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How many moles does Lemmy have? Play the Motörhead trivia board game and find out
09.29.2014
01:16 pm

Topics:
Games
Music

Tags:
Motörhead


 
How well do you know Motörhead? Even though I’m pretty much uh stalker-level with my knowledge of the band, even I didn’t know this game existed until recently. So how about you? DO YOU know how many women Lemmy has slept with? (Naturally, that’s a trick question as the number just keeps going up.) I suggest you put money where your Motörmöuth is by taking on the 1600 questions that are a part of the Motörhead trivia board game made by Swedish game makers, Rock Science.

Each question has a different level of difficulty: “Poser” (what’s an umlaut?), “Fan” (knows the titles of all 21 Motörhead records) and “Scientist” (knows more about Lemmy’s current medical condition than their own). There’s even a “Rock the Song” category that requires players to hum a Motörhead song until someone guesses the title.

Methinks this dangerous game may take quite a lot of booze and time to get through, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night. Or any night for that matter. It’s $79 bucks over at Motörhead’s merch store. Jack Daniels and amphetamine sulphate not included.
 

 
Motorhead trivia board game box

Posted by Cherrybomb | Discussion
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The Surrealists’ tarot deck
09.29.2014
08:22 am

Topics:
Art
Design
Games
Occult

Tags:
Andre Breton
surrealism
tarot


 
In 1940 and 1941 André Breton, widely considered the founder of Surrealism, and a group of like-minded individuals (René Char, Oscar Dominguez, Victor Brauner, Max Ernst, Jacques Hérold, Wilfredo Lam, André Masson, Benjamin Péret) decided to design their own deck of tarot cards. The deck they finally came up with was executed in a remarkably pleasing, almost ligne claire style. In accordance with the mindfuckery inherent to Surrealism, the group rejected the courtly/medieval theme of the traditional deck and nominated their own heroes to represent the face cards, including Hegel, Freud, the Marquis de Sade, Baudelaire, and so on.

(A quick clarification: It seems evident that this is a deck of playing cards or possibly a hybrid of tarot and playing cards. Sources seem unequivocal in describing the deck as a tarot deck, and so that’s what we’re going with too.)

The Surrealist deck of cards suggests a kind of post-Enlightenment, left-wing, revolutionary, intellect-based cosmology. So the royal hierarchy of King, Queen, and Jack was replaced with “Genius,” “Siren,” and “Magus,” this last word accentuating the occult roots of the project. Rejecting the traditional clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds as well as the traditional tarot suits (wands, cups, swords, and discs), the group invented its own symbolism, with flames and wheels constituting the red suits and locks and stars being the black ones. Flames represented love and desire; wheels represented revolution; stars represented dreams; and locks represented knowledge.

Brilliantly, for the joker, the group selected Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi (bottom).

Genius of flames: Baudelaire
Siren of flames: Marianna Alcofardo (author of Letters of a Portuguese Nun)
Magus of flames: Novalis

Genius of locks: Hegel
Siren of locks: Hélène Smith (nineteenth-century psychic)
Magus of locks: Paracelsus (Renaissance physician and occultist)

Genius of wheels: De Sade
Siren of wheels: Lamiel (from Stendhal)
Magus of wheels: Pancho Villa

Genius of stars: Lautréamont
Siren of stars: Alice (from Lewis Carroll)
Magus of stars: Freud
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
via Tombolare
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘Tampon Run’: Teenage coders make a video game about menstruation at summer camp
09.11.2014
07:38 am

Topics:
Games
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
video games
menstruation
tampons


 
While Anita Sarkeesian receives death threats and rape threats for the crime of generating thoughtful, detailed critiques of the sexism in video games, as happened just a couple of weeks ago, then you know that the world of gaming sorely needs a lengthy session of sensitivity training—if its problems with women aren’t so deep-seated as to resist any improvement, that is.
 

