What We Make Will Be Interpreted

Today, Nintendo issued an apology to its fans about not including same-sex marriage as a possibility in the game Tomodachi Life. This is essentially the end of a journalism and marketing snafu that started last year and has been bubbling on the internet for a few weeks now, since the announcement of the game’s release outside of Japan. I’m going to give a very brief description of the events that transpired, but I’m not going to go into detail. If you want that, Christian Nutt has written a very good article about what happened and why it’s important. Please see his article if you want to know more. It started with some Japanese players making opposite sex Miis in Tomodachi Collection: New Life and making them look like the same sex so that they could marry, which was misconstrued due to a bad translation that the game included same-sex marriage and that this was a bug that Nintendo intended to patch out. The game never included same-sex marriage and it wasn’t removed, but because of the bad translation and rumormongering, Tomodachi Life was on everyone’s radar. So when it was announced for western release in April, a petition spawned to have Nintendo include same-sex marriages as a point of equality, to which Nintendo offered a response, which was received very poorly. Two days after the response, was when Nintendo issued their apology and pledged to make future Tomodachi games more inclusive, stating that they could not retroactively redesign the game to allow same-sex marriages. That’s about all I’m going to say about the situation. Again, if you want a more in-depth look at the issues here, take a look at Christian Nutt’s Gamasutra piece. He explains it better than most I’ve seen. Instead I’m going to talk about something that comes from Nintendo’s first response: “Nintendo never intended to make any form of social commentary with the launch of ‘Tomodachi Life.’” This is going to be about understanding what happens when you make something and put it out there.

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Leaving Home

Arizona has been my home for seventeen years. It’s hot here. It’s brown here. There’s no water. It doesn’t change. But it’s home. I know where everything important to me is. Here are those people who I see every day, who drag me out when I have nothing to do, who encourage me. Here are also those people who have seen me grow, who have taught me and learned from me, who have nurtured me in my career. And yet, I’m leaving them, leaving the whole state.

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Coversations With Game: Abdication of Design

The following is a conversation that I witnessed happening on Twitter and I thought that it would be a shame to have it lost to the fleetingness of the way Twitter works. These kinds of conversations go on all the time, but usually they disappear after a few hours and aren’t able to be located again. So I checked with everyone to see if they would be alright with me putting it together into a readable form, and then throwing it up on my blog. I received no objections.

The conversation started when Naomi Clark (@metasynthie) asked the question “Is the “abdication of design” phenomenon really a problem, or just a series of missed expectations sprouting from design idealism?” and many people joined in to help tackle the question. The participants included: Naomi Clark, Mattie Brice, Raph Koster, Harvey Smith, Liz Ryerson, Ben Johnson, Lex Johnson, Brendan Vance, Todd Harper, and Stephen Winson.

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Follow the Sun – Competition Version Postmortem

Over the past weekend I made a little game called Follow the Sun, for Ludum Dare 28. I want to take some time to go through the process of making the game, talking about what I learned and how I approached making a game in 48 hours.

For those of you who do not know what Ludum Dare is, it is a “competition” where you make a game from scratch in 48 hours, based on a theme that is determined by voting (the theme is released when the competition starts). This also means that you have to make all the assets yourself in that time frame, and code it from the ground up. I say “competition” because it’s more about actually making the game, than it is about winning. It’s a difficult thing to make a complete game in 48 hours!

In this postmortem, there are a bunch of things that I want to hit upon. First I’ll give a description of the game. Then I’m going to talk about the theme of the game vs. the theme of the competition. Then I’m going to go into what I couldn’t do due to time running out, and what I couldn’t do due to lack of skill. Finally, I’ll talk about my general experience making Follow the Sun. Suffice it to say this postmortem will ruin part of the game for you if you haven’t played it. If you don’t want to get story-spoiled, play it first before reading on!

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Defending Next Week… So I Made New Graphics

Next week I’m defending my applied project for my MA in English. It’s a really casual applied project, talking about how I made my masters education work for me, and how I conducted a large research project over the course of my five graduate semesters at ASU. Basically, my applied project is just about how I, as a masters student, developed PGDI through redesigning my classes to fit the project’s needs. I’ll put up my slides once I’m finished with it. If you aren’t sure what PGDI is, it’s a method of describing games and their players that attempts to do a better job than genre does in this respect. You can find out more here.

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Embargo Lifted on Rosewood

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I have been busy with a lot of things, such as graduating, writing papers, gathering data, writing chapters, freaking out, etc. But in the interim, somehow I found time to make a game. The game is called The House at the End of Rosewood Street, and I’m finally able to talk about it publicly. I actually finished the first version of the game in May, and finished the first release of the game in September, but I was unable to talk about it due to the fact that I had wanted to submit the game to the 19th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. Today, the voting is over (I placed 16th out of 35), so I can finally talk about the game without any worry of violating any of the competition rules about releasing the game publicly beforehand or pandering for votes.

Rosewood is an interactive fiction game that puts you through a week in the life of a handyperson for a quirky street where a mysterious figure has just moved in at the old, abandoned manor house for which the street is named. The game was an experiment in exploring the dense notions of the uncanny, the fantastic, and the abject, which are used to evoke horror to great effect in the cinema of the Weimar period of Germany.  I’m not going to say too much about the game here, as I’ve given it its own page where you can also play the game.

The game was written in Inform 7, a natural programming language for text-based games. A long time ago, I mentioned using Inform 7 for experimenting with design, and this was the first game I completed using it. I rather like my experience with Inform 7, and I’m already planning out my next game with it. It’s really easy to make something substantial in the system. It’s also good for making random text-generators to run on my phone (I made a random tabletop adventure generator in about three hours the other day). I recommend trying it out, though people who are used to programming in a symbolic language (like C++) might have a hard time adjusting to Inform 7′s natural language style.

Catherine, as Described by PGDI – Part II

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about describing the mechanics of Catherine based on the descriptions of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). I had decided to split it up into two parts, the first post looking at the Customization, Progression, and Social categories. There was supposed to be a follow-up post last week that described Catherine via the Immersion, Mastery and Participation categories, but as you may or may not have noticed, that did not happen. Without going into too many details, I decided that I had written enough for the first month of the semester and met with some professors to greatly adjust what I am doing this semester for their class. Basically, the goals for what I was going to do this semester were inadvertently already met within the first month, and we decided that the rest of my work was unnecessary. So I proposed a new semester’s work and now I will be aiming towards something I wasn’t going to touch this early. There will be more details about that in a separate post. For now, let’s just get down to describing the Immersion, Mastery, and Participation categories of Catherine.

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