Summary of “The 40 Greatest Family Games”

No matter where you are on this continuum, Slate’s list of the 40 best family games is for you.
The past two decades have seen a renaissance in family-friendly tabletop gaming, with new games taking the best elements of the classics, then reimagining and improving them.
“Educational” games are often boring, but some of the most entertaining games offer either implicit or explicit lessons about reasoning, sportsmanship, math, ethics, and teamwork.
We’ve arranged our 40 games by the ideal age for a kid to play them, from 4 to 16.
We’re also celebrating the fun of family games by publishing Slate writers’ odes to the games they love the most-and their defenses of the truly bad ones.
The timer adds excitement too, eliminating the tedious deliberation that can sap the fun out of some family games and replacing it with panicked glances back and forth between the tray of letters and the rapidly slipping sand.
Give credit to the ’60s game show Password for popularizing a whole genre of party games in which players try to get teammates to guess a word by rattling off other words-like Charades, with speech instead of gestures.
What makes Pictionary one of the greatest of all party games is that winning doesn’t demand any polished artistic skill.

The orginal article.

Summary of “McMillions: How McDonald’s Employee Amy Murray Helped Take Down a $24 Million Crime Ring”

McDonald’s communications manager Amy Murray was sweating, and not just because of the weather.
Murray-there under the guise of filming a public relations video-was actually part of a top-secret FBI mission to prove Hoover’s involvement in a scheme to cheat the country’s second largest fast food chain, and its 69 million customers, out of the game.
She’d been a loyal McDonald’s employee her entire professional life, having risen through the ranks to lead its “Games” department.
Once described as the company’s “McQueen” by a former Ronald McDonald clown, Murray was known as a likable but tough public relations staffer around the office.
Agent Matthews had reason to believe Hoover duped McDonald’s, and requested Murray set up a meeting with him to film a promotional video about Monopoly winners.
The admission led authorities to other fraudulent winners and, eventually, helped them identify former police officer Jerome Jacobson, or “Uncle Jerry,” as the brains behind the nationwide scam that netted a whopping $24 million.
Jacobson, a former security director of the marketing company that manufactured the McDonald’s game pieces, had made sure the winning ones ended up in the hands of his friends, including a well-respected Mormon dad and a member of the infamous Colombo crime family.
As a reminder that she did help law enforcement catch a con artist, Murray uses an FBI mousepad in her McDonald’s office and keeps a thank you letter from Agent Matthews in a drawer at home.

The orginal article.

Summary of “I Played ‘Fortnite’ and Figured Out the Universe”

In Fortnite Battle Royale, the world’s most popular video game, released last September and today being played by millions of people at a time, you’re dropped into the sky above a richly rendered island, 99 other players all parachuting down alongside you.
In other, similar games, this is a gruesome progression, but Fortnite renders everything with cartoony bounce; when a shot lands, the result isn’t carnage, just holographic dematerialization.
At the same time as I’ve been playing this game, I’ve been making my way through a popular science-fiction trilogy written by Liu Cixin, translated by Ken Liu, and the books have spun my evenings with Fortnite into a deeper, weirder dimension.
Once within striking distance of another player, if you don’t try your best to end their game, they will assuredly end yours.
In the beginning of each game, immediately following the parachute drop, I would often discover that another player had chosen the same landing spot as me.
In forums dedicated to Fortnite Battle Royale, some players share clips of chance alliances, and others reply glumly: “Super rare to find someone [who] won’t shoot you when you emote.” I dream of a Political Fortnite in which victory goes not to the twitchiest sniper but the most charismatic organizer, with factions forming and dissolving … I imagine the fear and thrill of seeing not one but a dozen tiny silhouettes on the far ridge-a war band sweeping fast down the hillside.
This norm isn’t absolute, of course, and it’s also a bit of a cheat, because it’s been established largely outside the game, on the message boards and streaming channels where Fortnite players gather.
The reward for players who achieve victory royale is that, in all subsequent games, they drop to the island not with a bulky parachute but a svelte parasol-a dozen murderous Mary Poppinses cutting down through the noobs.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Rise of the Ambient Video Game”