 
Enter Andy Gonzales and Sophie Houser and their charming Flash game Tampon Run, which they designed this summer at a camp called Girls Who Code. Gonzales and Houser are both high school students in New York who wanted to attack the sexism in the gaming industry.

As Gonzales says:

“We were brainstorming what our potential feminist game would look like, and Sophie jokingly suggested a game where you could throw tampons at people. The moment she said it, we realized it was a game we could make. We did some research about the menstrual taboo and realized it was a real problem that we could legitimately address with our game.”

The game is preceded by a few splash screens in which the creators explain their purpose in designing Tampon Run:

“Although the concept of the video game may be strange, it’s stranger that our society has accepted and normalized guns and violence through video games, yet we still find tampons and menstruation unspeakable. Hopefully one day menstruation will be as normal, if not more so, than guns and violence have become in our society.”

The game itself is very simple—it emulates Mario Bros. by having a character run in a rightward direction, shooting projectiles to kill an endless succession of oncoming marauders, except the projectiles in this case are tampons. Even removing the tampons from the equation, just having the protagonist be a woman is a relative rarity in video games. You shoot the tampons at the “enemies” until you run out of ammo, but every now and then a fresh box of tampons hovers near you, and when you jump you can refresh your supply. If an enemies reaches you, you lose two tampons. The game ends when you run out of tampons. The game doesn’t exactly reward hours of playing time, but I enjoyed it well enough—in my third game I achieved a high score of 129!
 

 
via Internet Magic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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David Bowie should be in every video game
08.21.2014
02:46 pm

Topics:
Games
Movies

Tags:
David Bowie


 
While I strive to be a Bowie completest, I feel like I’m constantly coming across some weird little project he did on the side, many of which are more intuitive than others. Somehow I entirely missed that he partially scored and had a small voice-over part in the 1999 adventure game, Omikron: The Nomad Soul. Frankly I’m a little surprised he never got into video game acting earlier—he has a great speaking voice, and is there a rocker more sci-fi than he? And that face! Those chiseled cheeks are perfect for 3-D animation.

The plot of Omikron even reads like a concept Bowie came up with. The player enters an alternate dimension to investigate murders in a futuristic city, eventually liberating citizens from a fascistic techno-government while attempting to evade demons trying to steal their soul (you know, script number 3). Bowie wrote some decent pop tunes for the soundtrack and played an underground revolutionary. He also makes an “appearance” as a singer for a band that plays illegal concerts. It’s all very much the cyberpunk “vive la résistance” aesthetics à la The Matrix, which came out the same year.

Where it falls flat is the attempt to divine a music video from the not-so-slick game animation—a rare miss from Bowie’s aesthetics. I mean, it’s not “Dancing in the Street” bad, but it’s no Labyrinth either.
 

 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Destroy millions of dollars’ worth of Ai Weiwei vases in new video game
05.22.2014
06:22 am

Topics:
Art
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:
Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei
 
Many of you reading this will recall the incident of last February in which a gentleman named Maximo Caminero destroyed a very valuable vase by the internationally famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei at the Perez Art Museum Miami.

Ai Weiwei and dropped vases were linked well before Caminero committed his act of artistic vandalism, which might in fact be regarded as a form of hommage—indeed, Caminero has said as much. For, nearly two decades earlier, Ai Weiwei did much the same thing in order to elicit a reaction. In his 1995 photographic triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, Ai Weiwei does precisely what the title indicates, getting butterfingers with a 2000-year-old relic. These three massive pictures were hanging just a few feet away from Caminero in the Perez Art Museum Miami, so his claim to be perpetrating hommage seems highly credible.
 
Ai Weiwei
 
You might even say that “Ai Weiwei and dropping valuable vases” constitutes one of the most exciting new artistic genres of our era. According to Chin-Chin Yap, in 2012 “Swiss artist Manuel Salvisberg created a photographic triptych called Fragments of History, which depicts Uli Sigg in an almost identical stance to Ai’s in Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. Here, Sigg drops the famed Coca-Cola Urn [a work by Ai Weiwei] that has long been one of the central pieces of his collection.”
 
