I am moving (a.k.a. packing, flying, finding an apartment, unpacking, getting a car, etc) so ludology.org is not going to be updated for a little while. This applies as well to much of my email answering. I'll be back soon.
Las Konzack reports on Danemark officially recognising game research as a field of study. That is really great news. In a different order of things, the US Supreme Court banned excecutions for the mentally retarded. Some mornings it seems like civilization is really trying hard to beat its high score and that's muy bueno :)
Technically, Mr. Mosquito (PS2) is not a great game. The loading times are eternal – I played on my GBA while waiting for the thing to load after each game session, no kidding. The idea behind the game is really original: you are a mosquito who needs to suck blood from humans. While Dracula games have been around forever –and “Pssst!” involved bugs and insecticide in the early 80’s- this is a fairly new way of dealing with blood in computer games (actually, the amusingly pc and somehow dumb ESRB rating forgot to include “Animated Blood” for describing this game, which is certainly high on hemoglobin ;) The interesting thing about Mr Mosquito is that it deals with humans: it is set in a Japanese house where a couple and their daughter live. Now that we are used to The Sims this may not seem such a breakthrough, but it is good to remember that Japanese are more used to dealing with human relationships in their games, as you can easily see in their girlfriend simulators and some porn games (surely, porn is not Ingmar Bergman, but at least it deals with humans). Anyway, Mr. Mosquito is not just about sucking blood but also about how a family breaks apart (and that’s the side that I certainly enjoyed). As you –the mosquito- succeed at your missions, the characters get increasingly annoyed and aggressive. Still, all you can do is fly and suck blood- your influence on the family relationship is pre-scripted (and that’s why the game leaves you expecting for more). But it is a good paradigm for stubborn designers who still are interested in crafting “interactive narratives”: play a secondary character that is related to the “story” but who doesn’t affect its outcome. Overall, I would recommend checking this game out, but just as a rental - I can’t believe I spent forty bucks on this :( The human component is really worth it, even if it makes you beg for a more developed doll houses. Sure, we have The Sims, but we need more games about us (Editor's note: by "us" Mr. Frasca means "humans", not "insects" ;)
Let's get a bit literary for a change. Deep within Rayuela (Hopscotch), Cortazar makes some remarks about the history of personal hygiene and its representation. This e-card is as beautiful as all the Picassos and marvelously simulates hygienic playfulness. Pure gold from www.nobodyhere.com/justme