Add to Watch list. Each issue was initially priced at PhP Mouse over to zoom — Click to enlarge. For additional information, see ga,emaster Global Shipping Programme terms and conditions — opens in a new window or tab. Learn More — opens in a new window or tab Any international postage is paid in part to Pitney Bowes Inc. While the show has since ceased broadcasting, the magazine continued. The magazine was launched in Januaryto complement the television show of the same name.
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Save Story Save this story for later. In , an engineer and former carnival barker named Nolan Bushnell started a video-game company, in Santa Clara, California. As an engineering student at the University of Utah in the nineteen-sixties, Bushnell had become obsessed with an early computer game called Spacewar.
He wanted to manufacture coin-operated game-playing machines and license them to amusement arcades. He foresaw a new kind of midway hustle, in which the hustler would be inside the machine. The game had two basic components. And it was an animation—a moving picture designed to complete the feedback loop between the eyes, the brain, and the fingers on the game controls. By , Pong had made it to a pizza parlor in Hanover, New Hampshire, where I played it, and for the rest of that summer my dearest desire was to go back and play it again.
In the nineteen-eighties, as the speed and storage capacity of computers and game-playing consoles grew, designers continued to improve the graphics. The best-selling video game this year is Madden NFL, in which you get to play pro football from the perspective of star players. Madden NFL is a far more sophisticated simulation than Pong was, but the content of the game is no closer to real life. In the late nineteen-eighties, a new type of video game quietly emerged—the God game.
Computer animation is a brute-force project of converting graphic art into two-dimensional pixels, and, more recently, into three-dimensional polygons, the building blocks of digital pictures. But to create a truly absorbing simulation, one that offers some insight into the nature of real life, is a much more difficult proposition.
The game gives the player omniscient power over a variety of simulated societies. You can help them or torture them as you wish, although your actions have consequences in the game. Another important God-game designer, Sid Meier, has based his Civilization series, which began to appear in , on historical processes, such as scientific discovery, war, and diplomacy.
But the master of the genre—the god of God games—is Will Wright. Beginning in , with SimCity, in which the object is to design and manage a modern city, and continuing with The Sims, in , in which you care for a family in an ordinary suburban environment, Wright created situations that redefined the boundaries of what a game can be.
For the past six years, Wright has been working on a new game, which will be released in The game draws on the theory of natural selection. It seeks to replicate algorithmically the conditions by which evolution works, and render the process as a game. It has a balcony where he can smoke. He dresses in more or less the same clothes every day—black New Balance sneakers, faded black jeans, a button-down shirt, a leather jacket, and thick aviator-style glasses.
He sometimes has a wispy mustache and goatee. It was facing another tank, which Wright was controlling. He started moving his tank around and shooting mine, watching me curiously, waiting to see how long it would take me to understand what was going on.
Advertisement Wright had been working on a Power-Point presentation of a talk he had been asked to give about Spore. He moved over to the two computers in his office and clicked through some images, while describing the basic structure of Spore. At first, I was baffled. Up to this point in his career, Wright has been including more and more social realism in his games. Seuss books.
Wright has also introduced weapons and conquest. Not only do you kill other creatures in Spore but you have to eat them. At the first level of the game, you are a single-celled organism in a drop of water, which is represented on the screen as a two-dimensional environment, like a slide under a microscope. By successfully avoiding predators, which are represented as different-colored cells, you get to reproduce, and that earns you DNA points a double helix appears over your character.
DNA is the currency in the early levels of Spore, and as you evolve you can acquire better parts—larger flippers for faster swimming, say, or sharper claws for defeating predators. Eventually, you emerge from the water onto the second level—dry land—and your creature must compete with other creatures, and mate with those of your own kind which the computer generates, until you form a tribe.
You can play a violent game of conquest over other tribes or you can play a social game of conciliation. If you make clever choices, according to the logic of the simulation, you will survive and continue to evolve. Along the way, you get to acquire ever more powerful tools and weapons, and to create dwellings, towns, cities. When your city has conquered the other cities in your world, you can build a spaceship and launch into space.
By the final level, you have evolved into an intergalactic god who can travel throughout the universe conducting interplanetary diplomacy and warfare. The images that Wright called up on the computer were supposed to illustrate the game, but they gave little sense of what it would look like. If you create a hyper-aggressive Darwinian monster, for example, the game might download equally cutthroat opponents to test you.
