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Top 200 Video Games of All Time According to Game Informer


Oh yeah, I have a blog! Lots has been going on in the intervening months (see my Twitter feed for short attention span details), but I figured a video game post during NaBloPoMo would be a good way to get back on the wagon, even if I’m not actually posting every day during November.

While visiting my Little Brother this weekend, I noticed a rather unusual magazine cover… a (very pixelated) monster from the original Doom. This turned out to be the latest issue of Game Informer, specifically Volume XIX, Number 12, Issue 200. In honor of this decimalist anniversary, they published their Top 200 Video Games of All Time list, which unsurprisingly is linkbait for any video game fan who likes to rant about what should and should not be included in such a list. I ran through my opinions quickly with my Little, mostly fixating on why so many recent games were already on the list, but decided a deeper analysis was in order.

Instead of complaining about the contents of the list, I thought I’d use it to track my personal video game history (much as my father has in the past used the Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Songs of All Time to guide his music purchases). I’ve also done some histogram breakdowns of what’s on the list. I would say that my guideline for inclusion on any such list would involve adjectives like “innovative” and “influential”, and explicitly avoid conditions like “critically acclaimed”, “popular”, or “best-selling”. This in turn means that inclusion must be viewed through a somewhat temporally distant lens, for sufficient perspective on a particular cultural artifact’s import.

How many of these have you played? Do you strongly agree/disagree with any of the rankings?

The columns are Game Informer rank, game title, platform(s), and year of publication from the original article; I believe using this data for commentary is covered by Fair Use. I added platforms in a few places to account for the particular port of a game that I played. I have also added columns for myself, for Played, Owned, and Completed. The full table and further analysis is below the cut.


Posted in Video Games Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Connections at the MIT Museum

Today I took my Little Brother Patrick to the MIT Museum near Central Square. I had seen a blurb on their website about an exhibit on social media, and I wanted to check it out (and, since it was billed as interactive, I thought he would enjoy it as well, even though he’s 11).

The exhibit, Connections, features a number of interactive art and technology installations from MIT’s Sociable Media Group. I took a few mediocre iPhone pictures of some of the displays, all of which were very interesting. I love the cool stuff that arises when art and technology collide.

The first thing you see when you walk into the museum right now is the piece Metropath(ologies), which consists of several projectors some big white pillars, plus some speakers, a camera, and several screens. Technically, the first thing you see is the disclaimer that your image and voice may be recorded when interacting with the piece, but I think that’s really cool.



Twitter word clouds projected onto the white pillars of the Metropath(ologies) installation at the MIT Museum, with a visitor moving among them.

Twitter word clouds projected onto white pillars, with a visitor moving among them.

They also have some interesting ways of some Twitter (and other?) feeds; based on the posts they’re from about 2 weeks ago, not live, but I’m not sure what kind of harvesting they do to produce the visualization. As part of another piece, Lexigraphs I, they also have some stylized views of personal word clouds.


3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago

3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago


Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

One of the other Data Portraits was the piece Themail, which gives a timeline word cloud of personal e-mail correspondence between three close individuals. I have e-mail archives going back a long time, I’d be interested in seeing what these look like over time; aggregated they’d just be a roughly Zipfian distribution of English, but presumably there’d be visible spikes as certain topics came and went.


Timelines for three individuals e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Timelines for three individual's e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Finally, there was a live display of data from the Mycrocosm service, of which I couldn’t get a reasonable picture. It seems to be very similar in concept to the tool Daytum, which I started using several weeks ago. The big difference is that MIT is explicitly wanting to study your usage patterns of the Mycrocosm service, and Daytum has a nice Twitter DM method for submitting data items while mobile.

The exhibit is up through September 13th, 2009, so there’s plenty of time to check it out. There are admissions discounts for students, but it’s free if you’re a Big Brother (or Big Sister) there with your Little :oP.




You can click any of the images above to view a larger version, or see the entire (small) gallery.

Posted in Reviews, Social Media Tagged with: , , , , ,

Vortex Cannon


I generally do Big Brother on Saturday afternoons from about 2 to 6 at Patrick’s house near Central Square. Sometimes we go out for a museum (a trip to the Museum of Science is likely next week), or a movie, but this week I didn’t have any ideas. Patrick had previously showed me some YouTube videos of  water balls, and we’ve done “kitchen science” before, so I was looking into that this morning… but it looked like the listed materials would be hard to obtain, and a number of comments claimed that the video was fake. However, in the related videos, I stumbled across this page on vortex cannons, and decided that would make a fun quick activity. Unfortunately, because I’m an idiot, I didn’t take any pictures >.<.


Due to the supplies at hand, we had to use a slightly different procedure, but the visual effect was pretty impressive.

  • One (1) 1-liter plastic bottle, empty and dry
  • One (1) tea candle target
  • One (1) fog machine
  • Matches (or some other candle-lighting device)
  • A room with still air


We found two techniques worked pretty well, but produced very different results. One, when combined with the fog machine, allowed us to really visualize what was happen, and gave me the opportunity to explain some of the science to Patrick; the other actually put the candle out.

We first tried it without the fog machine, but couldn’t get the candle to blow out; it turned out that our aim was a bit off. The chemical fog stuff (part of an old Halloween setup) allowed us to actually see and aim the smoke rings, and see the vortices forming.

Grabbing the bottle with both hands and squeezing in a quick pulse produces a large, slow-moving smoke ring, with a long-lasting vortex that you can watch stretch as the ring expands. If you squeeze too hard, you just get a turbulent puff; too soft and you get nothing. It takes some trial and error. While these were nifty to look at, they couldn’t put out the candle, even from only a few centimeters away.

I found tapping one side of the bottle with just two fingertips, very firmly, produced a small but fast burst that formed a very fast-moving smoke ring. You could barely tell it was a ring at that speed. They moved fairly straight (as opposed to the slower-moving rings that tended to drift a bit), but were a bit touchy to aim. Once you connected with the candle flame, it went right out, without any guttering as you would see when trying to blow it out manually. We were able to successfully put the candle out at about a meter.


This was a very fun demonstration, and only took a few minutes to set up. It also requires no cleanup, and you can hypothetically sneak up on your little sister and blow smoke rings at her. Not that I would encourage that sort of sibling mischief…

One thing I needed was a concrete example of why this is important science, and not just a toy demonstration. It’s hard to explain fluid dynamics to a ten year old. Patrick enjoyed it as a project, though.

Posted in How-Tos Tagged with: , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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