Game Lab Weekly 5: 12/14/12

Hello Everyone,

Today we’re posting the first in our Weekly 5 series. What were going to do is select five interesting links from around the internet to share with you, our friends. We’re hand-selecting these links based on how they relate to some of our work, and also because we find them interesting and think you will too. We’re gonna have short blurbs that explain a little about the post and why we like them. It’s curation. It’s artisanal link selection. It’s… the Weekly 5.

1. Yago Colas Basketball History Crowdsourcing

Professor Colas out of the University of Michigan is working on a new book project about basketball, and he has taken to the web for some of his research. He is looking for more perspectives on important moments in the global history of the sport, and so he has asked for people to share what they think are important moments, people, storylines, etc. in the history of the game. He wants to “change the terrain” of basketball history as he understands it from his own unique perspective. In his words,

I’m interested in perspectives other than my own. I’m interested in your perspective. Whether you are rabid or casual fan, or not a fan at all; whether you are much younger than me or much older than me; whether you’ve played or not played, or at whatever level; whether you are a writer or not, a reader or not; whether you are a boy or a girl, a man or woman or refuse those categories; black or white or refuse those categories: no matter what particular intersection of forces and categories you are standing at, it will be different than mine and I’m interested in what you see from your intersection.

So if you have some thoughts about basketball, head over and help Yago out!

2. 2012 Video Game Controversies

Who doesn’t like a little controversy now and then? I mean, as long as it is not about you, right? Well the always excellent Leigh Alexander wrote a nice piece over at Gamasutra about the “Top 5 most significant video game controversies of 2012.” While it is hard to avoid the constant “best of the year” lists that are ubiquitous in media from black friday to February, this one is kind of different in that it is looking at the big dust ups of the year. What’s nice about the piece is that Leigh does an excellent job of both recounting the history of the controversies, and including her own voice and opinion on some of them. Discussing the Anita Sarkeesian harrasment Leigh writes,

…anyone who loves games is obligated to be incredibly conscious of how ugly is the underbelly of our community and how far we have yet to go. We’ve looked into the abyss.

Leigh is at her best when she pens her strong, well-thought, and well-articulated opinions onto the page…er…screen, and this piece is another great example of that.

3. Sportsfriends Funded!

Will you be my best sportsfriend forever? This week, the developers behind some really great indie co-located multiplayer games like lab favorite HokraJohann Sebastian JoustPole Riders, and BaraBariBall watched white knuckle as the clock counting down their Kickstarter fundraiser excruciatingly ticked down to zero. They met their goal of $150,000 despite some donors pulling large contributions late. Now Ramiro, Doug, Bennett, and Noah can take a quick deep breath before hunkering down to get these games published. As a researcher of sports media, I have a vested interest in how this Sportsfriends project will turn out, but as a friend of all four of those developers, I’m very happy that they were able to reach their funding goal. The Kickstarter fundraiser is over, but I am sure they’d still be happy to take your money.

4. Alec Thomson on Leaderboard Security

Alec, a long time student and colleague of the Game Lab, has written about security protocols for iOS game leaderboards, drawing on his experiences with Super Hexagon. Along with a team, he worked on a project to develop a security system in Flixel. He writes:

For our project, we built a system that verifies claimed scores based on a simple assumption. We assumed that a player can be said to have “earned” a score if they are able to produce a series of inputs that will reproduce the score when run on a trusted version of the game’s code. This assumption isn’t always valid, particularly if players are cheating by playing the game with bots, but it seems to be reasonable enough to prevent straight-up forgeries.

5. Darius Buys Stuff

If you haven’t already heard about our friend Darius Kazemi’s Amazon shopping robot, then crawl out from under your rock! There’s been a lot of buzz about Darius’ project, in which he programmed a shopping bot to spend money for him on Amazon, thus surprising him with gifts. SPOILER ALERT: He recently got a religious manual and a DVD of the movie Screamers from his unfeeling consumerist friend. Follow his blog for the project, and if you’re feeling up to it, try to follow all the press about it. It’s a hoot.


Abe Stein is a Research Affiliate at the MIT Game Lab and recently completed his SM in the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, writing about sports videogames. He has authored a number of articles about sports and sports media and is co-editor of the book Sports Videogames. He currently works as an Associate Director of Communications at Wheaton College, in Norton, MA and as a researcher with the eSports company Azubu, and have studied and written about sports media.