If you pre-order Assassin’s Creed: Unity from Gamestop, you will unlock exclusive in-game pants that increase your speed. It’s tempting to make a joke about it, and yet, at the same time, impossible. It has accepted its own absurdity and is at peace with it. It is above my jokes. Buy this game at Read More
By David Thier 8/27 9:00am
I think, sometimes — perhaps too often — about Versailles. It was by all accounts, staggering: all of the richest people in France staying in one of the world’s grandest palaces eating and drinking themselves into a stupor at the feet of Louis XIV while the country fought and starved. It was, and remains, a symbol of the purity of excess: a grand, insane bacchanal that seemed to aspire to nothing less than oblivion. Of course, there were good political reasons for the thing that was Versailles to exist as well (keep the nobles drunk enough that they neither notice or care that you’ve become an absolute monarch), but the main takeaway is this: one of the most powerful men in the world used the resources of his nation to throw the bitchingest party on Earth.
This week, I’m thinking about Versailles because of Burning Man. Read More
By David Thier 8/19 9:00am
Netflix, as you may have heard, is great. A digital economy of scale allows us to pay a ridiculously low price for an ocean of streaming video that we could never hope to watch in all the years we might live, and in return we typically get frustrated by moderate price increases and the recent removal of 24. We keep our subscription through thick and thin, largely because it would be a slight inconvenience to cancel it. Other companies have caught on, and all the big players are trying their hands at movies, TV, music, video games and more. We in the media tend to call this modern incarnation of an old idea “The Netflix of blank.”
It doesn’t stop with entertainment. There are subscriptions for beauty products, clothes, groceries, contraception, razors, and pretty much everything else you could imagine. Even neo-taxis, like Uber and Lyft (which still require you to make a purchasing decision every time you use them) function mainly by banking on the idea that they can become a sort of transportation default, thus avoiding that pesky moment where people check to see if they’re really getting a deal or not. None of this is new (magazine subscriptions, cheese of the month clubs, Costco, etc.), but both digital distribution and the logistical streamlining of the 21st century are supercharging it. Read More
By David Thier 7/10 9:00am
We imagine, for a second, that we are writing a movie script.This script features an international technology company run by a pair of charismatic billionaires. It’s omnipresent and yet difficult to define, with deep pockets and huge, high-profile projects that seem to bear only a passing resemblance to actual revenue streams. Most of these projects involve eerily sophisticated methods of finding out as much as possible about everyone on Earth. In recent months, this company has made headlines buying drones, home monitoring software, artificial intelligence, and a firm that makes military robots. Read More
By David Thier 6/02 9:45am
There is money hidden in San Francisco if you have the time, inclination and Internet savvy to look for it. And this time, it’s not arbitrarily awarded venture capital. Someone has been hiding envelopes of cash throughout the city and giving hints to its location—the lucky scavengers are finding a couple hundred dollars a pop. Follow his feed for some pictures of some very happy hipsters.
In other news, the glorious Emperor Zuckerberg, First Citizen of the Bay and Protector of Silicon, rode through the streets of San Francisco on a litter pulled by self-hauling slave bots, tossing gold coins to the gleeful citizens below as they stretched out their arms for a touch of his flowing garments. Or maybe not, but give it time. Read More
By David Thier 4/29 10:54am
Question: You are a writer, tasked with analyzing popular culture for the purposes of edification, attention and profit. You’re going about your business, which likely consists of lamenting the lack of innovation in your chosen field. All of a sudden, something actually unexpected happens. A new genre emerges, instantly capturing the attention of audiences around the world with a basic structure that represents a radical departure from most everything on the market. What do you do?
The answer, of course, is to dismiss it as anathema, a dangerous threat to all that is good in the world and a pathetic diversion of the unwashed masses. Tried and true.
That’s what the world of traditional videogame journalism has decided to do regarding free-to-play mobile games, which happen to include some of the most popular games on Earth, enjoyed by millions. Read More
By David Thier 4/04 10:52am
It was not hard to predict this particular backlash. A Kickstarter darling, one of the golden children of the video gaming world and a particular favorite of the notoriously clannish PC gaming community, got bought by painfully mainstream social media empire Facebook for $2 billion. Geeky bleeding edge tech, meet ubiquitous Silicon Valley titan and platform for both Farmville and Cityville. The ever-wary video game community began to rage.
The company in question is modern virtual reality standard-bearer Oculus Rift, once among the most popular entities in the video game community, now shunned by its early supporters in hopes of gaining broader acceptance. Sort of like Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls. Read More
By David Thier 3/28 10:34am
It’s always an awkward question — someone, who lives a totally normal life, finds out I write about games. This is 2014, and they understand this is a real thing.
“Cool!” They say. “What are like, the games everyone’s talking about right now?”
“Well,” I’ll say, getting excited. “There’s Titanfall! It’s…uh…a shooter! Read More
By David Thier 3/17 10:30am
Ever since the middle of the summer, Facebook has been wrestling a pig, trying its best to smear some red lipstick on the unruly beast. The company is tired of being the go-to site for pictures of babies and food. Facebook wants to be a personalized, digital newspaper, full of rich discussion and Read More
By David Thier 3/04 8:25am
It might happen at a grocery store, it might happen in your living room. You reach out for some banal task, something you’ve done a thousand times before, only this time, it’s impossible. You’re body freezes, your mind locks up and a thousand horrible failures swirl around in your future . You don’t know how, but it’s all gone wrong, so quickly. Normalcy is lost to the ether. You look around you. You know that nobody else feels this way. They just do things. It looks so easy. And my god, they’re all looking at you because they know. Read More