Hello, and welcome to the sixth edition of Three Things on Thursday.
What are these things? This week’s things include: learning from failure with the help of an Italian plumber, discovering the power of music in video games, and exploring the future of live DJ sets composed in code. 👨🏻🔧 👾 🎧
Why are we sharing them? They’re things we found interesting, and thought you would too.
Sound good? Let’s go look at the things!
1. The Super Mario Effect - Tricking Your Brain into Learning More 👨🏻🔧
What can an Italian plumber, from a 1980s video game, teach you about learning from failure, and not giving up?
2. Top Scores - From Pong to Red Dead: Can Video Game Music Change the Way You Play? 👾
[Image Credit: Hello Games - No Man’s Sky]
Done right, the marriage of music and gameplay can induce a level of immersion that’s impossible in other forms of entertainment.
Known as “the flow”, it’s a state in which “people become so involved in what they are doing that the activity becomes spontaneous, almost automatic,” according to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who recognised and named the phenomenon.
Players experiencing the flow “stop becoming aware of themselves as separate from the actions they are performing,” he suggests. “And being able to forget temporarily who we are seems to be very enjoyable.”
Whether you’ve lost weekends to immersive adventures in alien infested future realities, or merely missed your bus stop at the hands of a particularly intensive smart phone puzzler, you can likely identify with the above.
But would you have credited your in-game absorption, or ability to the music?
For the BBC, Mark Savage asks: Can Video Game Music Change the Way You Play?
3. DJs of the Future Don’t Spin Records - They Write Code 🎧
[Image Credit: Renick Bell]
Renick Bell is standing in front of his computer at a small table in the middle of the dance floor. The stoic, bespectacled musician types quickly and efficiently, his eyes locked to his computer screen. Around him in a wide circle, the crowd bobs to his music. Sputtering tom rolls, blobby techno synths, and crystalline cymbal taps blossom and spill out of the theater’s massive surround-sound system. All the lights are off, and the only illumination in the big room is the glow of Bell's monitor, the soft red LED backlight on his mechanical gaming keyboard, and a live view of his PC monitor projected on a wall-sized screen.
Nearly every one of the hundred or so people in the room, myself included, is staring intently at the action playing out on the screen. But what’s being projected is not some psychedelic animation, alien landscape, or whatever other visuals you'd expect to see at an electronic music gig. What we're watching is code. Lines and lines of it, filling up the black screen in a white monospace font.
We look on as Bell’s keystrokes call up a bank of sounds called atmo stab2, then another called ensOsakaArpAtmo14. Lovely synthesizer arpeggios start percolating in the mix. They're untethered, a bit off-kilter. The effect is pleasing but edgy, like a warm wind that’s blowing a bit too hard. The snare drum sounds skitter around in the higher registers, but there isn’t much happening in the low end. Bell decides to fill in some of that space. He loads kitBleepFtech and gives it the command highGlobalDensity. A rush of kick drums bombards the speaker stacks, drowning the room in gigantic waves of jaw-rattling bass. The video projector starts vibrating violently from the onslaught, and the code on the screen melts into a smeary pink blur. The crowd whoops. Bell types out a message to the attendees, flooding the screen with one repeated line of text: The old patterns are dead.
Edition #6 done!
See you next week, for more Three Things on Thursday.
Chris ~ Resident Collector of Things
(Currently battling Bowser)