English major in the System

March 20th, 2021 by harold

He was, as he puts it, “a liberal-arts nobody with no coding skills or direct industry experience, thrown onto arguably the most accomplished and leading-edge videogame production team ever assembled. It’s hard to explain how unlikely that was, and how fish-out-of-water I felt.” Nevertheless, there he was — and System Shock was all the better for his presence.

On System Shock, a remarkable and very important 90s game.

It’s just interesting to read that, as this would never happen today. People with all the skills don’t get hired nowadays.

On game creators responsibilities

March 19th, 2021 by harold

Here, then, we come to the fatal flaw that undermines almost all applications of this argument. Its proponents would seemingly have you believe that the games of which they speak are rhetorically neutral sandboxes, exact mirror images of some tangible objective reality. But this they are not. Even if they purport to “simulate” real events to one degree or another, they can hope to capture only a tiny sliver of their lived experience, shot through with the conscious and subconscious interests and biases of the people who make them. These last are often most clearly revealed through a game’s victory conditions, as they are in the case of Colonization. To play Colonization the “right” way — to play it as the designers intended it to be played — requires you to exploit and subjugate the people who were already in the New World millennia before your country arrived to claim it. Again, then, we’re forced to confront the fact that every example of a creative expression is a statement about its creators’ worldview, whether those creators consciously wish it to be such a thing or not. Labeling it a simulation does nothing to change this.

The handling — or rather non-handling — of slavery by Colonization is an even more telling case in point. By excising slavery entirely, Colonization loses all claim to being a simulation of real history to any recognizable degree whatsoever, given how deeply intertwined the Peculiar Institution was with everything the game does deign to depict.

Jimmy Maher, at it again, being such a treat to read.

“A creative expression is a statement about its creators’ worldview”. Very powerful and very true. It is the reason why creators have to expand their knowledge, to go broad rather than deep but I digress.

Game developers still don’t do a great job at grasping consequences and outcomes. It’s not a surprise that we talk so much more about tools and new tech or production than morality, gameplay and what kind of fictional reality game developers create for their players.

Spending all kinds of energy to avoid accountability doesn’t scream maturity.

Paul Jackson

March 19th, 2021 by harold

Has passed away. Damn.

He’s playing bass on everything Herbie Hancock created in the 70s, aka some of the greatest jazz funk ever produced. A wonderful bassist who didn’t like to play anything twice. Just constant improvisation or re-arranging the bass lines. Herbie talks about it in his autobiography, noticing that sometimes this was really annoying.

Nonetheless, rest in peace King.

We suck at capitalism

March 18th, 2021 by harold

Here’s how it could have been.

We don’t have a duopoly on mobile phones. We have four players –Microsoft, Apple, Google, RIM and they roughly each have a quarter of the market.

Facebook doesn’t become as big, as the four players tell FB to be quiet with its ad business on mobile. FB can’t side with Google on this and Apple is busy competing instead of making deals with Internet companies. FB would likely have had way less power. Quite possibly, IG stays independent.

Google doesn’t become as obnoxiously big because EVERYONE is competing with Google on everything.  Google can’t force-feed Chrome or make its services run badly on other platforms because, well, competition. Every single happy customer is important.

What we customers gain is likely way less surveillance: it’s a lot harder to make four, very different companies agree on not caring about privacy, especially when the business isn’t about gathering user data but is simply about selling devices and software.

Maybe this way freemium doesn’t become the de-facto business model because tons of developers make a living doing the incredible thing of selling their apps on markets where platforms don’t take 30%, but 10%, maybe less (competition, remember?).

Developers would have to build different versions of their apps, exactly like they’re doing with a duopoly (it’s always been the holy grail: code once, deploy everywhere except that it’s never been the case and probably never will). The difference would be that they would have a lot more independence and would actually own platforms.

What we’d also gain is a slower technological pace: because phones wouldn’t have been subsidized by carriers (remember, this is why the iPhone won), and that they cost so much, we’d be using them on a 5-year average instead of 18 months.

At the scale of the world and billions of devices, it is not hard to see the gains in terms of environmental waste and rare metal mining.

Those four companies would have to work together to make a few things happen smoothly. Like sim card, contact, pictures and videos transfer between devices. Interoperability would be QUEEN and that would be very nice for us, customers. No lock-in. Free.

Instead we’re stuck in two walled gardens which increasingly are trying to make us even more dependent on.

We suck at capitalism.

Closing your eyes

March 18th, 2021 by harold

I’m always impressed at how when I close my eyes, my body re-syncs itself automatically.

It immediately gets my nose to reach out for more oxygen. To breathe deeper.

Slowly, muscles relax and reach a comfortable position. Usually with limbs along the body.

If I’m eating with my eyes closed, my body starts slowing the process down. I masticate longer and swallow less air with each bite. Just automatically.

