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"No Man's Sky" is This Man's Sky

No Man's Sky

There’s something about the idea of walking somewhere that no one else ever has which connects to why I fell in love with sci-fi as a kid. The idea of walking alien soil, taking in bizarre vegetation and unknown, inexplicable wildlife appealed to me far more than the epic space battles or the jetpack and robot futurescapes. That moment of arrival; that sense of what have you got for me today, universe? Exploration for its own sake is at the heart of my sci-fi.

So No Man’s Sky is at the heart of my sci-fi.

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Weirdness Rodeo: Boardgames, Funk, Amazon

Joshua Haunschild
Badlands National Park / Joshua Haunschild

Are board games getting worse? A data analysis of board game ratings shows that the market is absolutely flooded, but 'peak quality' may have passed us by:

The number of extra-special gems released each year is slightly increasing, but it’s plateauing. Truly great games represent a smaller and smaller part of the year’s releases.

Sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are mainly responsible for the surge in (questionable quality) board game releases. Without needing to convince a publisher of a game’s worth, any chump can get his name on a box by convincing a few hundred people to throw $10 their way.

Although the volume of board games (a predicted 6,000 in 2016) pales in comparison to other publishing endeavours (music, books, etc), it does make for a useful microcosm of the changes in the market. There are still diamonds in the rough, but as the rough becomes more accessible and less filtered, the ratio of diamond-to-rough falls. That's understandable - what's more worrisome is that the raw number of diamonds has been falling since 2012... 

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Nerd is the New Black: D20 Fashion

Dice-d20-Opaque2Do you think I'm sexy?We live in marvellous times.

Where once we nerds, geeks and fanfolk needed to haunt thrift stores and charity shops, comic book stores (which could be very unfriendly places for young women), bead shops and the local counter-cultural neighbourhoods of our nearest cities to find clothes and jewellery that proclaimed our love for Star Trek/TaleSpin/Squirrel Girl, we now have Etsy, Society 6, Redbubble, Amazon, Bay and ten thousand million specialist websites.

And, where we once worried about getting weird looks or teasing comments on our fashion choices, we now have Forever 21 selling Wonder Woman t-shirts. 

Basically, it's a great time to be a nerd, a geek, or a fan. 

So let's celebrate by highlighting some awesome nerdy clothes and accessories! 

We're going to kick things off with that staple of modern geekiness: the d20. 

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Five for 2015: 5 Great Games of the Year

BATMAN™_ ARKHAM KNIGHT_20151216172351

With the new generation of consoles finally coming into their own this year, it's been a great 12 months for blockbuster games. Here's the five which gave me the most fun - and in return, I've given them good write-ups. It's actually about ethics in end-of-the-year listicles.

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Extended Memory: SimAnt

Header

Game: SimAnt: The Electronic Ant Colony (1991)

Developer: Maxis Software

Original platform: DOS, Amiga, and SNES, to name a few

Greetings, human reader. I am an ant. I have lived as an ant. I have died as an ant. I have been reborn as an ant more times than I can count. This poses some interesting questions concerning the nature of cooperative insects and the finer points of reincarnation, but these are topics best left to you modern primates. It is not my place to speak on philosophy. I am an ant.

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Extended Memory: Crosscountry Canada

Crosscountry Canada

Game: Crosscountry Canada (1991)
Developer: Didatech Software Ltd.
Original platform: DOS

I’ve never been farther north in the Americas than Seattle, but I’ve long wanted to visit Canada.  I have friends who make their homes there. I like trees. Vancouver sounds like it might be my jam. Every so often, my other half and I look at each other and say something to the effect of “we should make a Canada trip happen.”

But no more. I have spent an evening driving the roads of the Great White North, and I no longer care about Canada. Or video games. Or anything, really. All that’s left of me are ground-down teeth and an extreme aversion to maple syrup.

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Extended Memory: Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 12.04.54 PM

Game: Captain Bible in the Dome of Darkness (1994)
Developer: Bridgestone Multimedia Group
Original platform: DOS

I grew up in the Catholic Church, which feels exactly as an old religion should – austere, towering, kinda spooky. It’s got incense and chanting and gilded human bones. As a kid, mass was an experience that teetered between abject boredom and divine intimidation. There was nothing fun about it, nor should there have been. This was God’s House, and that meant serious business.

 

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Extended Memory: Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?

Mexico city

Game: Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego - Enhanced (1989)
Developer: Brøderbund Software, Inc.
Original platform: DOS

I know this is not the intended lesson of Carmen Sandiego, but god help me, I’m considering a life of crime.

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Weirdness Rodeo

image from Andreas FeiningerSay hi to our newest contributor - Becky Chambers! Becky's Extended Memory column involves her reviewing all those wonderful (we hope) classic PC games, and she's kicked off by returning to her very first game - Beyond Dark Castle.

New short stories are coming from William Curnow, Jennifer Moore, David W Pomerico, Marie Vibbert, Michal Wojcik, Olivia Wood and JY Yang.

Meanwhile, on the rest of the internet...

A study out of the University of Colorado reports on an interesting trend:

The study examined in detail the yearly top 30 Billboard songs from 1960 to 2013 – a total of 1,583 – and found a steep increase in `advertainment’ or the use of product placement, branding and name dropping among the most popular music in the nation.

[The study] found a total of 1,544 product references in the five decades of songs he analyzed with more than half occurring between 2000 and 2010. The study also showed a direct link between product placement and brand awareness. For example, after the 2002 Busta Rhymes hit single `Pass the Courvoisier,’ sales of the cognac jumped 10 to 20 percent that year. 

Movies have already 'sold out' to product placement, music doesn't seem to be far behind... how long until some far-sighted marketer starts flogging products through literature? 

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