Guess Me.

Guess Me, a curious collection of enigmas, charades, acting charades, double acrostics, conundrums, verbal puzzles, hieroglyphics, anagrams, etc. Compiled and arranged by Frederick D’Arros Planché; 1879; Pott, Young and co. in New York.

Illustrated by George Cruikshank among others, this example of good old-fashioned and wholesome entertainment offers a collection of enigmas, conundrums, acrostics, “decapitations”, and a series of incredibly tricky rebuses. The preface explains that an enigma can have many solutions whereas a conundrum only has one, and that “The essence of a good conundrum is to be found in its answer, which should be itself something of a pun, a puzzle, or an epigram, an inversion of the regular and ordinary meaning of the word.”

There are 631 conundrums:

A sample, click for full size:

Oh, these are awful, and quite wonderful, well, some of them. There’s quite a bit of casual racism and misogyny to be found, too. Via The Public Domain, or you can just click right over to the book.

Minecraft and The Middle Ages: All About Teaching.

Chang’an from John Miller on Vimeo.

The simple architectural elements of the game make Minecraft ideal to be used in teaching about the Middle Ages. One example can be found in the recently published book Minecraft in the Classroom: Ideas, inspiration, and student projects for teachers – one chapter examines how John Miller, a history teacher based in California, made use of the game for Grade 7 classes learning about medieval China. The students used the game to recreate the Tang Dynasty capital of Chang’an.

“They were highly motivated and inspired by the work done by previous classes,” Miller explained. “They challenged themselves to learn more and to be better and more historically accurate builders. They created choices for building materials and debated which blocks to use for greater authenticity.”

[…]

He now is planning on enlarging the project so that students “could pass through the gates, travel north on horseback, and encounter the Great Wall. Beyond that be Genghis Khan and the Mongols. As student progress, I’ll create a pathway west that would take them along the Silk Road, with building options to support the study of trade and commerce. They would eventually end in Constantinople and then travel to Florence and learn about Renaissance Italy.”

Other teachers and educational companies have established lesson plans making use of Minecraft. At Wonderful World of Humanities on Minecraftedu.com, detailed resources are offered that allow one to use the game to do things like explore Ancient Lighthouse of Alexandria or live in a medieval castle.

With access to data, the possibilities with this game even grow further. Last year the Danish Geodata Agency used official topographical data to create a 1:1 facsimile of Denmark, including  historical places, buildings, roads and monuments. “You can freely move around in Denmark,” the agency explains, “find your own residential area, to build and tear down as you can in whichever any other Minecraft world.” Meanwhile, the New York Public Library has made it possible for users to turn one of the library’s 20,000 digitized historical maps into a Minecraft world.

There’s much more to read, and many more videos at Medievalists, have a wander!

Cats on a Tram.

Screenshot from Short Trip (courtesy Alexander Perrin).

Short Trip is an interactive illustration in which you drive a tram for cats as it rumbles up and down the hand-drawn mountains. It’s a peaceful and lovingly designed experience that only lasts a few minutes, yet the attention to detail, from the sound to the sketched trees and turning windmills, is transporting.

Why cats? Australian artist Alexander Perrin was inspired both by his mother’s passion for cats, and his own feline companion in sketching the characters that populate Short Trip.

[…]

Short Trip is planned to be the first by Perrin in a collection of interactive illustrations. This inaugural edition is available to play for free (donations are welcome) on both his site and Itch.io. With all the stress in the world, it is a respite of calm, with birds chirping in the background as the cats leisurely prowl their scenic environment. As Perrin stated, “I suppose cats feel right to support the tramway as they never seem to have a necessary destination, they just move to wherever seems pleasant at the time.”

You can read and see more at Hyperallergic.

Tacoma.

Tacoma is a science fiction drama of survival experienced as a video game. Playing as a contractor named Amy who is recovering the artificial intelligence (AI) from a space station in 2088, you encounter the specters of its vanished crew through fuzzy recordings of their colorful silhouettes. Some of these voyeuristic scenes, retrieved from a fragmented augmented reality technology on the station, are from months ago, others are just hours, and each adds to a heightened sense of dread about their fate.

