8‑Bit Philosophy: Plato, Sartre, Derrida & Other Thinkers Explained With Vintage Video Games

You thought video games were a waste of time? Well, think again. These 8‑bit video games can teach you phi­los­o­phy. Pla­to, Descartes, Niet­zsche, Der­ri­da and the rest. Cre­at­ed by Nap­kin Note Pro­duc­tions, 8‑Bit Phi­los­o­phy attempts to “com­mu­ni­cate even the most com­plex of philo­soph­i­cal con­cepts in a fun, easy-to-under­stand way.”

Launched in April, the series now fea­tures 15 episodes. The very first one used the 1986 Nin­ten­do game Zel­da to unpack Pla­to’s con­cept of the Real. Lat­er episodes grap­pled with Hegel’s con­cept of his­to­ry; Sartre’s notion of free­dom (above); and Niet­zsche’s thoughts on the lim­its of sci­ence (also above).

The most recent episode explores the phi­los­o­phy of Jacques Der­ri­da using scenes from the 1987 beat’ em up video game, Dou­ble Drag­on. Does that game ring a bell? It did­n’t for me either. Until I googled it and sud­den­ly remem­bered wast­ing count­less hours and quar­ters on it, almost three decades ago. It’s all com­ing back to me now.

You can watch all 15 episodes of 8‑Bit Phi­los­o­phy on YouTube. To play real vin­tage arcade games, see our post from last week: The Inter­net Arcade Lets You Play 900 Vin­tage Video Games in Your Web Brows­er (Free). And to get more immersed in phi­los­o­phy, see our col­lec­tion: 125 Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es.

via Crit­i­cal The­o­ry

Relat­ed Con­tent:

135 Free Phi­los­o­phy eBooks

Alain de Botton’s School of Life Presents Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tions to Hei­deg­ger, The Sto­ics & Epi­cu­rus

Watch The Idea, the First Ani­mat­ed Film to Deal with Big, Philo­soph­i­cal Ideas (1932)

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

internet arcade

A year ago, Col­in Mar­shall told you all about the Inter­net Archive’s His­tor­i­cal Soft­ware Archive, which lets nos­tal­gic web users play vin­tage com­put­er games in their web brows­er — games like Namco’s Pac-Man, or a 1982 ver­sion of E.T. the Extra-Ter­res­tri­al. The Archive has kept nudg­ing along this project, and last week­end they launched the Inter­net Arcade, a web-based library of 900 arcade (coin-oper­at­ed) video games made between the 1970s and 1990s. Dig Dug, Bez­erk, Frog­ger, Tetris, Don­key Kong, Street Fight­er II — they are all there.

The games will run in your web brows­er via a Javascript emu­la­tor. Last year, the Inter­net Archive told us that Fire­fox was best opti­mized to run these free games. If you encounter issues with con­trol, sound, or oth­er tech­ni­cal prob­lems, you can read this entry for some com­mon solu­tions.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, 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. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Play­ing a Video Game Could Cut the Risk of Demen­tia by 48%, Sug­gests a New Study

Hayao Miyaza­ki Tells Video Game Mak­ers What He Thinks of Their Char­ac­ters Made with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence: “I’m Utter­ly Dis­gust­ed. This Is an Insult to Life Itself”

Learn to Write Through a Video Game Inspired by the Roman­tic Poets: Shel­ley, Byron, Keats


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Play “Space War!,” One of the Earliest Video Games, on Your Computer (1962)


Archive.org con­tin­ues adding to its His­tor­i­cal Soft­ware col­lec­tion. Last year, they made avail­able Don­key Kong, Pac Man, Frog­ger & oth­er video games from the Gold­en Age, not to men­tion some clas­sic soft­ware pro­grams like Word­Star and Visi-Calc. Now, they present “Space War!”, a game that came out of MIT back in 1962.

