The pain of Nintendo’s Friend Code system of online matchmaking only seems to intensify. It was an annoyance on the DS; it’s even moreso on the Wii, where the online component is much more integrated. Slashdot’s running a story from MTV’s Stephen Totilo about employing mnemonic devices and tools such as phonespell.com to turn your 16 digits of friendliness into something vaguely comprehensible and more easily remembered than an abstract number sequence. Come on, Gamespy; rescue us. The fact that people are resorting to such hackery suggests a poor design choice.
You might want to steer clear of this next story if you’re at all like Mark Twain and believe that examining something fully removes the mystique, fun, and beauty of that thing. Game Career Guide has a deconstruction of modes and purposes of gameplay which, incidentally, contradicts many of my own claims about convergence between art and gaming. It’s awesome. The scholarly article is presented clearly, with flow charts simple enough for a business exec to lust over. Watch out, though; you may find just how easily you have been manipulated by scores of game designers. Then you’ll feel bad.
I’m not sure how I spaced on this one, but the fifth episode of Telltale Games’ Sam and Max game has gone live on Gametap. This episode, titled Reality 2.0, finds our gumshoes involved in the inexplicable and terrifying world of the Internet. I’ve only played a little of it so far, but the in-jokes are plenty. I’m sad that the first season is drawing to a close. If you don’t have Gametap, the episode will be available directly on April 12.
I’ve written about the minimalist game The Marriage before, and cited it in my recent musing on games as art, which means hopefully some of you will be interested in this interview conducted with the game’s designer, Rod Humble. A choice quote: "Games are such a deep art form because they can have the author’s intent and the audience’s actions as part of the same experience." There’s an assumption there, of course, that there is a meaningful relationship between intent and action. The whole interview is a fascinating read, whether or not you buy into the potential for diversionary entertainment as artistic expression.
Mexico City is currently running an interesting program to reduce the number of firearms in the city’s worst districts. For each weapon turned in, you get a nice compensation in the form of technology. Larger and more frightening weapons earn you a computer; smaller arms can be traded for an Xbox. Microsoft helped the initiative by donating product to the city. On the first day of the program, there were only seventeen takers. I’m honestly curious about whether the people trading in the guns are the sort who the disarming ought to be targeting. I’m also curious to see if gun thefts rise proportionally with the release of Halo 3.