On dreams and following them

About 10 years ago my nephew Tyler told me he was going to develop video games. Today he is working as one of ten writers on the BioWare / LucasArts team that is 2 months away from releasing Star Wars: The Old Republic. It’s a massively multi-player online game from set thousands of years before the rise of Darth Vader when war between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire divides the galaxy.

The story is certainly compelling – check out pieces here and here and in the video below. Well done Tyler.


Double Life

Gary Howe, publisher of the excellent blog My Wheels are Turning posted this video and writes…

A bit tangential to the purpose of MyWHaT this morning and by no means a cartoon. However, this short film by Gavin Kelly is intriguing.

It depicts 4 MMORPG players as they describe their online persona’s while the viewer watches them navigate their everyday routine, as their avatars.

The connection is the persona we present in the physical public space, as well as the commons of the internet. For example, what sort of creature are we expressing during a fit of road-rage? Or, who are we when we feel unencumbered by social norms when commenting on an online forum.

More simply, there’s the connection to the act of people-watching. The times when we allow ourselves to wonder what a passerby is thinking as they walk down a street or wait at a stop light.

There probably are warlocks among us, if not zombies.

Bill, a frequent contributor to MyWhAT, mused to me the other day that when he gets in a car he feels a tangible anger settle over him and becomes as impatient as the impatient drivers he shakes his head at when he’s riding. I know that when I get on my bike in town, I turn into a cross between a bike messenger and the Green Lantern, making a point to get in people’s faces (or windshields) who blast across crosswalks and generally ignore non-motorized traffic.

Heady stuff … must be the helmets.

How you play the game

If David Brooks wasn’t happy when he submitted What life asks of us, he darn well should have been.

In it, he discusses a (neglected) book that came out last summer, On Thinking Institutionally by Hugh Heclo that suggests that the institutions our creed of individuality rails against may not be our enemies. Brooks turns where everyone should when the profounder issues of life are discussed, to baseball:

In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.

In 2005, Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. Heclo cites his speech as an example of how people talk when they are defined by their devotion to an institution:

“I was in awe every time I walked onto the field. That’s respect. I was taught you never, ever disrespect your opponents or your teammates or your organization or your manager and never, ever your uniform. You make a great play, act like you’ve done it before; get a big hit, look for the third base coach and get ready to run the bases.”

Sandberg motioned to those inducted before him, “These guys sitting up here did not pave the way for the rest of us so that players could swing for the fences every time up and forget how to move a runner over to third. It’s disrespectful to them, to you and to the game of baseball that we all played growing up.

“Respect. A lot of people say this honor validates my career, but I didn’t work hard for validation. I didn’t play the game right because I saw a reward at the end of the tunnel. I played it right because that’s what you’re supposed to do, play it right and with respect … . If this validates anything, it’s that guys who taught me the game … did what they were supposed to do, and I did what I was supposed to do.”

The photo is Warmup by Rudy Malmquist and I’m 100% confident that he was happy when he saw this picture. I bet you will with many more of his.

Dangerous amusements

I was emailing someone to tell them not to worry when a big site like Flickr or YouTube loses a bunch of media, that despite the fact that those sites are massive and complex systems, there’s a lot of smart people there who spend all their time figuring out how the systems work and how to improve and fix them.

Then it struck me that 200 years ago, those very same “best & brightest” were working to discover the undiscovered and better understand the immensity of Creation.

Suddenly the comforting thought wasn’t all that comforting.

Time to get busy folks.

DELETED! Technology

For the best experience, click to sbemails and scroll to the Technology video…

Strong Bad and Homestar and friends from HomestarRunner.com are probably my favoritest show on the internet. Or off the internet. Anywhere there’s shows, they’re my favorite. Also, I noticed they weren’t in my blogroll so I added them. And deleted some. I’ll try to keep that shorter and change it more.

Anyway, an article from Wired about Matt & Mike Chapman, of HomestarRunner rejecting a cartoon Network deal flashed across my Gmail:

“There was a brief flirtation with Comedy Central and Adult Swim,” Matt said. “The whole TV thing seemed creepy. They wanted to plug it into their model — that all comedy was gag-related, not character-driven. They left the door open, but we liked what we were doing and kept doing it online.”

I love HomestarRunner for many reasons, and the fact that the attitude and tone that aren’t cynical and dark are huge attraction. While I do enjoy some Cartoon Network fare now and then, it’s not something I could watch all the time. If my cable package had a Strong Bad Talk Show option, I would totally upgrade.

Apparently, their online store (I just ordered the Kick the Cheat for my daughter’s birthday) is bringing in enough money that they feel they can stay independent.

If (when?) you are a HomestarRunner fan, you have to watch this interview with Mike and Matt Chapman.

A reader asks…

…why do you always link things like 12 times? Do you think we’re stupid? Are you stupid?? Both???

The answer is actually:
d) By linking to specific (HomestarRunner welcome video, Kick the Cheat) I am providing detailed information to you. By linking to the main HomestarRunner.com and Yahoo! Store page, I am linking to the most popular pages for the general subject as the Google (and other search engines, if there in fact are any left) see them. It also provides the creators with the ability to manage your visit.

The games people play

Seven about to hit .... view larger

I’ve always been of the opinion that Forbes was a relatively staid (and useless) magazine that was primarily concerned with two things: the Making of Money and the Making of More Money. When a game company newsletter alerted me to an interview with their founder at Forbes, I was stunned by the immensity of what I found.

Forbes Special Report on Games is staggering … it’s as if Malcom Forbes himself looked down from whatever high perch he occupies and said LET THERE BE GAMES. And lo, there were games. Everything from Ender’s Game author Orson Scott Card talking about morality in video games (I’m sure there’s a cheat code to unlock that) to Civilization author Sid Meier on learning from games (I learned “Uninstall that damn game from the office computer”) to deeper pieces like the one that explores how social networking sites are turning into games (hey, you can now buy fake friends on MySpace!)

Photo is Seven about to happen three different ways by fd. Hey Flickr geeks, this fd is THAT fd, the fd of fd’s Flickrtoys.

The Old Ball Game

Every Young Man's Dream vy SOUTHEN

I believe this photo, Every Young Man’s Dream by Ryan Southen, is my favorite baseball photo, ever. And I have seen a lot of baseball photos, probably more than most of you. I say this not to brag, but as fact. My father, Allan L. McFarlane loved the game of baseball in a way that brought him and and out of close dancing with the game.

His dad caught for GM’s semipro team and he was a good enough pitcher to get a scholarship … then blew his arm out. Tommy John surgery had not yet been invented. He attended hundreds of games and brought me to many as well. I saw one of Ron Leflore’s first home games and can still hear my dad say after LeFlore beat out a hard infield grounder “You’ll never see a man run that fast on a baseball field again because I never did until today.” He had a sports TV show and I met folks like Al Kaline and Mark “The Bird” Fidrych as his rookie season and brief legend was born. He schemed with Bill Veeck to have a White Sox catcher catch a ball thrown from the Sears Tower (they had to give it up when informed the ball would have killed the catcher). He was the GM of the Wausau Timbers, a Class A ball club in Wisconsin that somehow had 12 future major leaguers including Harold Reynolds for one magical season.

Beyond all that, he taught me to play the game and love the game. I was a cheap date as a kid. A tennis ball, my glove, the barn wall and my imagination were about all I required to stay amused – enraptured with the myth of the greatest game.

I tell you this so you might know how happy I am that these magical Detroit Tigers are starting the World Series tonight. And also how sad I am that my dad can’t be here to watch just one more Series.