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The Esoteric Beat: Virtual Sex and Make-Believe Places

The Esoteric Beat: Virtual Sex and Make-Believe Places

January 31, 2006 | By Jim Rossignol, Frank Cifaldi

January 31, 2006 | By Jim Rossignol, Frank Cifaldi
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More: Columns

Welcome to 'The Esoteric Beat', the news report that provides new and unusual ways to think about games and culture. This week's column looks at electronic prejudice cabins, maps and sex.

Know Your Mind

Sociological experiments in game design don’t often go quite as far as the Racismomaton, which is half personality test, half refurbished photo-booth, and fully fleshed out with a videogame interface designed to test for racist personality traits. The computerized cabin, in which passers-by can sit, allows folks to have their implicit views about foreigners analyzed via means of a game-like test.

The five minute sequence is derived from the Implicit Association Test developed by psychologists at Washington and Princeton universities. Such tests examine the unconscious bias of individuals allegedly found in stereotypes and prejudices that could, potentially, be the basis for racist behaviour.

The Racismomaton is entirely autonomous and has already been installed in several Spanish cities. It’s hard to see whether such a device is a useful educational tool, or simply a device for inducing the kind of controversy favoured by contemporary artists. Whether the device will really help people to change their attitudes, and not simply become paranoid, remains to be seen.

Magic Compass

For some reasons these columns seem to keep hitting on user-made augmentations for games like World of Warcraft (how could that be?!) and the latest of these is this WoW Atlas, which uses the Google Maps technologies to map the fictional continents of Azeroth.

Widening my search I discovered some other fascinating third-party tools for interpreting in-game maps, this time for Eve Online. Eve’s 3D universe has been rejigged into 2D ‘tube maps’ for ease of navigation. But it has also benefitted from a player-driven political map, the week-to-week changes of which are independent of the game itself, and can be smartly tracked using this smart graphical diplomacy table. Whoever said Eve was hard to understand?

It's All Virtual Now

A recent post on Gamasutra sister weblog GameSetWatch pointed us to Virtual Pinball, an arcade unit designed by touch-screen jukebox and bar-top game masters, TAB-Austria. The machine has the basic form-factor of a pinball machine, but uses a large LCD display for a variety of virtual pinball games (and some decidedly non-pinball games, too). We like the idea, in principle, but one wonders just how fun Hotel Room could possibly be.

Sex Talk

Finally, don’t forget that the Sex In Video Games conference is taking place at the unfortunately named Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco on June 8-9.

The convention will discuss the integration of adult entertainment with gaming, and the creation of erotic content and has a keynote speech by Wired sex correspondent Regina Lynn. By the look of this month’s latest sex release, Lula “Not Work Safe” 3D, the budding erotic games arena needs all the help it can get...

[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK " his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times. Frank Cifaldi also contributed to this report.]

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