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March 2014 Archives

Provocative People Making Games - #GDC2014

Earlier this month I found some provocative people making games at the Game Developers Conference, and at a free unconference called Lost Levels nearby. Please enjoy this latest episode of the Justin Hall Show:

Provocative People Making Games - from the Game Developers Conference and Lost Levels March 2014

I interviewed four folks here: Anna Anthropy, Paolo Pedercini, Auriea Harvey and Mahdi Bahrami.

Each of them makes personally-motivated games. I was sorry I didn't ask Anna Anthropy about her games work; I focused on her books here instead. She is a bold example of individuals telling their story through games. I chose web pages, now I'm using film. It's exciting to see that games can be a personal storytelling medium as well! Anna recommended that folks eager to experiment with making personal games experiment with Twine.

Behind the Scenes

It was fun thinking of a quick jingle and filming that. A human voice! That's about what my show is about: "For provocative stuff that I think you should know, check out the Justin Hall Show" - hah. "Branding" :-)

I continue to bask in the happy learning glow from Larry Jordan, Color Correcting in FCPX using Scopes summed up in this article: Color Correction: Make People Look Normal by Larry Jordan. Turns out all humans are the same on the inside! Red blood under gray skin! I learned this for Richard Stallman and it's made my footage look better to my eye.

Like the Richard Stallman video, these interviews were shot with an iPhone. But I didn't do such a good job focusing on people's faces. More to learn! At least the sound came out decent.

For this video I made my first sort of lower-third, to stand behind the titles making them easier to read. I chose a standard font throughout to be like consistent and stuff.

This video was fun to make - I pushed myself for a March 31 publishing date, 10 days after the end of GDC 2014. I had a much longer cut that I showed to some friends, and ended up cutting some fun bits at the end. Maybe I can do some side footage releases to support this video. But I have piles of other films to make in the meantime!

recording lively performances of talented provocateurs

The Game Developers Conference "GDC" drew playful sorts and digital game makers together in San Francisco last week. I attended and participated in a "Game Developers Rant" panel - some coverage of that event here: 'Nobody wants your cock,' and other highlights from the Rant Apocalypse.

I proposed a new hashtag to organize freely accessible game data, source code and business results: #OGDY, that stands for "open game data yes" and it's pronounced "Oh Goody" :-) I put together a short video about #OGDY, and launched that along with a few starting pieces of data for #OGDY on Twitter.

I recorded some of my #OGDY rant at the GDC; I hope to share video of it online. I memorized an outline for under 5 minutes. I enjoyed the practice and being able to speak without notes felt connective with the audience. Though upon reflection I suspect I might have come across as rather intense. Suitable for a rant panel perhaps!

Lost Levels

Frank Lantz also spoke and suggested that "if you're sitting in a beige room watching PowerPoint, you're doing it wrong" so I headed outside to Yerba Buena Gardens where there was a free unconference called Lost Levels happening. Essentially anyone could pitch in with a game talk, and there were musicians, writers, designers and gamers lounging around the grass listening.

There I caught up with several creative game makers for iPhone camera interviews. I was excited to film Auriea Harvey but I didn't remember to tap on her face to focus. In the next few days I was able to record her and her partner at Tale of Tales Michaël Samyn around the GDC but I didn't do a good job of focusing in those shots either. A forehead slapping moment. And especially bizarre since their award-winning game Luxuria Superbia is about expressly touching screens!

I also interviewed Paolo Pedercini of Molleindustria who makes video game media interventions. And I spoke with Anna Anthropy about personal game making and expanding game community.

Besides this I had an experience with the Oculous Rift VR device, and some even more bizarre contraptions for human diversion and enlightenment.

All this! All this is being edited into a video! It's an ambitious video, with a greater-than-ever number of voices and clips. I will not likely be posting this video "this week" which means I'm on track to publish 3, not 4, official videos in March on Patreon - a crowdfunding platform I'm using to get serious about regular storytelling.

After a month on Patreon, I have 35 patrons and each video I publish officially now nets me over $100. I'm honored, and incentivized to keep up a steady flow of videos. Please consider supporting me on Patreon if you haven't already; I think we're having a good time making the future together.

So I'm not publishing so many videos in March 2014, except I actually published three videos last week! Richard Stallman, #OGDY, and Ric Chivo:

During the Lost Levels event, I saw Ric Chivo coming from a mile away, due to the size of his prodigious reputation as a straight-talking game developer with advice to share. I got a front row seat, recorded his talk with my phone, edited and posted it live on YouTube within an hour:

Citizen Journalism! Amazing reporting power we have with our mobile devices now. That video, "10 Responsibilities of a Game Developer" talk by Ric Chivo at Lost Levels / GDC2014 has had over 2600 views in a week - among the very best performing videos I've yet published. And it has no green screen, no mention of "The Justin Hall Show" or beginner effects shenanigans. It's just a lively performance by a talented provocateur. I aim to be!