To step into such video game worlds was to stabilise oneself within the frenetic noise and anonymity of the expanding urban spaces.
The Famicom allowed players to experience video games from the comfort of their home while Yoshimura, alongside other ambient artists of the era such as Satoshi Ashikawa, designed their records for public spaces whose mood they attempted to subtly augment.
It’s a relaxation activity that slips nebulously into self-care, the video game equivalent of putting an ambient record on.
In Brian Eno’s liner notes to Ambient 1: Music For Airports, regarded as one of the first significant ambient works, the artist said he composed the music to “Accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting.” And while Eno crafted Music For Airports to defuse the atmosphere of the airport terminal, to make it more hospitable, ambient video games lighten moods.
In his notes on 2017’s Reflections, Eno refers to the music as “Generative” – i.e. it is self-creating, a process commonly applied to video game environments capable of replication.
Flower becomes the video game equivalent of a whale noises CD, a new-age remedy for the ills of modern living.
Ambient video games have also made the jump to cellular devices, tailoring them perfectly for modern life.
Breathe is a distillation of the ambient video game, furthering its minimalist design principles with the stripping away of paraphernalia until only essential components remain.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How a few tense hours changed everything”

Warriors players felt it was important to play music in the empty arena to maintain some semblance of atmosphere, after a bad experience at a music-and-sound-free game against the New York Knicks in 2017.
Playing NBA games with no fans was a staggering idea with wide-ranging consequences across the sports world, where other leagues were wrestling with the same questions.
UNBEKNOWNST TO 29 other teams, the Utah Jazz had contacted local health officials in Oklahoma City on Wednesday morning to request assistance with a player – later identified as center Rudy Gobert – who was showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
The rest of the league was still getting its head around the prospect of playing games without fans starting on Thursday.
Ball boys chased down long rebounds and fed passes to players warming up on both teams.
The five teams that had played the Jazz over the past 10 days – the Washington Wizards, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors – were also told to self-isolate.
No players from those teams have reported symptoms or tested positive for the coronavirus.
“It’s remarkable to be here talking to you guys tonight about this hiatus,” Silver said on TNT late Thursday, evening, 24 hours and seemingly a lifetime after making the decision to suspend the season, “When it was only yesterday that the NCAA made the decision to play without fans – which seemed unprecedented – and was a historic decision.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Games Blamed for Moral Decline and Addiction Throughout History”

Did ancient Egyptian parents worry their kids might get addicted to this game, called senet? Photo from Keith Schengili-Roberts/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA. Video games are often blamed for unemployment, violence in society and addiction – including by partisan politicians raising moral concerns.
Blaming video games for social or moral decline might feel like something new.
History shows a cycle of apprehension and acceptance about games that is very like events of modern times.
From ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, historians know that the oldest examples of board games trace back to the game of senet around 3100 B.C. One of the earliest known written descriptions of games dates from the fifth century B.C. The Dialogues of the Buddha, purport to record the actual words of the Buddha himself.
Somewhere between the early Buddhist times and today, worries about game addiction have given way to scientific understanding of the cognitive, social and emotional benefits of play – rather than its detriments – and even viewing chess and other games as teaching tools, for improving players’ thinking, social-emotional development and math skills.
So common were games of dice in Roman culture that Roman emperors wrote about their exploits in dice games such as Alea.
In her history of moral panics about elements of popular culture, historian Karen Sternheimer observed that the invention of the coin-operated pinball game coincided with “a time when young people – and unemployed adults – had a growing amount of leisure time on their hands.”
As far back as the Buddha’s own teachings, moral leaders were warning about addicting games and recreations including “Throwing dice,” “Games with balls” and even “Turning somersaults,” recommending the pious hold themselves “Aloof from such games and recreations.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Quanta Magazine”

Researchers in ecology and evolution had wrestled with it for decades as one possible answer to a major question in their field: How does so much biodiversity survive in nature? But even aside from its scientific history, the strategy is better known as a game used by children around the world to settle playground squabbles.
The game is rock-paper-scissors, “a classic game in game theory and evolutionary theory,” said the mathematical biologist Barry Sinervo of the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose field studies on side-blotched lizards helped to establish its relevance to ecosystems.
The rules of the game are easy: Rock beats scissors, scissors beat paper, and paper beats rock.
Biologists studying rock-paper-scissors have modeled how the game plays out with scores or even hundreds of species.
If simplistic competition were the only evolutionary force, then after billions of years, only a handful of highly competitive species should be left.
The number of species for which Earth is home is almost impossible to estimate; one recent attempt pegged it at about 2 billion, but earlier efforts ranged from under 10 million to 1 trillion.
The lowland Amazon rainforests alone are home to more than 6,700 tree species and 7,300 other seed plant species – numbers that don’t begin to account for the accompanying insects, mammals, fungi and microbes.
Later mathematicians extended their work to show that these intransitive relationships could involve a nearly infinite number of species.

