Without a doubt these are exceptional times; I cannot think of another moment in history in which capitalist democracies basically put their economies on hold to protect people. COVID-19 is causing great harm and we have a chance to do all our parts to fight it. The most important thing is to practice social distancing as much as possible.
Use your work computer and your own to passively help researchers using BOINC. It’s a way to use your computational powers to help researchers run simulations to better understand the Coronavirus.
While you’re staying away from people you can play Foldit@Home to help researchers working on COVID-19. Previously Foldit successfully solved an enzyme problem which AIDs researchers were facing. So now is our chance to play games to help fight COVID-19.
Foldit is a free, online game that anyone in the world can download and run on their Mac, Linux, or Windows PC. The main drive of Foldit is our science puzzles. These are weekly challenges that we refresh every week . . . that are directly related to research we’re doing here in the lab at the Institute for Protein Design or in our other labs. Foldit players can participate in the science puzzles. . . [which] are constructed in such a way that competing players who develop high-scoring solutions make meaningful research contributions.
Wero Creative released Dr. Trolley’s Problem yesterday and you should go play it right now. The game presents a lot of trolley problem situations you can play through to test your ethics. You’ll find yourself trying to decide which way a runaway trolley should go – towards the upstanding citizen or towards a dog? The game includes an autonomous car mode which echos the choices AIs will have to make when they get into sticky situations.
Dr. Trolley is an infamous robot mad scientist from another dimension who has sequestered you in its simulation to answer the most pressing questions.
The game includes dozens of dilemmas plus randomly generated problems which last anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute each. Some situations involve reading what is presented on screen. Within each situation the player decides whether or not to act to save a character (or not).
This coming Saturday (Nov. 23) from 2-5pm you can play a game which challenges the colonial narratives present in too many games. Presented as part of the Toronto Biennial, Unsettling: Settlers of Catan uses the bases of Settlers of Catan to get players to think about all sorts of assumptions on games. The game was made by Golboo Amani who creates art around and about our social interactions. It’s a really fun game and you should go play it!
Unsettling: Settlers of Catan is a playful, discursive intervention into the popular board game, Settlers of Catan. Artist Golboo Amani disrupts its colonial narratives with methodologies of treaties, collaboration, and allyship, inserting new game pieces, cards, and rules. With these new tools, players develop strategies of building on and repatriation of the colonized landscape, offering the opportunity to play out strategies for radical, social, political, and industrial change.
Biennial visitors can play the full game set with facilitated guidance from card dealers and the artist. Free ticket registration is required to play the full game, or join at any time to watch, or participate by tag-teaming.
Last year my company, Wero Creative, was hired to make an escape game all about radiology. We designed it to be a fun experience which incorporated knowledge that radiologists need to effectively do their job. It was a fun project to work on and through the process my knowledge of radiology went from zero to….a higher number. Luckily our client, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), provided all the actual knowledge and information the players needed to know. The results of the game have been excellent (which makes me feel good), and has been written up in an academic journal.
The escape room included both mental puzzles and physical puzzles, with teams of four to six participants being sent in as a group. One challenge, for instance, involved knowing the names of imaging diagnoses based on a description and certain “buzzwords.” A full-sized skeleton prop was also used, with participants being tasked with answering various questions about muscles and anatomy. A “debriefing” period was also built into the process, allowing participants to discuss the experience as a group.
“This helped players learn from each other and relate the activity to the reality of their future lives,” the authors wrote.
Overall, the escape room was held at RSNA 2018 in Chicago 27 times, with 144 residents participating. Sixty-four percent of participants were male, and all of them were millennials born between 1982 and 2000. While it was the first time 45% of participants had experienced an escape room, all teams escaped. The shortest escape time was 27 minutes and 28 seconds, while the longest time was more than 58 minutes.
Games are a very popular cultural medium with a reputation for not being very “deep”. Game Praxis is a new project I’ve co-founded to encourage game makers and players to ask big questions through gameplay. It’s a game competition and a journal focused on philosophy and games.
The goal is simple: generate more interesting content about how games can be used to explore bigger questions. For the first run of Game Praxis pre-existing games can be submitted so if you’ve already made a game that you think should be considered you can do so.
The Game Praxis mission:
Should you choose to accept it? Marx observed philosophers have interpreted the world when the point is to change it. Much the same could be said for the game industry. We need to build more than better worlds, we need to build a better world. We see crunch, the precarious careers of late capital, and a troubled and troubling apprehension of gender in game and the game industry as symptoms of an underlying pathology of the spirit. In the game industry, the measure of success is money. With all due respect to our invocation of Marx, we aren’t against the production of surplus value but we believe there are more creative ways to evaluate games, game industries and our lives in game.