Game Eaters

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Building games as a motivation for academic excellence

Got this one from Gamepolitics:

The Dayton Technology Design High School will enroll about 100 students, with about 80 in the “virtual game” track, requiring a three-year commitment and culminating in the completion, marketing and possibly sale of a student-created educational video game...

...The technology design school is for 16- to 22-year-olds willing to make a three-year commitment. During 70-minute periods, course work will cover math, science, social studies and English. In virtual game classes, students will work in groups of no more than 12 on a schoolwide project, creating an educational video game. The goal is to teach the kids work force, academic, life and “new economy” skills. Student work will focus on developing the technical framework of the game, managing the process and marketing the end product.

In my opinion, that's great. Assuming that they're selecting for students that are already engaged with games as an entertainment medium, the team structure and intensity of game development should be quite a challenging, yet exciting course. I hope that they will also be aiming to develop art and music (audio production?) skills for those students that are so inclined... I expect that they already have programming courses planned.

Also, only Dayton superintendents can make remarks like this and get away with it:

“When we first started talking about the video game, people laughed at us,” Superintendent Percy Mack said. “But they laughed at the Wright brothers, too.”

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Valve wants to break your head

Buried in the Team Fortress 2 hype, Valve has announced that an experimental puzzle FPS game called "Portal" will be bundled with Half-Life 2: Episode 2, anticipated for release on Steam in Q4 2006. It appears the "experiment" that Valve is performing here is one explictly designed to bend your noggin as much as possible. I don't think I've seen a more vertigo-inducing videogame clip since Descent.

Edit: Here's a link to the 720p HD version of the trailer.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Mascots and Messages

Next Generation has an insightful, detailed look at Sonic's life as Sega mascot, as well as theorizing a little about what makes a mascot powerful and relevant, or dated and out-of-touch.

When Sonic started off, he was one of the most well-conceived mascots probably in the history of mascotdom. Sega's console was faster than the competition's, so Sonic was super fast. Sega was the scrappy underdog, effortlessly showing up the "big guys", so Sonic was full of attitude. Sega's logo was blue, so Sonic was blue. The Genesis was targeted toward kids who were growing out of the NES, so Sonic was a sleek teenager (compared to the fuddy uncle Nintendo had going, who by comparison seemed to represent the "past generation").

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Bit Generations

A quick glance at Nintendo of Japan's bit Generations site tells us that Digitylish/Digiluxe, a grab bag of abstract (and possibly musical) GBA minigames, hasn't died a premature death since its subtle appearance at E3 2005. It's just being rebranded and tested in Japan first, I suppose. I'm hoping one of the other Game Eaters will take a crack at translating some of the Nihongo on the page.

There was some speculation that, due to the "Digi" name, the games in Digitylish were actually student projects from the Digipen Institute of Technology. However, some reporters have traced some of the origins of the minigames to Japanese game studios. Of course, that doesn't put an end to the speculation, since Nintendo works pretty closely with Digipen, and not all the minigame sources are necessarily accounted for.

I, for one, would love to see more student work appearing on Nintendo's portable machines. It could give this medium the random bit of mutation that is essential for future evolution... I don't really trust publishers to perform that function, and neither does Ron Gilbert, the "grumpy" designer of Monkey Island fame.