What I’ve Been Reading: February 16, 2020

This is going to be a weird edition of What I’ve Been Reading, because it merits quite a bit of discussion, but I also don’t want to do a big, long write-up. So I’m going to try to condense what I want to say into just a few words. I probably won’t succeed. In any case, here are some articles about game streaming, theme park speculation, and spiders!

  • I’m going to get a little catty for a second: the reason I dislike Polygon is that their writing is frequently full of corporate apologia and recycled marketing materials. Case in point: this piece by Austen Goslin about successful streamers leaving Twitch for other platforms. The headline describes a small number of very rich streamers leaving the platform as a “mass Twitch exodus,” and it only gets worse from there, completely dancing around the issue of big-money contracts being used to lure these streamers away. Even a commenter or two took them to task for it. A few days later, Nathan Grayson of Kotaku posted his own piece on the subject, this one actually diving in the world of exclusive streaming contracts. The contrast could not be starker. Consider this a lesson in media literacy: if someone isn’t talking about the money, they’re probably bullshitting you.
  • Universal recently unveiled some plans for their upcoming Epic Universe theme park in Orlando, Florida. In a two-part article (part 1, part 2), Alicia Stella of Orlando ParkStop digs into these plans speculates about what kinds of attractions might be featured in the park, digging into some recent patents to back up her speculation. The patent for the track-jumping roller coaster looks really cool!
  • Writing for The Avocado, Andy Tuttle interviews game developer Scott LaGrasta about his work on Darkwatch, BioShock 2, and several other titles. The interview provides some excellent insight into some of the under-discussed aspects of game development. (Full disclosure: I’m a site moderator of and frequent contributor to The Avocado.)
  • Writing for Nature, Giuliana Viglione writes about a spate of recent retractions of scientific papers by Jonathan Pruitt, a behavioural ecologist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a supposed expert on spider behaviour, and his papers had documented several interesting findings, many of which are now tainted by data fraud. The way I see it, while Pruitt is 100% culpable for what he did and deserves to lose his career, these kinds of incidents will keep happening with alarming frequency as long as academe values novelty and surprise in findings over sound, properly-conducted science.

That’s all for this week. See y’all later!

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