In other words, while you are playing the game, the game is playing you. On the screen was a kidney-shaped blob that looked like Mr. Potato Head before you add the features. I used the mouse to stretch the blob into a torso, changing the shape and length of the spine as I did so.
I chose the parts from the left side of the screen—flippers, beaks, three-jointed legs—all of which would cost DNA points at this stage of the game.
I clicked a button and my creature sprang to life and started lumbering around the screen. It was a goofy-looking thing—a hammer-fisted apatosaurus with a potbelly, a long neck, and floppy dog ears. But it was a fully animated character, something that Pixar might have created, and I had made it in about three minutes.
I felt as if I were playing with digital clay. Electronic Arts is the largest producer of video games in the world, with more than seven thousand employees, and studios in North America, Europe, and Asia.
It makes or licenses software for many game-playing platforms, including computer games for P. Most recently, E. Hawkins proposed to treat designers, who had hitherto been regarded as mere engineers, as artists, and to design sexy packaging that would evoke album covers, with the names of the creators emblazoned on the front.
Over the years, E. More recently, it has focussed on creating its own intellectual property. As Steven L. Since then, E. The latest version of Madden NFL, which was originally published in , sold two million copies in its first week of release this August. In recent years, the company has acquired a Microsoft-like reputation for hard-nosed business practices—buying smaller development studios that can no longer afford the rising costs of game production, and shutting out potential competitors with exclusive licensing deals.
Advertisement The E. Although both suits have been settled and E. While I was at E. You begin as a low-level criminal and attempt to become, through the clever use of violence and extortion, the head of the crime family. I also saw the latest installment of the Tiger Woods golf franchise. The golfer allowed E. Probst explained that E. The company also constructed a separate headquarters for the seventy-five-member team in Emeryville, about fifty miles north of the corporate campus, near Orinda, where Wright was living.
It was counting on Spore to help shore up its bottom line. Traditionally, gamers stop buying the current generation of games in anticipation of those which will be developed for the new machines.
But there are reasons to believe that E. Not since the early nineteen-eighties, when video games began moving from amusement arcades into homes, has the future seemed so uncertain. Twenty years ago, it was possible for one man to create an entire video game; today, development teams of a hundred or more are the norm.
Moreover, E. Instead of buying games at a store and bringing them home, customers want games they can get on the Web. Just as some in the film industry have begun to wonder about the economic feasibility of films that cost upward of fifty million dollars to produce, so people in the game industry wonder whether big-budget games can survive in a climate that favors downloadable games that are cheap, short-lived, and disposable.
During our conversation, Probst seemed most enthusiastic about the market for casual games, especially games for cell phones, which earned E. But how do you convince a casual gamer, who is just looking for distraction, to play a game that is about evolution, city building, conquest, and interstellar travel? When Will was ten, he built a balsa-wood replica of the flight deck on the Enterprise, which won an award at a Star Trek convention.
He was also fond of the board games made by Avalon Hill, such as PanzerBlitz, a strategy game loosely based on tank warfare on the Eastern Front. His forebears are crewcut men in sober suits, about to embark on successful careers in making useful things. His mother, Beverlye Wright Edwards, was an amateur magician and actress. Wright flourished in the local Montessori school, with its emphasis on creativity, problem solving, and self-motivation.
SimCity comes right out of Montessori—if you give people this model for building cities, they will abstract from it principles of urban design. Wright was planning to be an astronaut, and his goal was to create colonies in space that would help relieve the pressure of overpopulation. His father thought this was a wonderful idea. When Will was nine, his father died of leukemia, and his mother took him and his younger sister, Whitney, back to Baton Rouge, her home town.
Will went to Episcopal, a conventional prep school. He started at Louisiana State University when he was sixteen; two years later, he transferred to Louisiana Tech.
He excelled only in subjects that he was interested in: architecture, economics, mechanical engineering, military history. He had impractical goals—in addition to starting colonies in space, he wanted to build robots. He dropped out again after two years, drove a bulldozer for a summer, and then, in the fall of , went to the New School, in Manhattan, where he studied robotics.
Advertisement In the spring of , Wright answered an ad in a car magazine: Richard Doherty, a rally enthusiast, was looking participants to compete in a point-to-point race between Farmingdale, Long Island, and Redondo Beach, California. Wright had a Mazda RX-7, which he and Doherty modified with a larger fuel tank and a roll cage. They wore night-vision goggles so that they could drive fast in the dark without headlights and avoid the cops.
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