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Adventure Before Adventure Games: A New Look at Crowther and Woods’s Seminal Program

Lessard pushes back in useful ways against the notion that modern computer games emerged fullly-formed from the coding experiments of Will Crowther — a notion I’ve helped to promote (though of course I’m exaggerating as I present it here). I’ll want to read through the essay again in more detail, but here is part of the conclusion: Previous accounts have often focused on the many aspects of modern computer games…

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Why Drag It Out?

The ways that the informal speech of women impacts the language is soooo underexplored. For the past five years, Sali Tagliamonte, a linguist at the University of Toronto, has been gathering digital-communications data from students. In analyzing nearly 4 million words, she’s found some interesting patterns. “This reduplication of letters, it’s not all crazy,” she told me. Certain vowels—o, a, and e—are the most-frequent candidates for multiplication. Words are most frequently…

Surprise! ‘Star Trek’ gold shirts more deadly than red shirts

Fascinating. Barsalou then goes all math geek and applies to the data the Bayes’ Theorem formula for calculating conditional probabilities. After a little mathematical shake and bake, he determines there is a 61.9 percent chance that any given casualty is wearing a red shirt. That still sounds high, but it’s not really once you consider the sheer number of redshirts running around the Starship. “Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts…

Students boycott final to challenge professor’s grading policy (and get As)

Since he started teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2005, Professor Peter Fröhlich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s highest grade on the final counts as an A, with all other scores adjusted accordingly. So if a midterm is worth 40 points, and the highest actual score is 36 points, “that person gets 100 percent and everybody else gets a percentage relative to it,” said Fröhlich. This…