Earlier this month, I had a chance to sit down with Richard Stallman at the Internet Archive. Stallman helped make Unix broadly available, Unix which now powers powers much of the web. He also wrote Emacs, which is my favorite Unix text-editor.

Now this pioneering software developer has dedicated himself to "freedom for all the users" which means railing against Facebook and Apple and most of software as we know it. Editing this piece, I felt a bit like I was listening to the older Jeff Bridges in Tron 2.0, or Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix. Stallman has an unusual perspective but after the Edward Snowden revelations he doesn't sound so unfoundedly paranoid.

Stallman agreed to be interviewed only as long as I posted the interview where people don't need proprietary software to view it. And as long as I posted the content "no-derivatives" so people can't take his words out of context. So this video is posted on the Internet Archive!

Here's a trailer I posted to YouTube.

Huge thanks to my supporters on Patreon!

a story of

I've owned the web domain since 1994. Why?? What have I done with it? What might we all do with it together going forward?

Here's a short video answering them very questions:


Huge thanks to my supporters on Patreon.

AT&T sent me a letter informing me they would be placing a large box on my street. Something like this:

surface mounted facility

I was offered a chance to give my feedback to the city of San Francisco - here's my letter, dated 3 March 2014:

Hello San Francisco Department of Public Works -

I live near the proposed location for the [redacted] street Surface Mounted Facilities. I wish to submit an objection to AT&T's Permit Application.

I wasn't able to attend the 13 January 2014 hearing on the AT&T boxes, but I watched it over SFGov online streaming. After reading the note from AT&T, and watching the hearing, I would like to register these objections to the cable box:

During the hearing an AT&T representative said AT&T expects each of their employees to take responsibility for graffiti abatement. But a former AT&T technician stood up at the same hearing to observe that the people working on those boxes for AT&T do not remove graffiti.

I was left believing that AT&T will not be accountable for keeping this box graffiti-free in a timely fashion. Since this is a neighborhood with some lively young folks who practice street art-making, I want proof that AT&T is ready to manage this issue before we put a potential graffiti billboard up on this block.

I corresponded with AT&T to see if they could instead have a mural on the box, to support local artists, reflect the community, and avoid a blank canvas for graffiti tags. AT&T replied that the SMF boxes they use can not be painted since they get too hot inside. That seems like an obstacle they could tackle, especially after seeing something like Mona Caron's "Manifestation" painting on a similar box near the big Safeway on Market:

If AT&T is correct, and their boxes can't handle paint for a mural, and also can't be spraypainted, or markered, or scratched, well that would be an urban miracle. There's a tree on our street with a graffiti tag on it, so I expect this box would soon be somehow decorated. Whatever resistant material they have come up with. I don't want to be calling AT&T to ask them to be a good neighbor when the box is invariably targeted.

If I used AT&T for TV or internet, I might be more eager to have them install this hardware in the neighborhood. Instead I get my internet through, a local San Francisco wireless internet service provider. Monkeybrains doesn't need these giant boxes installed on neighborhood streetcorners to bring good, inexpensive internet service: they offer 30 megabits per second for $35 a month; similar service from AT&T costs about $55. I think I know why AT&T might cost more; they have to subsidize the direct mail solicitations they send me each week asking me to sign up for their expensive service.

If AT&T can prove that they are going to do something beautiful with that box, like incorporating local artists to decorate and avoid graffiti, and if they can explain how I might have a huge increase in my home internet speed for less money than Monkeybrains, I might be interested. Instead I feel like AT&T has made a 20th century proposal in a 21st century town and I don't want to give them permission to add something to the street that doesn't seem necessary or community-enhancing.

Thanks for your consideration,



Thanks Steve Rhodes - from @tigerbeat on Instagram
June 2012 dancing in the streets of San Francisco with Ilyse Magy, photo thanks Steve Rhodes on instagram!

Hi, I'm Justin Hall and this here is a personal web site I've used to chronicle my time on earth since 1994. The content on the front page is relatively recent; if you search through the archives, you'll find old pieces of Justin. Some folks have indexed my doings on Wikipedia.

Twitter: jah
Facebook: Justinreach

eBooks by Justin Hall

I've published books for sale, somewhere else online! Behold:

Now available for the Kindle: A Story of GameLayers. My experience being CEO of a tech company, 2007-2009:

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A Story of GameLayers, for the Amazon Kindle.