Three from Salon
First, a Coming up next: Ambushed on "Donahue"!, a thoughtful article on violence and storytelling in video games. It also offers good insight into the staged controversy that goes into making shoes like Donahue.
White explains how parents across the country had purchased Grand Theft Auto 3 for their children without any idea of its distasteful contents. Hello! The game is called Grand Theft Auto 3. It's rated M for Mature Audiences -- not appropriate for children under 17 -- "violence, blood, strong language." The hit men and prostitutes are right there on the package. If you are a thoughtful -- er, I mean, "thinkful" -- parent, how much more information do you need before alarm bells start going off in your head?
Unlike earlier video games that give you no way forward except to slaughter everything that moves, this game offers an enormously expansive and responsive landscape. Certain plot devices cue you about possible missions, but nothing stops you from stealing an ambulance and racing injured people to the hospital or grabbing a fire truck and putting out blazes or simply walking around town. This open-ended structure puts the burden on you to make choices and explore their consequences. If you choose to use force, you are going to attract the police. The more force, the more cops. Pretty soon, you're going down. GTA3 is only as violent as we choose to make it and, used wisely, the game can tell us a lot about our own antisocial impulses. White dismissed all of this as "purely technical."
Second, Switcher's Remorse, a surprisingly ill-informed screed from Salon on how the Mac wasn't the easy-to-use Nirvana promised. The letters in response do a better job than I could at rebuttal.
Third, Cory Doctorow of the always entertaining Boing Boing has published a story in Salon: "0wnz0red". It's a good story, but I had trouble getting past the first few pages -- he sprinkles in authentic geek-speak to give it valley cred, and he sprinkles it in correctly, but it's laid on too thick. I know geeks who speak like that, but never at quite that density. Still, once I got past that device, I really enjoyed the tale. 6:39:59 PM ()