Late Night Open Tread: Gamerz Be Everywhere

Extremely cool, from Kat Stoeffel at NYMag:

The twenty-week gestational limit and clinic-closing abortion restrictions protested by State Senator Wendy Davis and thousands of other Texans are going to make getting an abortion in Texas harder. But how hard? Myst hard? Metal Gear Solid hard? Ninja Gaiden hard? A new choose-your-own-abortion-adventure video game, now seeking funding on IndieGoGo, may soon show us. Called Choice: Texas, it’s the brain child of Carly Kocurek, a Texas native and assistant professor of the history and culture of video games at Illinois Tech, and Allyson Whipple, a Texas poet and the director of the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival.

There will be five female avatars to choose from, two of which you can preview on the pair’s Tumblr. Each woman represents a different level of difficulty, Whipple told Persephone magazine, based on personal obstacles. “None of them have it easy, because even if you have the privilege of money and paid sick days at work, there are still other obstacles to deal with,” she explained. “But certain characters will be much harder than others. The obstacles each character faces (geography, money, time, transportation) will influence what choices a player can make throughout the game.”…

Pretty dam’ cool, from Jesse Singal at the Boston Globe:

If you made a list of the subjects likely to make for a compelling video game, “bureaucracy” would not be near the top.

That’s why “Papers, Please,” a new “Dystopian Document Thriller” by Lucas Pope, instantly piqued my interest. On his website Pope describes the setting of the game: It’s 1982 and “the communist state of Arstotzka has ended a six-year war with neighboring Kolechia and reclaimed its rightful half of the border town, Grestin. Your job as immigration inspector is to control the flow of people entering the Arstotzkan side of Grestin from Kolechia. Among the throngs of immigrants and visitors looking for work are hidden smugglers, spies, and terrorists.”

So that’s it: You work at a checkpoint booth and would-be border-crossers give you their documents and you inspect them, making sure, among other concerns, that the issuing country and city match, that the photo matches the person you’re looking at, and that their documents aren’t expired. The further you go, the more complicated things get — visa restrictions will be put into place after a terrorist attack, for example, or a lagging economy will cause Arstotzka to slow the immigration of foreign labor to a trickle by forcing foreigners hoping to enter to first obtain work permits…

At the end of each day, a simple, stark screen shows you how much money you’ve earned (never all that much), as well as the various financial responsibilities bearing down on you: rent, food, heat, and a seemingly endless parade of relatives in need of medicine. If you’re not careful — that is, if you don’t make enough money — your family members will quickly die. In one early, less-than-stellar playthrough, that’s exactly what happened to me, at which point the game ended and I was notified that Arstotzka values citizens who produce healthy families, and that since I had failed to do that, I would be replaced….

Oh, c’mon, Simon Parkin’s just screwing with us, right, New Yorker?:

Silver and Krimmel are not the only players who claim to have seen Bigfoot in the virtual forests of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a video game released in 2004 in which players assume the role of a young gang member, Carl Johnson, in a story that draws upon various real-life events in Los Angeles, most centrally the rivalry between the Bloods and Crips street gangs. The game, set in 1992 within the fictional state of San Andreas, a geographical amalgam of California and Nevada, sold more than twenty-seven million copies worldwide. If the game’s developers had included a rare occurrence of a Bigfoot character in the Back o Beyond, occasional sightings from the masses of scouring players would be inevitable. Within months of the game’s release, videos allegedly showing sightings of Bigfoot appeared on YouTube, while viewers debated their authenticity in the comments.

These discussions were muddied when some enterprising fans created a “mod,” or an alternative code that can be downloaded and installed, to insert a fabricated Bigfoot into the game, complicating the hunt for the “real” virtual Bigfoot. Nevertheless, nearly a decade after the game’s release, a number of communities continue to work to prove the authenticity of Bigfoot’s existence in the original game, and devoted users still upload photographs of unusual footprints and other pieces of circumstantial evidence to their Web sites. Silver runs one such site. “Many Web sites make the Bigfoot myth out to be some fan-made story that’s simply gotten out of hand,” he said. “In fact, the staff at the Grand Theft Auto Web site I contributed to at the time didn’t want anything to do with myths, and refused to have them catalogued. Last November, I set out to make the most comprehensive, informative Grand Theft Auto myth site on the Web…”

39 replies
  1. 1
    MikeJ says:

    If you made a list of the subjects likely to make for a compelling video game, “bureaucracy” would not be near the top.

