November 29, 2012
I don’t have anything particularly insightful to add to the news that MoMA has acquired 14 video games for its permanent collection, apart from a hearty “hurrah!” and slight confusion about what it means for a museum to “acquire” a video game. Luckily, MoMA’s Paola Antonelli comes to the rescue on that last front, writing a detailed post on the museum’s blog:

In order to be able to preserve the games, we should always try to acquire the source code in the language in which it was written, so as to be able to translate it in the future, should the original technology become obsolete. 

Then of course there’s the issue of curating the backend of the game (the part that arguably contains the creators’ true creativity), the code. Writes Antonelli:

We request any corroborating technical documentation, and possibly an annotated report of the code by the original designer or programmer. Writing code is a creative and personal process. Interviewing the designers at the time of acquisition and asking for comments and notes on their work makes preservation and future emulation easier.

Then there are the rights issues, which can only be legion. So it’s not perhaps as simple a slamdunk as you might have imagined, and hats off to MoMA for recognizing the artistry and genius of the likes of Pac-Man, Katamari Damacy, and The Sims (with Pong, Asteroids and Donkey Kong still to come.)
[Pac-man image via Flickr/methodshop.com.]

I don’t have anything particularly insightful to add to the news that MoMA has acquired 14 video games for its permanent collection, apart from a hearty “hurrah!” and slight confusion about what it means for a museum to “acquire” a video game. Luckily, MoMA’s Paola Antonelli comes to the rescue on that last front, writing a detailed post on the museum’s blog:

In order to be able to preserve the games, we should always try to acquire the source code in the language in which it was written, so as to be able to translate it in the future, should the original technology become obsolete.

Then of course there’s the issue of curating the backend of the game (the part that arguably contains the creators’ true creativity), the code. Writes Antonelli:

We request any corroborating technical documentation, and possibly an annotated report of the code by the original designer or programmer. Writing code is a creative and personal process. Interviewing the designers at the time of acquisition and asking for comments and notes on their work makes preservation and future emulation easier.

Then there are the rights issues, which can only be legion. So it’s not perhaps as simple a slamdunk as you might have imagined, and hats off to MoMA for recognizing the artistry and genius of the likes of Pac-Man, Katamari Damacy, and The Sims (with Pong, Asteroids and Donkey Kong still to come.)

[Pac-man image via Flickr/methodshop.com.]

February 9, 2012
Independent Video Game Raises $643,698 (and counting…)

Gaming world veteran, Tim Schafer and his company, Double Fine Productions, launched a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money for a new “point and click” adventure. They reached the $400k minimum within, well, a day, and showed the genuine power of the crowdfunding mechanism done right. They also launched another warning shot across the bow of the current big gaming world players, which simply do not seem to know how to respond to this shift in the economy—and seem too often to have become far removed from the fans of the medium who put them in positions of power in the first place. Schafer breaks it down beautifully:

Big games cost big money.  Even something as “simple” as an Xbox LIVE Arcade title can cost upwards of two or three million dollars.  For disc-based games, it can be over ten times that amount.  To finance the production, promotion, and distribution of these massive undertakings, companies like Double Fine have to rely on external sources like publishers, investment firms, or loans.  And while they fulfill an important role in the process, their involvement also comes with significant strings attached that can pull the game in the wrong directions or even cancel its production altogether.  Thankfully, viable alternatives have emerged and gained momentum in recent years.

Crowd-sourced fundraising sites like Kickstarter have been an incredible boon to the independent development community.  They democratize the process by allowing consumers to support the games they want to see developed and give the developers the freedom to experiment, take risks, and design without anyone else compromising their vision.  It’s the kind of creative luxury that most major, established studios simply can’t afford.  At least, not until now.

July 16, 2011
“Shadow Cities isn’t just the future of mobile gaming. It may actually be the most interesting, innovative, provocative and far-reaching video game in the world right now, on any system.” New York Times reporter Seth Schiesel is in love.

Shadow Cities isn’t just the future of mobile gaming. It may actually be the most interesting, innovative, provocative and far-reaching video game in the world right now, on any system.” New York Times reporter Seth Schiesel is in love.