For a guy who has spent six months and more than $32,000 turning the bedroom of his Manhattan apartment into an old-school video arcade, Chris Kooluris is very put together. He greets me at his Murray Hill flat dressed head to toe in designer casual wear—Ralph Lauren jeans, pristine white Y-3 Yohji Yamamoto sneakers, and a crisp Captain America T-shirt. He’s trim and athletic-looking, his shaven face boyish for a 37-year-old. This is not the obsessed nerd I was expecting. Then again, looks can be deceiving. He invites me in. The living room is bright and accented with brass everything—brass sconces, brass lamps, ornate brass mirrors. But I’m not here to see the living room. I came to see what Kooluris is hiding in the 180-square-foot bedroom. I look down the hallway: The door is closed, but from the other side I can hear a faint ting-ting-ting.
We make our way down the hall and he ceremoniously opens the door. It is a portal into the past. The first thing I see is Donkey Kong cabinet, but then my eyes are drawn to a row of pristine gumball machines that look just like the ones at the Yellow Balloon where I got my first haircut on Ventura Boulevard in 1984.
Everyone who enters this room, Kooluris tells me, has the same reaction: They tell him about the part of their childhood it reminds them of.
[MORE: Arcadia, A Love Story]
Photos by Amy Lombard
Three men stand on a deserted street, their hands in the air. One wears a green T-shirt and a motorcycle helmet. The others wear bright yellow down jackets. They are surrounded by four armed men.
“Gentlemen,” a man called Klyka says, “we are going to play a very interesting game.”
He commands the hostages to drop their axes, then continues.
“This is DayZ,” he says. “Someone always has to die when players meet. But we’re going to make this interesting.”
He directs the men in yellow to sit cross-legged, 20 yards from each other, axes midway between them. There can be only one yellow jacket in this group, he says. The two men consider what he says. Klyka goes on. “When I shoot in the air you guys will run for your axes, and you’ll try to grab them.” The last man standing, he says, will be released.
Dying in DayZ isn’t like dying in other videogames. The game, developed by Bohemia Interactive, has “configured death with an extreme level of consequentiality not found in other online first-person-shooters,” researchers at the University of Melbourne wrote last year. “Unlike other FPS games, in which death is a minor 2-10 second setback before rematerialization, death in DayZ involves the permanent death of this character, and loss of all items and advancement.”
In other words, death is about as real as it can be in a digital realm. You die, and it’s literally game over. This, the authors write, has the effect of “intensifying social interactions, raising a player’s perceived level of investment and invoking moral dilemmas.” More than that, though, it raises an interesting question about how and why we behave as we do in a game like DayZ, and what that says about us.
Klyka doesn’t appear the slightest bit morally distraught. He’s quite obviously having fun. Having laid out the rules for his deadly game, he begins counting down. Three. Two. One.
One yellow jacket guy rushes toward his axe. The other turns and sprints down the road. One of Klyka’s men—who had been filming the scene for YouTube—calmly lowers his camera, raises his rifle and peers through the scope. He fires a single shot to the man’s head. Klyka and his crew laugh.
If this were real, you’d think they were psychopaths. And what about DayZ, and games like it, makes them behave as if they are?
“My superior is a gamer.” Sister Helena Burns said, laughing. “You know you’re a media nun when your superior is a gamer.”
You might not expect nuns to be experts on Twitter, Facebook, and multi-player video games, but Burns defies all expectations. With 13,790 Twitter followers and counting, the Daughter of St. Paul calls herself a “media nun”: A woman religious with a calling to communicate the word of Christ, in any way she can.
And yes, there is a gamer-superior in her convent.
“She has this souped-up computer,” Burns continued. “She gets her own little ministry out there. Once people get to know she’s a nun, they have questions, or they ask for prayers. But you do have to clean up your language when Sister Irene’s out there.”
I imagine Sister Irene sitting in front of a sleek desktop with neon LED backlights, wearing her bright yellow Grado headphones and concentrating intensely on a multi-player RPG. It’s a funny image—there’s such a symbolic disconnect between the stereotypical idea of a nun and a basement-dwelling teenager who loves World of Warcraft. That’s what’s so fascinating about these sisters and their order: They defy stereotypes about who participates in Internet culture, and how.
So how does a nun use social media?
Read more. [Image courtesy of Helena Burns]
New personal hero.
Spreading around the WIRED office this week is this HTML5 Game Boy emulator built for iPhone browsers. Apple doesn’t allow unauthorized emulators on the App Store, although the relatively open nature of the store allows people to sneak them on there for a few days before they get too popular and Apple pulls them down.
So get after it, quick!