This two-play­er space-bat­tle game — orig­i­nal­ly played off the cath­ode-ray tube of a Dig­i­tal Equip­ment PDP‑1 — was con­sid­ered a major advance­ment in com­put­er gam­ing. Today, only one work­ing PDP‑1 is known to exist, in the Com­put­er His­to­ry Muse­um in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia. But through the mir­a­cle of a JSMESS emu­la­tor, you can play “Space War!” right in your web brows­er. (A fair­ly pow­er­ful com­put­er and recent browser–ideally Firefox–is rec­om­mend­ed.) If you end up play­ing this grandad­dy of com­put­er games, let us know how it goes. You can get more info on Space War! here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load a Pro­to­type of Ever, Jane, a Video Game That Takes You Inside the Vir­tu­al World of Jane Austen

Run Vin­tage Video Games (From Pac-Man to E.T.) and Soft­ware in Your Web Brows­er, Thanks to Archive.org

Free Fun: Play Don­key Kong, Pac Man, Frog­ger & Oth­er Gold­en Age Video Games In Your Web Brows­er

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Free App Lets You Play Chess With 23-Year-Old Norwegian World Champion Magnus Carlsen

Chess has been expe­ri­enc­ing a sur­pris­ing revival as of late, with the World Cham­pi­onships mak­ing head­lines for the first time in  years. As it was dur­ing the days of Bob­by Fis­ch­er and lat­er Gar­ry Kas­parov, the resur­gence is large­ly the doing of one man: Norway’s 23-year-old chess phe­nom, Mag­nus Carlsen. After hav­ing attained the lev­el of a grand­mas­ter at the age of 13, Carlsen had a string of spec­tac­u­lar vic­to­ries that cul­mi­nat­ed in his win over India’s Viswanathan Anand in the world cham­pi­onships this past Novem­ber. Carlsen also holds the high­est rat­ing in the game’s his­to­ry. Oh, and he beat Bill Gates in 79 sec­onds (here’s a video). What’s next for the reign­ing king of chess? A free iOS chess app, of course.

The Mag­nus Plays app, which allows users to play against a sim­u­lat­ed Carlsen, was  released this past Tues­day. If you’re wor­ried that your tech­ni­cal prowess may not stack up against the new face of chess, don’t wor­ry: the app relies on a vast data­base of moves that Carlsen used through­out the years, allow­ing you to play him any­where from the ages of 5 to 23. I’m not a par­tic­u­lar­ly adept chess play­er, but I didn’t have too much trou­ble with Carlsen at his youngest. The vic­to­ry bol­stered my con­fi­dence, so I decid­ed to skip to Carlsen’s cur­rent 23-year-old self. As much as I’d like to dis­cuss the out­come of the sec­ond game, it’s prob­a­bly best to skim over the results. Suf­fice it to say that I have room for improve­ment. Luck­i­ly, the app also has a “Train With Me” sec­tion, where Carlsen pro­vides video tuto­ri­als (some free, and some paid) on how to improve your game. If you’re feel­ing like you’ve lost a few IQ points after repeat­ed bouts with Flap­py Bird, Mag­nus Plays is a great alter­na­tive.

via Kottke.org

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman, or read more of his writ­ing at the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch Bill Gates Lose a Chess Match in 79 Sec­onds to the New World Chess Cham­pi­on Mag­nus Carlsen

A Famous Chess Match from 1910 Reen­act­ed with Clay­ma­tion

Chess Rivals Bob­by Fis­ch­er and Boris Spassky Meet in the ‘Match of the Cen­tu­ry’