The recently released game was created by Fullbright, the studio behind the popular 2013 Gone Home. Where Gone Home had players navigating an empty house in the Pacific Northwest, piecing together the narrative of its absent family, Tacoma is set in a more isolated home. You can dig through the crew members’ belongings in their air-locked rooms and messy gym lockers, read their private messages, and eavesdrop on their interactions with the AI, called ODIN. There are key codes to find and doors to unlock that can add to your understanding of how the six-member crew dealt with the station’s sudden lack of oxygen.

You can read and see more at Hyperallergic.

The quest for medievalism in ‘The Witcher 3’.

I realize that not everyone finds Medievalism to be as fascinating as I do, but this is really, um, fascinating!

Introduction: In the fictive landscape of the Northern Kingdoms, the character Geralt of Rivia rides on his chestnut mare clad in chainmail armour whilst sporting two-handed swords comparable to a zweihander or longsword of the late 15th century. As I encounter my second village through the third-person view of my protagonist, a short observation leaves me with the impression of a plausible society taken from the Middle Ages. Such a historically detailed environment within a fantasy game of the 21st century should be no surprise to the avid gamer, however, it raised the question of the representation of history within computer games.

[…]

This study seeks to investigate the medieval thematic in computer gaming and pursue what historical elements that persist through this relatively new medium. More distinctly, the many missions and quests experienced in the ‘The Witcher 3’ is the main object of study as they work in concert, providing both enhanced purpose for the player as well as constricting the freedom given in the open world of the Northern Kingdoms. Quests – a task or mission given by non-playable characters (NPCs) or during certain interaction with objects in the game – present a variety of impressions through participatory segments that the player encounters in the game. It is the potent meaning of said quests that this study seek to delve into in order to find, not only the historical features, but also the fascination that seems to propagate itself in games.

You can read Christer Lidén’s full thesis here. (.pdf)

Via Medievalists.net.

Chess As A Comic Book Trope.

Charlton Comics, Vol. 1, No. 36. Strange Suspense Stories (March 1958) (courtesy World Chess Hall of Fame).

Hyperallergic has a great article about The World Chess Hall of Fame in St. Louis, and chess as a comic book trope. Chess was a very common trope in much of pulp fiction, also. There are so many awesome images, I would have agonized over which to include here, so just the one. Click on over to see them all, and do some reading, too.

ST. LOUIS — “Chess and comics are a natural pair,” Shannon Bailey, chief curator of the World Chess Hall of Fame (WCHOF), told Hyperallergic. “The concepts of battle, the struggle of good versus evil, strategy, and speed, have always played a central role in both chess and comic book themes.”

Bailey organized POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics now at WCHOF, a nonprofit institution that explores the connections between art and chess in its programming. Founded in 1986 by the United States Chess Federation, WCHCOF opened in St. Louis’s Central West End neighborhood in 2011, following the closure of its Miami museum in 2009. Recent exhibitions range from Designing Chessmen on the imagery of chess, to chess during World War II and the games designs of Michael Graves. WCHCOF is active as a collecting institution, and since POW! opened in March, collectors Floyd and Bernice Sarisohn — whose memorabilia and ephemera form the foundation of the exhibition — have decided to donate their comic books and related sets.

[…]

POW! Capturing Superheroes, Chess & Comics continues through September 17 at the World Chess Hall of Fame (4652 Maryland Avenue, St. Louis, Missouri).

You can read and see everything at Hyperallergic.

Guess The Artist.

Chris Ford: NN &emdash;

Guess the Artist: The Art Quiz Game by Craig Redman and Karl Maier (photo by the author for Hyperallergic).

Guess the Artist: The Art Quiz Game is a new trivia challenge that asks players to identify an artist represented by three objects. For example, a Wall Street sign + a vacuum cleaner + a balloon = Jeff Koons. Some might be immediately obvious to art aficionados, others are a bit trickier, such as: playing cards + geometric forms + a palette knife = Paul Cézanne.

