the (un)real middle-earth

There are many sorts of ironies. E.g., it is sometimes hard to make people understand that one can simultaneously be a pacifist, and love games — or fantasy, horror and science fiction, for that. I even intensely dislike all forms of competition, and like to lose, just to make the point. How can I then like games? Well, I do not like all sorts of games, nor do I play the games that I do in particularly competitive ways (some fellow role-players of course might want to abandon the concept of “game” altogether). Nick Yee says that he has not find proof for Richard Bartle‘s “Explorer” type to be validated in his RPG study. Well, we might be a small minority, but we do exist. I am waiting for the Middle-Earth Online just for the opportunity to explore the land, see the places, to get another way of imagining “being there”. That is fun. That is life.

Btw, what is reality? Do you know it? Just remembered one neuroscientist explaining his thesis how our basic brain state is dreaming: our brain is actively generating reality, constructing it. We are not just receiving information from outside, we are actively projecting our own conceptions and gestalts of its character “from inside”. And that is why fantasy is our fundamental condition.

(Another piece of irony: MEO is advertised as the “first Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game based on The Lord of the Rings”. Now that is a slight miscalculation, if I ever saw one.)

While writing this, I found the tunes at RadioDarvish.com. Now this site rocks.

playing for being

Playing Halo, I suddenly remember some evenings of play, when I was a child. Running, evading, laughing and screaming aloud. Other parts in the game remind me from books, movies. Larry Niven and the Ringworld, of course, but so much more also. At certain point all that battle becomes purely mechanic, and then everything is just about reaching out. Getting to the next hilltop, over the brook. Playing for being, being for playing?

tech or not?

E3 came and went, with its various games tech news. New devices, like info on the Nintendo DS, Sony PSP, and an updated Nokia N-Gage were announced. All very interesting and nice, I however find myself also looking for some breaking news on the actual game design areas. Games that received most attention seemed to be safe-and-secure sequels to old success concepts: Doom 3, Halo 2, Half-Life 2. It is hard to build future just on imitation. Nor just on new tech, even if all areas of innovation are important.

Tried out the D&D Heroes tonight — and in game technology terms, it appears superior to BGDA2, but — again! — something is missing. This time, the immense repositories of creative content built for D&D during the years have translated into a shallow and impersonal game setting that does not help you to get immersed in the fantasy. There is a careful line between entertaining stereotypes and near-mythic structures acting as mirrors for imaginative production, and plain old banality.

home from dublin

Last week I joined HIIT guys in a three-day trip to the Dublin’s Media Lab Europe. Many thanks to Simon Jones and all others in MLE who took time to discuss with us and present their work. Interesting stuff. And the beer was great, of course! (Janne and Fernando here, in the mood…)

looking for the right stuff

After BGDA2 (hm.. the Black Isle website seems to be down at the moment), I was encouraged to continue testing other RPG-style games. However, it seems to be that it is hard to say what are the right holding power factors, or the right combination of them, in my case at least. Neverwinter Nights is an old acquaintance, but I do not seem to find time to actually play the Shadows of the Undrentide expansion that I recently installed. And there is the Hordes of the Underdark pack also available, oh yes. Last night we then playtested Final Fantasy: Chrystal Chronicles with Laura (CameCube and two GBAs with cables involved), and even if the collaborative gameplay has its obvious strengths, there seemed to be something missing. Don’t know. Perhaps it is just the lack of history and familiarity with FF series that was holding us down? Might be that trying again would change the feeling, kupo.

servants of the machines

Continuing the previous note on the firewall configuration slavery; I have been thinking about the increasing complexity of our surroundings. Working with our Morphome project in the Lab have made me pay more attention to the amount of work we do just in order to maintain the machinery that surrounds us. Current information technology is obviously complex and still sometimes unrealiable to the point of being ridiculous, but think also the other technological components of your living environment: how much of your time do you spend taking care of your house, car, bicycle, or clothing? How much of that work you actually want to, or enjoy doing? To put this other way around, what would be the “heart of our humanity” without our constant service to technology, supposedly at our service?

firewall burns

I finally took it over to make my system even slightly better in terms of security, and installed a router with firewall capabilities. Nothing goes as planned, not with IT, at least. Practically whole weekend was ruined, as I was installing, rebooting, reconfiguring in an endless loop. This time the error conditions had a sort of surreal beauty with them: system seemed to work or not work with random sites and services, simply at whim. Phoned my ISP service number, and just after half an hour of queuing (oh, perhaps 45 mins), and with no help, I return home and reboot, just to find everything miraculously working again. Reading the router system logs, the lullaby of electronic times?