    Douglas Adams wrote a game called Bureaucracy for Infocom.

    You can legally download zmachines to run infocom games from several places, and if you look around you can find all the old Infocom games in places of dubious legality.

  2. 2
    Splitting Image says:

    Douglas Adams wrote a game called Bureaucracy for Infocom.

    Beat me to it. Why am I not surprised that this site is a haven for Infocommies?

    Bureaucracy is a game that needs to be experienced rather than played. It even came with a form to fill out in triplicate (and a pencil) and a copy of “Popular Paranoia” magazine. Did you know that Ohio is the centre of Communist insurgency in the U.S? And that their leader is the villainous Queen Mum?

    The goal of the game is to get your bank to acknowledge a change-of-address form, but my favourite section of the game is navigating your way through the airport.

  3. 3
    Cradicus says:

    Papers Please is a really interesting and fun game. For certain values of “fun” at least!

  4. 4
    Yatsuno says:

    @Splitting Image:

    And that their leader is the villainous Queen Mum?

    It all makes so much more sense now…

  5. 5
    mdblanche says:

    Speaking of Myst, if you play Achenar’s creepy messages in his creepy Channelwood temple backwards you can see just what sort of person understands what he and his brother were up to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAXQQUMbtso

  6. 6
    Joey Maloney says:

    Can someone explain to me what difference it makes that Edward Snowden apparently hacked the NSA’s systems to get some of the documents he stole, rather than just stealing the ones he had legitimate access to?

    Over on LGF – where the bloghost really should seek medical attention for the duration of his Greensnow hardon – there’s a lot of “see? SEE? So there!” But I honestly don’t see how it changes the storyline, or what it supposedly tells us about Snowden’s motives, or how it discredits either the information or the man.

  7. 7
    👾 Martin says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Can someone explain to me what difference it makes that Edward Snowden apparently hacked the NSA’s systems to get some of the documents he stole, rather than just stealing the ones he had legitimate access to?

    Well, a whistleblower is someone that reveals some wrongdoing once they learn about it. But if you are hacking your employer’s systems to collect information, that’s a different thing. It suggests a very different intent that the whistleblower label doesn’t apply to. In fact, it looks a LOT more like a spy than a whistleblower.

  8. 8
    bago says:

    And then you ‘ave Saint’s Row IV, where a banana hammock wearing president can fry aliens with a dubstep gun.

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @👾 Martin: Or that Snowden, like a lot of us who can be a little too smart for our own good, suspected that his employers were up to Bad Things and took some shortcuts to verify just how bad those things might be. Which will totally eff up his defense if he’s ever tried in a US court, but then, right now if he is taken into custody by the US, he doesn’t expect to get a fair trial anyways, does he?

    Still want to do a post about this and this, but I was too busy IRL to do it properly. With luck, one of the daytime FPers will beat me to it.

  10. 10
    Spiffy McBang says:

    Papers, Please is an excellent game for the ten bucks it costs. Also, the dubstep gun in Saints Row IV not only makes people in the vicinity dance like they’re in a club, but if you fire it off in the 1950s scene, they all start doing the twist.

  11. 11
    👾 Martin says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    Or that Snowden, like a lot of us who can be a little too smart for our own good, suspected that his employers were up to Bad Things and took some shortcuts to verify just how bad those things might be.

    What bad things were they doing? So far we’ve learned that they were doing a lot of unpopular things, and possibly quite a few unwise things, but no illegal things. Whistleblowing is a very specific thing – I’ve been involved in whistleblowing investigations, as has my dad. It is not a free-for-all to break the law in order to dish dirt. In Snowden’s case, there were certain laws he would have to break in order to be a whistleblower, so let’s put those aside. But hacking the employer are not part of that. And you need to reveal the commission of a crime, or at least a violation of policy. A lot of documents have been put out there, and so far nothing has surfaced. Wouldn’t we be leading with the clearly illegal stuff? Where is it?

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Chemical weapons attack:

    Do the UN inspectors have the capability of taking samples of the chemical and test it ala CSI to determine its exact mix and therefore where it came from?

