cah:

Prologue

Here’s the prologue episode of Tabletop Deathmatch. We filmed this early last summer, when we had received 500 submissions for the contest. Submissions were made through a form on our website, where we asked for the game’s elevator pitch, description of the mechanics, and if there were any photos or video of the game. We purposely asked submissions from people who had never published a game before.

We thought we would receive 100 submissions at most. The number blew us away.

Whittling down the submissions from 500 was tricky. Five of us at Cards Against Humanity - David, Eli, Max, Jenn & Trin - sorted through the pile to find anything that caught our eye. Originality was key. A paper prototype was essential - if there wasn’t a playable prototype, we nixed it. We also wanted to see games that had been playtested a lot.

We managed to cut the pile to the 50 most promising ideas. Then we went through the pile again, assigned each game a numbered score, averaged the score, and set aside our top picks.

Watch the episode & see how we found our 16 finalists.

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porpentine:

what would a network look like if it was designed for marginalized people. maybe less capitalistic quantification, less obsessive UIs that cultivate status and reinforce competition between marginals. safety and privacy vs. the system that outs trans people, helps stalkers find their victims, and forces people to use dead names.

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Dan Harmon:

I still don’t know what to do with Chang. He’s become just a symbol of mental illness. I mishandled Chang from the beginning. He was funny as the borderline psychotic Spanish teacher. Sony wanted him to stay a borderline psychotic Spanish teacher. Going into season 2, I was possibly unreasonably very passionately phobic of making Spanish class a part of a template for the show. Looking back on it, they probably could have just done another year of Spanish because for some reason they may have all needed another Spanish credit – it was invalidated or something. But that’s after having been through all the insanity that the show’s been through and realizing how much you can truly just correct your course as you go. But back then I thought I was writing a sonnet and it was imperative that the second line not rhyme with the first one because then it wouldn’t be a sonnet and it would be screwed forever. So they told Sony, “We need to find something else to do with Chang, because if they keep taking Spanish class then we have several points of consistency with the show that is eventually going to need to not be reliant on all of these ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’-y gimmicks. So before anyone thinks that it’s part of the show that changing would be a crime, we have to not let them get addicted to Spanish class. I want them to take a different class together every year and I want the teacher to be different and I want time to move forward. And I want the study room to stay the same and I want that to be the bridge of the Enterprise. And I eventually want them to not need to necessarily be in community college anymore because it’s called ‘Community,’ not ‘Community College.’”

And that was the beginning of a relationship with Sony, where they’re clearly in the business of making “Seinfeld”s. It was them going, “We can make billions of dollars if you just accept that the form of this medium is about templating and consistency and timelessness and repetition,” and me going, “I don’t believe that that’s true in this case. I think the show will fail if we do another season of the same show again. I think that it will run for two years and I think that if we continue to let it grow and change I think that it can last for five, six, seven years.” And we will never know who was right and who was wrong but what we do know is that that was at the beginning of season 2, that was a rift between me and the people I worked for that was gonna end up probably getting me axed. I was just a threat to a big pile of money for them. And I agree with that. They called me to their office at the beginning of season 2 and they said, “Congratulations on the pickup. Now if you get cancelled you’ll have wasted twice as much of our money.” And that’s true. Because until you get to syndication numbers the studio doesn’t recoup. So I respected that candor. I respect it when the suits talk about money, when they talk about what they need so that they can get what they want. I don’t believe them when they then tell me this is how you’re gonna accomplish that creatively. I don’t believe they know because they make 20 shows a year and they throw 19 in the garbage. And if you did that at a tuna cannery no one would buy your tuna. So I don’t believe that anyone knows how to bottle television. And since nobody knows, I would like to roll my own dice.

