Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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GX notes - March, 2000

thursday, 30 march

did you know I work with the guy who owns Fine Killing (it's some of this action).

Definitely beginning to hear stories of interesting weirdos leaving the Bay Area because they can't afford housing. That's sad. Interesting weirdos is why I came, and why I kept coming back.

Today I made this picture my desktop pattern.

wednesday, 29 march

the stickiness of that cobranded environment.

(I sit in the advertising sales part of the office).

something from the news (GameDaily:

Japan Looks to Increase Arcade Users [3-29-00 6:05pm]
According to Nikkei Net Interactive, many arcade centers in Japan have tried to redesign its facilities and games in order to attract more elderly and disabled people. The Namco Yokohama Hustle game arcade has seven machines specifically for the elderly and disabled.

tuesday, 28 march

Justin, would you eat a hamster for 600 bucks?

this is only the latest in a string of offers John has - it started with we'll give you $100 to hurdle the divider. Then Nat said "we'll give you 5$ to eat your phone."

The hamster offer went up to 1000$ and I start thinking about apologizing to the hamster gods but then they say I have to eat it raw, alive and I think about a bloody, furry hamster, with bones and teeth, being gnashed between my teeth. No can do!

Then John says, a thousand bucks for a tattoo of our choice. He's standing in a group of Che, Hank, Steven, Serj, Tim.

Tim theorizes, yeah it would be a tattoo of a nutsack on your forehead.

thursday, 23 march

besides everything else, I spent some time today in Tommy Tallarico's house. There's a certain self-aggrandizement going on there at his site, but I gotta admit that house tour is something that we fantasized a lot about in the early days of the web, and few did it (Timothy Leary comes to mind). R68.

It's an inspiring project. Maybe something to do with my home and a digital camera. You create a space online. It's a choose your own adventure. I want to prove that you don't have to live in a mansion in LA to justify putting an entire dwelling online!

wednesday, 22 march

series of fantastic editorial meetings today. we've hired away some saavy youngsters from gaming magazines and websites and between them and some of the old blood around here we have terrific arguements and inspiring brainstorms.

I work near the AdSales guy Taylor.
Upside: He goes out for gourmet pizza and gives me leftovers
Downside: The gourmet pizza is some strange dense meat thing.

Next Station Mills College had a number of Next Computers sitting under the desks in the student computer lab. They had "soon to be given away when you're not looking" written all over them so Amy and I harassed one of the sysadmins (actually three of them) until I finally ended up with a NextStation Turbo on my desk here at work. I spent today browsing the "I found a Next at a Garage Sale, how do I hack the Operating System" FAQ pages (links found thanks to Nat and Krusty).

(on a separate note - when I want to find information online now, I search ebay. Chances are there's a photo there, a sense of the market value (if it's a salable good), some historical context, a few different opinions/perspectives, and if you get lucky, a good link.)

Later, researching some Classic Arcade Games I discover the church of burger time.

monday 20 march

We moved into our new offices - our home for the next few months at least. Permanence in the new economy!

We moved into a former BioTech company's offices, complete with rabbit remains incinerator, for a few months while we expanded. Then just this weekend movers shuttled our belongings a block to another office in the same large former warehouse building near the water in Richmond.

So now it really feels like I work for a knowledge factory - there's a large room with dozens of people in it on the phone, typing, each in the same sized blue and silver cube.

Because of the way the cubes are layed out, you gotta walk around to go anywhere. Someone four desks over that me is a half mile walk away. It's strange - it adds a sort of commitment to conversation that didn't exist before. Which also creates privacy - this is the first cubicle situation I've worked in. I came in early Sunday to unload my seven boxes into my cubicle, so that I could hit the ground running and work on Monday. Because I have afforded my work environment the same media density I cultivate at home and on my web site. Hah hah - cultivated media density - "you never throw anything out" she used to say.

We've now got some real video game standup arcade units: Crystal Castles, Terminator 2, Super Sprint, Ms. Pac-Man. At first you're like, wow, I love this game. And then you realize it's free to play, and you're like, yeah! ecstacy! And then you play it, and you're like, wow, this takes a lot of time and hurts my hands. That's when two player helps.

And we've got foos-ball and pool.

friday 17 march

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash on the Neo Geo is catching fire. Now we're hooking our game machines up to each other and trading cards and whupping butts. It's fun. Too bad I have to work. Tough thing is, whenever a few people start playing something cool, everyone stands around looking over their shoulder and making comments (Terence: "They're having Neo Geo Sex"). So you're not only bringing down your own productivity

I might become "Features Editor" here. After months of penning ideas for content and community content, they're looking for someone to coordinate article ideas with qualified writers. So that would give me a good chance to finally get some of the research into gaming done. What a notion! I could come up with an idea that's interesting to me, and get someone else to write about it, and then read what they find out! It's like being a teacher sort of. So I'm looking forward to that.

Another month another role within the company!

thursday 16 march

Went to South by SouthWest and presented on a creating community panel. That was fun. Spent more time socializing than attending panels.