  14. 14
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    But does the Choice:Texas game allow the players to go all FPS on the lege? Or is that one of the bonus levels that has to be unlocked?

  15. 15
  16. 16
    Botsplainer says:

    @👾 Martin:

    The people that filmed the chemical weapon attack have died from exposure.

    That’s so not a big deal, or so I’m told by the peace-loving activist left. If nothing is done with a vehemence and militancy that sends a message about the love of peace (all while impugning the motives of anyone thinking of ways to solve it), the peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars. The victims can be cried over by such of their loved ones that survive, to be sure, and the hands of the tenderhearted can be wrung in sympathy and solidarity, but the important thing here is to be resolute in the principles of non-violence as an example, doing nothing, and letting the market, er, the situation sort itself out.

  17. 17
    Joey Maloney says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Well, a whistleblower is someone that reveals some wrongdoing once they learn about it. But if you are hacking your employer’s systems to collect information, that’s a different thing. It suggests a very different intent that the whistleblower label doesn’t apply to.

    I’m not sure I see that. IIRC, that guy who was the big tobacco whistleblower had documents to which he was not supposed to have access.

    What bad things were they doing? So far we’ve learned that they were doing a lot of unpopular things, and possibly quite a few unwise things, but no illegal things.

    Well, exactly. The scandal is not that what the NSA is doing is not legal; the scandal is that it is legal.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think Snowden’s an idiot and Greenwald a self-aggrandizing liar, and anyone who’s been paying attention since 2006 or so knew or at least strongly suspected that things like this were going on. But idiot, liar, or not, now everyone is paying attention and maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance of getting some effective oversight on the natsec state out of it. Probably not, but the change is larger than it was before this whole mess started.

  18. 18
    Thlayli says:

    @👾 Martin:

    And while we’re on the subject, can someone explain how printing the NSA’s fucking budget counts as “whistleblowing”?

    Anyone? Cole? Mistermix? T&H? Mandalay? Socoolsofresh? Keith G? Anyone want to tell us authoritarians how that is a courageous and heroic exposure of serious abuses, or really anything other than petulant nose-thumbing?

    (Bonus points if you can work in your standard whine that this is “making it about Greenwald”.)

  19. 19
    bago says:

    @Linda Featheringill: CSI is a drama production and it earns it’s dough by pleasing people. Playing off of a script you feel highly confident that the protagonists will find the required data because they are working in a time limited story arc that has to shoot some chicken fingers out the door after a gecko talks about your car.
    however most consumers of weaponry don’t have traceability listed as one of their primary concerns.

  20. 20
    Botsplainer says:

    @Thlayli:

    And while we’re on the subject, can someone explain how printing the NSA’s fucking budget counts as “whistleblowing”?

    Or how about the technical means of hunting Bin Laden via the satellites over Abbottabad?

  21. 21
    weaselone says:

    @Anne Laurie:

    You do realize that the lion’s share of the documents and information that Snowden stole from the NSA had nothing to do with domestic spying, right? Even most of Snowden’s information that has actually been released by the press has regarded foreign, not domestic activities. All this data is now in the hands of Snowden, Wikileaks, Glenn Greenwald and half a dozen media outlets. Do you really believe that these individuals and organizations are going to be able to safeguard this data, that it is not going to inevitably fall into the hands of Russia, China and a half dozen other nations with less friendly relationships with the US?

  22. 22
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @Joey Maloney: Believe it or not, everyone doesn’t have to share your opinion that Snowden is a hero. Shocking but true. I’m sure Charles Johnson adequately explained how he feels about Snowden in several LGM posts.

  23. 23
    IowaOldLady says:

    @MikeJ: I remember the Douglas Adams’ Bureaucracy. My son once gave me a CD of all the old Infocom games because he knew I missed them.

  24. 24
    Botsplainer says:

    Personally, I’ve been enjoying the web of connections between the Press Freedom Foundation, Wikileaks and weirdly anti-Semitic holocaust denialists. Their Russian rep is one strange dude.

    Also interesting is the lack of disclosures from Russia and the story floating around that if some docs were published regarding some Russian oligarchs, Putin intended violent retaliation against Wikileaks. Ironic that rape boy Assange went silent on that.