The Big Lebowski Reimagined as a Classic 8‑Bit Video Game

The above video brings togeth­er two things that few peo­ple of my gen­er­a­tion can resist. The first hard­ly needs an intro­duc­tion: at the risk of anger­ing Coen Broth­ers fans with the com­par­i­son, their 1998 cult hit The Big Lebows­ki has gen­er­at­ed at least as many end­less­ly quotable lines as Cad­dyshack did almost 20 years ear­li­er, and it appeals to a sim­i­lar con­tin­gent of slack­er wiseass­es. The movie gave Jeff Bridges—son of Lloyd, broth­er of Beau, and cer­tain­ly a star in his own right before he played The Dude—the kind of cachet most actors only dream of. I’m not say­ing he wouldn’t have won his 2009 best actor Oscar for Crazy Heart with­out Lebows­ki, but I’m not say­ing that he would have either. And then, of course, there was the renewed inter­est in the “sport” of bowl­ing, Hol­ly­wood weirdo and self-iden­ti­fied gun nut John Mil­ius (who inspired John Goodman’s char­ac­ter), and the creamy vod­ka cock­tail.

The sec­ond thing: the 8‑bit video games that, believe it or not, rep­re­sent­ed a rev­o­lu­tion in home gam­ing, and gave us the first Nin­ten­do and Sega sys­tems and games that, true con­fes­sion, used to keep me up all night, like the var­i­ous ver­sions of Mega­man (which you can play online here). The games now have leg­endary sta­tus and their defin­i­tive­ly col­or­ful, blocky aes­thet­ic has been—or was at least a few years ago—the ulti­mate in geek nos­tal­gia chic, along with a new wave of “chip­tune” music made with, or inspired by, the 8‑bit chips of the games of our youth. So what, I ask, could be more fun than bring­ing Lebows­ki and 8‑bit gam­ing togeth­er for a 3‑minute bowl­ing game? Very lit­tle. As C‑Net describes the video above, it’s “an expe­ri­ence we only wish we’d had back in the 90’s.” Made by Cine­Fix, who have pre­vi­ous­ly ani­mat­ed Pulp Fic­tion, The Hunger Games, Blade Run­ner and a string of oth­er hits as 8‑bit shorts, the 8‑Bit Cin­e­ma Big Lebows­ki isn’t actu­al­ly playable, but it should be. Regard­less, it’s as fun to watch as you might imag­ine a mash-up of the Coen Broth­ers and Super Mario World would be. Get your nos­tal­gia on.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Tim­o­thy Leary Plans a Neu­ro­mancer Video Game, with Art by Kei­th Har­ing, Music by Devo & Cameos by David Byrne

Free Fun: Play Don­key Kong, Pac Man, Frog­ger & Oth­er Gold­en Age Video Games In Your Web Brows­er

Down­load a Pro­to­type of Ever, Jane, a Video Game That Takes You Inside the Vir­tu­al World of Jane Austen

Long Live Glitch! The Art & Code from the Game Now Released into the Pub­lic Domain

Want  to learn about Video Game Law? It’s cov­ered in our list of Free Online Cours­es

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

Free Fun: Play Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Frogger & Other Golden Age Video Games In Your Web Browser


While I was grow­ing up in the 1990s, my par­ents’ refusal to pur­chase gam­ing con­soles gave me no choice but to nav­i­gate the age of Nin­ten­do 64 with a dod­der­ing, near­ly decade-old PC. As my friends were enthralled by the then-daz­zling graph­ics of Mario 64, I was using my lum­ber­ing mastodon of a 486/66 mhz com­put­er as a way to re-expe­ri­ence some of the best con­sole games of years past. Hav­ing down­loaded pro­grams that turned my com­put­er into a key­board-con­trolled Atari, Nin­ten­do, Super Nin­ten­do, or Sega Gen­e­sis, and hav­ing sought out the web­sites that host­ed the game files, I was mol­li­fied by play­ing Pac Man (1980), Castl­e­va­nia (1986), and Aster­oids (1979), amongst dozens of oth­ers.


