The Cultural Gutter

dumpster diving of the brain

"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." -- Oscar Wilde

the lego mind-set: what would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

atari

When I was a kid, my parents got me a later model Radio Shack Trash 80 (TRS-80)  computer, but what I really wanted was an Atari. All my friends had them, so I spent hours in other people’s basements, pushing that one red button and twisting the joystick as we navigated pixellated characters through two-dimensional […]

Old School vs. New School

New school gaming icons face an old school threat. (Thanks, @Calavera_Kid) Like this:Like Loading…

Do You Want Fries With That?

A brief history of advergames

Last year when I heard that Burger King was planning to release a series of video games for the Xbox 360, I thought the game industry was headed for a new low. To me, this went way beyond the shameless hordes of promotional tie-ins to popular movies and TV shows, and seemed more inappropriate than […]

Remembering the Teenage Sex Comedy

Lusty nostalgia for the Atari generation.

It’s probably really tough for today’s male youth to understand what the older generations had to go through in their youth to get some inspiration to burp the worm. Today you just turn on your computer, toss a DVD in the player, or watch pay TV and it’s showtime. What about the young gents of […]

The Name Game

Ubisoft

While I wait in the lobby of one of the largest game studios in the world, I watch someone go through to the inner sanctum. The shiny barrier, with transparent doors that whir apart at the wave of a card-pass, looks familiar — I think I’ve seen the devices being used as turnstiles in a […]

Read Only Memories

I’m fairly suspicious of nostalgia, and I hate how advertisers leverage our emotions to sell us the same products twice. So while I’m happy that people are rediscovering videogames from their youth, and that the games and their blocky aesthetic are mushrooming up all over the culture, I wonder about the retro-gaming phenomenon. Are these […]

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  • Of Note Elsewhere

    The Haitian art collective Atis Rezistans and photographer Alice Smeets have created some amazing photographs recreating images from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. See them here, watch a video of members of Atis Rezistans talking about the project and read an interview with Smeets. “The spirit of the Ghetto Tarot project is the inspiration to turn negative into positive while playing. The group of artists ‘Atiz Rezistans’ [sic] use trash to create art with their own visions that are a reflection of the beauty they see hidden within the waste. They are claiming the word Ghetto, thus freeing themselves of its depreciating undertone and turning it into something beautiful.”

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    Graveyard Shift Sisters reviews Adilifu Nama’s Black Space: Imagining Race in Science Fiction Film and looks at the history of race in science fiction films from teh 1950s to the present. “Adilifu Nama concocted a thorough read that blends a critical look at science fiction cinema’s milestone works in conjunction with American sociopolitical history, specifically with some of the most profound shifts in American race relations and policy.”

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    There’s a fine piece at Nitrate Diva about the 1935 film, Kongo. “In this monument to morbidity, nearly all the taboos festering at the edges of pre-Code cinema come out and play: blasphemy, drug addiction, prostitution, torture, slavery, bestiality, and (spoiler alert!) incest. The movie positively wallows in depravity. Degradation is its subject, its project, its study.”

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    At Bitch, Liza Dadoly writes about Never Alone. “Never Alone’s plot is based around Alaskan indigenous folklore, specifically the story ‘Kunuuksaayuka,’ a tale told by storyteller Robert Nasruk Cleveland of the Inupiaq people. ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ tells of a young boy who goes out into a blizzard to discover its source and, by doing so, save his people and their way of life from the terrible storm. According to Never Alone’s website, nearly forty Alaskan Native participants, including storytellers and elders, were involved with the development of the game. These Inupiat representatives and Never Alone’s development team worked together to turn ‘Kunuuksaayuka’ into the game, notably changing the protagonist from a young boy into a young girl, Nuna, and giving her an adorable fox to accompany her on her quest.”

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    Quartz has a gallery of Jessica Fulford-Dobson’s photographs of the skater girls of Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    PBS’ Newshour has a gallery of Norbert Ostrowski’s amazing automotive design sketches from 1946 to 1973. “The designs were never meant to leave the studios. Automakers routinely destroyed early sketches for fear they would fall into the wrong hands. But some of them made their way out of Ford, GM and Chrysler, as well as now defunct Studebaker, Packard and AMC. According to one designer, they were smuggled out in boxes with false bottoms. One employee famously hid his sketches inside the liner of his trench coat.”

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