Dream Instrumentalism

Not Quite a Khazar
Not Quite a Khazar
I dreamt of a musical instrument last night.
I was on a train stuck between cities, heading for the engine and the drivers, and I passed a family of khazars, entertaining themselves by taking turns on it.
I had to push past a shtarker in traditional dream dress, a white archaic tunic with red piping, his small flat red cap pinned to the side of his head, focussed on a lugubrious old man playing.
The instrument was a like a clockwork squeezebox a cubit long with a rubbery grey bald human face at one end and a limited keypad at the other.
They played it by struggling against the clockwork and bellows; it only played one tune, which sounded like something from Kroke, and which I was humming when I woke up.
The artistry, as I saw later when a wizened granny took over, is in putting your own interpretation on the tune by distorting the sounds.
She kinda stretched and crushed the head to distort the sound, made it sound childish and whiny, like a nursery rhyme.
He played it straight and slow, hardly touching the face, so it sounded sonorous and, yes, meaningful.
My brother says, it’s like the interpretation of a song, theme and variations, that’s all we can ever do…

The Money Farm

To the tune of: Money, Money – Cabaret
The Money Farm

Buy a PC Gamer-approved product every day this week and you get reward points. You’ve levelled up, now you’re a PCG Ambassador, so you get a PCG fan kit. Meanwhile, your health insurance is incentivising you to walk as it’s worried about your heart rate, and a tobacco firm is incentivising you not to read The Guardian because of its coverage of cancer risk. You get an achievement from the local council for not giving money to a tramp, and your eyetracking device is giving you bonus points for reading every line of an advert (but not the small print). It’s a nightmare and it’s coming.

What no one is mentioning is a crash, a bubble bursting. There’s a risk that social gaming could collapse overnight. Yet this is unlikely, because the place where it’s based, Facebook, is now so central to our lives. Instead, social gaming is spilling out virally into the world, and its effectiveness in altering our behaviour means it’s soon going to be affecting you in ways you may not even notice.

An excerpt from a feature I wrote for PC Gamer, in the issue on sale now. I’ll put up the uncut version when my contract allows.

E3 2010’s Finest Trailer

This is a new music-shooter from the chap who made Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi – it’s operated through Microsoft’s new Kinect motion-detection system and is meant to convey the sound-colour linkage of synesthesia. Sadly, as it’s colour-oriented, I’m aware that I’m probably never going to be able to enjoy this, in the way I couldn’t enjoy Space Giraffe.

I sincerely hope that this is all in-game footage – mainly because I can’t believe that it could all be rendered and because I’ve been hoping for something that’s a graphical leap forward, not in terms of quality necessarily, but in terms of smooth integration of divergent thematic elements.