Manuel Salvisberg
 
If I’m understanding this game correctly (and if we follow the logic of a certain conceptual-art exchange purportedly performed by Macaulay Culkin and Ryan Gosling last week), the next step in the sequence would be for Ai Weiwei to destroy an invaluable urn created by Manuel Salvisberg, or possibly by Maximo Caminero.

Be that as it may, a video game designer called Grayson Earle has broken this closed loop by creating an online video game called “Ai Wei Whoops!” in which the player repeatedly drops 2D images of Ai Weiwei vases on the ground, which then go smash. After that the tally of “approximate property damage” increases by some number in the neighborhood of a million dollars (it isn’t always the same number).

Here’s the Caminero video, for those who’d like to see the mayhem all over again:
 

 
via Hyperallergic

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘It’s Pie Face!’: Hasbro’s sadomasochistic kids’ game, 1968
05.16.2014
08:58 am

Topics:
Amusing
Food
Games

Tags:
Pie Face


 
What’s more fun than humiliating yourself in front of friends and family with a self-inflicted pie in your face?

“Pie Face,” made by Hassenfeld Bros (now Hasbro) in 1968, was a cream pie game version of Russian roulette.

...you placed a whipped cream “pie” on the launcher, then took turns spinning to find out how many times to crank the launcher’s handles. It was randomly set to let the pie fly into the player’s face, positioned within the target.

According to the box “Pie Face” is “The most fun-filled action GAME you’ve ever played!”


 
The “loser” of this variation on the Russian roulette theme is kind of the winner, though, ‘cause at least they get to eat some pie and not die.
 

 
The whole “goo in the face” aspect of the song lyrics in the “Pie Face” commercial jingle would probably have to be revisited if they ever revive this game… And what’s a “mystery handle” aside from a great name for a punk band?
 

 
Via Tracy’s Toys and h/t Richard Swanson

Posted by Tara McGinley | Discussion
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Danish gov’t creates perfect Minecraft Denmark; hooligans promptly blow it up, plant American flags
05.09.2014
09:37 am

Topics:
Amusing
Games
Science/Tech

Tags:
Denmark
Minecraft

Mincraft Denmark
 
I love everything about this story. I love what the Danish government did, in creating a perfect 1:1 Minecraft simulation of the entire country of Denmark, and I love what the users did, which is, by sheer inventiveness and determination, circumvent the Danish government’s well thought out measures to prevent people from messing with it. Well, maybe I don’t love the jingoistic instinct of the American gamer… Well, what are you gonna do?

About a week ago the Danish government made the meticulous simulacrum available to users. You can download sections of the Denmark map here. The simulation involved the use of “trillions” of Minecraft bricks, and although there have been similar real-life Minecraft simulations before, from all appearances this is one of the most ambitious and detailed areas of this sort yet achieved.

The Danish Geodata Agency, the creators of the simulation, intelligently disabled the use of dynamite so that users could enjoy the pixelated Scandinavian land unmolested. But the innate human need to fuck shit up prevailed. You see, the Danish Geodata Agency had neglected to disable the “minecart with dynamite” item. Oops. Users figured this out, blew up parts of a number of Danish towns, and put American flags over the main train station of Copenhagen (pictured above). In this reddit thread about the incident (in Danish), a Swedish user wrote in, “As a Swede, I’m happy to see this…..” (As usual, the Swedes and the Danes always get along under all circumstances…..)

Initially, the Danish government announced that it would reboot the map with add new restrictions to prevent the possibility of virtual vandalism. However, further investigation revealed that “only MINOR areas” of the map were destroyed, so they would leave the simulation intact. The simulation has been quite popular, having been downloaded 200,000 times already, so all in all it’s PR coup for the pleasant European nation that gave the world LEGO and Lars von Trier.

