Super Mario 3D All-Stars Announcement

September 03, 2020

I’ve been searching for the right words all morning. “Inevitable” certainly is one, but I think “overjoyed” feels better.

Ever since rumors began circulating about the release of these games on Switch, the hype has felt insurmountable. We’ve been stuck at home for six months due to a pandemic, clamoring for comfort content. A dose of nostalgia this heavy is certainly what the doctor ordered. (A clinically proven vaccine wouldn’t be bad either.)

While omitting Super Mario Galaxy 2 and making this collection limited until March 31st 2021 is a real bummer, it’s a thrill that this will be released in two weeks time. Tick Tock Clock is counting down.

'[Sports are] forging a trail which the games industry would be wise to follow'

August 29, 2020

Chris Plante, Polygon:

As members of the video game industry consider the power of solidarity, as video game streamers question the sustainability of their labor and the parasocial demands of their audience, as the industry-at-large considers its responsibility to the greater culture, I believe sports could and should serve as a compass.

I’m no sports nut, but this piece cracked me. And it’s made more poignant after watching the sunshine and rainbows Netflix video game docuseries ‘High Score’. Great observations by Plante.

Good Sudoku and The Grid

August 01, 2020

Brendon Bigley, writing at his new site, Wavelengths:

After playing daily for about a week after its release, I’ve noticed Good Sudoku activating the same brain-space as roguelikes in the vein of Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac. These are games meant to be played hundreds of times, and for thousands of hours. After years of playing Spelunky I immediately go into auto-pilot when starting a new run because I’ve seen so many permutations of the level generation I can’t help but feel as though surprise is unlikely. But that comfort with such a hostile environment has come from thousands of runs. I’ve died in Spelunky more times than I can count, and each death brings with it a small lesson for survival in future attempts. At this point, my head is crammed so full of strategies and techniques and possibilities that I feel more equipped than ever to survive the next run. I mean I probably won’t… but it’s nice to feel confident sometimes!!

I haven’t played Good Sudoku, nor Spelunky or The Binding of Isaac, but I know enough about vanilla sudoku and these roguelikes to understand that Bigley’s observation is striking. I’m having of those, “How didn’t I see this before?” moments.

To the uninitiated or uninterested, sudoku puzzles all look the same — a 9x9 grid with numbers sprinkled about. How many variations could there be? How is sudoku not a solved game? But the number of variations of sudoku puzzles is staggering — far more than any human could experience in their lifetime. Nigh-endless possibilities within a consistent environment. And what is the procedurally generated experience of a roguelike if not nigh-endless possibilities within a consistent environment?

Thanks to Bigley, it’s now hard to think of roguelikes and procedural generation as something made possible with today’s technology, but something conceived from a 9x9 grid.

EndeavorRx: First Video Game Approved by FDA

June 18, 2020

Rebecca Robbins, reporting for STAT:

The game, known as EndeavorRx and developed by Boston-based Akili Interactive Labs, can now be marketed as a way to improve attention function in kids with ADHD as measured by computerized testing. Physicians can prescribe it to children between the ages of 8 and 12 who have an ADHD diagnosis and have demonstrated an issue with attention.

The FDA’s move is a landmark decision in the emerging digital therapeutics sector: In addition to being the first game to be marketed as a therapy for any type of condition, EndeavorRx is the first digital therapeutic meant to improve symptoms associated with ADHD, the FDA’s announcement said.

The game sends players through landscapes like a molten lava river and an icy winter wonderland, rewarding them with stars and points as they finish tasks. Akili sees the video game as a delivery system for targeted algorithms that can activate and strengthen certain neural networks in the brain. It’s more ambitious than the many digital health apps and software programs that aim to help patients manage medical conditions with education, tips, and reminders — and it’s long been seen as a crucial test case for the potential of the sector.