Data Visualization and the State of the Union

While I’m on the topic of games and IF with educational or persuasive value, I should mention (though I’m not sure how to place it relative to everything else) the State of the Union explorer. It allows the reader/player/experiencer to explore statistical information about the State of the Union addresses, discovering which words gain and lose prominence in political consciousness, and comparing any two specific years in overlay.

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Educational and Editorial Games

Lately I’ve played a few rounds of Electrocity, a simulation game by a New Zealand power company in which the player gets to manage the power supply for a young city. It’s designed to be played by school kids, so the interface is deliberately a bit simpler than for most sim games, but otherwise it basically works in a familiar way: you have various resources, and you can build things (mines, gas wells, airports, hydro-electric plants) and clean them up. At the end of the game, you’re scored on how well you did at building a large population, a clean environment, and a steady power supply.

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On Stephen Bond on Player Freedom

Stephen Bond recently (very recently, I think) posted an essay on player freedom, essentially arguing that IF shouldn’t be about offering the player moral choice, and that not forcing the player to make a specific choice is a kind of artistic abdication, giving up the opportunity (or the responsibility) to Say Something.

Now I’m about to disagree with him, at some length.

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Recommendation

Over the weekend I played and quite enjoyed Adventurer’s Consumer Guide by Oyvind Thorsby. I will probably publish a longer review later, but for now I want to mention it because it doesn’t seem to be getting much notice on the newsgroups, which is a pity. It’s a game of the light-hearted, puzzle-centric type: the puzzles are good, the game is very soundly tested, and there are lots of nifty easter eggs.