From Spacewar to Pokemon Go, video games – aside from becoming a large industry in their own right – have influenced the modern economy in some surprising ways. Here’s one. In 2016, four economists presented research into a puzzling fact about the US labour market. The economy was growing, unemployment rates were low, and yet a surprisingly large number of able-bodied young men were either working part-time or not working at all. More puzzling still, while most studies of unemployment find that it makes people thoroughly miserable, the happiness of these young men was rising. The researchers concluded that the explanation was simply that this cohort of young men were living at home, sponging off their parents and playing videogames. They were deciding, in the other words, not to join the modern economy in some low-paid job, because being a starship captain at home is far more appealing.
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Inventing toward delight
Humanity has been inventing toward delight for a long time.
Johnson began with a slide of shell beads found in Morocco that indicate human interest in personal adornment going back 80,000 years.
He showed 50,000-year-old bone flutes found in modern Slovenia that were tuned to musical intervals we would still recognize.
Beads and flutes had nothing to do with survival.
They were art, conforming to Brian Eno’s definition: “Art is everything you don’t have to do.”
It looks frivolous, but Johnson proposed that the pursuit of delight is one of the prime movers of history—of globalization, innovation, and democratization.
Consider spices, a seemingly trivial ornament to food.
In the Babylon of 1700 BCE—3,700 years ago—there were cloves that came all the way from Indonesia,
5,000 miles away.
Importing eastern spices become so essential that eventually the trade routes defined the map of Islam.
Another story from Islamic history: when Baghdad was at its height as one of the world’s most cultured cities around 800 CE, its “House of Wisdom” produced a remarkable text titled “The Book of Ingenious Devices.”
In it were beautiful schematic drawings of machines years ahead of anything in Europe—clocks, hydraulic instruments, even a water-powered organ with swappable pin-cylinders that was effectively programmable.
Everything in the book was neither tool nor weapon: they were all toys.
Consider what happened when cotton arrived in London from India in the late 1600s.
Besides being more comfortable than itchy British wool, cotton fabric (called calico) could easily be dyed and patterned, and the democratization of fashion took off, along with a massive global trade in cotton and cotton goods.
Soon there was an annual new look to keep up with.
And steam-powered looms drove the Industrial Revolution, including the original invention of programmable machinery for Jacquard looms.
Consider the role of public spaces designed for leisure—taverns, coffee shops, parks.
Political movements from the American Revolution (Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern) to Gay Rights (Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles) were fomented in bars.
Whole genres of business and finance came out of the coffee shops of London.
And once “Nature” was invented by Romantics in the late 1800s, nature-like parks in cities brought delight to urban life, and wilderness became something to protect.
Play invites us to invent freely.
Stephen Evans goes deep into the Milky Way to look at the phenomenon of StarCraft.
Stephen Evans goes deep into the Milky Way to look at the phenomenon of StarCraft and reveals how, in South Korea, it is more than just a computer game and is a key part of the rapidly growing multi-billion dollar world of esports. Worth over $620 million globally, with a worldwide audience of over 135 million people, esports are now big business, and in South Korea much of this thanks to the impact of certain computer game called StarCraft. StarCraft is essentially a sci-fi, military-based real-time strategy (RTS) game developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. It was released in 1998 and in the years since has become one of the world’s most popular computer game titles shifting over 11 million copies and spawning a mainstream cultural sensation in South Korea where thousands of fans pack into stadiums across the country to watch the best StarCraft players in the world battle it out for big money stakes. From the importance of PC Bangs - the ubiquitous street corner hubs for gaming fans - to the multi-million dollar world of professional StarCraft and esports Soul-based journalist and broadcaster Stephen Evans joins the dots of how this game took root in a South Korean society that embraced super fast broadband and was thirsty for a multi-scenario, multi-player and multi-layered challenge. Socially inclusive, cheap and available to everyone, since the late 1990s online gaming has taken this nation of 50 million people by storm, and StarCraft is central to this way of life. This way of life has brought dizzying successes and change, but with it the issue of addiction and related health problems the South Korean government have been forced to regulate this brave new world to tackle issues that are becoming increasingly relevant to policy makers outside of the Korean peninsular.
An investigation into the surprising history of games designed to change our political values, from the radical origins of Monopoly to a brand-new spin on Pokémon GO created to mobilize swing state voters in the 2016 presidential campaign. Special guests: Jane McGonigal, Mary Pilon, and Asi Burak.
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/wonderland-podcast/greater-than-zero-or-the-politics-of-purposeful-games
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Sun, 23 Oct 2016 10:02:14 GMT Available for 30 days after download
An exploration of the power of play, from screen-based games like Pokemon Go or Minecraft, to the imaginative worlds of children inventing playgrounds out of everyday life, with special guests with special guests Alison Gopnik, professor at Berkeley and author of The Gardener and the Carpenter, Youngna Park, head of product at Tinybop, Clive Thompson, journalist and author of Smarter Than You Think, and Ian Bogost, philosopher and video game designer.
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/wonderland-podcast/airplanes-zoos-and-infinite-chickens-or-why-do-humans-like-to-play
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Sat, 08 Oct 2016 18:18:58 GMT Available for 30 days after download
A look back at the origins of Spacewar!, the first original video game and one of the most influential pieces of software ever written. With special guests Stewart Brand and Spacewar! creator Steve Russell.
Original video: https://soundcloud.com/wonderland-podcast/32-dots-per-spaceship-or-the-videogame-that-changed-tech-history
Downloaded by http://huffduff-video.snarfed.org/ on Sat, 10 Sep 2016 21:51:54 GMT Available for 30 days after download
Annie Duke was often the only woman at the poker table, which influenced the way people saw her - and the way she saw herself. Feeling like an outsider can come at a cost, but also be an advantage.
This week on Tech Weekly with Aleks Krotoski we discuss the reasons behind a rush by the UK government to get new data laws on the statute before the summer recess of parliament. Aleks speaks to Jim Killock executive director of the Open Rights Group about the dangers of rushing such important legislation and why this might endanger our civil liberties and rights as consumers.
Aleks is also joined by the Guardian tech team in the form of Samuel Gibbs and Shiona Tregaskis to discuss Amazon’s recent application in the US to test out its drone delivery system Prime Air and Guardian games editor Keith Stuart give his top five tips for those who have just returned to the world of gaming and are nervous about picking up a controller.
Finally Guardian technology editor Charles Arthur meets Boris Sofman, founder of the robotics company Anki. Boris discusses the recent launch of his Anki Drive toy cars and why the technology running is not so different to the technology behind Google’s self-drive car.
Are you ready to run your own cloud? Be your own Windows XP tech support? Watch total strangers play video games? Debate whether it’s possible to design things for forever on the internet?
It’s episode 6! We’re officially into the high single digits. In this episode, I speak to writer, publisher, producer, maker and all round difficult-to-pigeonhole person, Leila Johnston. We talk about play, and making for the sake of it; that bit in the venn diagram where geeks and sci-fi cross over; the future, and what it means without the past; grassroots movements and the consumer experience; coding because you have to, and experts vs ignorance.
Plus – in what is becoming a regular feature – more holiday tips.
Sandy Noble’s Linear Clock
Leila at TEDx Brighton
Warhammer and Warhammer 40K
Sarah Angliss in Wired
Alex May on the ZX Spectrum
Holiday tips! Acoustic Mirrors at Dungeoness, and Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, Lizard Peninsula
Leila’s website, Finalbullet.com
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