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The Economist:

Earth is not the only orb with oceans. In 2005 Cassini, an American spacecraft, saw plumes of water shooting into space from cracks in the icy surface of Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons (see picture). These suggest that Enceladus, too, has an ocean—albeit one completely covered by ice. The water in it, theory suggests, would be kept liquid by tides, which create internal friction and therefore heat. On April 3rd a team led by Luciano Iess of the University of Rome confirmed that the ocean exists, and also showed that, like Earth’s, it is not all-embracing. Dr Iess describes, in a paper in Science, how his team mapped Enceladus’s gravity by tracking Cassini’s orbit. The moon’s southern hemisphere is less massive than it would be were there no ocean, but its northern hemisphere is not. So the ocean covers only the southern part of the moon.

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This is an April Fools joke I can get behind.

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I got an email from Upworthy.

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This literally never looks good.

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ohdeargodbees:

The format of reality tv shows feels a lot like you’re a fish in the following analogy. Someone goes out to the ocean with the intent of catching a fish they really love and want to observe, and putting them into a fishbowl. This fishbowl not only is incredibly cramped compared to the ocean you’re used to, but it’s got plastic day-glo green seaweed in place of the dark green foliage, neon rainbow sand where you’re used to living coral reefs, and some tiny castle with a weird dude in it that you can’t even really make sense of but the person who caught you thinks it looks really cool and ties the whole thing together because they’re used to seeing tiny castles in fishtanks.

Then, this person who caught you never changes the water and taps on the glass every five minutes.

The fish starts to forget what the ocean was like. It acclimates to it’s new world and changes accordingly. It learns to eat multicolored food flakes regardless of how unnatural it is.

Then, the person observes the aquarium and takes the fish’s reaction to this extreme environment and publishes a paper on their first hand truthful experience with this species of fish and a lot of people probably think that fish is kind of an asshole when really they’re just stressed out from eating weird flakes and not being able to swim or see their friends and having some weirdo stare at them through the glass and demand that they re-do that real moment of emotion because it wasn’t quite believable enough when it was actually happening and-

This metaphor derailed quickly. My apologies.

Anyway, my point is this: the tragedy of it is that in the pursuit of portraying truth, you end up making a caricature that creeps you out and is not only obvious unbelievable, but repulsive. Repulsive in the same ways that the not-quite-right face of a porcelain doll is.

Zoe Quinn on this incredible trainwreck of a reality game jam show.

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Jared Rosen for Indiestatik:

This is the story of the most expensive, most highly produced game jam in the history of the video game industry, and how it was dismantled by a single man.

[…]

Despite some initial weirdness, all early indicators said this was going to go over fine. I checked the schedule and the prizing for any reason it might go otherwise and was greeted with some confusion – the prizes themselves. Every challenge had an item that would go to the winning team, but they ranged from Mountain Dew “Dew Packs” (we never found out what these were) to a free pass into Microsoft’s Xbox One indie developer program (which every single person present either had or could get with a phone call).

Davey was forced to take off his nail polish because he couldn’t hold the can with it on. Zoe had to take off the buttons she usually wears on her jacket, but shouted down a PA who tried to make her cover her tattoos. The Arcane Kids were screamed at for not holding bottles right, while the entire group was lectured on how to properly smile like you’re enjoying the product – a product that everyone was enjoying less and less. The slow train wreck of faces flipping into scowls marked only the beginning of what would soon turn into an utter shitshow.

[…]

Then the computers started breaking. The rigs were the same ones I use to capture game footage for reviews, normally fairly powerful machines able to handle huge processing loads, but someone had filled them with unregistered copies of Premiere and flooded everything with viruses. One machine instantly crashed when the USC team tried to plug a USB stick into it, halting production for almost an hour as assistants scrambled to purchase licenses and wipe the malware. The YouTubers, meanwhile, had a different problem: their headsets were extremely low quality (challenge one was creating a Let’s Play) and were, as every single one of them said, “Worthless,” with Mark recording himself talking into his cell phone receiver and playing it back as an example of more quality technology. Somehow most of the issues were resolved, but the scene was embarrassing for every human in that room – affiliation be damned.

Challenge two rolled around – an arts and crafts style affair that would be judged by Joe, Kellee, and Nidhogg creative director Mark Essen, and the toll began to sink in. The devs were tired. Their energy was quickly waning, and their ability to code well was being jeopardized by the excessive pageantry. There was will left to go on, but it was fading fast… then, once again, Matti.

