Announcing the seventh issue of videogame arts and culture magazine Kill Screen. This time we’re headed to the Great Outdoors!


Want to know what our on-screen lives teach us about our off-screen ones?

In this issue: Breaking into Chernobyl with Russian videogame kids. Going ape with iPad games for orangutans. Hunting for Bigfoot in San Andreas. Looking for Xbox after the apocalypse. Hunting eagles on steppes of Kazakhstan. Astronauts. Rock-climbing. And more.

Let’s take a walk!

Cover and gif by Timothy Reynolds

On Cleverness

I think that past the age of thirty there is no obligation to be clever at all. Cleverness is a burden after that. You are supposed to settle down and be a good person, raise your children, and be good to your friends, which you may not have been back when you were clever.

Garrison Kiellor, via the Paris Review


Introducing CREATE, a $45,000 game jam presented by Kill Screen + OUYA. More details here.


Introducing CREATE, a $45,000 game jam presented by Kill Screen + OUYA. More details here.

How to Settle a Dispute

Ken Feinberg, via the NYT magazine:

In all the negotiations I do, there’s a priority list: One, know the facts. Two, be dogged. Three, keep an open mind. Next, be creative in getting to “yes.” Finally, a very important basic proposition: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

"EBooks Are Winning."

[via TechCrunch]

For 2012 YTD ebooks have outstripped hardcover sales for the first time ever.  They still make up only 30% of book sales overall, but it certainly looks like ebooks are replacing print, whether we like it or not.  

The proliferation of free content in the early days of the internet has obviously made it difficult for companies to convince consumers to pay much (if anything) for digital media.  And as much as I love the tactile, screen-less print reading experience, I confess that I’m finally being won over by how much cheaper eBooks often are.  It’s Econ 101: an adequate substitute for a product (let alone at a lower price) will reduce demand, and as we grow more accustomed to digital formats with each passing day, we will naturally continue the move away from print.

If there’s a silver lining for aesthetes like myself in this, it’s that print, as it continues to exist, will become more totemic.  As a medium, print will need to matter in order to survive.  As this Slate article points out:

As it loses its traditional value as an efficient vessel for text, the paper book’s other qualities—from its role in literary history to its inimitable design possibilities to its potential for physical beauty—will take on more importance.

So with all this in mind, it’s interesting to go back to the chart at the top and look at the numbers.  

  1. Hardcover may be the benchmark that eBooks have outstripped today, but hardcover sales were actually up 2.7% year over year.  Which makes sense because hardcover books still have a sense of permanence and collectibility that eludes most paperbacks. 
  2. Paperbacks, which offer the least advantage over ebook formats,  are clearly the loser here, down over 13% if you combine the two categories.  
  3. Total publishing revenues are up 1.8% year over year.  

It looks like it’s not just ebooks that are winning—everyone is.

In mario kart, when I make the Koopa Troopa Beach short-cut

This one’s for my wife, who is irrationally good at Mario Kart 64.


Is Zynga Hitting the Wall?

Great short post from Dave Thier at Forbes on Zynga’s recent stock-price woes.  So many thoughts here, including my general concern about the overvaluing of the social media tech bubble, and my personal dislike of most of Zynga’s titles, which are either a.) not really games, or b.) aim to succeed by bring out the worst aspects of the gamer in me by focusing on competition instead of mechanics.  However I think Thier hits on an important point here:

at the end of the day, Zynga has found itself in the entertainment business. It needs hits, and it needs them badly – the old games won’t last forever, and it has yet to create something to match the buzz of the its earlier titles.

This is true of every entertainment publisher in the marketplace, games and otherwise.  But it seems to me that it will become increasingly difficult as media strives to capture the dwindling attention spans of today’s audience.  99c games consumable in 60 seconds or less may be the direction games are arguably heading, but the number of those titles I spend more than 30 minutes on total is few and far between.  The goal becomes repeat successes, not deep player experiences, and this means generating successful IP again and again at breakneck speed—not an easy task for any publisher, let alone a public company beholden to the pressures of Wall Street and the slowing bureaucracy that comes with it.  

[via Kill Screen]

Apple is (Still) a Control Freak

Re: Wired post today about Apple’s newest retina display MacBook Pro being less upgradeable and repairable than ever.  

I assume they would point to the complications inherent in producing such thin and light technology, but it comes as no surprise that Apple’s tech is all moving in favor of being locked down such that they can be the only service provider.  

As frustrating as it is to me (I’ve upgraded almost every computer I’ve ever owned), it makes a lot of sense from a business perspective.  Buyers can vote with their dollars, as Kyle Wiens is urging us to do, but the reality is that the cult of Mac holds a lot of sway, and engaging with a top tier brand is often more like joining a club than buying a product.  The purchase price is just the price of admission, and repairs are your dues down the line.  It’s just like buying a Mercedes or BMW, both brands having eschewed interchangeable auto parts in favor of more expensive proprietary ones, simply because they can.