January 2014 Newsletter

Written by  //  December 26, 2013  //  At the Museum, Newsletters  //  No comments


Lions and tigers and bears! Oh my!

Happy New Year! We will be starting 2014 as guests at FurCon 2014, Jan. 17-19, in San Jose. The folks at Further Confusion selected DGM as their charity of the year, so we'll be presenting an exhibit and hanging out with these generous people all weekend. The theme of the con is "Further Confusion vs. the World," and Ben picked up on the "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" reference to create a great exhibit of Brawler games, many of which will be playable. We'll also have Ponycorns up and playable for the younger set and those more interested in adventure than combat. Check out the great events they have planned – I'm looking forward to the parade!

There's a lot of overlap between our two communities – DGM has a couple of volunteers who regularly attend FurCon, one of the largest furry conferences in the country, and we've found many passionate gamers in their ranks. It's been a delight to work with this highly organized and creative group, and we're grateful for their support. Come and join us for a weekend of fun, and bring the whole family!

Judith Haemmerle, Executive Director



Gaming for DARPA

Stormbound

Remember the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency? They started this little thing called the Internet, and now they've come up with a way to use up any free time you might have had left. Gamers can now help with software verification to make sure that programs running critical government and military operations are bug free through Crowd Sourced Formal Verification (CSFV). They've created games in which the moves a player makes generate mathematical proofs that can detect flaws in Java and C code. Flaws will be reported to the developers so they can be fixed. There are 5 online games: CircuitBot, Flow Jam, Ghost Map, and StormBound for PC, and Xylem for iPad. Go play a few games and thank them for the Internet!



From the Collection: Island of Kesmai

Island of KesmaiIsland of Kesmai wizard

It's a plain little white binder with the word "Compuserve" on it in gold letters. It doesn't look like much, but it might be the most interesting thing in our collection. Inside is the manual for Island of Kesmai, an online multiplayer game distributed free by Compuserve to its subscribers in 1985. Island of Kesmai used simple ASCII characters on screen, but the manual contains beautiful art that shows how the world might have been imagined by its creators, Kelton Flinn and John Taylor. We've scanned some of the beautiful images from the manual and put them on the web site.

The game stresses action rather than puzzle solving, making it a descendant of earlier MUDs (Multi-User Dungeons) for mainframe computers like Rogue and Dungeons of Kesmai (Flinn and Taylor's earlier version) and a predecessor to EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

Compuserve, the first major fee-based online access service, charged $6 per hour for 300 baud or $12 per hour for 1200 baud access. It took CompuServe about 10 seconds to process a command which meant that every action the player did cost about one and a half cents. When it was released it became the first commercial multiplayer online game – the first MORPG. There's an excellent article on the history of Island of Kesmai and the Kesmai studios here, including a sweet news report from the old Computer Chronicles. The only other copy I’ve located is in the Library of Congress, but perhaps there are more hidden in closets and attics somewhere. Thank you, Sean, for this wonderful gift.

Gift of Sean O'Rourke – 2012.009.075



Volunteer Spotlight

Sarah

Think you have to live in Silicon Valley to Volunteer at DGM? Not so! Meet Sarah, who has been invaluable with writing and editing label texts and anything else that we’re putting words to.

Sarah has a bachelor's degree in Zoo Science and a master's in Museum Education. She lives all the way in Jersey City, New Jersey. She's written numerous video-game focused lesson plans, including one for a summer nature camp, and was so excited to learn this museum existed that she couldn't pass up the chance to volunteer.

In her (limited) spare time she is a cosplayer known as Zaihra, and is testing new methods to create a realistic version of Link and Navi from the Legend of Zelda Series. Currently "sobering up" from World of Warcraft, she's on a quest to finally finish the dozens of games of her library, including a game of Morrowind going on six years of side-questing.

Thanks, Sarah, for all your help!



This Month’s Trivia Questions

What Brawler game has a black cat throughout the game, in posters, in a spacesuit, and driving jet-powered busses?

Watch our website for the answers next month!


Last Month’s Trivia Answers

Renegade and River City Ransom were North American releases of the long-running Japanese series known by the name of its hero, Kunio-kun. What name does Kunio get in the localization of Renegade and RCR to North America?

In most versions of Renegade, Kunio is a nameless vigilante. In the NES release, Kunio was renamed to “Mr. K”. In River City Ransom, his name changed to “Alex”.

Extra credit: What is his rival’s name in the Japanese releases, and what is he renamed in North America?

His rival (and later friend) Riki was seen in Renegade as Jack, and in River City Ransom as Ryan.

Extra Extra credit for multi-cultural game addicts: What character from the Japanese versions never appears in the North American releases?

Hiroshi, Kunio’s best friend in Renegade, was not included in the NA localizations of any of the versions.

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