I think kisses are so much more enjoyable to give or receive with your eyes closed. It becomes a moment rather than a thing to do.

SFII Audio

March 16th, 2021 by harold

Guile looking like he spittin spittin.

Dhalsim about to DROP it.

Chun li playing fat bass lines on her Moog.

Zangief definitely on some Chicago House mix.

One year of pandemic

March 14th, 2021 by harold

I keep thinking about how the pandemic should have moved us to a more “we’re together” position and the exact opposite, time A Million, everywhere you look at, happened.

Appropriation

March 12th, 2021 by harold

It’s a great article by Nelson George.

The core audience for most of hip-hop’s first thirty years, both white and black, were in deeply invested in an vision of “keepin’ it real” authenticity that valued a ghettocentric version of American life.

Very true. Which would make me uncomfortable with my white friends in France, so into KRS-ONE and Dr OCTAGON. The complete embrace of Black American Man’s Life lyrics seemed odd to me. True, I was into metal at that time but that’s the thing: I was into the sound, not the lifestyle or trying to be part to it. I was into the heaviness of those guitars and the fact that the more groove in the sound, the better, didn’t make me feel like appropriating. I felt doing my own thing rather than joining a culture. I felt like making up my own hybrid strain through a mix of genres.

In fact some of the most progressive forces in today’s hip-hop are more likely as influenced by Radiohead’s textures than the Bomb Squad’s block rocking beats.

Lyricism is really were things are lacking these days. Although, I really enjoy Kodak Black. He has some rather smart lines. Tyler has become so great at opening up and be who he is now.

Later Prince, Cameo and Jermaine Jackson were amongst the many black ‘80s acts to have hits by adapting the keyboard sounds, melodic ideas, and vocal arrangements of new wave bands. I guess that was all “appropriation” if you wanna make it a negative.

Well the thing is they appropriated a sound, not a genre of music. Early 80s were all about dramatically cut down production to have a very minimal, “cold” sound after the luscious 70s, right? It felt and feels more like an extension than appropriation to me. They built on top of that and created new music, 80s funk music with very distinct flavors. It is also a “going forward” type of appropriation.

The thing about Mars and Silk Sonic is that they sound like something else, and from the past. It feels a little bit more disingenuous.

But Bruno Mars is not stealing “our” music. He wasn’t a parody of R&B or new jack swing. In fact he was one of the only people with a mass audience keeping these styles alive. Putting out a record celebrating funk in 2015 or new jack swing in 2017 were as far from a commercial slam dunk as one could get. Black folks, both as creators and customers crave innovation, invention and the constant shock of the new. It’s why black music has moved like a tractor through the cow pasture otherwise known as American culture. The search for new sounds have driven everything from bebop to trap.

I loved that funk he put out there. I remember driving on the 101, volume up. The 24K Magic single was dope. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wished someone else was singing. Or that the music wasn’t so predictable. It lacked a little 2010s twist or something. I love 80s music, I can listen to it right now! And that’s where Mars didn’t search for new sounds, he looked for comfort and the labels said “there’s something to tap in here, that nostalgia from a generation and nostalgic envy from that other generation” and that was it. That’s fine. But that’s not innovation.

I heard Silk Sonic for the first time on the radio this morning, and I couldn’t tell from when it was, although .paak’s voice gave me away that this was new. Yet old. It makes the music enjoyable, but doesn’t “wow” you like the first time you hear Cameo’s She’s Strange, Rae Sremmurd’s No Type or King’s The Story (or their entire album). Those truly innovated. Those hit different.

What I’d like is a late 70sFUNK-late 00sTRAP music blend with a duet between a man and a woman, singing and rapping about our current debt life, without name dropping tech brands or celebrities, while being uplifting.

Now, that would be the future to me.

Insecure

March 9th, 2021 by harold

Insecure, the show, is about to end with its latest season, season 5.

I think that’s a good run. Five seasons is a good amount.

Season 1 was great, funny, witty, I couldn’t get enough of it.

Season 2 starts great and then I feel like the sex themes were not on part with Issa’s sarcastic and hilarious tone that she has all through the first season. Kelli is funny AF though.

Season 3 goes a little bit in all directions at the same time. The original tone is not there as much, but it’s still enjoyable and cute.

Season 4 was refreshing, with a very nice little arc between Issa and Molly. It’s a calm season and it fit 2020 perfectly, I think.

For season 5 I hope they hose us with creative juice. Fuck it up, Issa. End your show with some animated movie, a bit like in Better Off Dead. Or music video ultra fast cuts in one episode. Girl go surrealist.

Joy & Pain

March 8th, 2021 by harold

November ‘19 to April ‘20 is kind of a big blur before I re-emerged, missing someone heavy without noticing it at first but then facing it clearly.

I haven’t seen that person ever since, basically.