The orginal article.

Summary of “An Oral History of Whac-a-Mole”

Over the past four decades, the game of Whac-A-Mole has not only enjoyed immense popularity, it’s become a part of the American lexicon.
Skeeball, Whac-A-Mole is also an ever-present carnival game, rivaling the likes of the water gun game and the shooting gallery.
When the game starts, a mole pops up from one of the five holes in front of you.
The difficulty comes in that you just don’t know what hole that silly mole is going to come out of next but all who play the game agree it certainly is a lot of fun.
As video game technology progressed over the years, this game genre moved to computers and, more recently, to handheld consoles and mobile phones, which are well suited for quick, on-the-go gaming sessions afforded by this genre.
Richard Parliament, aka Top Hat Gaming Man, gaming historian: When you think about it, the concept of Whac-A-Mole is kind of hilariously dark, and because of this, some have viewed it as the first mechanical game centered around violence, as though it was the predecessor to games like Call of Duty.
Angel Castelan, assistant manager at Coney Island’s Luna Park: I’ve run the Whac-A-Mole game so many times at Luna Park, it’s a really fast-paced game and it gives people a huge rush.
For carnival gaming, we generally consider it a type of merchandising – like when you shoot a water pistol at a target, you win a prize, so people are motivated to play the game by a prize, but when it comes to Whac-A-Mole, there is a certain sense of accomplishment.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Secrets of the MIT Poker Course”

Poker Theory and Analytics is a graduate-level MIT course taught by Kevin Desmond, a former pro player and Morgan Stanley analyst.
I’m what seasoned poker players would call a “Donkey.” I’ve played only small games with friends, and every hand I’ve ever won has been the result of pure luck.
Why would MIT offer a course on poker in the first place? According to its official overview, the class “Takes a broad-based look at poker theory and applications of poker analytics to investment management and trading.” The bulk of the course consists of eight video lectures.
One is guest-led by poker player, author, and financial risk manager Aaron Brown and covers the history of poker and how it relates to economics.
As the old poker saying goes, you play the players, not the cards.
Your “Effective stack” is “The most chips you can lose in the hand.” My “M-ratio,” an equation popularized by poker pro Dan Harrington, is that effective stack divided by the sum of the “Blinds,” default bets players have to make to play the game, and “Antes,” raises to stay in the game.
That you can play well and still lose is a fact that haunts poker players at every level; it’s a simple truth that can make high-level MIT courses seem comically futile.
I then ask a better question: What are the odds I’ll play as weakly as I just did? MIT couldn’t prevent that from happening, but it did help me diagnose my poker ills.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs”

For these researchers, incredibly, enjoyment is not the primary reason why we play video games.
For the British artificial intelligence researcher and computer game designer Richard Bartle, the kaleidoscopic variety of human personality and interest is reflected in the video game arena.
In a 2012 study, titled “The Ideal Self at Play: The Appeal of Video Games That Let You Be All You Can Be,” a team of five psychologists more closely examined the way in which players experiment with “Type” in video games.
“Humans are drawn to video and computer games because such games provide players with access to ideal aspects of themselves,” the authors concluded.
Video games are at their most alluring, in other words, when they allow a person to close the distance between how they are, and how they wish to be.
There is no option in many video games to eat, to love, to touch, to comfort, or any of the other critical verbs with which we live life.
The authors of a 2014 paper examining the role of self-determination in virtual worlds concluded that video games offer us a trio of motivational draws: the chance to “Self-organize experiences and behavior and act in accordance with one’s own sense of self”; the ability to “Challenge and to experience one’s own effectiveness”; and the opportunity to “Experience community and be connected to other individuals and collectives.”
Enjoyment is not the primary motivation-“It is rather,” they wrote, “The result of satisfaction of basic needs.” Video game worlds provide us with places where we can act with impunity within the game’s reality.

The orginal article.