Analysis

Robots Don’t Interact: Why Humans & AI Will Never Understand Each Other

Lindsey is the co-founder of F-BOM.com, a science fiction, fantasy, and feminist book club. Every quarter, F-BOM hand-picks a talented, self-published author and distributes a special edition of her book to club members. F-BOM is more than just a book club — for as little as $5 a month, members will be actively investing in the future of women in science fiction and fantasy.

Artificial Intelligence has long been a mainstay fixture in the science fiction genre. Indeed, AI as a plot device can carry an entire movie or television show and keep us riveted to the screen. The cultural significance of AI in entertainment increases as we grow ever more tantalizingly close to achieving human-like artificial intelligence in real life. As early as a month ago, Snopes investigated the slightly exaggerated claim that Facebook would be shutting down their AI. This was allegedly due to the fact that AI were creating their own incoherent language to more efficiently talk to one another.

It makes sense that human language (especially English) would not be efficient enough for a robot’s taste. Let’s look at some examples of AI that struggle with human communication — and vice versa.

GLaDOS, Portal

This game is a great example of how grammar and vocabulary are not the only thing necessary to communicate. The star robot of the popular Portal series is GLaDOS, an artificial intelligence that has made it her life goal to test humans under inhumane conditions. It’s a fantastic example of misunderstanding human culture.

Not only that, but the laughable (yet paradoxically much-loved in fandom) companion cube is clearly intended to help the human player bond to something. Of course, it’s only a grey metal cube painted with hearts. This makes it difficult to anthropomorphize the cube to form even the smallest attachment, yet GLaDOS is oblivious to this failure. One of her other hilarious incentives for the player is that “you will get cake” at the end of every level. Spoiler: there is never any cake.

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Fanworks, IRL

Video Game-Inspired Recipes Perfect for the Fall Season

Life Is Strange

Have you been journeying all over that open world map in search of the perfect palate-pleasing dish? What about for that geeky Friendsgiving soirée you were thinking of hosting? If you’re a gamer who enjoys whipping up new kinds of food, it’s really the perfect time for you to give these recipes a try. From the shores of Arcadia Bay to the windy peaks of Skyhold, we’ve gathered all the dinners and desserts you could possibly want to try (with a few honorable mentions for the truly adventurous).

Don’t see your favorite food listed here? No problem! We’ll personally curate a running list of all the video game-inspired recipes our community can come up with. If you want to see more posts like this one, totally drop your own suggestion in the comments. The more ideas that roll in, the more amazing recipes we can share with you next time!

Remember: we’re always looking for new, fun ways to bring gaming to RL here at FemHype! If you have an idea for an article that’s accessible and interactive like this one, we’d love it if you submitted a pitch.

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Uncategorized

Party Camp: Celebrating Earth Day By Sharing Our Favorite In-Game Maps

Myst III: Exile

It’s Earth Day! That means, of course, that we’ll be waxing lyrical about our favorite in-game maps. From sprawling, lush woodlands to the wide open sea, exploration can be one of the most rewarding experiences when playing a new game. These maps stay with us long after we’ve powered down our preferred system, and often, returning to these digital worlds is like returning to a second home. You can almost taste the salty sea air just hearing the well-loved refrain from the original soundtrack. If you explore these places for long enough, you just might learn more about yourself than merely which direction to walk in. Naturally, I put the question to our writers—and they shared what maps inspired their exploration and shaped their gameplay experience. What about you? Tell us the game that changed your perception of exploration!

Mir ()

My favorite world comes from one of my favorite games as a child, Myst III: Exile. One of the first worlds you can go to is Edanna, a small place created to impart a lesson on its visitors. From the outside, Edanna looks very blank: it’s a massive, hollowed tree trunk that’s isolated in the sea. But inside, it teems with life, and all of it interacts together to let you go from the top of the trunk—a canopy with colorful birds and flowers that spread heat—all the way to the bottom, where things get very dark, and most plants reflect light or conserve water. Everything spirals downward sharply, so each progressive level gets larger and darker as you get closer to the roots of the tree. The only way down is by understanding the plants and animals around you: you need to use some plants as stairs, others to bend light through dark areas and open up pathways, a few will help you bring water down the tree, et cetera.

