"The Frag Dolls, Ubisoft's team of sexy girl gamers, have engendered controversy since their inception. Originally promoted as a sponsored clan, the latest 'About Us' page on the official Frag Dolls site reads, 'The Frag Dolls are a team of gamers recruited by Ubisoft to represent their video games and promote the presence of women in the gaming industry.' Sure, that's Ubisoft's line on the group, but I wanted to hear about the Frag Dolls from, well, a real Frag Doll." Joe Blancato pierces the veil in "Frag Doll on Frag Dolls."
"Some people hear 'outsourcing' and go completely nonlinear. Often, these folks feel personally threatened that someone in India or China will take over their own job. We're just starting to hear that note of fear in the electronic gaming industry, where 'offshoring' (subcontracting production work to overseas studios) is quietly becoming standard practice - fostered, in great part, by Ubisoft." Allen Varney addresses Ubisoft's role in the practice of software "offshoring" in "Ubisourcing."
"Who the hell is Ubisoft? It's like some kind of personality black hole; compressing a galaxy of individuality into a dimensionless, cross-platform singularity so dense that no personal information can escape its vast event horizon. (Everything I know, I learned from Star Trek.) Has it grown too big to support an individual identity, or has it become the worst kind of soulless byproduct of a passionless corporate mind?" Spanner attempts to define the ubiquitous publisher in "Everywhere and Nowhere."
"Ever tried to watch all three extended editions of the Lord of the Rings trilogy? That's the filmic equivalent. It was with this mindset that I began to play 'Dreamfall: The Longest Journey,' the sequel to my favorite game of all time. Tom Rhodes spends "Two More Days in Arcadia."
"Game designers and reviewers universally recognize immersion as a signal virtue of games, perhaps the central virtue. Nonetheless, they seldom analyze the idea. Possibly, recognizing the elusiveness of immersion, they fear (in Alexander Pope's phrase) breaking a butterfly upon a wheel." Allen varney explains why the academic debate over immersion may be more harmful than helpful in "Immersion Explained."
"Look around your computer. Pick up something - your mouse, the coffee mug, that box-set of Desperate Housewives DVDs that you, er, are keeping for a friend. Look at it. Turn it around. Throw it up in one hand and catch it in the other. Now, put it down.
Congratulations. You've just accomplished something that Mario, Lara Croft or the Master Chief never could."
Gearoid Reidy profiles middleware developer Havok in "Cry Havok."
"It's a situation we're all likely to face eventually: There's a hooker upstairs, behind a locked door, and she's waiting, willing and ... waiting. Problem? A burly bouncer bars the way. He wants a password before he'll open the door and let you find your own personal nirvana in the arms of the woman-for-hire. But even if you were to somehow find the magic word, he's not likely to step aside and let you ride for free. You're broke, see, and you seem to have left your marketable skills in your - erm - other pants. What to do?" Russ Pitts examines the de-evolution of the adventure game genre in "Not with a Bang, But a Click."
"'That's Lakeview,' says George, my boyfriend. Slouching in the window seat next to me, he casts swift, tightened glances at the ravaged earth below. Somewhere, down there, is his family. 'Over there,' he gestures vaguely. 'That's where the levee broke.' "Lara Crigger struggles to find meaning in escapism amidst the wreckage of a natrual disaster in "Escaping Katrina."
"Josh Smith, a blogger, decided to conduct his own survey last December. He played for 33.9 hours on Xbox Live with the original Xbox. He recorded 641 instances of profanity during that time. The most common curse was "f***." The word accounted for 43 percent of the instances and occurred about eight times an hour." Dean Takahashi takes a look at Microsoft's corner of the online gaming world in Live Disruption.
"On June 1, 2006, The New York Times reported on a Chinese phenomenon called "internet hunting." A husband, who believed his wife was having an affair with a college student, posted the young man's real name to one of China's most popular message boards, along with a letter decrying the affair. Hundreds of people took up the cause of finding as much information as they could about the student, known as Bronze Moustache." In iMob Matthew Hector explores the outer limits of internet anonymity.
"Someone asks me to change some facet of our corporate policy. The funny thing is, this policy was just changed based on someone else's suggestion. Now this new guy wants it changed back to the way it was." In My Second Job Whitney Butts examines the perils of leadership.
"Today, though, something else separates the men from the boys in the gaming world. Those shy, skinny 16-year-olds can still conquer the beefy football players and 30-something executives ... but only if they have the real-world cash to back their characters." Laura Genender weighs in on the secondary market debate in There Goes the Neighborhood.
"'Actually, it's an allegory of race relations in the United States - the white woman is using the brown man to keep the black man down.' Blank stares all around. I tried again." Pat Miller explores the curious reluctance of gamers to address the racial divide in You Got Your Race In My Videogame.
"In retrospect, the idea was painfully naïve. Although Infocom's founders vaguely knew they wanted to create business software, they had no model, no business plan, not even a product." Lara Crigger examines The Short, Happy Life of Infocom
"The Sims Online should have been a sure thing. The premise reads like a gaming executive's dream sheet. A popular, long-lived franchise loved by casual and hardcore gamers alike; a game that sells at Wal-Mart as well as it does at EB Games ... The 'sure thing' is now an 'also-ran.'" Shannon Drake examines the morality tale of The Sims Online in 20 Million Dollar Failure.