"You might not realise, but real life is a game of strategy. There are some fun mini-games – like dancing, driving, running, and sex – but the key to winning is simply managing your resources.
Most importantly, successful players put their time into the right things. Later in the game money comes into play, but your top priority should always be mastering where your time goes.”
This post from one of my favorite Internet people, Oliver Emberton, is great. Sure, life really can’t be boiled down so easily but this is a fun pseudo strategy guide framed around cute video game tropes.
I found the section on “Finding A Partner” to be particularly accurate:
"Attraction is a complex mini-game in itself, but mostly a byproduct of how you’re already playing. If you have excellent state and high skills, you’re far more attractive already. A tired, irritable, unskilled player is not appealing, and probably shouldn’t be looking for a relationship.
Early in the game it can be common to reject and be rejected by other players. This is normal, but unfortunately it can drain your state, as most players don’t handle rejection or rejecting well. You’ll need to expend willpower to keep going, and willpower is replenished by sleep, so give it time.”
Go check out the whole post, which is full of great illustrations and fun, video game-laden writing.
HAPPY WEEKEND! Here’s a fun read to bring you out of the work week.
The entire internet has weighed in with what it believes is the answer to Nintendo’s financial woes: Go mobile, immediately. But the entire internet is wrong.
Nintendo’s announcement that it’s facing a third straight year of losses prompted pundits to say the company must swallow its pride and put Super Mario on smartphones. I’ve argued against this in the past, to little avail. The opinion that Nintendo should “go mobile” has become such conventional wisdom that it has moved beyond gaming columns and investor reports to the straightest of straight news stories.
“Resisting Mobile Hurts Nintendo’s Bottom Line,” read a New York Times headline over the weekend. “Nintendo Refuses To Make The Radical Change That Could Boost Sales,” Reuters declared. This is begging the question, beginning from the presumption that obviously Nintendo should put its games on iOS and going from there.
The conventional wisdom is wrong. It is not an inevitability that Nintendo must put its games on rival hardware or die. It may even be a bad move.
TOKYO — Inside Sony headquarters, at the heart of Tokyo’s Shinagawa district, Yasuhiro Ootori is about to reveal something that almost no one outside the Japanese tech giant has ever seen: the inside of a PlayStation 4.
What we see is a hardware architecture that’s both simple and powerful. With longtime game designer Mark Cerny leading the way, lending his software-minded expertise to Ootori and the rest of the hardware engineering team, Sony abandoned the overly complex Cell microprocessor that drove the PlayStation 3, building the PS4 around an “x86″ chip similar to the processors that have driven most of our personal computers for the last three decades. The idea was to make it that much easier for developers to build games for the new console, to create the things that will ultimately capture our attention.
Twenty years after the release of Tim Burton’s legendary stop-motion animated film The Nightmare Before Christmas, its popular protagonist Jack Skellington lives on — this time in Disney’s $100 million virtual toybox Disney Infinity.
Jack Skellington’s Infinity figurine — available in GameStop stores now and everywhere else October 29 — unlocks the Pumpkin King himself as a playable character in the Infinity Toy Box mode, as well as a new challenge level called “Jack’s Nightmare.”
WIRED recently caught up with Disney Infinity executive producer John Vignocchi and art director Jeff Bunker to learn more about the process of adapting Burton’s iconic character, and got an exclusive look at some behind-the-scenes concepts and character studies.
There’s a moment that every player of the Grand Theft Auto series has experienced. You’ve done the missions, you’ve driven inside the lines, but you’ve gotten bored. You stop and think to yourself: “Just how crazy can I get in this thing?”
GTA V is now nearly a month old, and its online mode has been accessible since the beginning of October. That means that millions of players have now had ample time to get a little creative with their exploits in Los Santos.
Luckily, some of these inventive players have recorded their exploits. They’ve poked and prodded at GTA V’s underlying systems, breaking the physics systems, exposing the game’s goofiest design flaws and busting up a whole lot of cars.
We’ve assembled nine of the most over-the-top videos and GIFs of players’ adventures in GTA V. Click here to watch them all.
We all have hobbies, and a lucky few have a passion. Within that group, there are some for whom passion borders on obsession.
Such people are the subject of Living the Wired Life, a series of profiles about people who use technology to pursue their passion and excel at their endeavors, whether it’s riding hundreds of miles through the desert, crossing the Pacific in record time or putting yourself in the studio with Mick and Keith as they laid down the tracks for Exile on Main Street.
These are serious (and potentially dangerous) undertakings, but that’s part of the appeal. You don’t become obsessed with the Wired Life if you don’t love it. Here’s a rundown of people living that life (including - above - Emile Rosales, aka Chuggaaconroy!).