...Has Entered the Game

Happy 2016 to you all. My holidays are officially over, if they ever happened. The last two weeks of
Changeist
...Has Entered the Game
By Changeist • Issue #7
Happy 2016 to you all. 
My holidays are officially over, if they ever happened. The last two weeks of December were spent working in fits and starts from the road while traveling to the US and back to visit family. Aside from the family tech support duty, running copious errands and filling wish lists, this meant watching my two teens go through their media consumption rituals, which, like those of many teens, includes time spent on video-game platform Steam or in the basement of the meme-o-sphere, communicating in fragments of Vines and GIFs. After several weeks of interstitial Google Docs, Skypes and WhatsApp threads, even I retreated to two late nights of Civilization V as a form of retreat from the retreat. 
What I recalled from this re-exposure to games is just how much game “culture” and aesthetics have backwashed into the real world, particularly for the young. This isn’t a particularly new theme, and I’m not a professor of video game culture, but it’s always worth taking a moment from time to time to peer into these “bleedthroughs” and think about the implications. Simulations infect our experience of the real world, setting expectations of how our actions impact the environment and complex systems (I saw several examples of this in recent writing about COP21, oversimplifying the cause-effect of our actions on climate change, for example). Some games just become zen-like simplicity (like Neko Atsume below) or infinitely expanding randomness (like the infinitely receding No Man’s Sky). 

What We've Been Up To
Susan Cox-Smith writes about how so many apps and IoT systems get women wrong, taking an overly simplistic view of menstruation and fertility, creating unrealistic expectations of “normal,"or flat out infantilizing the user.
...Has Entered The Game
Gamers Stuck in Traffic Jam for Ten Minutes | Next Nature Network
The idea of a crush of incoming gamers creating a simulated traffic jam has a certain charm, particularly alongside a picturesque Dutch canal. In the not-too-distant future, this may be the main way many urbanites experience this throwback of car culture.
Speed Trials: Finishing Video Games As Fast As Possible, For Fun and Profit | Hazlitt
From the time my eldest started playing games, speed-runs have been more important than actual game play. I often wondered what impact this is having/will have on things like education, or expectations of office life. 
Playing the Book, Reading the Game | Hazlitt
Two pieces from one source feature this week. This one on how video game aesthetics have infected literature (and cinema for that matter) is interesting. Indie game design has definitely crept into film, and its impact on books and other media forms is also tangible now.
The perfect game for a generation that has burned out on complexity, Neko Atsume isn’t new, but its recent appearance in English has created a mini-wave of excitement about…well…nothing. I watched both children care for their cats over the holidays, like tamagotchi with no downside. 
I’ll admit, I’m a closet simulationist. While I have issues with this approach to human-AI cooperation, the reference to making the world a giant version of SimCity made my ears perk up. Reading Matthew de Abaitua’s IF/THEN at the moment (I swear I’m nearly finished) has helped scratch this simulation itch.
The Network
Joanne McNeil’s recent piece for the New York Times on assistant apps named for throwback secretary figures points out a similar issue in tech culture that Susan’s piece above does—casual sexism is being reinforced with each new generation of applications and tools. It seems like a simple pitfall to avoid, and yet so many companies don’t just fall but run and cannonball into it. 
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