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Blogged Out: Revolution, Avant Gaming, Mahjong

Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we herald a...
Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week we herald a Revolution, visit Japan, and see the Avant Gamer. - At the time of writing, the developer blogs are lighting up with first impressions of Nintendo's controller for the Revolution console. Design columnist Andrew Losowsky wonders at the potential of the beast: "If you can't find where you put the controller, I wonder if the machine will be able to locate what direction it's sitting in? And, if it's that depth sensitive, if you'll be able to use it to draw outlines around things in the room? Or people?" Veteran journalist Kieron Gillen sees it as a rallying point for innovation: "Whether they get it or not immediately divides the entire gaming universe into cowardly, tedious luddites who are perfectly happy to sit in their squat-like holes forever and Good People. If you don't like the Revolution controller, you are fundamentally part of the problem." Austrian-based game producer Jurie Horneman concludes: "We can discuss if it makes business sense, and if it will be a commercial success, but I think it's harder to argue that it is not a creative success (as much as one can without having held it in one's hand, but when has that ever stopped anybody?) I also think that pretty much everything Nintendo said about the Revolution before today's revelation turned out to be true, which is kind of refreshing in this age of hype." - Meanwhile, self-proclaimed Avant Gamer and 42 Entertainment (ilovebees) employee Jane McGonigal provides something of a manifesto in talking about her opinions with regard to games of all kinds, not just videogames, but the whole gamut, with particular reference to 'augmented reality' and similar public space projects. "Games are serious," says McGonigal in epigrammatic style. "Some people dismiss them as "pointless," but they are blind to the power of pointlessness. The power of games is in their intrinsic pleasure. The nature of games is not to point. The nature of games it to experience. And experiences can be extraordinarily powerful things." But are experiences enough? Won't experience without some context and meaning (perhaps that of a good story) always lead to boredom? In fact, isn't the fact of 'experience only' the very reason why established forms see games as somehow second rate: because novelty and experience without meaning can only lead to boredom? - Also from Japan, but considering rather different subjects, is the online commentator, academic and researcher Hiroshi Yamaguchi. He this week talks about how Asian Mah-Jong providers attempted to take a trick or two from MMO service providers by introducing various forms of live chat, from female hosts to keep the male players occupied, to chat systems and complex logs that the players could potentially analyse to up their game. Yamaguchi concludes that unlike players of MMO games, Mahjong players simply don't want to participate in a community. "Researchers and professionals often say that community is a key feature of online game services. But the contrasting results of these online mahjong games tell us that community does not always accompany communication." [Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK – his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

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