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  Perplex City Implodes  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
This is a pity: Not only has Dan Hon left Mind Candy, maker of the successful ARG Perplex City, but so have a slew of other former staffers. Dan's brother Adrian has moved on from the Perplex City team, as has Andrea Phillips, Naomi Alderman, and David Varela. Obviously the game's second season is indefinitely postponed. I can't imagine things ended well (David Varela's post indicates the team was let go), but I do know that a group of this caliber will easily find a new project to work on, assuming they're all in the same boat.

[Update: Thanks to readers for pointing out I'd given David the wrong surname. Apologies for the error, it's been corrected.]
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Clickable Culture History: Permabans (Updated)  
 
 
Posted 2007-06-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Not too long ago, I intended to ban two long-time commentators here at Clickable Culture. I inadvertently deleted not only their accounts, but all record of their history on this blog. I then paid to have my web host restore the Clickable Culture database to an earlier state--the same morning I left for San Francisco for a week of work. I was unable to access the database all day yesterday, but this morning regained control.

The two commentators have had their posting privileges revoked, and dozens of their recent comments have been closed from public view. However, the vast majority of their history has been preserved. This is less a favor to them, and more a favor to my more constructive readers who might have been confused by the erasure.

As a result of the database rollback, several comments made late on May 31 and early on June 1 have been erased. Anyone who registered for an account during that time will have to register again. Sorry about that. Things should be hiccup-free henceforth.
 
     
 
   
 
  5 comments  
  Escape From L.A.  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'm writing from LAX, where I arrived after a long flight from Australia. It's been a tedious day here at the airport, what with waiting for my connecting flight, boarding a jet, learning about its mechanical problems, disembarking from the jet, waiting for a new jet, boarding that jet, learning about its mechanical problems, and disembarking again.

By the time my rebooked flight takes off for Boston (and eventually to Toronto), I will have spent about 12 hours at LAX, and over 24 hours in transit counting my escape from Oz. By the time I get back to Toronto (some time around noon Eastern time on Sunday, May 27), I will have been traveling for over 30 hours since leaving Tasmania. Thanks, American Airlines, for failing to check two planes properly before loading them. Thanks also for the ten dollar "food" voucher you so graciously gave me. I can almost afford a fancy coffee and pastry with that.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Child Porn Panic Hits ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As recently reported in the Second Life Herald, Second Life Insider, and acknowledged by Linden Lab, German TV network ARD has revealed Second Life depictions of child porn to national viewers and authorities.

Linden Lab explained yesterday that it was contacted last week by ARD, which presented footage of an adult and child avatar "engaged in depicted sexual conduct." The virtual-world maker assured readers of its blog that both participants were adults, and were "immediately banned from Second Life." Apparently, an ARD reporter also found pictures inside the virtual world described as "sexual photographs involving a child," and ARD reportedly handed over the images to German authorities. Linden Lab's requests for the location of the photos in-world have not been responded to, according to the company's blog.

Continue reading: Child Porn Panic Hits ‘Second Life’
 
     
 
   
 
  9 comments  
  School Authorities Arrest Teen Game Map Maker  
 
 
Posted 2007-05-02 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
According to Fort Bend Now, a Chinese-American teenager who created a game map of his school has been "removed from campus" and placed in another educational facility. The president of the Fort Bend Chinese-American Voters League told Fort Bend Now that the teen was arrested by school police. The teen's house was reportedly searched with consent; the police found a hammer on-site, and decided the boy was a threat. No charges were filed, but the teen "won't be allowed to participate in graduation ceremonies with classmates."

Fort Bend Now reports that "Speakers at the [school board's] April 23 meeting...drew a connection to the April 16 shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, in which a Korean student shot and killed 32 people." The commentary on the story by Fort Bend Now web site readers is particularly interesting. Several commentators accuse the teen of bad judgment, something I completely disagree with. In my opinion, this is at the very least an overreaction with political motives, if not flat-out racism.

What the authorities in this situation don't seem to be aware of (or care about) is that it is not uncommon for gamers to reproduce familiar real-world environments as game maps, from offices to schools, to malls. If you want to learn how to create game content, it's easiest to start with locations you know well--it's the same mentality that goes into creating model railroad scenes which replicate one's town or neighborhood. It's fun to play a familiar game in a familiar setting, just as its fun to operate model trains in a familiar setting: We like to play with what we know. I don't think a gamer is any more likely to be a murderer than a model railroad hobbyist.
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  ‘Virtual Me’ To Facilitate Furries, Age-Players?  
 
