Saturday, October 17, 2009

Evolution In Action*

There are a number of recognised methods for responding to a rhetorical challenge on the Internet; the tried-and-true casual obscenity, the ad hominem attack from the more literary aspiring as well as the usually devastating Fisking with the ultimate recourse being the dreaded Ban. Up to now, at least.

Followers of the LGF/Hot Air (and seemingly endless list of others) public conniptions of recent months duration will especially appreciate that a new form of literary response has arrived on the Blogging Scene - the Comic Retort. Frankly, I doubt there are all that many with the native talent/creative software skills required to pull this conversational gambit off well, which only serves to make the present example even more appreciated. As ever, opinions vary of course, but I for one offer credit for originality of the current example and look forward to future development of the literary form in future.

You takes your pleasure where you finds it as it were.

* Bonus credits to those who can identify the Pournelle/Niven novel in which the titular sentiment was originally expressed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Games People Play

Update: Messed up the links; fixed now (I think).

Let me preface this by stipulating that I have precisely zero experience with digital games, and effectively the same with fantasy role-playing games regardless of format. That said, I do have some knowledge of their potential as more than personal time-sink/entertainment. Now comes my blog-friend Stephen Gordon with his own creation to challenge gamers everywhere.

Did I mention it's a free download?

Granted my lack of expertise with the subject, what I find most intriguing about Stephen's game is that it seems to encourage and reward creative adherence to historical accuracy amongst the players without requiring them to master a complex set of rules and guidelines prior to commencing play. One of the things I'm hoping those more experienced of the genre can ascertain is how much this is actually the case and how such a process might be reinforced without damaging the game-playing experience itself.

It has long been my personal belief that games of this nature could serve as instructional vehicles into the workings of language, mathematics and the sciences generally if having to master those (and other) subjects could be plausibly incorporated into an otherwise challenging game format. Think Halo, but the player has to accurately figure ballistic performance and blast coefficients in a given situation in order to advance into the highest (and most rewarding) stages of play. The same sort of structure could equally apply to multiple language fluency or application of the tenants of the physical sciences as well, I think (if you're old enough, a game in which every player has to demonstrate the talents of MacGuyver in order to best succeed). I suspect such an endeavor would work best as subsidiary elements within a more complex structure like that of the game Civilisation or the on-line environment The Sims or the like, but I don't think this is an actual requirement or reason not to create such games in the absence of a recognisable structure to place them within.

Again, I congratulate Stephen and look forward to more and better in future.