I'll be at FILE (Sao Paulo) this Thursday

Logofile_eng In addition to my talks in Sao Carlos, I'll be giving a talk this Thursday in Sao Paulo at FILE, the Brazilian Digital Arts Festival. I've been looking forward to visiting the festival for years now, so it's an incredible honor to be speaking at it now. The address where the talk is going to take place is very close to where FILE is taking place: Avenida Paulista nº 1009, 21º andar (floor). The talk will be this Thursday, August 28th, from 19h30 to 21h30. Admission is free, as in free beer. And the talk will be given in Spanish (probably in Portugnol :) If you are in Sao Paulo, I hope you can make it!

Sao Paulo Part II

2344121032_1ab8905fa3_m In addition to my talk and one-day course at the Federal University of Sao Carlos (Monday and Tuesday, respectively) it's likely that I'll be giving another lecture, this time in Sao Paulo, on Thursday night. Additionally, a lot of people have emailed me so we can meet, so it's likely that we'll set up a meeting in some bar/restaurant. I'll post an update once the details are final on both things. 

Update: In Brazil on the 25th

Gonzalo_Frasca_Sao_Carlos_UFSCar I'll be in Sao Paulo by the end of this month. Sao Paulo = Brazil + Great Japanese Food (it doesn't get better than that).

I'm invited by the Federal University of Sao Carlos, and I'll be giving a lecture on Videogames and Communication at the CECH amphitheater at 20h on the 25th. The 26th, I'll give a one-day seminar on Contemporary Game Studies. More information (em portugues) here.

This is the first time I give a lecture in Brazil. A couple of months ago I gave my first in Argentina, too. It's really exciting being able to discuss videogames with people from the region where I grew up. As far as I've seen there's a lot of energy in young developers to push further the local industry. My visit to Argentina was truly great (I'll be back in a couple of months) and I seriously look forward to being in Sao Paulo, the largest, craziest and probably coolest city in South America.

McCains' official videogame - Pork Invaders


2003 was the year of the first official videogame for a US Presidential campaign. It was called the Dean For Iowa Game. We developed that game in about two weeks (I can't think we could do that again even if we wanted). My good friend Ian had a contact with Dean's campaign, we two spent a couple of very long phone conversations until we figured out the basic design. Since then, there have been a few other official campaign videogames. Until a few days ago, when Republican nominee John McCain launched Pork Invaders, an official videogame about... shooting porks(!)

I'm glad about this game. Mainly because it's nice to see how videogames became such an important part of our culture that even elections take them (somehow) seriously. I'd like to say that even if my heart is with Obama, I respect Senator McCain. Ideologically, I think we couldn't be further away, but I like the fact that he often speaks his mind, and that's a very valuable thing in a politician. That being said, he needs some help when it comes to political videogames (don't look this way, McCain, I'd rather kill kittens before making a game for a Republican).


So, about Pork Invaders... For those unfamiliar with the political term, the answer is in Wikipedia. It's an expression about using government funds for private interests. And it's one of McCain's favorite topics. Ok, so far, so good. The game looks funny (it has piggies!) and it catches your attention. But a SPACE INVADERS clone! AGAIN? Come on, you can't be serious! Right after we launched the Dean game, the Republicans created Tax Invaders, a Space Invaders clone featuring Bush against taxes. This is the exact same game! Come on, McCain people, I know that Bush won the election thanks to Tax Invaders (sarcasm), but there are about 200 other classic games you could use. You can't pretend to not be seen as Bush's successor unless you come up with some original ideas! I'm sure even Republicans can code something better than Space Invaders.

As a sidenote, I'd like to mention the fellow game creator who did not only Tax Invaders, but most of the Republican videogames (I have no idea who crafted the McCain game, though). His name is Jeremy Lee Kenney and, even if he delved into the extremely, utterly dark side of the force by helping elect a War criminal into government, he's still a colleague and a pioneer.

In any case, this 2008 game is far superior technically to the buggy 2003 Tax Invaders. It's graphics are more polished. It shoots "Vetoes" rather than bullets and the designers were wise enough not to include the candidate's head, like they did in the previous game. However, McCain's game is not exempt of bugs (notice the pork barrel graphic in the "Record on Earmarks" screenshot). Still, it includes HTML code so you can place the game on your site, and even in Facebook.

Long live to political videogames! And shame on McCain, ripping off Bush's lame and old videogame. This little piggy could have tried a little harder...

Ludology and Narratology are getting a divorce

Ludology and Narratology

Ludology and Narratology became the DC versus Marvel, Beatles vs Rolling Stones, Pepsi versus Coke of game studies. I'm fine with it. I guess it helps young people (hopefully young designers) to get a stand on videogames and even pump some red blood once in a while. In any case, PopMatters Ludology versus Narratology: The Divorce, is pretty funny and you should read it if you have the time.

ROBOTS in Seattle!

Robots_web_tout What can I say? I'm happy! In a couple of weeks I'll be attending Casual Connect in Seattle. Even though I'll probably be working non-stop, I was hoping to spend a couple of hours at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum (yup, even the name sounds like a match made in Heaven). So, I fire up their website, only to find out that the have an exhibit on TOY ROBOTS. Literally, it's Xmas in July! I'm looking forward to visiting Seattle (and Atlanta, where I will stop for a couple of days). Even though I lived in Oregon for many years, I've only been to Seattle once, probably in a rush (I did fall in love with Vancouver, B.C., though). But any city that pays hommage to toy robots is definitively my kind of city.

Making of Peggle


Peggle is such a wonderful game. Actually, it's the reason why my iPod's battery is almost depleted. I just spent a good few minutes reading a "behind the scenes" or "postmortem" of this game, created by PopCap. It's written in plain English, but it provides a very good look at how the game was made. It includes sketches, as well as videos with interviews and images of early prototypes. A must read for anybody interested in how a great game is designed. Here's the link. Notice that you need to subscribe to the newsletter before reading it. Just us a phony email; it works. Trust me, it's worth the pain.