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Vector Arts Festival

Built to Play 30: Speak for Yourself

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Built to Play 30: Speak for Yourself

This week on Built to Play, we wrap up Vector 2014, and Youtube channels get all bought up. 

It looks like Disney is in final talks with Maker Studios to buy up the extremely popular Let's Play and review producer for $500 million. Most notably, Maker contains PewDiePie aka Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, who has one of the most popular Youtube accounts in the world. It's unclear what Disney intends to do with Maker, but here's hoping it involves a new Disney theme park ride in which PewDiePie plays every game you love, but can't afford right now.*

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Warner Brothers seems to have the same idea, as they invested $18 million into Machinima, a Los Angeles-based video game network. Machinima has been struggling, and began last week by laying off 30 employees. Warner is likely looking to keep Machinima alive as a way to keep their marketing tendrils close to young boys, or so says Variety.

Meanwhile, ShiftyLook is shutting down, meaning an end for Namco High. It turns out ShiftyLook was a prolonged experiment to promote long dead franchises. Since everyone now knows what WonderMomo is, Namco decided the experiment was complete. 

In more bewildering news, King thinks they're worth $7.6 billion, which is seven times more than the cost of Instagram. This is despite losing their trademark claim in the US and Candy Crush Saga reaching its peak months ago. We aren't stock advisors and cannot give you stock advice, but maybe don't buy King stock? Oh and Ubisoft Toronto is developing five games at once and PlayStation Home still exists. You're welcome. 

Courtesy Team Vector

Courtesy Team Vector

In our features, we talk militarised violence, gender studies in World of Warcraft, and how to run a festival with only three people. 

Courtesy Alex Myers

Courtesy Alex Myers

Game design professor, Alex Myers was in the marines for a year and a half and despised it. But since he's left, he's kept having run-ins with the military and militarised violence. When he was working on his Master of Fine Arts, he played hours of Counter Strike, letting other parts of his life suffer. After getting a hold of himself and worrying about the psychological effects of the game, he made Winning, a CS modification in which players stood only a foot apart and must shot each other in the face. Since then he's become the director of the game design program at the Bellevue University, which is in a Nebraska town that's fairly reverent of the military. Alex talks about navigating his personal relationship between games and the military. Starts at 26:30.

Courtesy Angela Washko

Courtesy Angela Washko

From war to hearts and minds, Angela Washko began talking about feminism inside World of Warcraft when he father asked her why she liked feminism. Or how her father put it, "Feminism is just something butch lesbian angry dykes use to hate men." Angela was shocked and decided to start exploring spaces where people were less educated about feminism. She had played a lot of World of Warcraft and had encountered the usual internet vitriolic misogyny, so that seemed like a prime stop to get started. And that's when things became pretty intense, pretty quickly. Hear more starting at 36:20.

Courtesy Team Vector

Courtesy Team Vector

Lastly, I sat down with the Vector Game Arts Festival organizers, Skot Deeming, Diana Poulsen and Martin Zeilinger to talk about how they felt they weekend went. Vector was a festival that celebrated the intersection of contemporary art, philosophy, and game design over February 19th-24th. They talked to me about how it got started, the chaos of running between exhibits, and what they're thinking for next year. Starts at 46:50.


This week's music came from the Free Music Archive and Freesound. We used "Thumb Wars" by Hypersleep, "School Boy" by Pietnastka, "Fantasy" by Podington Bear, "Simon" by L'homme Manete and "Sea Battles in Space" by RoccoW. Our ending theme was "Great Recession Waters" by Fields of Ohio. Thanks to ermine and robinhood76 for their Freesound clips.

*We pronounce PewDiePie is a couple ways that is barely recognizable as his name, more out of a sense of distrust than accident.

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Built to Play 29: Vector-Based Romance

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Built to Play 29: Vector-Based Romance

This week on Built to Play, we went to the Vector Game Arts Festival, but first Steam sales for all!

Valve is now opening up the process for sales on its online video game retailer, Steam. Steam now allows the developer to create sales two weeks in advance, and opt out of weekly sales.

