Simulated Worlds

Sim Society: DARPA, serious simulation, and the model that stopped a flood – Eurogamer: Video games like SimCity have prepared generations of gamers like me to look at the world from a top-down perspective. But this is the same perspective a social scientist might have on the world.

Is this our next great dystopia? – Eurogamer: God games like Black and White, resource games like Settlers of Catan and Civilization, or SimCity are another kind of prism through which to imagine a potential society. Can virtual worlds become a tool for visualizing alternative paths?

Ever, Jane – The Guardian: Jane Austen’s works have been given the World of Warcraft treatment, but with dinner parties instead of dungeons – and gossip instead of guns.


The US town ruled by an AI storyteller – Eurogamer: James Ryan, a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, uses code to tell stories.

Not quite film, or games … is interactive mixed reality the future of storytelling? – The Guardian: Cutting-edge tech utilising VR and augmented reality is inspiring new narrative forms. And creatives at Sundance festival’s New Frontier are excited.

BadCupid: Procedural romance in a digital world – Eurogamer: How do you turn a person into an algorithm?

AI storytelling engines – an interview with the Hearthstone dev who created stories that tell themselves – Polygon: “Instead of authoring a single story, designers author a ‘story economy,’ the behind-the-scenes system of generating stories. What does this mean? Storybricks uses procedural content generation to automatically create branches where they are needed by using what the team refer to as an ‘AI Director.'”

The future of game narratives will be designed with Scorsese algorithms – Polygon: Reporting from the BAFTA Games keynote of Quantic Dream studio head David Cage in London.

How Games tell stories – Bit-Tech: “Do we, as gamers, limit ourselves by comparing games to the stories and structure of films and novels, by wanting a game equivalent of War & Peace or Citizen Kane? Are video games even storytelling systems in the same sense as novels or cinema? Can a story exist that’s told in different way to the three-act, narrated structure of books and films?”


Inventing the Future Through Serious Games – Variety: CTRL-labs is using neuroscience technology to harness human intention.

How Magic Leap, Video Games Are Defining Future of Royal Shakespeare Company – Variety: At the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford upon Avon, Sarah Ellis has the difficult job of figuring out where theater of the 1500s fits into the 21st century.

How VR Is Being Used to Help Children With Learning Disabilities, Autism – Variety: The United States Department of Education is betting on virtual reality to help students with high-functioning autism and learning disabilities in schools across the country.

The Neuroscience of Mind-Control Gaming – Variety: In late 2016 Boston-based startup Neurable received a $2 million investment to develop software to control virtual and augmented reality with their mind.

Record labels have a new target: streamers and gamers – The Verge: Can streaming culture and the music industry coexist in a world where algorithms are used to track down unlicensed tunes, strip audio from videos, and dole out bans to streamers?


On eSports and authenticity – Polygon: “In the face of Riot’s attempts to bring a similar level of legitimacy to its eSport, there is still a question of whether digital competitions carry the same significance as physical sport?”

Don’t fear the rise of Fortnite and other video games – they bring young people together – The Guardian: “Mental health worries dominate headlines about gaming. But esports millions of fans aren’t feeding an addiction, they’re seeking kinship.”

Where are the women in eSports? – Polygon: “While often blamed on sexism in the pro-gaming community, the low numbers of professional gaming women is in part a result of marketing strategies aimed to encourage a much more specific demographic.”

Gender segregation in leagues: A couple things we can learn from chess leagues – Polygon: “While female-only leagues can help foster these smaller community, the question remains whether they can help solve a fundamental issue of integrating women back into the main community.”

Games criticism

What’s the role of the critic when there’s no money left to fund art? – Polygon : “It’s a bitter truth — at least for people like me — that the need for critics will always be reconsidered after an economic crash.”

The Riot Grrrl spirit comes to video games – Eurogamer: ” Both punk and nerd kingdoms represent a counter to the tastes, views and expectations of the mainstream – a place where outcasts can find an alternative home and commune with those who share their interests. However, as women and other minority figures of the punk community came to realize, here too they were sidelined.”

Eulogy for the last honest man in the games industry – Polygon: “Depending on where you stand on Peter Molyneux, February 2015 will be remembered as the month when either the devil or angel on his shoulder finally told the game developer to stop speaking to the press.”

Patreon and the changing role of criticism – Polygon: “Today in an era of economic upheaval and website closures, low income writers and no income writers, Patreon may be the very best alternative for the struggling journalist to carve out their career among the white noise of competition.”


Stories Untold – Eurogamer: “Nostalgia can soothe the homesick, but ultimately you can’t go home again. Where Stories Untold is at least partly a genuflection at the altar of old stuff, it touches on another idea: the way nostalgia distorts reality, and how it can be used to hide reality from yourself.”

The Secret World – Polygon: “The Secret World is Funcom’s rumination on what it would be like if MMO development was taken over by Neil Gaiman. As with the studio’s 2001 release Anarchy Online, Funcom has slipped hemlock into the cup of orthodox design choices.”


Reggie Watts, Runnin – Eurogamer: Musician and comedian Reggie Watts presents his latest virtual reality project Runnin at New Frontier 2019 – his second since 2013’s surrealist romp Waves.

Frank Lantz, Universal Paperclips – Eurogamer: What does it say about us that we are compelled to keep clicking?

Tim Schafer, Broken Age – The Guardian: “I ask Schafer about how becoming a public figure has affected him. ‘I think twice about putting pictures of my home or my family on Twitter,’ he says. ‘There’s a lot more of ‘What if there’s a really hostile person out there?’”

Chris Lye, Guild Wars 2 – Polygon: “For all we know there is a type of game out there that will continue to benefit from a subscription model, I’ve just not heard of it yet.”


Making Games Is Fun: In this episode, we talk about the process of writing for videogames, how Emily got where she is today and why she prefers writing over speaking. This turns into a therapy session about self confidence sprinkled with games chat and, for the second time this series, Ecco The Dolphin crops up.

One Life Left: “We found out what it has been like working at Polygon from the very beginning, what Emily misses from the old days of videogame magazines and how she is going to bring it back. More importantly we ask hard-hitting questions (from our listeners) about Pot Noodles.”

Vice Gaming Podcast: “For this debut episode, we’re focusing on the best video games of 2015, the ones we’ve really loved, and a handful of titles that warrant discussion but perhaps aren’t Actually All That Brilliant.”