The game is out September 19 from Laurence King Publishing, and is illustrated with colorful graphics by Craig and Karl (the collaborative duo of Craig Redman and Karl Maier). Hyperallergic tested out Guess the Artist, and while it’s no stand-in for an art history slide test, it’s certainly fun, and the detailed facts about the artists on the back of the cards are as enjoyable as the game itself. For instance, did you know an extinct archosaur is named for Georgia O’Keeffe (Effigia okeeffeae), after its fossilized bones were found near Ghost Ranch? And some of J. M. W. Turner’s last words were “The Sun is God”? Or that Yves Klein studied judo (and even published a book on the martial art)?

There are 60 artists to name in Guess the Artist, and Laurence King Publishing shared 10 examples below. Make your best guesses, then find the answers at the bottom of the page!

Fun! Go test yourself and see how you do. I did okay, but I missed a couple.

Contra & Castlevania Get Design Facelifts.

Contra and Castlevania are two of the most iconic video games in history, and both recently got brand new poster art and soundtrack LPs from Mondo, a record label and gallery that specializes in collectibles for classic and contemporary movies. As Mondo’s record label manager Mo Shafeek tells Creators, commissioning artworks for standalone screen-printed posters and the soundtracks was refreshing, given that the company has mostly worked on film and television soundtracks for many years. For Mondo, these two new sets of work are designed to appeal to anyone with a special reverence for classic video games from the 80s.

Mondo’s Creative Director Eric Garza tells Creators that the posters came about after he got a sneak peek at the soundtrack art. Garza and Shafeek, who were fans of the artists behind the soundtrack work, Eric Powell and Sachin Teng, felt it was a no-brainer that the art could translate into posters.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

The League of Lonely Geologists.

No, it’s not a hyper-specialised dating service, but a game. It’s only downloadable for Windows, but you can browse the archive no matter the choice of your os.

After digging in the dirt on a solo quest for digital rocks in the “The League of Lonely Geologists,” you may decide to toss one of your finds into the mysterious space portal situated in the otherwise mundane landscape. Immediately, another rock will be hurled back out of this strange gateway, but it won’t be yours. Instead, it’s one found by a previous wanderer of the game, their annotations and specimen name left behind in an ongoing catalogue of the terrain.

Created by Takorii and recently shared by Rock Paper Shotgun, “The League of Lonely Geologists” is available as a pay-what-you wish download for PC. It’s billed as a game of “awkward & uncomfortable rock collection,” yet rock collecting is only part of its mechanics, which are revealed through experimentation. Toss a plant into the portal, and get a phonograph cylinder back, which may play some jaunty tune, or just an eerie hum. Throw in the phonograph, and the moon-like vista may spit out a shiny badge.

While the game can only be played in Windows, anyone can flip through the online catalogue of finds. As of this writing, 669 “geologists” have discovered over 2,000 rocks, such as the “dented lid” that’s “just a trash can lid someone spray painted gold,” and the “unstoppable rock” that’s constantly in motion, and “no obstacle can stop this movement.” Some players take their naming and description more seriously than others, but it’s surprisingly enjoyable to have this kind of anonymous sharing. And like any scientific survey, albeit one steeped in absurdity, it keeps you curious about what else is out there.

Via Hyperallergic. The League of Lonely Geologists.

SEGA Forever.

SEGA is going fully mobile with the launch of SEGA Forever, an app store collection that allows nostalgic gamers to play their favorite SEGA games on their smartphones for free. The international video game developer announced their latest endeavor in a corky video trailer posted to YouTube yesterday. Through the respective iOS and Android app stores, users can individually download console classics like Sonic the Hedgehog and Comix Zone, with new games coming in every two weeks. The new service will include online leaderboards, cloud saves, and fully integrated wireless Bluetooth controller support so you aren’t confined to your touchscreen. A press release put out by the company explains the new project as a “re-awakening of archetypal gaming, an ode to the deep and diverse SEGA catalogue, and the beginning of a retro revolution that will transport players back through two decades of console gaming.”

