Link Dump

Some interesting stuff going on recently:
  • Chainmail Bikini - The highly anticipated new webcomic from Shamus (who did the brilliant DM of the Rings comic) and "recovering goth" Shawn Gaston. The first comic is up, and it's great. If you liked DM of the RIngs, you'll like this too...
  • Unusual Weapons Collection: My favorite is the second one.
  • Perceptions of Risk: Bruce Schneier's post illustrates yet another failure in risk perception when it comes to bird flu (which hasn't killed anyone in North America, while the boring regular flu kills tens of thousands), similar to an old post of mine (which was inspired by Schneier's book).
  • Why scary games are better than horror movies: Clive Thompson's recent Wired article taps into something that I think is really true: it's much easier to get tensed up and paranoid while playing a game than it is while watching a movie.
    For several years now, I've found that my favorite horror experiences aren't coming from movies any more. They're coming from games.

    Why? Partly it's because films have become much less artistically interesting. With a choice few exceptions -- like the superb The Ring -- I've found that modern horror movies have been offering less and less suspense, and more and more gore. Maybe it's due to the rampaging success of Saw, which gave birth to the current trend toward torture-chic and metric tonnage of blood in scary movies.

    In contrast, the best scary-game designers have quietly perfected the interplay of tension and release that makes for a truly cardiac horror experience. They have, in a sense, become even more faithful interpreters of the horror tradition movies than Hollywood directors.
    In some cases, it's because the atmosphere is scary, in others it's just because you feel that your character is an extension of yourself (this is apparently much easier to achieve with video games because you are actually controlling your character - it's much more difficult to do this in movies, which are more passive). In particular, I remember thinking this while playing Aliens vs. Predator 2 a few years ago. That game absolutely freaked me out, every time I played it. Of course, that game plays on the tension established in the movies (especially the nerve wracking motion detector from Aliens), but they did a really good job of establishing a creepy (and yet familiar) atmosphere. It doesn't help that Aliens are absurdly fast and come from surprising directions. I might just have to reinstall that game...
  • I Feel So Special: James Grimmelmann had a paper break into the top 10 downloaded papers at a legal website. It was downloade 12 times. "To put that in perspective, this video of a hamster eating Cheerios was viewed ten thousand times in an hour yesterday." Hehe.
That's all for now...