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Tycho / on Wed, Jul 13 2011 at 12:00 am

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The Learning Environment

We were trying out the multiplayer in Twisted Pixel’s Ms. Splosion Man on Monday, finding what we saw there considerably more clever than we expected (or, indeed, require!).  I did fall into some acid so many times that I would have to remove a shoe to physically enumerate it.  I can die in this way many, many times before becoming frustrated - that’s just how I’m put together.  I’m “resilient” to certain kinds of failure (a term I learned from Jane McGonigal) and so when I am learning how to do something I use it to find the boundaries.  At least, that’s how I would put it.  There is, of course, another way.

I feel like the Catherine demo is something you should be playing.

Gabriel found the two levels in the demo frustrating, not because he didn’t know what to do, but because he found the mechanism for doing so somewhat frustrating.  This, I understand.  In the second level, some sort of giant zombie queen is trying to eat you with a fork while you are trying to solve a block puzzle.  The game looks like it might be a platformer, but it’s not exactly; you move from block to block in a series of very deliberate movements.  It has more in common with Q-bert than anything else, really.  It was hard for him - and would be hard, I think, for anyone - not to respond to the artistry on display, though.  You know almost out the gate that as strange as you might have expected it to be, it strives to create a context for which you are not entirely prepared.

I often have occasion to consider the illusory “career” I have aggregated in these simulations. I’ve managed several dragons, sundered cabals, curbed the Cybrid threat, and entered the “kill” command in conveniently placed terminals.  I’ve halted an authentically stupid number of galactic incursions; I’ve been the unaccounted-for variable in so many pristine machinations.  Have I ever been given a context to consider fear of commitment?  No, not until yesterday.  There are multiple ways to achieve scale - scope, as described above, is one way.  Another way is to leverage ubiquity.  That is to say, to touch on or incorporate the universal.  Heavy Rain, whatever else it may have accomplished, dealt with some very quote Ordinary subject matter, and somehow managed - in its intimacy - to feel broader than intergalactic war or global conspiracy.  I want to know how far Catherine is willing to go.  And not how far out.  Specifically, I want to know how far in.

Coming up on the brutal streets of Portland, Oregon, our own Robert Khoo represented the AZN in countless freestyle rap battles.  Now, he asks you to emulate his own ruthless urban ethos in one of our incredibly rare contests - one with profound rewards.

(CW)TB out.

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