Avoiding Challenge in Videogames

I don’t play video or computer games to be challenged. There, I’ve said it. And I don’t feel ashamed to admit it. Note that I don’t typically play in easy mode, usually gravitating towards whatever the game suggests is normal. Firaxis calls this “Veteran” for XCOM 2, Fallout 4 dubs this “Normal”, and Rise of the Tomb Raider’s standard mode is called, well, “Tomb Raider”. I always default to the normal mode when firing up a new game, and most of […]

Silicon Valley Comicon

The first Silicon Valley Comicon (so named, anyway) wrapped up last weekend. While successful, the overly large crowds marred what should have been a great event. We talk about how what we liked, how it can be better, and why it might have to move out of Silicon Valley to be better. Meaning Friday evening made it all look easy. Relatively light crowds, friendly staff, and enthusiastic vendors created a pleasant buzz. Saturday… well, Saturday turned out to be a […]

The More Things Change, the More They Don’t

I seem to be on a history kick this week. As I dug into my past experiences with the early days of 3D graphics cards, I stumbled across a trove of old Word documents from the days when I wrote for Computer Gaming World. What really amazed me is how little things have changed. Things really haven’t changed in more than a decade. Inside this gem lives a review of the latest Total War Game, an ad for the latest […]

It All Happened Before: the 3D Revolution

I stood on the threshold of the hotel room in April, 1995. Mike Weksler, then technical editor of Computer Gaming World, pushed me gently into the room. We’d just crashed the private suite of a secretive company developing a new type of chip to accelerate 3D graphics for home PCs. The company’s name: Rendition. What I saw took my breath away. A scene from Paypyrus Design Group’s NASCAR Racing game looped on a PC screen, showing a  stock car rolling […]

The Bicycles In My Life: Lynskey Viale

I owned and rode a Lynskey Viale titanium-frame bicycle for six months. That six months taught me a valuable lesson about something I call “the hubris of experience”. As you move up the learning curve in any endeavor, you can reach a level of competence where you believe you know more than you really know. Think of it as an offshoot of the Dunning-Kruger effect. In my case, I’d become familiar with bicycle geometries that worked well for me, so […]

Video Games Get Vertical

Video games now permeate society at all age levels and socioeconomic strata. The vast numbers of people playing games creates communities of gamers who live only in their particular gaming niche. Electronic gaming was always a tribal activity, but today’s gaming communities seem more narrowly focused than ever. Online FPS gamers and MOBA players rarely mix or read about the other’s activities. Strategy players live for one more turn, or a few more minutes, RPG aficionados obsess over their characters. Indie […]

Game Developer Conference 2016

The 30th Game Developer Conference wrapped up this week. As expected, we saw a strong emphasis on VR. But there’s a lot of other things happening in game development as well. Meaning Games have become a big business, but gaming has also become a cultural touchstone. The business of creating, designing, writing, and producing games dwarfs Hollywood’s output. Moreover, designers now create games which resonate emotionally. What’s the meaning and role of game development in this increasingly influential new medium? […]

The Favorite Son: Nikon D300

I learned more about photography shooting with the Nikon D300 than any other camera I’ve ever used. Because Nikon designed the D300 as a pro-level body, the camera offers little in the way of hand-holding features. The camera lacks scene modes or other souped up automation. A single program mode came the closest to hand-holding automation. This lack of hand-holding is the primary reason I became a better photographer using the Nikon D300. Getting back to the basics of composition, […]