Functional Entropy

Chaos breeds order, sort of.

Category: Game Your Brains Out

Some Things I Like Right Now

  1. The Awl. The Awl is what I secretly want all writing on the internet to resemble. It seems totally undiluted and like no one is counting down their words to make sure it fits into an allocated space that it was written to occupy. I'm fairly old in terms of internet age so I remember when there was a lot more of this kind of writing to be found via Netscape 4 and I'm not just talking about GeoCities or whatever. Suck.com comes to mind immediately. Writing that isn't broken into bullet points is soothing after reading so many quizzes and vague statements uttered entirely in memes. This may or not be writing for the graybeards, but I'm enjoying the shit out of it.
  2. Fresh News. Fresh News has been a constant in my bookmarks (ha ha, there's an app for that now) since the early 2000's without any huge change in format or freemium strapons. They did add a bunch of feeds so my visits over the years actually increased rather than dropped off. It loads quickly and just shares the good news friends. More things should work this way; do a single job well for a number of different sources. Unfortunately, everyone starts this way to some degree then gets the idea that they need to lardbomb everything to create more mass appeal. I dislike mass appeal especially when it fails on both sides of the equation. FN does and did it right. Thanks.
  3. Kingdom of Loathing. Years ago when I first encountered KoL I thought it was hilarious and delivered all the right jabs to all the right companies/games. The other super cool part that others never quite seem to get is that games should also be fun to actually play (actually better when the goofiness is incorporated directly into the gameplay) even when it's played entirely in the browser and uses stick figures for all of its graphics. It's silly without being stupid (this is another goal that should be taught at entrepreneur finishing school as well) and continuously expands. They accept donations, but don't demand them by withholding anything vital from the game itself.
  4. These vegan veggie burgers I keep buying from Target. I have no idea what the actual brand name is so no link action, but throw these on the grill and they may or may not fool any of my omnivore friends. My decidedly non-vegan kid will gladly eat one of these and that's a good thing because a vegan is in charge of the grill. At the Target near my house they store these things in the refrigerated section where you'd normally look for salad in a bag. I have no idea how they'd work with a paleo diet or a gluten-free diet mainly because one of those things is stupid and the other is hypochondria. You can pick which is which.

This Is The Story Of How Screwed We Were and Now That Is Over

Man, I’m a little baffled about how I actually feel about Elegy for a Dead World mostly because I don’t have time to buy it right fucking now and that makes me absurdly sad after seeing the promo spiel. I caught myself oohing during the first video I watched as the concept slowly dawned on me.

I’ve only watched video and preview animations and it agitated me towards wanting to do something/anything in this world quite a bit. The whole thing is ambitious in a huge way and aims to make you write when prompted by, um, prompts. The basic outline is every insipid piece of educational software ever written and ignored. I really wish that something as multi-dimensional as this would be the sort of thing that kids moved to after the initial fascination with Minecraft (and my 6 year old is absolutely no different in his fascination). I think what put my head in that space initially is that the writing done in the game can be shared and read by other people and you can read the things that other people have written.

My own child is enraptured with Minecraft not because he gets to squirrel a little 8-bit dude around and stack things, but rather because there’s a whole mythology behind the game while is made accessible by a whole planet of YouTube videos that lay out worlds inhabited by the speaking characters in the game that are also engrossed in playing the game. It’s about as meta as I can handle before becoming physically ill. If you could apply that same level of interest to (holy shit, wait for it) reading and (it’s almost as if the popularity of online video and the comments that decorate them hadn’t single handedly destroyed the English language) writing to kids as they’re getting old enough to grow more interested in being able to articulate ideas in a way that isn’t boring, dumb, and stupid and in a format that forces some amount of structure while being stored in a container that isn’t rolled up and smoked immediately after class ends, you’ve got a magical fucking unicorn of a game. I’m kind of curious how the sharing and reading of other writing will work. Stupidly curious even.

All of that said, I have not done anything but pore over marketing materials, but the conceptual part is killer. The unfortunate part is that it’s also fairly easy to dismiss for many of the same reasons: sci fi, writing, and not dwelling in a gear/weapons centered universe. I hope that it gains some real traction or that it inspires other shops to take similar (and awesome) risks instead of just skinning the same goddamned engine in new, sexy, and tedious ways. This is the second thing today that’s made me really happy.

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