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Sony Santa Monica, meanwhile, looks like they won't have much to sell, as they cancelled their new intellectual property and laid off the team working on it. Sony Santa Monica seems to still be working on a new God of War game and whatever Cory "Balrog" Barlog's mystery project turns out to be. Also in Japan, Nintendo end Internet services for the Wii and DS, in the form of the WiFi Connection.  

Hollywood is working on a series of video game movies that are pretty dubious in content. Markus "Notch" Persson said that there's a Minecraft movie in the works, helmed by the producer of The Lego Movie. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, the writers of Knocked Up and Superbad are working on a movie based on the Console Wars. The Console Wars is an upcoming book by Blake Harris which tracks the 1990s competition between then console giants, Sega and Nintendo.

 In mobile news, King, the creator of Candy Crush Saga, has given up on the "candy" trademark in the US. Seth Fischer wants you to pay a dollar to let Mario jump a little higher. And Square Enix made a new Secret of Mana game for iOS, Rise of Mana, that's unsurprisingly riddled with microtransactions. 

Glitch Owl -  Rachel Simone Weil

Glitch Owl - Rachel Simone Weil

Last weekend, Vector was in the air, showing lectures and games that were oddly about love. It wasn't the plan for this week, but enjoy our final week of romance-themed interviews.

First up this week, we talked to Rachel Simone Weil on her lecture "Breaking out of 8-bit Hell: The Retropolitical in Game Design." At the Dames Making Games Social, she talked about the ways in which people romanticise the 8-bit era, and how that appears to be the default golden age for a lot of video game fans. This love of the 8-bit can mask some of the political and gender issues in the 8-bit era, particularly the marketing and types of narrative in those early games. Her final point, however, is on how we should avoid condemning each other for our childhood experiences. If someone considers the Playstation, the Colecovision, or even the Casio Loopy as a personal golden age, it's okay to feel that nostalgia. She talks about her lecture at around 24:50.

Sext Adventure.png

We called back Kara Stone and Nadine Lessio to the show to talk about the Sext Adventure. As part of the Feb Fatale game jam, a 48-hour race to finish a game, they created a text adventure based on sexy phone texts. You contact an anonymous android who attempts to satisfy humans sexually, but instead lapses into existential depression. Our sex-positive reporter, Daniel Rosen, dug deep into the jam game, and discussed with Stone and Lessio society's intimate relationship with technology, the eventual disharmony routed in cyborg theory and dildos. The tomfoolery starts around 36:57. 

By the way, it is not the actual world's first sext adventure. That honor goes to 1984's The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, since we are too embarrassed to name anything else. 

A Long Time Coming , Courtesy Nadine Lessio's blog.

A Long Time Coming, Courtesy Nadine Lessio's blog.

The Knife from  a Long Time Coming , Courtesy Nadine Lessio.

The Knife from a Long Time Coming, Courtesy Nadine Lessio.

Flashing back to last year's Feb Fatale, we talked to Sagan Yee and Nadine Lessio about their jam game, A Long Time Coming. A Long Time Coming is a visual novel, a genre of which we discussed in detail last week, about cheating on your boyfriend. In moments of high tension, you're given a timed choice on how to respond. You can confess that you're cheating, recover and act polite, or become hostile. To pick one of those three options you use a throwing knife. In person, you grab a throwing knife from the table beside you and throw it at a projector to pick one of the three options.  It is an unpredictable way to play the game which is part of the fun. As Lessio bluntly put it, "it's about metaphorically stabbing someone in the back." The game feels like it's a lot more than that as Lessio and Yee explore some of the implications of the game that asks you to do the irresponsible thing, and continue to lie to your boyfriend about your infidelity. The knife-throwing starts 44:18.


This weeks' show once again used music from the Free Music Archive. We used "Daniels Kruis" and "I've Got Nothing" by RoccoW, "Heartbeat" by Jake Allison,  and "Simon" by L'Homme Manete. If you feel your music was used inappropriately or without citation leave a comment or send us an email.  


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