David Lynch Turns Twin Peaks into a Virtual Reality Game: Watch the Official Trailer

When David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks premiered on ABC in 1990, viewers across America were treated to a televisual experience like none they'd ever had before. Four years earlier, something similar had happened to the unsuspecting moviegoers who went to see Lynch's breakout feature Blue Velvet, an experience described as eye-opening by even David Foster Wallace. A dedicated meditator with an interest in plunging into unexplored realms of consciousness, Lynch tends to bring his audience right along with him in his work, whether that work be cinema, television, visual art, music, or comic strips. Only natural, then, that Lynch would take an interest in the artistic and experiential possibilities of virtual reality.

Last year we featured the first glimpse of a Twin Peaks virtual reality experience in development, revealed at Lynch's Festival of Disruption in Los Angeles. "The best news is that the company developing the game, Collider Games, is giving creative control to Lynch," wrote Ted Mills, and now, with the release of Twin Peaks VR's official trailer, we can get a clearer idea of what Lynch has planned for players. As Laura Snoad writes at It's Nice That, Lynch has used the opportunity to revisit "well-known environments featured in the series, such as the iconic Red Room (the stripy-floored, velvet curtain-clad parallel universe where Agent Cooper meets murdered teen Laura Palmer), the Twin Peaks’ Sheriff’s Department and the pine-filled forest around the fictional Washington town."




This will come as good news indeed to those of us Twin Peaks enthusiasts who've made the pilgrimage to Snoqualmie, North Bend, and Fall City, the real-life Washington towns where Lynch and his collaborators shot the series. But Twin Peak VR will offer a greater variety of challenges than snapping photos of the series' locations and chatting with bemused locals: Snoad writes that each environment is constructed like an escape room. "Solving puzzles to help Agent Cooper and Gordon Cole (the FBI agent played by Lynch himself), players will also meet some of the show’s weird and terrifying characters, from the backwards-speaking inhabitants of the Black Lodge to the terrifying Bob himself."

Available via Steam on Oculus Rift, Vive, and Valve Index this month, with Oculus Quest and PlayStation VR versions scheduled, Twin Peaks VR should give a fair few virtual-reality holdouts a compelling reason to put on the goggles — much as Twin Peaks the show caused the cinéastes of the 1990s to break down and watch evening TV. Enjoying Lynch's work, whatever its medium, has always felt like plunging into a dream: not like watching his dream, but experiencing a dream he's made for us. If virtual-reality technology has finally come anywhere close to the vividness of Lynch's imagination, Twin Peaks VR will mark the next step in his artistic evolution. But for now, to paraphrase no less a Lynch fan than Wallace, the one thing we can say with total confidence is that it will be... Lynchian.

via It's Nice That

Related Content:

Watch an Epic, 4-Hour Video Essay on the Making & Mythology of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Actually Explained: A Four-Hour Video Essay Demystifies It All

David Lynch Is Creating a Virtual Reality Experience for Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks Tarot Cards Now Available as 78-Card Deck

Watch the Twin Peaks Visual Soundtrack Released Only in Japan: A New Way to Experience David Lynch’s Classic Show

David Lynch Directs a Mini-Season of Twin Peaks in the Form of Japanese Coffee Commercials

Play the Twin Peaks Video Game: Retro Fun for David Lynch Fans

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

A Brief History of Chess: An Animated Introduction to the 1,500-Year-Old Game

I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists.

 –Marcel Duchamp

"Over the roughly one and half millennia of its existence, chess has been known as a tool of military strategy, a metaphor for human affairs, and a benchmark of genius,” points out the TED-Ed animated history of the game by Alex Gendler, above. The first records of chess date to the 7th century, but it may have originated even a century earlier, in India, where we find mention of the first game to have different moves for different pieces, and “a single king piece, whose fate determined the outcome.”

It was originally called “chaturanga,” a word that Yoga practitioners will recognize as the “four-limbed staff pose,” but which simply meant “four divisions” in this context. Once it spread to Persia, it became “chess,” meaning “Shah,” or king. It took root in the Arab world, and traveled the Silk Road to East and Southeast Asia, where it acquired different characteristics but used similar rules and strategies. The European form we play today became the standard, but it might have been a very different game had the Japanese version—which allowed players to put captured pieces into play—dominated.




