I like play that slowly builds tension and then releases it with intensity and consequences. Maps. Sounds of nature. Long distances. The passage of time. Night and day cycles. Changing light. Clouds. Weather. Wind, foliage, animals, dust, fog, rain, lightning storms.
A simple way to experience play is fiction. Games, books, music and films that tell us, a species of storytellers, stories, and help bring us closer, for art is a medium for creativity, a multiplier, which improves everything else needed for life.
Without art, without play, the pace quickens, and we may become weary, our body (which includes our mind) wearing down more quickly. We have been playing – drawing, painting, throwing, collecting — for millennia, it is an integral part of a healthy human being, often given little time in our education.
Favorite Computer Games of 2018
- Odyssey: A tough, intelligent, funny (and beautiful) woman as one of the two character choices (the other is her brother), introduced wearing rags by a bungalow on a small island in ancient Greece, brought to life with wonderfully crafted light, movement and sound. I knew this was something special as the view zoomed out and the game title appeared for the first time when sailing away from Kefalonia after ten hours of play. “Assassin’s Creed” no longer fits. “Odyssey” is enough.
- Antistasi Mod for Arma 3: A multiplayer dynamic campaign (a continuing scenario where your actions change the response of the artificial intelligence and the overall game) made by Alberto Garcia Patiño for Arma 3, the soldier simulator made by Bohemia Interactive. Arma 3 was the game used by a person named Brendan Greene to make a mod called Battle Royale, which led to a game called PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which in turn inspired the 3 billion dollar per year sensation called Fortnite, which I like, though it is like candy or soda — a quick shot of sugar — games last 40 minutes max, and then you do it again. ¶ The slower, more deliberate pace of Antistasi, with a potentially weeks-long game, played in long (or short) sessions, is like a good game of chess that can be played over a year. ¶ You and your friends — this is best played cooperatively with friends — are a guerrilla attempting to liberate your island from two AI-controlled invading forces. ¶ A lot of stealthy movement, of watching with binoculars, of traversing wilderness to get a better view, of antics like wearing Armani Exchange beach wear and sandals while riding rickety bicycles to battle. And when the time comes, intensity like in no other game — a lot of time is spent prone in the dirt, with bullets whizzing by. ¶ You need engineers to fix vehicles, medics to fix friends, and weapons to fix the enemy (whom you can revive and capture or release instead of killing, if you wish and shoot carefully).
- Exile Mod for Arma 3: The closest thing to the tension of Day-Z in Arma 3. Great with friends against other human player groups and sharpshooting artificially intelligent soldiers and zombies. The easiest way to install this mod is through Arma 3 Launcher. Here is a good tutorial about the mod, which is quite complex.
- Star Citizen: Has bugs and is closer to a demonstration of what is to come, but already an impressive aural and visual achievement with seamless animated transit between getting out of a bed, walking in the metallic corridors of an space station, into a ship, out in the void of space, through hyperspace, the icy surface of a moon, an atmosphere, and the savanna on a planet (I am waiting to be able to do this in Elite). The animations remind me of Far Cry 2. They immerse you in the game’s universe. ¶ I bought (or as they say, pledged — though I do not like that word) an Aurora starship that reminds me of a buzzing bee, and have enjoyed exploring the Hurston system while listening to the wonderful orchestral compositions by Pedro Camacho, the soundtrack composer:
This track I composed when you approach Hurston has a small detail. The ARP and harmony is playing minor chord but the synth melody is playing the same chord but in major chord so it becomes, at the same time, both minor and major. This is due to having such a beautiful planet on one side (Hurston) and such an oppressive city (Loreville) on another. ¶ In the end the track goes larger in scope and we hear the Star Citizen theme motif (2:23) and the arp, which was scoring the oppression from Loreville, is now major because you are free to visit an entire galaxy filled with beautiful things. ¶ This is also to let us know that in life things may look bad when you are close to a situation but, if you take step back and look at the whole picture, you have many more things to celebrate that that one bad situation.
- Red Dead Redemption 2 would probably be here, but it is only available for game consoles and not personal computers yet. Maybe next year, or in 2020.
Favorite Musicians Discovered in 2018 & Song by Each
- Alice Coltrane, TarijaTuriya and Ramakrishna.
- Pedro Camacho, Colton Was Here.
- Kurt Vile, Loading Zones.
- Laura Veirs, Sun Song.
- Matthew De Ver, Up to Get Air.
Two Good Films, One Good Series
- Leave No Trace, a quiet war film.
- Ready Player One, a good adaptation of the book.
- Wild Wild Country, a good, short documentary about a cult-like group in the 1980s. This is, if I remember correctly, the 5th television series I have ever watched. They take too much time that is better spent playing videogames where at least you can make a decision other than to watch the next episode.
Five Good Books
- The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Leguin.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: The 1818 Text.
- I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter.
- Bruce Gilden’s Only God Can Judge Me.
- Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.
Random 2019 Predictions
The independent web will begin to grow again aided by technologies like the Beaker peer to peer web browser and the Scuttlebutt decentralised secure gossip platform. More people will become aware of the trouble with centralized social media. Discord, the voice and text communication application popular with people who play personal computer games will be bought by a large tech company, hopefully not one of the worst. Virtual reality headsets may become a little cheaper to buy but will continue to be a small niche for some more years. Game streaming services where you pay a subscription to play a game running from a remote machine will become more popular. Basic income will be spoken about more often, and maybe become a reality in the United States in the next decade. A book of black and white photographs from Rome and New York will be published. More drawings will be made. Courageous women will take charge of things with the help of courageous men and lead our species in a kinder world.
First thing in the morning: sit down and write whatever is in your mind, preferably with a soft 2B or 3B pencil on paper with nice texture. Write one, two or three things you would like to accomplish today with a little box next to each that you may tick later. These should be simple, like “buy groceries”, “post a photograph on the site”, “send a new draft of the poster”.
Read news once a week, if at all. Distrust people in positions of power. Stay away from toxic people and especially avoid arguing with them through the computer on your desk, lap or in your pocket. Speak with someone in person instead, even if this involves going somewhere and paying for, or letting someone pay for, a tea, a coffee or a beer. If you feel like reading news or a social media site, become aware of it, and with the awareness, go ahead, but consider instead writing a sentence on a piece of paper, in a text editor, or in an email to a friend, or playing some notes on an instrument, drawing a little drawing with whatever is at hand on whatever is at hand, going for a walk or a bike ride, stretching, or playing a game with a friend.
With warm wishes to you for a happy new spin around our star in the ever-changing universe, dear reader.