    Wikileaks is now looking to be so corrupted by the FSB that they may as well issue payroll checks and announce vacation and benefit policies.

  25. 25
    bemused says:

    Reading the rest of the Choice game link, I thought the same people who “don’t realize the extent to which people with less privilege struggle with geography, time and money” to get an abortion are just as unaware of the struggles of the less privileged in all other facets of life, living wage jobs, health care, etc.

    Even some the nicest people I know can have a unrealistic view of recipients of food stamps, unemployment payments, public worker pensions, wages, health care coverage and just about any other form of compensation they themselves are too privileged (make too much money) to qualify for. They believe it is too easy for people to qualify for assistance, public workers have it too good and any “able” bodied person should be able to climb up from the bottom if he/she tries hard enough without the foggiest idea of what they are talking about. This attitude is of course most prevalent among Republicans and it’s rare to come across one that has even the slightest interest in hearing facts. I know they imagine food stamp recipients get all the groceries needed to survive a month without going hungry. Conservatives believe what they believe and facts don’t make a dent.

  26. 26
    jamick6000 says:

    I wish all the parents of gamers would have had abortions.

  27. 27
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @Botsplainer:

    If anyone actually does off Snowden, it may be a Russian spy angry because Snowden’s put him out of work.

  28. 28
    jamick6000 says:

    [The abortion doctor jumps on your character’s stomach; a gold coin pops out] “Mamma mia!

  29. 29
    Botsplainer says:

    @jamick6000:

    [The abortion doctor jumps on your character’s stomach; a gold coin pops out] “Mamma mia!“

    Ba-ba-Badaba-BAH!

    Letsa Go!

  30. 30
    jamick6000 says:

    hurry, we need to get to Planned Parenthood before it’s too late … my baby is about to “level up”

  31. 31
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @ Bigfoot San Andras sighting websites.

    Fallout New Vegas fans do that about the Nellis AFB ghost. Curiously the Nellis AFB ghost is a real life myth, not in the game and yet people claim to have seen it in the game.

  32. 32
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    Can someone explain to me what difference it makes that Edward Snowden apparently hacked the NSA’s systems to get some of the documents he stole, rather than just stealing the ones he had legitimate access to?

    It shows NSA security sucks and pretty much says the only reason they do secrecy is to hide their activities from public scrutiny. You can be pretty sure that Snowden isn’t the first NSA worker/contractor some foreign power hasn’t thrown money or women at to make them their mole.

  33. 33
    rikyrah says:

    Ga. insurance chief brags about sabotage of ObamaCare
    By Jay Bookman

    NOTE: This column was originally published Wednesday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and at myajc.com.

    —————–

    “Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans in Floyd County earlier this month: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

    After pausing to let applause roll over him, a grinning Hudgens went on to give an example of that obstructionist behavior, this one involving so-called “navigators” who are being hired to guide customers through the process of buying health insurance on marketplaces, or exchanges, set up under the federal program.

    “We have passed a law that says that a navigator, which is a position in that exchange, has to be licensed by our Department of Insurance,” Hudgens said. “The ObamaCare law says that we cannot require them to be an insurance agent, so we said fine, we’ll just require them to be a licensed navigator. So we’re going to make up the test, and basically you take the insurance agent test, you erase the name, you write ‘navigator test’ on it.”

    Hudgens clearly thought that was a pretty cute way for state officials to obstruct and delay implementation of the program and to ensure that it doesn’t work well for Georgians. Judging from their reaction, his audience thought so too. The question is why he thinks such steps are necessary

    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/jay.....obamacare/

  34. 34
    rikyrah says:

    Store rewards honest shoppers

    By Justin Lear, CNN

    updated 12:27 PM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013

    Four honest college football players are getting more than they bargained for after a shopping trip in Wayne, New Jersey.

    On Sunday night, Thomas James, Kell’E Gallimore, Jelani Bruce and Anthony Biondi drove from William Paterson University to Buddy’s Small Lots to look for a few items for their dorm rooms. But when they walked inside, no one else was there.

    The students thought it was odd that they were the only ones, but they say they had no idea it was supposed to be closed. Bruce told CNN: “At first, we were nervous. We didn’t know what to do. We thought people were there. We didn’t just want to walk out of the store.”

