The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation recently released an online game I designed. Working from the book “Pet Show!” we created a colorful sliding tile puzzle. The story features Archie, a young boy looking for his cat to enter the pet show. The game showcases many of the animals in the contest as sliding tiles, and the objective is to move the cat off the board by shuffling the other pets around.
The book was released in 1972 and it was fun using Keats artwork to build the game. There’s a distinctly retro color cast to the imagery, with rich ochres and deep browns. The mustache and turtleneck of one judge and the afro and mini skirt of the other give the book a nostalgic feel.
Here’s the trailer for Minecraft 1.2. There’s a new jungle biom, children and wolf cubs. Plus much more, I’m sure.
I’ve been constructing a replica of the southwest edge of Hoboken in Minecraft creative mode to get a better idea of the spacial relationships, traffic patterns and building footprints of an area that is under consideration for redevelopment. As of February, 2012 I serve as 3rd alternate member of the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustments. More →
The education potential of the game Minecraft is immediately apparent when you first start dividing wood and constructing a crafting table in the game. MinecraftEDU.com has a mission to help educators bring the game into the classroom and to engage learners in what the game has to offer:
The game is being used to teach more than just computer skills. It easily lends itself to science, technology, engineering and math explorations (STEM). But beyond that, language teachers are strengthening communication skills, civics teachers are exploring how societies function, and history teachers are having their students recreate ancient civilizations. It is not an exaggeration to say that the only limit is imagination!
They are creating a custom mod with features specifically designed for the education community and are making the game available at a discounted rate for schools.
The web game Kikka contains a very simple set of puzzles: what actions do you need to take to bring 12 flower petals together and form a full flower? It offers 16 levels of very short interactions in a beautiful, minimalist interface.
Minecraft is a relatively new game for PC and Mac that allows users to build their own world out of virtual cubes that are 1 meter in volume. It differs from traditional first-person shooter games in that the environment the player inhabits is constructed on the fly when the player starts the game. The player “spawns” into a randomly generated world of mountains, lakes, deserts and caves which construct themselves based on programming algorithms. This means each player’s experience is unique, and as they explore the environment the landscape builds itself out of thin air. More →
Here’s another online game that depends on drawing with your mouse to navigate through levels. Unlike Sugar, Sugar, however, Blipskrieg allows you to directly interact with the path of your player. You draw a trail for your “blip” to follow to the goal, dodging lasers and accumulating decoys as defense.
Touch-screen technology has changed the face of gaming by moving the player interface beyond button mashing into the nuance of sliding, flicking and multi finger gestures. The shape game “Cross Fingers” brings these developments to traditional tangram puzzles by having users slide small pieces of simulated wood on a flat board to match an underlying design. Developer Mobigame has put together an array of over 300 designs to work towards, ranging in complexity from two simple shapes to large constructions involving sliding bricks and chain reactions. The more difficult levels of the game force the user to visualize the consequences of moving interlocking pieces and are a fun challenge to the mind. The name “Cross Fingers” is derived from the touch-screen interaction on the iPod/iPad. In some puzzles the player has to move springs with one hand while shifting blocks with the other, leaving the fingers in a tangle like a tiny set of limbs in a game of Twister. Sample gameplay can be viewed in the video below. This game is great for all ages.
“Sugar Sugar” is a quick, mesmerizing game where you draw the path of a slowly trickling line of sugar. As you ascend the levels the screens demand a bit of planning, as an oddly placed line can keep you from completing your task. The game-play is slow and meditative, like turning an hourglass and reminds me of sand-art pieces they sold at Spencer Gifts in the early 80’s. The interplay of the sugar with the text with thrill any typophile. More →