Chess found ready acceptance everywhere it went because its underlying principles seemed to tap into common models of contest and conquest among political and military elites. Though written over a thousand years before “chaturanga” arrived in China—where the game was called xiangqi, or “elephant game"—Sun Tzu’s Art of War may as well have been discussing the critical importance of pawns in declaring, “When the officers are valiant and the troops ineffective the army is in distress.”

Chess also speaks to the hierarchies ancient civilizations sought to naturalize, and by 1000 AD, it had become a tool for teaching European noblemen the necessity of social classes performing their proper roles. This allegorical function gave to the pieces the roles we know today, with the piece called “the advisor” being replaced by the queen in the 15th century, “perhaps inspired by the recent surge of strong female leaders.”

Early Modern chess, freed from the confines of the court and played in coffeehouses, also became a favorite pastime for philosophers, writers, and artists. Treatises were written by the hundreds. Chess became a tool for summoning inspiration, and performing theatrical, often Punic games for audiences—a trend that ebbed during the Cold War, when chessboards became proxy battlegrounds between world superpowers, and intense calculation ruled the day.

The arrival of IBM’s Deep Blue computer, which defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in 1996, signaled a new evolution for the game, a chess singularity, as it were, after which computers routinely defeated the best players. Does this mean, according to Marcel Duchamp’s observation, that chess-playing computers should be considered artists? Chess’s earliest adopters could never have conceived of such a question. But the game they passed down through the centuries may have anticipated all of the possible outcomes of human versus machine.

Related Content:

Garry Kasparov Now Teaching an Online Course on Chess

A Free 700-Page Chess Manual Explains 1,000 Chess Tactics in Plain English

Vladimir Nabokov’s Hand-Drawn Sketches of Mind-Bending Chess Problems

Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Relives His Four Most Memorable Games

When John Cage & Marcel Duchamp Played Chess on a Chessboard That Turned Chess Moves Into Electronic Music (1968)

Marcel Duchamp, Chess Enthusiast, Created an Art Deco Chess Set That’s Now Available via 3D Printer

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The Internet Archive Makes 2,500 More Classic MS-DOS Video Games Free to Play Online: Alone in the Dark, Doom, Microsoft Adventure, and Others

Back in 2015 we let you know that the Internet Archive made 2,400 computer games from the era of MS-DOS free to play online: titles like Commander KeenScorched Earth, and Prince of Persia may have brought back fond 1990s gaming memories, as well as promised hours of more such enjoyment here in the 21st century. That set of games included Id Software's Wolfenstein 3D, which created the genre of the first-person shooter as we know it, but the Internet Archive's latest DOS-game upload — an addition of more than 2,500 titles — includes its follow-up Doom, which took computer gaming itself to, as it were, a new level.

The Internet Archive's Jason Scott calls this "our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago." After detailing some of the technical challenges he and his team faced in getting many of the games to work properly in web browsers on modern computers — "a lot has changed under the hood and programs were sometimes only written to work on very specific hardware and a very specific setup" — he makes a few recommendations from this newest crop of games.

Scott's picks include Microsoft Adventure, the DOS version of the very first computer adventure game; the 1960s-themed racer Street Rod; and Super Munchers, one in a line of educational titles all of us of a certain generation will remember from our classroom computers. Oddities highlighted by classic game enthusiasts around the internet include Mr. Blobby, based on the eponymous character from the BBC comedy show Noel's House Party; the undoubtedly thrilling simulator President Elect - 1988 Edition; and Zool, the only ninja-space-alien platformer sponsored by lollipop brand Chupa Chups.

This addition of 2,500 computer games to the Internet Archive also brings in no few undisputed classics whose influence on the art and design of games is still felt today: Alone in the Dark, for example, progenitor of the entire survival-horror genre; Microsoft Flight Simulator, inspiration for a generation of pilots; and SimCity 2000, inspiration for a generation of urban planners. Among the adventure games, one of the strongest genres of the MS-DOS era, we have Discworld, based on Terry Pratchett's comedic fantasy novels, and from the mind of Harlan Ellison the somewhat less comedic I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. One glance at the Internet Archive's updated computer game collection reveals that, no matter how many games you played in the 90s, you'll never be able to play them all.