    When they paid for their batteries and sunglasses, they even included how much they owed for sales tax. And after leaving the money at a checkout counter, they walked to a Rite-Aid store next door and told an employee what they had done.

    Meanwhile, police were being alerted. Marci Lederman of Buddy’s Small Lots told CNN affiliate News 12 New Jersey: “We got a phone call from the police department saying that there had been a break-in at the store.” Upon arrival, store management said nothing was seen missing. It turns out a security malfunction had unlocked the doors.

    Lederman said that since the store is in a basement, some lights are left on after hours. Management took a look at the store’s surveillance video, which showed the four college students doing a little shopping and then walking around the store calling out for a store clerk so they could pay. In the video, two of the student athletes can be seen putting cash on the counter.

    James, who’s seen in the video waving to try to catch an employee’s attention, said he didn’t think too much about what happened until his brother called him the next day. “He asked me if I was at Buddy’s, my heart dropped a little bit,” James said. So he asked his brother: “Are we in trouble?”

    It turns out that trouble should have been the last thing on the students’ minds. The family-owned store chain wanted to thank the students for their honesty. So the four made another visit to Buddy’s on Tuesday, this time to meet employees and go on a free shopping spree.

    The students got memory foam pillows, since their school beds are uncomfortable; backpacks; Beats speakers for their iPhones; and cologne, among other things. The store’s security malfunction has since been fixed.

    The four students even earned praise from Jerry Flora, their college football coach, who said they’re “what any coach wants on any team, they represented their families well.”

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/28/.....ar_twitter

  35. 35
    rikyrah says:

    Florida Insurers Are Now Free to Screw Consumers and Must, By Law, Blame Obamacare

    Posted: 08/20/2013 10:49 am

    Because they aren’t, folks in Florida are facing having to pay far more for health insurance over the next two years than necessary. And health insurance executives will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    Florida state lawmakers, in their ongoing efforts to block the implementation of Obamacare in the Sunshine State, recently passed a law that will allow health insurance companies to gouge Floridians more than any corporate boss dreamed was possible.

    And if that weren’t bad enough, insurers will actually be required by law to mislead their Florida customers about why they’re hiking their premiums.

    Republicans, who control the governor’s office as well as both houses of the Florida legislature, were confident the U.S. Supreme Court would declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional. Not only did they vote to prohibit the state from spending money to implement a law they just knew would be overturned by the high court, they refused to accept money from the federal government that would have enabled the state’s department of insurance to do a better job of regulating health insurers and enforcing new consumer protections in the law.

    When the Supreme Court shocked Obamacare opponents last year by upholding the law, Florida lawmakers were in a pickle.

    Their response? They passed a bill that prohibits the state’s Office of Insurance Regulation from protecting consumers from unreasonable rate increases for two years.

    I learned about what is essentially a “first, do as much harm as possible” bill in a letter the nine Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation sent to U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius earlier this month pleading with her to step in to protect Floridians by taking an active role in regulating rate increases in the state.

    The lawmakers said intervention by HHS was urgently needed because of a law signed in May by Gov. Rick Scott that specifically prohibits Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty from doing his job of reviewing rate increases and rejecting those he and his staff determine are unjustifiably high.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....85206.html

  36. 36
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    I’m not sure I see that. IIRC, that guy who was the big tobacco whistleblower had documents to which he was not supposed to have access.

    Sure, but Big Tobacco’s enemies are dirty hippies who want to point out the obvious fact their product is poison, not their business rivals. If Snowden is a good citizen why is he dragging out things have that nothing to do with domestic spying but are of great interest to US rivals?

  37. 37
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Despite its being seven hours old, this seems to be the most current open thread around. So as not to go off-topic in any of the fresher offerings, I just want to note how saddened I am to learn that the wonderful Irish poet Seamus Heaney has died at 74. R.I.P.

  38. 38
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Patricia Kayden: Believe it or not, everyone doesn’t have to share your opinion that Snowden is a hero.

    Are you drunk? Because when I say,

    Don’t get me wrong: I think Snowden’s an idiot

    and what you take from that is that I think the guy’s a hero, that’s some serious impairment.

  39. 39
    Mo MacArbie says:

    @rikyrah: Wait, they’re giving free stuff to college football players? Alert the NCAA!

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