The collection launched today with a set of five SEGA Genesis-era games available for play: the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Comix Zone, Altered Beast, Kid Chameleon, and Phantasy Star II. The games are free to download, unless you want to play sans ads, which will cost you $1.99 a pop. CMO of SEGA’s Mobile Division in the West, Mike Evans, tells Creators about the reception they’ve received thus far: “We’ve seen overwhelming support and excitement around SEGA Forever, generations of fans have expressed their delight following the launch of the first five titles and are keen to join us on this retro journey. Nostalgia for these brands is really resonating, and that’s exactly what we had hoped for.”

If you have nostalgia to indulge, check out the SEGA Forever collection on iOS and Android, and stay up to date with any new SEGA Forever news on Facebook and Twitter.

Via The Creators Project.

The Manly Whine Over Kid’s Lego Playground.

Promotional photo released by Lego showing a Legoland employee helping a child who’s accompanied by an adult (Lego).

A Legoland Discovery Center has opened in Melbourne, Australia, much to delight of children and adults. The playground area, marketed to the 3 to 10 year olds, is not accessible to adults unaccompanied by a child under the age of 16. Some supposedly adult men are appalled by this, yelling discrimination, and violation of human rights. It would be nice to think that acting this childishly is a strategy, but unfortunately, it seems to be a mindset which screams out “I am a spoiled rotten adult male, I have privilege! How dare you keep me out!?”

A handful of adult men are pissed that the Playground area is restricted to children. And one is even threatening to file a human rights complaint.

The Discovery Center opened on Tuesday and adults who aren’t accompanying children (16 or under) have been turned away from the Playground area, which is marketed to kids from 3-10 years of age. Adults without children are still allowed in the shopping area of the attraction.

The Melbourne Legoland location plans to have an “adult night” one night a month, but that’s apparently not enough for some grown-ass men who think they’re being discriminated against. As The Guardian points out, the age restrictions are in place at 17 other Lego Discovery Centers around the world.

“Absolutely appalled by the fact I was unable to enter without somebody under the age of 16,” one man wrote on Facebook. “Lego is not just for children and I’m sure the majority of people would agree with me. I understand it’s a play center but I have no intention on climbing around, simply just to look and admire. Incredibly disappointed, sort yourself out Legoland!!!”

One man even said on Facebook that he was filing a complaint with the local state Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission on the basis that the age restriction discriminates against people without kids. It’s unclear if a formal complaint has yet been filed.

Okay, look, I’m a childfree person, but this complaint is utterly idiotic. It’s one small part of the center, which is distinctly for small children. It’s not discrimination against childfree people to keep lone adults out of a playground for small children. I expect it’s a matter of safety concerns, and Lego wanting a place where parents can relax and not worry about their sproglets. You won’t die if you can’t stomp all over a playground for the little ones. Go on one of the adult nights, you can play to heart’s content. Go to every adult night.

“It’s a bit of a bad joke on your shop having age limits,” another man wrote before the Legoland opening. “When you look on a box of Lego it says ages from 4 too 99 or dose [sic] the shop have different rules. What a joke as I’ve loved Lego for 40 something years and my some [sic] loves doing his moc stuff. Think about it as I believe you need to rethink your rules..”

[…]

“Absolutely disgusted to hear that you will discriminate on grounds of age,” another man wrote a couple of weeks ago, as the controversy began before Legoland even opened its doors. “Lego is something that is enjoyed across all the ages – I personally have thousands of dollars worth of the creator and architecture series and it’s clear that many adults without children will want to experience the attractions.”

Oh FFS, grow up already. Kids should have their own space at something like Legoland, and they do. You aren’t being shut out, you can wander all over the place, with one small exception, unless you have sprogs. Is it really that vital to you, to squeeze out small children, so you can squish yourself into a kid sized chair, and sit at a kid sized table?

Jesus Christ, way to be whiny annoyances having a tantrum, men. Perhaps if you manage to act like an adult, you could be allowed to accompany someone who does have children.

Gizmodo has the full story.