Here’s a little tour of the Minecraft Denmark (pre-vandalism) so you can see what it’s like.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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Animated ‘Breaking Bad’/‘Street Fighter’ mashup is weirdly satisfying
04.01.2014
07:38 am

Topics:
Games
Television

Tags:
Breaking Bad
Street Fighter

Street Fighter Walter White
 
This video is only a minute long, and there’s really not that much to it, but—I don’t know, it just works. UK-based animator Junior Jessman wanted to pay homage to a favorite video game and TV series, both of which happen to have a purchase on a distinct style of badassery, and the result is this slapdash Ryu-vs.-Jesse Pinkman masterpiece. All the characters look somewhat like Playmobil figurines or possibly Mr. Potato Head, but the love still flows through, what with the use of well-chosen audio samples and video effects. I love the cacti wearing cowboy hats to give the battle a solid sense of place.
 
Street Fighter Jesse Pinkman
Jesse uses his special “magnet power” move to subdue his foes
 
Jesse’s power move derives from his most famous utterance on Breaking Bad—“Yeah, bitch! Magnets!” from the Season 5 premiere. But when Ryu gets Jesse in a tight spot, who saves him but Walter “Heisenberg” White swooping in like a never-to-be-fucked-with Lo Pan in Big Trouble in Little China.
 

 
via RocketNews24

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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What if the Nazis had won? A 1960s top 40 radio sampler
03.28.2014
10:54 am

Topics:
Games
History
Music
Science/Tech

Tags:
Nazis
1960s


 
Alternate history is a fascinating genre of fiction. You have your anachronistic nostalgia, like steampunk, but that tends to be largely aesthetic, and I’m not that into parasols or goggles. (Also, the glorification of less technology tends to overlook some really inconvenient historical realities, like how inefficient steam power actually was.) I prefer my alternate histories to be horrifying dystopias, and “what if the Nazis won?” certainly fits the bill. There are some critically acclaimed novels based on that very premise—Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle,  Robert Harris’ Fatherland, and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, but this has to be the first time a video game has been set in a world where Hitler triumphed.

The Wolfenstein video game franchise has produced nine editions in total (the original in 1981), all of which are based on fighting Nazis. The latest incarnation, Wolfenstein: The New Order, takes place in the 1960s, where the player navigates a Nazi-controlled Europe in hopes of launching a counter-offensive against the regime. What appeals to me, of course, is the custom-made soundtrack—the “commercial” below is for a compilation of the 1960s “Nazi pop” that will play throughout the game.

The pre-order for Wolfenstein also includes a package of “artifacts,” like postcards and military patches, but it’s the soundtrack that really establishes the mood for a game. There’s prom-worthy slow-dances, bubblegum pop, growling rockabilly, beach-blanket bingo surf rock, and even some Teutonic psychedelia. You can listen to the whole thing here. I feel like the fact that I speak absolutely no German actually frees up my ear to recognize the attention to sonic detail.
 

 
Via A.V. Club

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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‘Juden Raus’: Nazi-era anti-Semitic board game where you deport the Jews

Juden Raus!
 
Who would have guessed that the Holocaust wouldn’t make for a perfectly peachy board game for the little German children of the Third Reich? As it turns out, getting rid of all the Jews just isn’t that much fun. (Of course, given sound game design principles, just about anything can be made fun, but foregrounding one’s own small-minded intolerance and hatred and desire to exile a minority group is probably not the first step in that creative process.)

In 1935 the Nuremberg Laws were passed in Germany—these laws codified the desire of the Nazis, at a minimum, to segregate Jews from all areas of public life. In effect the laws—which communicated the idea, “You’re not wanted here!”—were a powerful argument for accelerated out-migration. Those Jews who could afford it and who also avoided the tragic tendency to rationalize away the hatred directed towards them, got the point, and left if they hadn’t already done so. As the years ticked by, the urgency of getting some kind of exit visa would only increase.

