"'This subject is bigger than and goes beyond just TOSE. Not knowing who makes our games has been (and I emphasize this) a problem since the Atari days. Warren Robinett's easter egg in Adventure was the only way he could take credit for his work, because publishers back then took sole credit for a game's creation; later on, he formed Activision to combat that mentality. And things began changing slowly: Companies like Electronic Arts originally championed those behind the games. As Trip Hawkins explained, "One of my mantras is, 'Creativity is the rearranging of the old in a new way.' My reference points for EA were Hollywood for product development, and the record business for promotion and distribution. I wanted to treat developers as artists.'" John Szczepaniak asks the question: "Who Really Makes Videogames?"
'For a small studio, with only enough resources to handle one game at a time, "transition" equals "layoffs." The early stages of a new project - concept art, placeholder code, design docs and blue-sky brainstorming - work best with small teams. So the execs fire everyone else, until it's time to ramp up once more. If they try to reassemble the same bunch later, guess what? Everyone has scattered to other jobs. It's just one more way the industry is broken.'
Allen Varney talks to Wideload Games' "Man With a Plan," Alex Seropian, about the future of game development.
"The game industry is alive and well, and it ain't going anywhere. Neither, for that matter, are many of the developers. Some of the best and brightest people I have ever met work - present tense - in the game industry. The golden lure that yanked me away from graduate school and into games had nothing to do with the "glamour" or any idiotic pipe dream about fame and fortune - it had to do with the people.
But we are bleeding talent at a horrendous rate. This is the real bogeyman for the actual development of games."
Erin Hoffman, the writer formerly known as "EA Spouse," explores the life of a game developer in "Why We Haven't Lapsed."
"In an effort to combine my hardcore gaming hobby, my journalism degree and a mild curiosity in yard sales, I decided to see what kind of videogame-related items were to be had amidst the assorted knick-knacks being cleared from the garages around Central Pennsylvania. I searched the lands for gems of the videogame world with only a pen, a notepad, a wallet full of small bills, the newspaper classifieds section and my Monty Python-esque haggling skills, and discovered a bit about gaming's history and perhaps my own in the process." Matthew McKeague goes on a search for ghosts of videogaming's past in "Epic Yard Sale Tale."
"Chainsaws and gore pass for cutting-edge in gaming, but Silicon Knights' Eternal Darkness takes the craft of horror further. A Call of Cthulhu-style Sanity system plunges characters into madness, but the game also reaches out into the life of the player as his character goes mad. Instead of zombies out of nowhere, there's that cold chill in the pit of the stomach, that little shudder as the game announces 20 hours of gameplay has been deleted. There's the unsettling feeling of realizing the bug crawling across the TV is on the inside." Shannon Drake delves into the mind of the madmen behind "Eternal Darkness" in " There's a Lot More to Tell."
"Normally, I would show up to school in a T-shirt, jeans and sandals; hopelessly underdressed by the standards of most Sophia students, but I didn't particularly care. The exception to all of this was my bright green 1UP mushroom T-shirt, which inspired even the most tenuous of acquaintances to comment, with genuine curiosity, 'So, you know Mario?'" In "They're Everywhere!" Pat Miller bridges the culture gap - with games.
"Like film and television, gaming has its wunderkinds, young stars that shatter expectations of accomplishment. I've assembled profiles of three of the best and brightest of these gamemakers, our industry's future game gods. One is an independent publisher, the second a revolutionary risk-taker, the third a graphical prodigy. Each is under 30 years old. Here, then, are three under-30 next generation gamemakers to watch." Max Steele presents "Three Under 30."
"It's becoming so ubiquitous that the hatred is old hat to us. Don't allow your kids to play videogames. It deadens their imagination, makes them more violent, exposes them to boobies and ruins their social conditioning with other kids. Most gamers are tired of hearing this, so tired they're numb to the criticisms. But what we don't hear enough of is the truth of the matter: Gaming is good for you." Mur Lafferty reveals to truth about gaming in "D&D Therapy."
"When the spring thaw came and the autocross season heated up, I discovered something wonderful: I now had a better feel for my car than I'd had in the fall, in spite of the fact that I hadn't taken it out of the garage in months. I could drive it harder, feel the tires braking away earlier and make corrections sooner. I was fast." Tim Stevens rides the power of racing sims to real racing victory in "Even Better Than the Real Thing."
"The first hundred or so miles came and went without much fanfare, but when I came across my first river, I made a terrible, terrible decision. While I thought it would be smart to pay the $5 to use the ferry to cross the river, I succumbed to peer pressure and decided to ford it. It was catastrophic: Oxen died, we lost clothing and the whole party lost some of its vigor. With many more rivers to cross, we learned a valuable lesson early on: Never, ever try and ford the God damned river." Dan Dormer takes on one the very first educational games, *Oregon Trail*, in "Anne Died Of Dysentery."
"You can always watch your progress, thanks to the progress bar sitting right on your screen, and every challenge you encounter comes with a ranking and color-code. If a quest is too difficult, it's marked red, or it's not even offered to you; if a monster is much weaker, its level shows up in gray. Instead of letting you think you should take a wild swing and see if you get lucky, the game reinforces that you should tackle a challenge that's right at your level.
Gamers feel the most sense of accomplishment when they're always facing just enough of a challenge - as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of 'flow.' You can credit World of Warcraft's addictiveness to how well it paces those challenges - and plenty of smart educational technologists beat and tinker with assessment algorithms, trying to accomplish the same thing. So, what if a game like World of Warcraft could be built around educational content - say, instead of killing murlocs, you're solving math problems?" In "Playing to the Test," Chris Dahlen explores the nature of educational games, and how they may be just what the educational system needs.
"Plenty of kids wind up press-ganged into the car, driven to a house that smells of cats and shouted at as they mangle Mozart, but it's seldom fun. Consequently, I was intrigued when I was presented with Allegro Rainbow's Piano Wizard." Shannon Drake talks to the man responsible for the game that just may make learning music fun in "Piano Wizards."
"When I first heard of Dr. Kawashima's Brain Age, I wrote it off as a clever marketing ploy. I mean, come on - a videogame that helps your brain do anything other than plot violent rampages in schools? Ridiculous. We all know that videogames were created to subvert children." Shawn Williams describes how he and his wife learned to live with her multiple sclerosis, helped, in large part, by a video game in "Learning The Gaming Way."
"Of all the female protagonists who now inhabit the landscape of gaming, there is one who stands apart: Jade, the central character in Ubisoft's Beyond Good & Evil, exhibits an admirable kind of cosmopolitan verve. She has somehow been freed of genre expectations. With her green lipstick and a powerful sense of loyalty to her family and the people around her, she cuts an idealistic but believable figure against the absurd backdrop of games." Jim Rossignol writes a touching love letter to an under-appreciated classic in "Green-Eyed Grrl."
"The practice is called 'ghost writing,' and it has been around as long, one supposes, as famous writers have had more money than time. Clancy, the man, has become a brand, and Clancy, the brand, has put more books in the hands of more travelers than perhaps even the Gideons." Russ Pitts speaks to the ghost writers of Red Storm in "Red Storm Writing."