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James and Ian take books from the MIT GameDev list and use them to talk about video games. It's a podcast about video games and the importance of play in a complicated world.

James and Ian take books from the MIT GameDev list and use them to talk about video games. It's a podcast about video games and the importance of play in a complicated world.
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James and Ian take books from the MIT GameDev list and use them to talk about video games. It's a podcast about video games and the importance of play in a complicated world.






Wonderland, Part 3 – Whimsy, Illusion, and the Neural Network

This week James did his homework and takes Ian on a psychonautical journey into the fifth chapter of "Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World," by Stephen Johnson. The idea that human fascination in projecting illusions into our universe has continued to be a pattern in the modern world makes sense. Think about it. We've gone from cave drawings to the Oculus Rift. Where our imaginations used to be the only vehicle, we can now almost touch for real - almost. Join us as we discuss the...


Wonderland, part 2 – Hygge not Hygge

This week James and Ian continue the discussion on Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World, and wonder themselves if this conclusion seems a little broad for their liking. They also talk about what kinds of games might be the coziest, curl up next to a fire, get a cat on your lap, and frag some noobs kinda games. We talk about the Danish custom of Hygge, aka that sweet cozy hibernation station exercise, and figure out how we can square-peg-round-whole this paradigm shift into our own...


Wonderland – Part 1

We have chosen our new read for the series. It's a nifty non-fiction called Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Stephen Johnson. We found it on the MIT Press Game Design tab, and Johnson had previously been on the New York Times Bestseller's List for his book How We Got to Now. The book's thesis is wonderfully straightforward, as it argues that delight - not necessity, not hunger, not capitalism, etc - led to the most forward thinking and powerful innovations of our modern world....


The Hyper Real Boys

Today we get philosophical and discuss Jean Baudrillard and his views on simulation and simulated experiences. Games provide simulated experiences, but the emotions and choices that they invoke are still real. So, are we in a simulation or the straight up base reality? We also bring on a guest, Dr. Jonathan Arendt, who helps us wade through the monster of this philosophy. As we continue to creep towards a world with more incorporated virtual experiences, it's important to weigh how important...


Very Special Edition, part 2

We're taking a pause before the next book series to talk about some games we've been playing. Ian gets up on his soap box, James talks about Magic the Gathering and Hearthstone. We talk a little about nostalgia, and a surprising amount about a 'girlfriend' simulator in VR. It's a weird world, but we're still happy to be a part of it. More on the Witcher 3, Empire: Total War, Together VR, Magic the Gathering, Hearthstone, and other sweet sweet things. Ian also botches an effort to promote the...


Sport 2.0, part 3 – First you get the eyeballs, then you get the money…

Then you get the power. Esports, we are sure, are here to stay. Listen to Ian and James discuss the rise and continued growth of the esports industry in the final chapter of Sport 2.0. Esports is huge business, which streamers bringing millions of views a day, going head to head with major league sports franchises around the world. Also, we finally decide to include esports into the category of sport, but try not to hound to hard on the semantics. If we can establish that there is a sliding...


Sport 2.0, part 2 – Olympics, Orange Slices, and High Fives

This week Ian and James discuss e-sports and their possible place in the Olympics. Ninja gets more than 30 millions views a month, and that's roughly the number of folks that tuned into the Rio Olympics in the USA. Should that matter? We think so. We also discuss how video games and sports continue to replicate each others' structure and format more and more, and how viewers and players alike are changing their tastes to match. Kids these days are involved in just as much hero worship and...


To: Player – Very Special Edition, part 1

While James was away this week, Ian discusses some of the new (and old) games he has been playing, including: Terraria, They Are Billions, and the new update for No Man's Sky. These are just some quick updates on some new releases and some oldies-but-goodies. Ian also takes a moment to talk about the tragic shooting following the Madden 2K event in Jacksonville, Florida just over a week ago. While trying not to get to political and stick to what this podcast is about, this is something that...


Sport 2.0, part 1 – Sports, Stereotypes, and Accessibility

In this episode James and Ian introduce the book Sport 2.0, written by author and sports researcher Professor Andy Miah. The worlds of physical and digital games are converging, and that's forcing us to have some important conversations with one another. What is a sport, anyway? We talk about how sports games challenge us while promoting accessibility and participation for all, and how games previously only possible in our imaginations are being created by studios around the world. The...


Ethical Gaming, part 3 – This War of Mine

James and Ian discuss the game "This War of Mine," which was developed in partnership with War Child. It is a bleak game designed with the intention to build empathy in its players, having them experience some of the difficulties of wartime through an indie-game lens. This game dealt with some very difficult subjects, and so with that in mind we think its important to put a trigger warning in place. This game has instances of violence, both physical and sexual in nature. Though sexual...


Ethical Gaming, part 2 – The Walking Dead

James and Ian discuss the Telltale hit "The Walking Dead, Season One" and the difficult pathways it lays out for the player. Continuing with the book "Beyond Choices" by MIT researcher Miguel Sicart as a guide, they talk about how the game creates player complicity in this dark post-apocalyptic title. The Walking Dead, Season 1 consists of five episodes and was released between April and November 2014. It is an amazing immersive and emotional experience, and we highly recommend it!


Ethical Gaming, part 1 – Papers, Please

James and Ian discuss indie title "Papers, Please" and how it is designed to create a gaming experience that deals with difficult choices, and forces the player to engage ethically with NPCs in the fictional setting of Aristotzka. We also discuss the book "Beyond Choices" written by game design scholar Miguel Sicart, and published by the MIT Press. It is also stated, incorrectly, that Dr. Sicart works at the "MIT Research Labs," which not only isn't a thing but incorrect either way. He works...