Julian Dibbell’s Book Play Money is Now Out

Play Money: Or, How I Quit My Day Job and Made Millions Trading Virtual Loot, the new book by Julian Dibbell is now available.

Julian’s goal was to earn more money selling imaginary goods (ie. online gaming goods) than from his “real job” as a professional writer. He came up short of his goal by only a few hundred dollars and, though I haven’t read it yet, I understand the book documents the entire endevour from day 1.

In addition to bookstores selling his book, Play Money will also be available in the virtual world of Second Life (in the currency of that world—Linden dollars).

From the press release:

In-game versions of Play Money designed by Second Life coder/publisher Falk Bergman are available for L$750. These copies can be signed by Dibbell at his in-Second Life interview with journalist Wagner James Au on July 27th. For the Second Life resident who needs something a bit more tactile, L$6250 buys a real-life copy of Play Money, shipped with care to the buyer’s real life address, in addition to the standard in-game version.

(At the time of this press release, Linden dollars are trading at approximately L$300.00 to the US$1.00. Adjusted to US dollars, an online copy costs US$2.50, and the price of a real-life copy bought in-game is around US$20.85.)

I’ve previously written about Julian’s professional game-playing.

ethics games

Columbine Massacre Video Game

Super Columbine Massacre RPG screenshot

I just finished reading an interesting piece on about the Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a video game in which you take the role of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the Columbine killers, on that fateful day in the Denver suburb of Littleton. How many people they kill is ultimately up to the player.

Judging from some of the harsh comments and some of the news articles written about the game from journalists that never even bothered to play the game it seems to me that a lot of people can’t comprehend the possibility that a video game could be a potential medium for provoking thought or education. Not that playing the game is a particularly enjoyable endeavour, but as compared with the documentary, the movie, or the multiple number of books written on the subject, why is it assumed that “the game” would automatically be something that condones their behavior whereas these other mediums get a pass?

One commenter had the nerve to go so far as to say,

“If your purpose in this game is to ‘understand’, my question is why do we need to understand? Understanding evil is not important—knowledge is not power. Evil is present and does great harm in our world. A better choice is to empower through ministry that heals. It’s my thought that your game doesn’t minister or provoke healing discussion—rather, it fuels the negative impact, divides people from Truth rather than lead them toward it.”

To me, a comment like this is so out-of-touch that it’s shocking. I can understand that at first appearance the idea of making that fateful day’s events into a game may seem trivilizing, but after having taken a few minutes to try it myself, I can say it allows for an interesting perspective that isn’t exactly possible in other forms.

If you’re not convinced, then I recommend checking out the fascinating interview about the game with a Columbine survivor and another one with the game’s creator which, after reading, may cause you to adjust your preconceived notions about the game.


Don’t Shoot the Puppy

Don't Shoot the Puppy

Don’t Shoot the Puppy is a clever flash game that made me laugh. The instructions are simple: don’t shoot the puppy. Just don’t do it.

games work

The Outfit

The Outfit title image

The Outfit game for Xbox 360 is now in stores.

Last year I had the opportunity to be a small part of the creation process, helping with the motion capture setup and then again later as a production assistant. I saw a copy of the game on Friday and sure enough, my name is in the credits.

About a month ago the developers started posting a blog about the conception and realization of the game; it’s interesting to read the posts from some of the great people that I met in Vancouver.

Of course, I still haven’t actually played the game yet, but the reviews I’ve read so far have been positive.


Binding Keys in Wolfenstein Enemy Territory

Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory Screenshot

Here is a quick tip for binding keystrokes to access features that normally are not available in Wolfenstein Enemy Territory. First off, access the console by hitting the ~ key. Then type /bind <keystroke> [command] where keystroke is the key on your keyboard or mouse that you want to use to activate the command.

The two commands that I learned recently are throwingknife and playdead. The throwingknife command lets you do just that, throw knives at enemy players while playdead lays your character down on the ground and takes a wounded position.

If you have a 5 button mouse you can even bind the throwingknife and playdead command to your back and forward buttons. For example: /bind mouse5 playdead would make you play dead and come back “alive” when you hit the back button.

I realize most of you probably don’t play Wolfenstein Enemy Territory but I get the occasional Googler coming here looking for tips, so I hope this helps. For a complete list of commands try typing cmdlist in the console and then use the “Page Up” and “Page Down” keys to scroll through the list.

education games life

Tuesday Night Video Game Class

Tuesday was the evening of my Video Games class. The semester is winding down and I really need to get working on my final project — not to mention finish up some other somewhat overdue items.

I’ve been asked by some friends what the class is actually about. In it we talk about everything from gameplay and graphics to the cultural and philosophical implications of popular (and sometimes less popular) video games. The professor shows video clips from rare or unusual games and we learn about different genres and how things like setting and ambiance change the mood of a game.

We also talk quite a bit about gender stereotypes, violence, and the way the media portrays video game culture. It’s pretty clear that although there may be statistics out there claiming a lot of girls play video games, there are only two girls in the class and 30 very nerdy boys. (They’re not all nerds, some of us are in there doing research for blog postings). But seriously there are a couple of fairly nerdy guys in that class that drive me insane. Before this semester I wouldn’t have believed it possible to become THAT immersed in video games.

I think the most ironic thing for me is, now that I’m in the class I’ve probably played less video games than I did all summer, and yes playing video games is a requirement. I can’t explain it, but I guess it just goes to show — I’ll do anything to avoid doing homework.


Duck Doom

Check out this mash-up of the classic Duck Hunt with another classic, Doom.

Duck Doom

“The objective is simple. Shoot as many ducks as you can with Doom weapons such as The Super Shotgun, The Chaingun, The Rocket Launcher and The BFG-900!”

Personally I find the regular shotgun to be the most reliable. Total retro awesomeness: Duck Doom.

(via BoingBoing)


Nintendo Revolution

Nintendo has released a teaser video of their new system and wild new controller. Danc from offers a scholarly essay on Nintendo’s genre innovation strategy.

Nintendo Revolution Controller

At first I thought the controller looked ridiculous and thought it would be a tremendous flop, however Danc’s article has made me reconsider. His article doesn’t focus on the new system itself and it is a bit long, but if you’re curious about why Nintendo would invest so heavily in an untested market, it’s worth the read.

I hope we talk about this in my Theory and Aesthetics of Video Games class.


Return to Castle Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory – How to change nick color

This is probably pretty boring to %99.9 of the people that read this, but for the other 0.1% here is something I learned about while playing Wolfenstein Enemy Territory (download) this afternoon.

You can change the colour of the text in your nick name by adding a ^ and then a number in front of the text you want to change. Each number from 0 to 9 is a different color.

  • ^0 = Black
  • ^1 = Red
  • ^2 = Green
  • ^3 = Yellow
  • ^4 = Blue
  • ^5 = Light Blue
  • ^6 = Violet
  • ^7 = White
  • ^8 = Orange
  • ^9 = Grey

Here is a site that lets you preview nick colors.

I also learned recently that as a medic you can stick the other team with your needle and poison them. When someone is poisoned, their screen turns up side down and their health slowly goes down. They also make a choking sound — it’s my favorite thing to do in the game.


Flash Game

Hey, look who they made a game about.