Tag Archives | Games

Fun and Games with the World’s Oldest Deck of Cards


The Hofjager Hunting Pack (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

At Atlas Obscura, Eric Grundhauser explores the interesting history of the Hofjager Hunting Pack — the world’s oldest known completed deck of cards.

via Atlas Obscura:

What did people in the 15th century do for fun? It was not known as a real “party” era, as France and England continued the bloody Hundred Years War, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake and the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople and ended the Roman Empire in a seven-week siege. Oh, and Spain began its inquisition. But one relic of happier times has survived: the world’s oldest completed deck of playing cards.

Known alternately as the Flemish Hunting Deck, the Hofjager Hunting Pack, or the Cloisters Pack (it is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Cloisters location), the set of cards now recognized as the oldest in the world was originally thought to be just kinda-historic.

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Everything I know about homelessness I learned from SimCity

David Blackwell. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

David Blackwell. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Aaron Sankin at Kernel Mag:

In October 2012, a gamer posted a provocative comment to a forum run by Electronic Arts about its beloved, long-running SimCity franchise.

“There is one area I’d like to see as future expansion … the homeless,” gamer IanLoganson wrote. “Most cities have homeless … Some of the world’s biggest cities now are in the rapidly developing countries and one big problem [they] seem to have is slums. Let’s say you have a thriving commercial city full of landmarks, high-end jobs and high-end housing. Such city lights draw the dispossessed in search for hope and if there aren’t enough low-end jobs, low-end housing, or a social safety net, they end up on the street.

“A small homeless problem is no big deal, but as it gets bigger it brings down property value and discourages tourists,” IanLoganson continued. “You need to think of helping them with aid, providing more jobs/housing for them, or getting the police to kick them out of the centre.

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The Weird World of Ultra-Realistic Sims

steamworkshop_collection_123715746_collection_brandingNick Gillett says “Forget alien encounters in space and orc slaying, a new range of simulation games offer up the more mundane delights of driving a ferry – or acting the goat,” writing for the Guardian:

The enduring appeal of video games is that they let you pretend to be someone you’re not. Roman emperor, Renaissance assassin and space marine are all standard-issue jobs for gamers. Not only that, most games sex up their subject matter, Michael Bay-style, with relentless, meaningless action and unnecessary explosions. Yet, despite all the high-octane thrills offered by much of the medium, a growing number of players are opting for a less fanciful form of escapism.

The upcoming European Ship Simulator, for example, places you at the controls of ferries, tugs and fishing boats, as well as vast, ponderous ocean-going behemoths. Euro Truck Simulator 2, meanwhile, features reasonably lifelike trips between neighbouring European industrial centres, its joy derived from the journey rather than constant gaudy fanfares of achievement.

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Do “brain training” games actually help kids?

Children playing video games inside a video game truck. By Gamesingear via Wikimedia Commons.

Children playing video games inside a video game truck. By Gamesingear via Wikimedia Commons.

According to Emma Blakely at The Conversation, the brain training games might not have any effect. Do you mean to tell me that these are empty promises to drive sales? How shocking.

via The Conversation:

There has been a big increase recently in the number of computerised “brain training” programs marketed at young children. These programs make impressive claims – that they can help children learn better, that they improve children’s focus and memory, and that they can help children succeed in school.

There’s no doubt that brain training is big business. But scientific evidence suggests that these claims are premature. These programs can help train children at specific tasks, but there is little evidence that this has an impact on their performance in maths, reading or other every-day activities.

Working memory training

Many of these brain training programmes target improvements in working memory.

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A Game for the Deterred

habitrpg_pixelAs an avid procrastinator with big plans, I often found myself going to bed every night unsatisfied with what I did, or rather didn’t, accomplish that day. I had tried everything from writing daily to-do lists, leaving sticky notes all over my apartment and desk at work, and even setting alarms on my phone reminding me to stay on track. Nothing worked and I kept living on with my half-motivated, mostly unproductive self.

That is until I found this game: HabitRPG. It’s a rather typical RPG game: you level up and earn gold for completing tasks. Only they aren’t tasks within the game, they’re tasks you complete yourself. I know you might be scoffing at the idea, laughing at how easy it is to cheat, or just snickering because it’s an open-source RPG that still has a long way to go. But hear me out: It’s insanely rewarding.

There’s something to be said about crossing an item off your to-do list, especially if the task is difficult or particularly involved.… Read the rest

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The Anarchist-Marxist Sport Of The Future: Three-Sided Football

threeAmerican football it will be played in the Super Bowl is clearly a metaphor for the conquering of territory by force, a reenactment of the nation's creation. Is it time for a national sport with different theoretical meaning? Wikipedia on three-sided football:
Played on a hexagonal pitch with three teams instead of two, it was devised by the Danish Situationist Asger Jorn to explain his notion of triolectics, his refinement on the Marxian concept of dialectics, as well as to disrupt one's everyday idea of football. The game deconstructs the confrontational and bi-polar nature of conventional football as an analogy of class struggle in which the referee stands as a signifier of the state and media apparatus, posturing as a neutral arbitrator in the political process of ongoing class struggle. The first known game was organized by the London Psychogeographical Association as part of the Glasgow Anarchist Summer School.  
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Documents Reveal NSA Targets “Leaky” Apps Such As Angry Birds To Spy On Smartphone Users

Are virally popular, addictive phone games nothing more than a fiendish plot to get us to install spyware on our devices?The latest from the Snowden document trove via the Guardian:

The National Security Agency and its UK counterpart GCHQ have been developing capabilities to take advantage of “leaky” smartphone apps, such as the wildly popular Angry Birds game, that transmit users’ private information across the internet.

The data ranges from phone model to personal details such as age, gender, current location (through geolocation), education level, sexual orientation – one app recorded even specific sexual preferences such as whether or not the user may be a swinger.

One mobile ad platform, Millennial Media, appeared to offer particularly rich information. Millennial Media’s has partnered with Rovio on a special edition of Angry Birds; with Farmville maker Zynga; with Call of Duty developer Activision, and many other major franchises.


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The NSA Isn’t The Only One Playing Games: Enter Xylem

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 9.44.55 AM

“Shall we play a game?”

Via Computer World:

The U.S. Department of Defense may have found a new way to scan millions of lines of software code for vulnerabilities, by turning the practice into a set of video games and puzzles and having volunteers do the work.

Having gamers identify potentially problematic chunks of code could help lower the work load of trained vulnerability analysts by “an order of magnitude or more,” said John Murray, a program director in SRI International’s computer science laboratory who helped create one of the games, called Xylem.

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The Return of Dungeons & Dragons

Black Dungeons and DragonsOf course for some of you D&D never went away, but all of a sudden there’s a resurgence of interest from ad agencies and design firms. Sam Grobart reports for BusinessWeek:

Bust out your graph paper and dodecahedron die, because Dungeons & Dragons is back—and in business. Literally.

In a video that may seem a parody at first, but really isn’t, ad agency DDB demonstrates how using the role-playing game from the 1970s and ’80s can help people understand and design user experiences (UX) for websites.

Vincent Higgins, DDB’s executive director for UX, explains in the video how “Dungeons & Dragons taught me everything about user experience design.” Higgins, who will clearly be played by Fred Armisen in the movie version of this story, says he was “heavily involved” with the role-playing game and its hit points and half-elves while growing up. As a designer of choices and paths a person may take when visiting a website, he realized that his old days as a chaotic-evil gnome (or perhaps he was a lawful-neutral paladin?) could inform the work he is doing today.

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