Get more information on the new batch of games at the Internet Archive.

via Boing Boing

Related Content:

The Internet Arcade Lets You Play 900 Vintage Video Games in Your Web Browser (Free)

Free: Play 2,400 Vintage Computer Games in Your Web Browser

Play a Collection of Classic Handheld Video Games at the Internet Archive: Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Tron and MC Hammer

1,100 Classic Arcade Machines Added to the Internet Arcade: Play Them Free Online

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

MIT Robot Breaks Rubik’s Cube World Record, Solving It in 0.38 Seconds

A robot created by MIT students Ben Katz and Jared Di Carlo managed to solve a Rubik’s Cube in a record-breaking, lightning-fast 0.38 seconds. The video above shows it happening in real time, then in progressively slower times. By comparison, Yusheng Du, a Chinese speedcuber, holds the [human] record for solving a 3x3x3 cube in 3.47 seconds.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

via BoingBoing

Experience the Majesty of Notre Dame by Getting a Free Download of the Video Game Assassin’s Creed Unity (Free for a Limited Time)

FYI: In the wake of the great Notre Dame fire, the French video game company Ubisoft has decided to make its popular video game Assassin's Creed Unity free through April 25th, allowing gamers to "experience the majesty and beauty of the cathedral." The gothic cathedral figures centrally in the game. Start your download (available only for PC users) here. Once you download the game, you’ll own it forever in your Uplay games library.

Would you like to support the mission of Open Culture? Please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us continue providing the best free cultural and educational materials to learners everywhere.

Also consider following Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and sharing intelligent media with your friends. Or sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

via Laughing Squid

Watch a Playthrough of the Oldest Board Game in the World, the Sumerian Royal Game of Ur, Circa 2500 BC

They may not surprise the average market analyst, but the gaming industry’s figures tell a pretty compelling story. Newzoo estimates that “2.3 billion gamers across the globe will spend $137. 9 billion on games in 2018.” VentureBeat reports that mobile games account for over 50 percent of the total. Currently, “about 91 percent of the global market is digital, meaning that $125.3 billion worth of games flows through digitally connected channels as opposed to physical retail.”

That’s a lot of virtual dough floating around in virtual worlds. But this vast and rapid growth in digital gaming does not mean physical games are going away anytime soon—and that includes cards, board games, and other tabletop games, a market that has “surged as players have grown jaded with the digital screens they toil over during the work day,” wrote Joon Ian Wong in 2016.




Venture capital is flowing into board game development. Tabletop bars and cafes are popping up all over the world, encouraging people to mingle over Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity. It seems the time is just right to revive the oldest playable board game in the world. If someone hasn’t already launched a Kickstarter to bankroll a new Royal Game of Ur, I suspect we’ll see one any day now. At least four-and-a-half-thousand years old, according to British Museum Curator Irving Finkel, the Royal Game of Ur was probably invented by the Sumerians. And it seems like it might still be a blast, and a considerable challenge, to play.

“You might think it’s so old that it’s irretrievable to us, that we’ve got no idea what it was like playing, what the rules were like,” Finkel says in the video at the top, “but all sorts of evidence has come to light so that we know how this game was played.” He promises, in no uncertain terms, to wipe the floor with YouTuber Tom Scott in a Royal Game of Ur showdown, and Scott, who has never played the game before, seems at a decided disadvantage. But watch their contest to see how the game is played and whether Finkel makes good on his threat. Along the way, he liberally shares his knowledge.

For a shorter course on the Royal Game of Ur, see Finkel’s video above. It takes him a couple minutes to get around to introducing his subject, the discovery and deciphering of the “world’s oldest rule book.” A consummate ancient history detective, Finkel describes how he decoded an ancient tablet that explained a game, but which game, no one knew. So, the dedicated curator tried the rules on every mysterious ancient game he could find, till he landed on the “game of twenty squares” from Mesopotamia. “It fitted perfectly,” he says with relish. See the original board, pieces, and dice from about 2500 BC, and learn how Finkel had been searching for its rules of play since he was 9 years old.

For more of Finkel’s passionate public scholarship, see him demonstrate how to write in cuneiform and read about how his work on cuneiform tablets led to him discovering the oldest reference to the Noah’s Ark myth.

