Anoth­er SAKE ref­er­ence point — Nation­al Nov­el Writ­ing Month is an annu­al writ­ing chal­lenge. It isn’t about the qual­i­ty of the writ­ing, it’s sim­ply about get­ting to 50.000 words in 30 days. I guess a large part of the fun comes from the knowl­edge that many oth­ers are doing the same thing as you are. 

Pri­or art for Pig Chase that I was remind­ed of yes­ter­day dur­ing Kevin Slavin’s talk at Play­pub­lik. In Sharkrun­ners, human play­ers try to inter­cept sharks with a dig­i­tal boat. The dig­i­tal sharks are con­trolled by GPS-tagged live sharks.

(via blog: A Friend in Need)

The pre­vi­ous­ly blogged Venge­ful Tiger, Glow­ing Rab­bit post lead me to this paint­ing. Pulling this from a blog where it is accom­pa­nied by the fol­low­ing reflec­tions:

Most of them appear to have their own sep­a­rate per­son­ail­i­ties.  The one on the far left is a chuck­ling son of a bitch(literally), he’s just there to have a good time and pre­tend he’s peo­ple, then we go into the more seri­ous play­ers like the one in the mid­dle.  He’s not there to fuck around, he wants your dog mon­ey so he can go and gam­ble it away on the peo­ple races.  That’s what dogs would do in this par­al­lel uni­verse, right?

The writer of Venge­ful Tiger… has a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive:

Cas­sius Coolidge’s famous paint­ing of dogs play­ing pok­er, “A Friend in Need” (cir­ca 1903 and still going strong), typ­i­fies the ret­ro­grade con­scious­ness that a more enlight­ened cul­tur­al pub­lic will, per­haps, some­day tran­scend.

Coolidge’s weird image has been repro­duced end­less­ly in cig­ar ads, on cal­en­dars, on throw rugs, and in vel­vet. Dogs can­not sit on chairs around a card table in the way that Coolidge depicts; they would not want to. But Coolidge has made them.

The punch line of this paint­ing, and the eth­i­cal harm of it, is the dis­junc­tion between what is depict­ed and our real­iza­tion that dogs do not smoke cig­ars or gam­ble. Dumb dogs. But we have made them do so. Clever us. It reminds me of the Web site that sug­gests that if a cat could talk, what she would say is, “I can has cheezburg­er?” (LOL!) Coolidge rei­fies the fan­ta­sy that ours is the best of all pos­si­ble worlds, and that oth­er species could do no bet­ter than to emu­late humans, how­ev­er ridicu­lous they might seem in so doing, and how­ev­er for­eign our human­i­ty may be to their ani­mal­i­ty.

I would be less offend­ed by Coolidge if he, or oth­er artists, also cre­at­ed art that involved human ani­mals in the guise and con­text of non­hu­man ani­mals (and did so with­out cast­ing asper­sion on the “swin­ish,” “beast­ly” humans so represented)—that is, if there were a reci­procity that bespoke a sin­cere desire to broach the species bar­ri­er and see how the oth­er half lives. But that wouldn’t sell many cig­ars.

My per­spec­tive? I’m not tak­en in by the paint­ing. It does, how­ev­er, remind me of this obser­va­tion in Ecce Can­is:

…the dog was often tak­en as the ide­al test sub­ject not just because of the rel­a­tive sim­i­lar­i­ty of its inter­nal anato­my to ours, but also because its expres­sions of pain or dis­plea­sure are for us so easy to read and under­stand.

Which is to say: painter­ly exper­i­men­ta­tion on dogs like this works, because a nat­u­ral­is­tic ren­der­ing of canine faces still allows us to inter­pret the intend­ed char­ac­ter.

A clever web-based tool for mak­ing inter­ac­tive sto­ries. That is to say: sto­ries with branch­ing paths. Although there are some options for rudi­men­ta­ry log­ic, which I imag­ine might enable exper­i­ments that diverge from the typ­i­cal Choose-Your-Own-Adven­ture mold.

A col­lab­o­ra­tive sto­ry­telling site that encour­ages users to write short bits of fic­tion. Oth­ers can react to those sto­ries with sequels or (the neat­est part I think) pre­quels. There is also the pos­si­bil­i­ty of post­ing chal­lenges, which are just that — chal­lenges to users to write some­thing accord­ing to some kind of theme or oth­er con­straints.

An inter­est­ing exam­ple of a play-by-post (aka forum) RPG that is heav­i­ly slant­ed towards sto­ry­telling. This means: no expe­ri­ence points, skill checks and that sort of thing. In stead, it fea­tures mechan­ics (some quite clever) that con­trol who gets to say what about the sto­ry­world. Points are award­ed for par­tic­i­pa­tion in sto­ries, which in turn can be spent on describ­ing new cre­ations. It is, how­ev­er, heav­i­ly reliant on game mas­ter over­sight, as not all rules are ful­ly described.

A quan­ti­fied cof­fee sys­tem by Per­cep­tor. Most­ly tracks amount of con­sump­tion. Would be inter­est­ing if they also tracked taste.

From Banksy’s Bang­ing Your Head Against a Brick Wall. A per­spec­tive I can to some extent relate to, although I have to say I con­sid­er myself sick­en­ing­ly well-behaved. As a mod­el for soci­ety how­ev­er, it falls flat, of course.