A year after the Nuremberg Laws, a company called Günther & Co. released a Parcheesi-style board game; its title was one of the ugliest phrases in human history—Juden Raus! The title is best translated as, “Jews, Get Out” or possibly “Get Rid of the Jews” depending on your conception of agency, and is the most succinct possible expression of the official German attitude towards Jews under the Third Reich. (The word “official” is important here. Anti-Semitism was certainly popular enough to become a key pillar of the ideology of the state, but just as Tea Partiers don’t like Obamacare, not all Germans were equally afflicted by the disease.)
 
Juden Raus!
“Juden Raus! Das Neue Gesellschafts-Spiel” (“Out with the Jews! The Game of the New Society”)
 
In the game, young Germans across the Reich were encouraged, in what practically seems a parodic Firesign Theatre-style intervention, to move the six “Jew” game pieces around the board in such a way as to secure them on spots outside the metaphorical “wall” of the German state such that they would be transported “Auf nach Palästina!” (Off to Palestine!). Each game piece came with a conical “dunce”-style cap with a grotesque Jewish caricature on it. On the board itself were two little pieces of doggerel that helped explain the goal of the game: Zeige geschick im Würfelspiel, damit du sammelst der Juden viel! (“Show skill in this dice game, so that you gather up all the Jews!”) and Gelingt es Dir 6 Juden rauszujagen, so bist Du Sieger ohne zu fragen! (“If you succeed in chasing six Jews out, you’re the winner, without a doubt!”) At a guess, the inherently cooperative nature of something like the Holocaust interferes with the competitive imperatives of a good board game. In other words, how did the game work, exactly? If I exile three Jews and you exile just two, then I win? It doesn’t quite make sense.
 
Juden Raus!
“Off to Palestine with you, little Jew!”
 
Surprisingly, the best evidence we have suggests that the Nazis themselves didn’t like the game. Why? Because it had the effect of trivializing such the, er, “noble” task of purifying Germany. In one of the most remarkable bits of prose I have ever read, the Nazi newspaper Das Schwarze Korps in December 1938 published a brief review in which they sharply criticized the game.
 

This invention ... is almost a punishable idea, perfectly suitable as grist to the mills of hate of the international Jewish journaille, who would show around such a piece of mischief as a proof for the childish efforts of the nazistic Jew-haters with a diabolic smirk, if it would appear before her crooked nose.

-snip-

Jews out! yes of course, but also rapidly out of the toy-boxes of our children, before they are led into the dreadful error that political problems are solved with the dice cup.


 
In a recent academic paper about the game, which they aptly label “History’s most infamous board game,” Andrew Morris-Friedman and Ulrich Schädler get in the final word:
 

What insights are achieved from “Juden Raus!” about Nazi culture? It is hard to imagine a family sitting at a table playing a game that taught racial hatred. Yet it seems there were people like Rudolf Fabricius who imagined that some families would do just that. Fabricius was one of those mere supporters who thought to make some profit by following in the wake of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda. Today most people react with disbelief or disgust when informed of the game’s existence. “Juden Raus!” shows that after decades of propaganda, anti-Semitism was so deeply rooted in German society in the 1930s, that someone thought it would be a good subject for a children’s game. Racism is present in many board games, but “Juden Raus!” is unique in its portrayal of how racism manifests itself in society and is a terrifying example of the banality of evil.

 
In my research for this post, I stumbled across a more contemporary attempt to depict the full horror of the Holocaust in the form of a board game. Brenda Brathwaite’s 2009 game Train turned the task of loading little yellow people onto trains for some undisclosed final destination, with the reveal, late in the game, that the destination is actually Auschwitz, although the game’s suitably grim visual design gives the punchline away well before that point is attained.
 
Train
 
Here’s a 2009 video from The Wall Street Journal about Brathwaite’s game Train:
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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