Related Content:

How to Write in Cuneiform, the Oldest Writing System in the World: A Short, Charming Introduction

Hear the “Seikilos Epitaph,” the Oldest Complete Song in the World: An Inspiring Tune from 100 BC

The British Museum Is Now Open To Everyone: Take a Virtual Tour and See 4,737 Artifacts, Including the Rosetta Stone

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness.

A Beautiful Short Documentary Takes You Inside New York City’s Last Great Chess Store

Chess Forum in Greenwich Village is, like Gramercy Typewriter and the Upper East Side’s Tender Buttons, the sort of shop New Yorkers feel protective of, even if they’ve never actually crossed the threshold.

“How can it still exist?” is a question left unanswered by "King of the Night," Lonely Leap’s lovely short profile of Chess Forum’s owner, Imad Khachan, above, but no matter. We're just glad it does.

The store, located a block and a half south of Washington Square, looks older than it is. Khachan, hung out his shingle in 1995, after five years as an employee of the now-defunct Village Chess Shop, a rift that riled the New York chess community.




Now, things are much more placid, though the film incorrectly suggests that Chess Forum is the only refuge where chess loving New Yorkers can avail themselves of an impromptu game, take lessons, and buy sets. (There are also shops in Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Upper East Side.) That said, Chess Forum might not be wrong to call itself "New York's last great chess store." It may well be the best of the last.

The narrow shop’s interior triggers nostalgia without seeming calculation, an organic reminder of the Village’s Bohemian past, when beret-clad folkies, artists, and students wiled away hours at battered wooden tables in its many cheap cafes and bars. (Two blocks away, sole survivor Caffé Reggio’s ambience is intact, but the prices have kept pace with the neighborhood, and the majority of its clientele are clutching guidebooks or the digital equivalent thereof.)

Khachan, born in Lebanon to Palestinian refugees, gives a warm welcome to tourists and locals alike, especially those who might make for an uneasy fit at tonier neighborhood establishments.

In an interview with the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, he recalled a “well-dressed and highly educated doctor who would come in wearing his Harvard logo sweater, and lose repeatedly to a homeless man who was a regular at Chess Forum and a chess master.”

The game also provides common ground for strangers who share no common tongue. In Jonathan Lord’s rougher New York City chess-themed doc, Passport Play, Khachan points out how diagrams in chess books speak volumes to experienced players, regardless of the language in which the book is written.

The store’s mottos also bear witness to the value its owner places on face-to-face human interaction:

Cool in the summer, warm in the winter and fuzzy all year long.

Chess Forum: An experience not a transaction

Smart people not smart phones.  (You can play a game of chess on your phone, Khachan admits, but don't fool yourself into thinking that it's giving you a full chess experience.)

An hour of play costs about the same as a small latte in a coffeehouse chain (whose prevalence Khachan refers to as the Bostonization of NYC.) Senior citizens and children, both revered groups at Chess Forum, get an even better deal—from $1/hour to free.

Although the store’s official closing time is midnight, Khachan, single and childless, is always willing to oblige players who would stay later. His solitary musings on the neighborhood’s wee hours transformation supply the film’s title and meditative vibe, while reminding us that this gentle New York character was originally drawn to the city by the specter of a PhD in literature at nearby NYU.

Readers who would like to contribute to the health of this independently owned New York City establishment from afar can do so by purchasing a chess or backgammon set online.

Related Content:

When John Cage & Marcel Duchamp Played Chess on a Chessboard That Turned Chess Moves Into Electronic Music (1968)

Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov Relives His Four Most Memorable Games

Man Ray Designs a Supremely Elegant, Geometric Chess Set in 1920–and It Now Gets Re-Issued

A Human Chess Match Gets Played in Leningrad, 1924

A Free 700-Page Chess Manual Explains 1,000 Chess Tactics in Plain English

Claymation Film Recreates Historic Chess Match Immortalized in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

Play Chess Against the Ghost of Marcel Duchamp: A Free Online Chess Game

Chess Grandmaster Maurice Ashley Plays Unsuspecting Trash Talker in Washington Square Park

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  See her onstage in New York City through December 20th in the 10th anniversary production of Greg Kotis’ apocalyptic holiday tale, The Truth About Santa. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

More in this category... »
Quantcast