After more than 170 years of conservative governments, the Frente Amplio (Broad Front), a left-wing coalition, just won the Uruguayan presidency by a landslide (51%). For decades, their supporters suffered but never gave up. During the 70s and early 80's, the dictatorship put them in prison, tortured them or forced them into exile. But they did not give up. Now, they will rule the country for five years. Sure, I do not want to fool myself: it's not going to be an easy ride, but even if you are suspicious of politics, you must believe in a simple truth that goes beyond cynicism: change is possible. Maybe not revolutionary changes, but changes. Change is good, change is healthy. The world, of course, looks into the American election, since its outcome is crucial for international politics. I am not too optimistic about the US election outcome, but a few million people in an unknown little country in South America filled me with hope by reminding me that change is possible. rOk, I know you come here for your videogame fix and not for Uruguayan politics. So, here's the official Uruguayan game, Cambiemos. It means "Let's change" in Spanish. And that's exactly what we need to do!
The New York Times (free reg. req.) publishes today a story on playing videogames at a very early age. Personally, I am usually asked by friends at which age should children start playing videogames. My answer is 25 years old, but they don't take me seriously. Seriously, I would not be happy with children getting close to computers until they are around 5, but that's just my personal opinion. Certainly, children enjoy computers even when they are younger, but I think there are plenty more interesting things that they can do rather than playing videogames. All parents are obsessed with allowing their children to have contact with computers at the earliest age, because they believe that it will make them smarter. Computers are great, as long as we do not see them as a cure-for-all kind of solution. Books, toys, dolls, plastic soldiers, balls, running in the park, driving your parents crazy with those musical toys, those are activities for toddlers. Sure, a computer here and there will not hurt, but any overdose (being TV, computer or white wine) is never a good idea.
LCC at Georgia Tech is hiring. One open position for Film and Media Theory and another for Digital Media Theory and Practice (read games here, even though the position is broader than that. But if you are into games, this is the position to apply for). Learn more at Grandtextauto.org.
A wonderful article from 1972 on Spacewar. The first two phrases are a great introduction to what's to come: "Ready or not, computers are coming to the people. That's good news, maybe the best since psychedelics".
The BBC (which has been very active recently on game research coverage!) published today a story based on a three year research performed at the Institute of Education ay London University. It is exactly the kind of articles that more mainstream media should be publishing: focusing on how great games can be. rBut, wait! There is more. There is also a story on how children living in the streets in Buenos Aires deal and learn with videogames. Street children is a widespread problem in the Third World and certainly the issue requires a broad social solution, but it is definivitively very interesting to see how these children, generally with very little schooling, learn to use computers through arcades and internet cafés machines.
One of the cool things of living in a country where I do not speak the language (except for “beer” and “hot dog”) is that I do not watch TV. Well, at least not regular TV. I have been watching a lot of TV shows that I download from the net (I guess it is the ultimate Tivo). rObviously, I have been watching pretty closely the US election through the only TV show worth of my respect and attention: Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show. Certainly, I am not being terribly original, since tons of people have been using it to get their political fix. This has actually caused quite a lot of noise, especially after Stewart attended CNN’s Crosfire and did something completely different: he spoke his mind. The NYTimes ran yesterday a story on the subject of being a serious comedian, exploring the limits between fun and seriousness. One of my teachers once said that the roles of jesters in medieval drama was to say what everybody knew but nobody dared to say. In other words, they are the only ones who can get away with it. Jon Stewart really does his job at the Daily Show. Who else can remind us about the last election fraud or the fact that Bush believes in the execution not only of human beings, but also retarded human beings. I do not read about that on newspapers, nor the radio. But the funny man says it aloud... and people are paying attention. r21% of young Americans get their campaign news... from The Daily Show according to CNN. This is not all. The funny thing, is that the show viewers are among the best informed. Of course, these people watch the show because they are already well informed and not the other way around (you need to know about politics in order to get the jokes). Still, why should we take for granted that objectivity is what it takes to make good journalism. Objectivity is a stupid lie; I would always read anything with an agenda as long as the agenda itself is being explicit. The search for objectivity actually hurts democracy, because it discourages debate. rWelcome to the 21st century. A documentary billed as a comedy is playing a major role on the world's most powerful election. People are being informed by comedians. The world is getting more serious by being more informal and fun. And I still run into some people who look perplexed at the tought of videogames that go beyond entertainment.
The BBC runs today a story on Cambiemos and the Uruguayan elections. I am specially proud, since it not often that Uruguay makes it to the frontpage of a major news site (and top story of the tech section). We are all blushing, happy as pie, and really looking forward at seeing the Frente Amplio winning the election on October 31st. rFor those of you who can read Spanish, here's a story in El Mundo (Spain) and Página 12 (Argentina)
Today WCG is one year old. Time flies and it is amazing how much the so-called field of serious games (or, as we like to call them, games with an agenda) has evolved. Posting on two blogs has not being easy for me, sometimes you post twice, sometimes you are not sure where should you post a story, but it has been really fun. So, here's to Ian for all his work and this first year together (of course, the toast is made with pure, transparent and freshly cooled H20 from our very own watercooler).
The Chinese government announced that they will invest 240 million dollars in creating "healthier" online games for their youth, so they do not waste their time with foreign games. Read here and here for more info on the subject. This gives a whole new meaning to "Party games" :)