“Two of the other teams have women on them. Do you think they’re at a disadvantage?”

Silence. It was like the wind was sucked out of the room behind the barrier, but the floor was so loud only the two all-male teams heard the question. Mark answered diplomatically that the teams actually had a huge advantage by having more viewpoints, though everyone was strong regardless because of their skill. Matti cut him off, pulled back the camera, and coughed, “Stop filming. We’re not getting a story here.”

It went on down the line. Is Zoe off her game? Are women coders a disadvantage to their groups? Point by point the questions were shot down, until he reached Adriel’s team and asked if they were at any sort of advantage by having a pretty girl with them.

I cannot begin to impress upon you the psychological effect this line had on everyone. The idea that these professionals, who stake their livelihoods on code and design, might be reduced to “pretty faces” and antiquated gender stereotypes, an idea perpetuated by the guy who was ostensibly in charge, was like hitting the biggest nerve in the history of nerves with a pneumonic drill. Adriel built shit that flies around in space. It’s probably flying around in space right now.

She erupted, and Matti once more pulled back his camera, making sure to privately half-apologize that he “marched with the women in the 70’s” with “flowers in his hair.” Finally he cornered Zoe with a camera as everyone left for dinner, trying one last time to get a rise out of her. She told him to go fuck himself and marched off set. And that is precisely when everyone else realized something was wrong.

[…]

It took around twenty minutes for the man with flowers in his hair to storm out of the building sans job, his trilby, director’s scarf and lit e-cig marking the last time I’d see him. But the damage was done. Akira Thompson (organizer of many LA-developer events) and Kellee were rapidly notified of the brewing situation, and Zoe pulled me aside with Davey and Tom as she demanded Matti’s head on a stick. Adriel was livid. Robin wanted blood. And as the developers shared experiences the others didn’t know about, a strange thing began to happen between them that at once solidified what games are all about, and doomed Polaris and Maker’s program. They formed ranks, and revolted.

This is an incredible story about the unmaking of a reality show. I’m so proud of my friends for walking out of this shitshow.

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cfrieds:

Meanwhile at Hufflepuff

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Dailymail:

They might be known for working together in complex colonies, but woodland ants can be quite antisocial.

The insects are able to fire smelly acid into the air to ward off predators and now, their offensive behaviour has been caught on camera.

Woodland ants work together to jointly squirt foul-smelling liquid when they sense a threat overhead – such as a hungry bird.

The formic acid is not harmful to humans and has the same odour as vinegar.

However, it is enough to scare off larger predators such as woodpeckers and jay birds, who could wreak havoc on an ant nest.

Woodland ants live in the UK as well as other parts of Europe.

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Wait for the cello. (via doougle)

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George Carlin, on the environment.

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New York Times:

Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct.

The oceans are rising at a pace that threatens coastal communities and are becoming more acidic as they absorb some of the carbon dioxide given off by cars and power plants, which is killing some creatures or stunting their growth, the report found.

Organic matter frozen in Arctic soils since before civilization began is now melting, allowing it to decay into greenhouse gases that will cause further warming, the scientists said.

[…]

In particular, the report emphasized that the world’s food supply is at considerable risk — a threat that could have serious consequences for the poorest nations.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, chairman of the intergovernmental panel, said at a news conference here on Monday.

[…]

The report also cites the possibility of violent conflict over land or other resources, to which climate change might contribute indirectly “by exacerbating well-established drivers of these conflicts such as poverty and economic shocks.”

Have a good night.

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“They took a group of students and gave half of them information about the importance of vaccination, but also gave the other half directions to the health center and asked them to indicate a time in their calendars that they would show up. Amazingly, the information did very little but the map and schedule was very effective at getting people to show up and get vaccinated. For me, this is an important building block - providing people with information is not very useful, and we need to change the environment to facilitate better decision-making.”

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Dan Ariely, on his favorite social experiment to try on a college campus

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