• "…even if they make the rules explicit, it’s not going to help the “power-leveling problem” which is ostensibly the reason for all of this grief. Unless they remove all difficulty options from the system, there will always be easier and harder ways to level. And remember what I said above: users tend to prefer easier content with better rewards. This isn’t limited to user-created content — it’s true for designer-made content, also. But designer-made quests don’t get graded by the players. Player-voted content like this will always gravitate towards easy. And pick-up groups will always be picking the most rewarding content with the least annoyance. And the game devs will keep being unhappy about it." Smart analysis of the problems with City of Heroes' user-generated missions.
  • "Games don't separate learning from assessment. They don't say "Learn some stuff, and then later we'll take a test." They're giving you feedback all the time about the learning curve that you're on. So, they're not the only solution to this problem by any means, but they're a part of the solution of getting kids in school to learn not just knowledge as facts, but knowledge as something you produce; and in the modern world you produce it collaboratively." Jim Gee is a smart guy. I need to read more on him.
  • "I suggested that, when it comes to the design of embodied interactive stuff, we are struggling with the same issues as game designers. We’re both positioning ourselves (in the words of Eric Zimmerman) as meta-creators of meaning; as designers of spaces in which people discover new things about themselves, the world around them and the people in it."
  • "Statisticians’ sex appeal has little to do with their lascivious leanings … and more with the scarcity of their skills. I believe that the folks to whom Hal Varian is referring are not statisticians in the narrow sense, but rather people who possess skills in three key, yet independent areas: statistics, data munging, and data visualization. (In parentheses next to each, I’ve put the salient character trait needed to acquire it)."
  • Ron Gilbert plays The Secret Of Monkey Island again, and takes notes. Nicely measured – neither grumpy nor jubilant, it reads like an interesting director's commentary. Good stuff.
  • "This week I've killed Steven Spielberg three dozen times. I'm feeling better about the whole thing now, so I'm not going to vent any more steam about his increasingly asinine – and frankly pretty arrogant – repetition of the 'games won't be important until they can make you cry, which up until now they haven't been able to, but don't worry I've come to fix things' line." Which, you know, is good, because it means Margaret can talk about the joy of cubes instead. Or Cube, to give him his proper name. A wonderful One More Go, this week.
  • "I’ve mentioned before that I get the ’so how come you like games’ question pretty regularly, and don’t have a particularly cogent answer, beyond ‘because they’re awesome’ and some stuff about the funny quizzes my brother used to write for me in Basic. But one key component was an amazing pop-up book about computers that made it perfectly clear that they were the most exotic, powerful and fascinating things ever made and that, if at all possible, I’d quite like to grow up inside one." Turns out Margaret owned *that* pop-up book.
  • Brandon on a genuine piece of interactive TV programming – Endemol's live 360 version of 1 vs 100, coinciding with the broadcast of the show in Canada. This sort of thing is always a nightmare, so impressive to see it working so well.

Old news, but worth an announcement: I now appear to be doing some semi-regular writing for Offworld, the Boing-Boing stable’s wonderful gamesblog. As well as making the odd post from time to time, I also seem to be writing a regular feature entitled Something For The Weekend, which each week looks at one game – which you can play right now – that I’m going to be spending some time with over the coming weekend.

So far, it’s covered Outrun Online Arcade and The Chronicles of Riddick; this week takes a turn for the indie with Popcap’s awesome Plants Vs Zombies.

If you’ve not been reading Offworld, do check it out; Brandon – the esteemed editor – is a lovely chap, it’s got some fantastic regular contributors (including comrades Rossignol, Robertson, and Parkin), a great take on the world of games and game culture that really marks it out from most of the other gamesblogs there, and a lot of fine writing. In short: worth your time.

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