 
Posted 2007-04-19 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Gosh, it ain't just the avatar-bandwagon Electronic Arts and Endemol have jumped on, it's the Furry and "age-play" scenes as well. Wonderland's Alice Taylor snapped some pics of the opening keynote from this year's Women In Games conference, where EA's Sharon Knight mentioned the upcoming avatar-based "hybrid form of entertainment" Virtual Me.



Check out the Furry in the middle, and the kid on the right. It's like a page out of the inevitable Second Life Moral Panic Handbook. Suddenly I'm concerned about how extensive user-to-user interaction will be on VirtualMe.com. Will there be hugging? O NOES!
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
  ‘Webnation’ Kicks Off With ‘Second Life’ Smarm  
 
 
Posted 2007-03-29 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I'll be making a local and podcast TV appearance tonight on the debut episode of a CityNews/CP24 show called Webnation, where host Amber MacArthur and I chat briefly about the "seedy" side of Second Life. The show airs at 11:35pm Eastern Time on CP24, and as soon as I find out the URL, I'll post the podcast link--in the mean time, I invite you to scrutinize my gaunt, bald head in front of a green screen. I think I may end up posting a supplement to the 5-minute segment here, in order to expand on or clarify a few of the things Amber asked me about about on-air.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Chinese Gamers Offer Blood Sacrifice For ‘Cabal’ Access  
 
 
Posted 2007-03-22 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
According to Weird Asia News (and corroborated by Gamasutra.com), Chinese game operator Moliyo demanded blood from 120,000 Cabal players it recently banned for hacking. A blood drive was reportedly held in Nanjing on March 18, where banned hackers and new players alike could gain access to Cabal by opening their veins. Over 100 "distraught" gamers were ready to give up 500ml of their precious fluid.

Weird Asia News reports that "Chinese hospitals have had increasing difficulty attracting blood donors in recent years after scandals in which thousands of donors and blood recipients contracted HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. Blood donors in China are usually paid about 12 dollars per donation." Sounds like Moliyo set up a win/win situation locally. I'm not sure something like that would fly in North America.
 
     
 
   
 
  0 comments  
  Boston Guerrilla Marketing Scare’s Chilling Effects on ARG Design  
 
 
Posted 2007-02-03 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Boston Guerrilla Marketing Scare’s Chilling Effects on ARG Design
Angry Mooninite flips the bird at you.
A publicity stunt misinterpreted as a terrorist attack against the city of Boston could limit the ability of grassroots marketers, artists, and alternate-reality game developers to engage the public, if the city's Mayor gets his way. Boston was the target of a stealth marketing campaign last month that managed to spark fears of a terrorist attack this week. Illuminated mini-billboards featuring a pixellated cartoon character from the TV show Aqua Teen Hunger Force were reportedly placed in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, and other major U.S. cities. Boston's police force shut down parts of the city while the billboards (thought to be explosive devices) were sought out and destroyed. Authorities are describing the billboards as "hoax" devices (many bloggers have already pointed out the devices were never intended to masquerade as explosives), which apparently entitles law enforcers to press felony charges against the perpetrators.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, obviously steaming from having wasted vast city resources on a publicity stunt, has reportedly called for a ban on all guerrilla marketing campaigns due to concerns about public safety. I am reminded of how authorities overreacted to a zombie dance party last summer, or how the Revenna, Ohio police sent the bomb squad to investigate giant Super Mario Bros question blocks placed around town. Artist Space Invader affixes game-inspired ceramic pixel art to walls around the world, but he'd better stay away from Boston, lest authorities in that city imagine a real space invasion is taking place.

Continue reading: Boston Guerrilla Marketing Scare’s Chilling Effects on ARG Design
 
     
 
   
 
  7 comments  
  ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ Endangered:  Act Now to Avoid Disappointment!  
 
 
Posted 2007-01-12 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Is folk-game Rock Paper Scissors (a.k.a Janken) in jeopardy of being co-opted? The self-identified World Rock Paper Scissors Society claimed today to be the game's "international governing body," announcing it has launched a service aimed at providing "professionally-managed" games for corporate clients. Previous patrons have included TD Waterhouse and the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

Dear readers, I urge you to defy the World RPS Society by holding local, unsanctioned Roshambo tournaments exclusively for people free of corporate shackles. Rise up, citizens of Earth, and take back that which has been stolen! Rock Paper Scissors recognizes no master! Rise up with your fist, your open hand, your index and middle fingers! Shout it with me: Jan! Ken! PON!
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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