-ending waves of competition and sweets, a diverse range of diurnal activities and workshops concerning a stunning miscellany of unpredictable subjects (including drones)—this year’s event presented interesting spins on an emergent, “integrated” planning strategy involving the use of Data in University programming. One of the conferences most interesting topics was the common theme of SIMULATION across the conference, specifically, in the context of using data born from a projected reality or fantasy, which ultimately ends up informing reality to such a magnitude as to change something. This is tied to video games, role-playing and the sensibility of the gamer. In “How to make the Future – With Games,” Jane McGonigal, Game Designer and Future Forecaster, leveled the crowd with an exegesis on the collective intelligence and “collaboration superpowers” of gamers and their seemingly shared, innate ability to, not sit in a dark room for hours ingesting potato chips on a pleather couch peppered by blades of setting sunlight that make it through the blinds but not the headphones (the blinds reference could be 80’s: American Gigolo, Less Than Zero), but “strengthen and transform” Society. McGonigal’s milieu, becoming ours, involves “massively multi-player future forecasting games” that enable us to imagine and plan for “strange and wonderful futures”. She is, according to SCUP’s description of the Plenary Session, today’s “leading speaker on the engagement economy and the application of game-design to the real world.” https://youtu.be/8HjjMv4LvbM McGonigal’s initial visualization and consequent circumlocutory word-play involved the construction of a predictive model in the form of an asteroid threat, which utilized player response to inform a “collective intelligence around real-world pandemic response.” She described her use of social media as a ready-made network to host this particular simulation or game. She defined a geographic region or corridor. Players fantasized about impacts to everything from available medicine to the stock market and their responses were ultimately used to inform responsive, BIG BROTHER agency thinking. McGonigal further described concepts of “Interactive Documentary” and concluded with a very compelling description of “Find the Future: The Game”, a game in which over 500 players explored the New York Public Library’s 70 miles of stacks using laptops and smartphones, following clues that amalgamated in short personal essays inspired by the event which are to be compiled in a volume to be stored within the Library’s collection. “The game is designed to empower young people to find their own futures by bringing them face-to-face with the writings and objects of people who made an extraordinary difference,” said McGonigal McGonigal made mention of one other related item of interest relative to reality and gaming, the text Ready Player One, by Ernest Celine. I just read this book, which takes the notion of Simulation to a level that displaces reality while at the same time, supplies the, let’s just say participant, with many forms of currency which have palpability in the real world, be it knowledge, a sense of physical security, or income. Celine constructs a post-apocalyptic world in typical sci-fi fashion. He integrates '80s lore (Music, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, Video Games, TV, etc.) into the construct. His seamless interweaving of the content informing the game with the game itself and reality is fascinating, and it takes McGonigal's expertise to its logical conclusion: Data generated from Fantasy has value in the real world and has the capacity to inspire change on many levels, even policy. McGonigal’s influence put a strange, intellectual spin on the lens through which Data might be perceived on the level of Programming. It seems that Fantasy has as much to teach us about reality as human tracking. Going back to the idea of a predictive model, devoting more time to fully flushing out worlds that don’t exist, could significantly inform our approach to data-driven design methodologies in a way that is less invasive than human telematics.
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Real-life SimCity in New Mexico to become testing ground for new technologies that will power smart cities

A simulation video game can become a powerful innovation lab for new urban technologies, where researchers can test-drive every outlandish “what-if?” in a controlled environment. The Center for Innovation, Technology and Evaluation is launching a full-scale SimCity—a small, fully functioning ghost town equipped with the technology touted by futurists as the next generation of smart cities. Resembling a modest American town with a population of 35,000 spread over 15 miles, the virtual metropolis is sited on a desolate stretch of land in southern New Mexico. Set to be wired with mock-up utilities and telecommunications systems as realistically as possible, the quintessentially mediocre town will even have a gas station, big box store, and a simulated interstate highway alongside its tall office buildings, parks, houses and churches. The town will also be sectioned into urban, rural and suburban zones. From nuclear war to natural disasters to a stock market crash or a triple whammy of all three, the ho-hum hypothetical town will soon play host to driverless cars and packages delivered by drones, alternative energy power generation and never-before-tested public monitoring, security and computer systems. The goal of CITE is to provide the opportunity to test large-scale technology experimentations in real-world conditions “without anyone getting hurt,” said Bob Brumley, managing director of Pegasus Global Holdings, the Washington state-based technology development firm behind the concept. Brumley estimates that support infrastructure, including electric plants and telecommunications, will take 24 months to create, while the city will be fully built between 2018 and 2020. The uninhabited virtual city affords possibilities to test otherwise non-starter ideas hampered by safety and feasibility concerns in the real world, where human beings are the most fickle of variables. “It will be a true laboratory without complication and safety issues associated with residents. Here you can break things and run into things and get used to how they work before taking them out into the market,” Brumley told Wired. One of numerous experiments he envisions involves deploying a fleet of driverless freight trucks controlled by a centralized wireless network. Testing on a real freeway, on the other hand, would be too hazardous. Other ideas range from simple practicalities—having small drones drop off packages on doorsteps—to cataclysm readiness—simulating, a large-scale, real-time attack on energy, telecommunications and traffic systems, or the effect of a “massive electromagnetic pulse attack on all the integrated circuits in our economy.” Brumley estimates an initial investment of $550–600 million in direct investment, with an estimated total cost of $1 billion over the next five years as the city grows in size and complexity. We can only hope that their servers don’t crash.
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Google Maps turns any city into the eight-bit world of Pacman

pacman-maps-01 In what appears to be an April Fools' prank launched a day early, Google has added an eight-bit video game, ahem, Easter Egg feature to Google Maps. While browsing around the city of your choice, look for the Pacman box in the lower left-hand corner right next to the aerial photography button. Click it, and you're transported into a dot-filled, ghost-infested city street grid in search of cherries. Take a look!
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Video> "Oh Heck Yeah" turns downtown Denver into a communal video arcade

Whatever you may think of video games (new media art form, societal ill, lame waste of time) there was no avoiding them in downtown Denver this summer. From June 7 to July 26, three blocks of Champa Street between 14th Street and the 16th Street Mall were transformed into one big video arcade. Known as Oh Heck Yeah, the project assembled local and national arts groups and businesses to activate this stretch of turf with a variety of programming centered around a series of custom designed, family friendly video games. Designed by Denver-based creative teams Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games were played on the Theatre District's giant LED screens. Players controlled the games' characters with their body movements and had the opportunity to interact with them via Twitter profiles backed by local improv comedy group Bovine Metropolis. In addition to the games, Oh Heck Yeah's business and institutional sponsors put on a variety of "fun" happenings, such as karaoke, live music, dancing, and street theater. According to Brian Corrigan, the purpose of Oh Heck Yeah was to "use the power of play to connect people on the street." Connecting people, he said, makes the street safer and the city more "resilient," which has replaced sustainability as everyone's favorite buzzword. In its two months of operation, Oh Heck Yeah attracted 40,000 players and garnered Denver its fair share of national media attention.