Monday Morning Meeting: Issue #5

Links randomly selected from the stuff I saw the previous week. Social issues and technology; a procedurally generated video game makes a big splash at E3; a surprisingly insightful review of a web series; and an autobiographical critique of Modernism. Some links are from longer than a week ago.

Why David Cole Doesn’t Watch StarCraft

In the middle of May, rumours swirled that Google-owned YouTube would buy Twitch, the video game streaming website. Not wanting to fall too far behind, I set out to watch some streams and follow a few to get a sense of how the community worked, limiting myself to only watching games I’d play myself. (FIFA 14, MLB The Show 14, and Mario Kart 8, and the weekly streams of multiplayer races of a NASCAR game from 2003.) I’m struck by the earnestness of the players, how they talk about themselves especially, in the sports games. John Gruber found similarities in watching Twitch.tv to watching sports, but in the essay linked here, David Cole finds the differences, without even mentioning Twitch.tv. (Sports game streamers do whine about the calls made by umpires and referees.) I don’t watch StarCraft, but not for lack of interest in watching people play video games, just a lack of understanding of the game itself. After two weeks of watching Twitch.tv streams, I have, in draft, 500 more words on the subject, but still have more questions than answers.

eBoy

Over the weekend I attended the Mini Maker Faire at the PNE Vancouver and encountered eBoy, who “create re-usable pixel objects and take them to build complex and extensible artwork. And we make toys.” They had a Game Frame which showed off their pixel art. On their website, their portfolio showcases their work, some digital and print. There’s an Escherian painter, an utterly nonsensical animation, some baseball-themed art (1, 2) and some items not exactly targeted towards children, which you’ll see if you browse long enough through their ’everything’ category.

Fundamental greatness: The oral history of Tim Duncan

“They passed the ball to him at the free-throw line. That’s like the Cardinal rule, right? You don’t give a ball to a big man at the free-throw line. He catches it with those great hands, takes one dribble, two steps, scores. Are you kidding me?” Tim Duncan, despite being an alumnus of not-Duke, is my favourite basketball player of all time. When I catch Spurs games, I just focus on him whether he has the ball or not and ignore the rest of the players. (Basketball, as a sport to watch on TV, is well-suited to watching just one player on TV, especially now with the rules tweaked to encourage movement.) Master of the bank shot, Duncan has been called Mr. Fundamentals and Mr. Boring.

All is lost: In the series finale of NBA Y2K, we bear witness to the slow, miserable death of basketball

In his great tradition of breaking sports video games, Jon Bois pits NBA teams stocked with zero-rating players against each other in simulated matches over the course of several seasons. You might remember that in January, just in time for the Super Bowl, he matched up zero-rated football team with a highest-possible-rated team. I assume, with hockey ending soon, he’ll do baseball next, finding innovative ways to break MLB The Show 14.