Card Fighters I switched off my PC gaming streak (The Sims, Jagged Alliance 2) and got turned onto the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and I'm playing SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash.

Pokemon is a phenomenon. Pokemon is a card game. There are hundreds of cards with different fantasy animals on them, and each animal/card has a different skill and power. You can build up a powerful deck by collecting cards. From this deck you draw cards to battle with other Pokemon deck holders.

SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash takes that "collectible card game" idea and puts historic Japanese video game characters on all the cards. So instead of puffy fuzzy wuzzly cutsy midget animals with sharp teeth, you get strange ethnic peoples with deadly talents.

I haven't played Pokemon on a Game Boy. SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash is only for the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which is a more technologically advanced game machine. The graphics are better, the controls are better, the ergonomics are better. I have the feeling the gameplay is a little thicker too, since the reviews talk about a learning curve. The flight from San Francisco to Austin was just long enough.

It's worth checking out though the problem with a good solid portable strategy game is that you are always no more than two feet from playing it. Bowel movements haven't been the same since.

friday 9 march

Today, at a conference for people who design computer games, the leader of the free world got up and after his brief talk on the future of console gaming, he played a Sambo show.

I went to the Game Developer's Conference and saw Bill Gates, Microsoft co-Founder, present DirectX 8 (software for improving games in Windows) and the X-Box a competitor to PlayStation, Nintendo and Sega.

During his PowerPoint and video session, he played some remarks from different game industry designers and executives talking enthusiastically about the upcoming game system. He also played a video of "Afro Thunder" a cartoon boxer from the video game Ready To Rumble doing a mix of James Brown, Muhammed Ali and Richard Pryor:

X-Box makes my teeth look so shahnie!
With X-Box, mah afroh is gonna wiggle so good!

The famous black men you can see reflected in Afro Thunder are men of pride (if flawed men). But Afro Thunder, in the context of this Microsoft presentation, he was a blackface performer trotted out to please the laughing white game designers.

If the games industry and Microsoft/Bill Gates is trying to reach out to broader audiences, they should realize that these are outdated insulting charicatures. I feel insulting presenting videogames to my educated friends when stuff like "Afro Thunder" pops up in such prominence.

After some of the audience finished chuckling at Afro Thunder I shouted "Sambo." I wasn't sure people knew where I was coming from until I talked to Eric Zimmerman about the speech; about the clip he said "Yeah, digital Sambo" (without any prompting).

Here's some background on "Sambo":

  • Here's a perspective of Sambo appearing in Pokemon
  • blackface type goods on ebay

    (note: Afro Thunder appeared as the cover model for a New York Times Circuit's Section story on racism on video games).

    wednesday 7 march

    I couldn't hold back any longer, after seeing this ad on Wired News I decided to go order myself some Viagra online.

    Viagra ad Online Physicians provides a secure, confidential, and simple way for you to be evaluated for Viagra . use and purchase your Viagra . prescription on-line.

    But then I see "Our consultation fee is a one time fee of $65.00" and "10 Viagra tablets 100mg - US $99.00" - sexual dysfunction drug experimentation was never that expensive!

    Tonight I discovered a new facet of Quake - BLOODBATH_2000 EXCESSIVE! this server gives you every weapon and so much ammunition that the game mostly resembles the Doh Long Bridge sequence from Apocalypse Now - all lightshow and total chaos. I thrive in that atmosphere - the virtual killing is more giddy than usual.

    sunday, 5 march


    (Micah called to share that word with me - thank you Micah)

    Jagged I'm trying to finish an article and write up another piece. They are great writing gigs, on subjects that I care about and I like to speak at great length about. But the manual task of writing, sitting and facing each paragraph and banging at it in an effort to make it fit with the next towards coherence is grating at me. I work in bursts and alternate with my beloved Jagged Alliance 2 game, which nears completion. When I finish that it will be some kind of disaster, I will have to go back to tweaking web pages until I can find another game. Perhaps I'll boot up my families again in the Sims.

    So, astonishingly, after a full sunday of Procrasturbation, I turn successfully to my MIT conference investigation and make some serious headway. I feel very compensated by my wayward creative process. I'm listening to Peace Frog - bouncy.

    Gotta love Napster - I just searched for "hendrix" and came up with "Jimmy Hendrix - Kung Fu Fighting.mp3" - that ain't no Jimi Hendirx. hah hah hah . The Cristal Ship. hah hah
    right now I'm straining to download this 20 megs of love: "Jimi Hendrix - (Live at Atlanta) 06 Hear My Train A Comin'.mp3"

    seems like this is a wonderful way to share those endless archives of live recordings the hardcore fans collect. keeps the rare stuff alive!

    friday, 3 march

    almost makes me want to go back to college - but I'm feeling good still at, like we're in the center of things, and being agnostic, that we cover everything from board games to live-action role playing, playstation and nintendo, I'm still going to learn a shitload here.

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