The only way to finish the Age is by freeing a trapped mother bird so that she can return to her nest back on the canopy. In exchange, she’ll help you leave so that you can continue with the story. The vertical map design makes progress very linear, but with plants taking the role that technology often does in other games, you’re encouraged and rewarded for experimenting with all of the plants, and seeing how they connect together. Without having any written tutorials, the gameplay in Edanna helps you to learn the Age’s lesson: “Nature encourages mutual dependence.” You are barred from progressing unless you interact with and understand this world around you. 

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Health, IRL

Building Self-Confidence Through Video Games

Portal

Growing up, I was not allowed to play video games. My parents were very against them and claimed that playing video games would cause me to become violent and less intelligent. Their ban didn’t stop me, though. I found ways to play games anyway—such as having a secret Game Boy Color with a copy of Pokémon Blue I borrowed from my cousin. I also got very quick at switching tabs when playing games from Newgrounds on our desktop computer.

For so long, gaming was such a secret, forbidden thing I couldn’t let my parents find out about. It’s a little strange to be writing about it so openly now. I always thought it would be a secret and that I would never play any really big games like Mass Effect or Portal. I would hear friends talking about those games and not realize that I could actually play them too. I didn’t really know that PC gaming was an option, and there was no way I’d be able to hide a console in my parents’ house!

That changed a couple of years ago. I found out about Steam, and got lots of older games for cheap or even for free. One of the first games I got was Portal. I was instantly in love with the look and feel of the game as well as the puzzle aspect. I had never played anything like it and I loved the way it challenged me and forced me to think in new ways. It was Portal that made me realize I wanted to play more games—especially all of the ones my friends were always talking about.

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Fanworks, Feminism

The Cake Is a Lie, Cinderella: A Folk Tale Gets the ‘Portal’ Treatment

Cinderella

On the heels of Disney’s film adaptation sweeping the world off their glass-slippered feet, a new player has entered the game. They’re a team who call themselves Potato Battery, and while a heavy-handed play on Portal fame, the anonymous developers seem to have far more original plans in mind. Their yet unnamed Cinderella video game is currently in the works thanks to a recent Tumblr leak, though there are little to no tangible details released yet—all except the fact that it will “exist in a universe similar to the Portal franchise.” What that means for the gameplay, exactly, is entirely up to fan interpretation.

Will the Fairy Godmother bring her charge a portal gun? Should we expect the illustrious Stepmother to forge an alliance with GLaDOS? Can the turrets play the role of Cinderella’s friendly animal companions? Basically, I just want to see the ballroom floor covered in Propulsion Gel while the Prince is flung into the stratosphere. It should be a thing.

This fresh take on an old folk tale will likely come in the form of a first-person puzzle platform, if all the subsequent Portal references on Tumblr are to be trusted. While they’re keeping mum on what we can expect from the developing Cinderella game, the Potato Battery team doesn’t lack for enthusiasm. They’ve dropped a few hints as to what eager fans of beloved fairytales and science alike can expect. (Spoilers: it’s not lemons, but I wouldn’t recommend making lemonade.)

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Analysis

Ain’t So Simple: Story Structure in Gaming

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What is it that sets video games apart as a medium from, say, film or literature? The answer lies right in your hands: the controller. Video games require direct interaction between game and player in a way that no other medium does.

When analyzing literature, theorists and critics often talk about the “contract” that is made between author and reader when a reader picks up a book. It’s a promise implicit in every work of fiction: read this and you will be entertained. What form this entertainment takes depends on what kind of book; it might be informative, thrilling, hilarious, inspiring, terrifying, or any number of experiences. But it must be entertaining or the reader will simply put it down and move on.

The same principle holds true for film and, of course, for video games. But with video games, the need for player interaction adds an extra dimension to the promise made by the medium. The promise is not simply “this game will provide you with entertainment,” but also “you, the player, will help shape this story.” This ‘shaping’ of story can be as basic as determining whether the hero succeeds or fails, or as complicated as choosing what pixel to place where in an infinite digital space.

This demand for interaction complicates the creator’s already challenging process of telling an interesting story. The player must be allowed to weigh in on the story at some level, or they’ll feel betrayed by the medium, the creator/player promise having been broken. So game creators must construct stories that are not simply told to the player, but also adapt and change based on how the player chooses to interact with the game.

The types of stories that game creators construct to deal with this problem fall broadly into three categories: linear, multipath, and RPG/open-world. Obviously, there are many games that straddle the line between two of these categories, or plant themselves in one category but borrow elements from another. Because of this, it’s perhaps easiest to think of these categories as benchmarks on a sliding scale, rather than strict divisions.

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