Ear­li­er this year, the Inter­net Archive set aflame the hearts of nos­tal­gic gamers every­where by open­ing the His­tor­i­cal Soft­ware Col­lec­tion, mak­ing clas­sics such as Karate­ka (1984) and Akal­a­beth (1980) freely avail­able and remov­ing the need to down­load any addi­tion­al soft­ware com­po­nents. On Box­ing Day, the gen­er­ous souls at the Inter­net Archive announced a fol­low-up: the Con­sole Liv­ing Room. For those wish­ing to relive the joys of ear­ly con­soles, sourc­ing clas­sic titles and down­load­ing emu­la­tion pro­grams to turn your com­put­er into a vir­tu­al con­sole is no longer nec­es­sary. Using noth­ing more than their brows­er (Fire­fox is rec­om­mend­ed), users can enjoy the full (albeit tem­porar­i­ly sound­less) expe­ri­ence of ‘70s and ‘80s clas­sics and rar­i­ties on the Atari 2600, Atari 7800 ProSys­tem, Cole­co­V­i­sion, Mag­navox Odyssey², and Astro­cade con­soles. Quick ses­sions of Don­key Kong (1981), Aster­oids  (1987), and Mario Bros. (1988) have nev­er been eas­i­er.

For a full list of games, includ­ing Dig Dug (1984), Frog­ger (1982), and Pac Man (1983), head over to the Inter­net Archive’s Con­sole Liv­ing Room. For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, check out their ini­tial announce­ment.

Ilia Blin­d­er­man is a Mon­tre­al-based cul­ture and sci­ence writer. Fol­low him at @iliablinderman.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Run Vin­tage Video Games (From Pac-Man to E.T.) and Soft­ware in Your Web Brows­er, Thanks to Archive.org

Tim­o­thy Leary Plans a Neu­ro­mancer Video Game, with Art by Kei­th Har­ing, Music by Devo & Cameos by David Byrne

Long Live Glitch! The Art & Code from the Game Now Released into the Pub­lic Domain

Download a Prototype of Ever, Jane, a Video Game That Takes You Inside the Virtual World of Jane Austen

A few days ago, 3 Turn Pro­duc­tions fin­ished rais­ing $109,563 (from 1,600 back­ers) on Kick­starter to fund the devel­op­ment of “Ever, Jane,” a vir­tu­al game that allows peo­ple to role-play in Regency Peri­od Eng­land. 3 Turn describes the gist of their game as fol­lows:

Sim­i­lar to tra­di­tion­al role play­ing games, we advance our char­ac­ter through expe­ri­ence, but that is where the sim­i­lar­i­ties end. Ever, Jane is about play­ing the actu­al char­ac­ter in the game, build­ing sto­ries. Our quests are derived from play­er’s actions and sto­ries. And we gos­sip rather than swords and mag­ic to demol­ish our ene­mies and aid our friends.

Try to win the sym­pa­thy of Lizzie Ben­net by telling lies about your rival, as Mr. Wick­ham does, but be care­ful. The sys­tem will noti­fy some­one if they are being talked about too often and a good sleuth may find the play­er who is spread­ing such rumors. If you are caught in your lies, the con­se­quences you intend­ed for your tar­get will hit you two-fold.

A descrip­tion is nice, but a demo is even bet­ter. And hap­pi­ly you can down­load a pro­to­type that “pro­vides ful­ly func­tion­al infra­struc­ture for both the gos­sip and the invi­ta­tion sys­tems as well as a 3D vil­lage in which you can walk about, bow­ing and curt­sy­ing to peo­ple appro­pri­ate­ly.” There’s also a tuto­r­i­al that walks you through the basic mechan­ics and UI. (It should be includ­ed in the down­load from this link.) More infor­ma­tion about Ever, Jane can be found on the pro­jec­t’s Kick­starter page.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

As Pride and Prej­u­dice Turns 200, Read Jane Austen’s Man­u­scripts Online

‘Pride and Prej­u­dice’ Author Jane Austen Will Appear on the £10 Note

Jane Austen, Game The­o­rist: UCLA Poli Sci Prof Finds Shrewd Strat­e­gy in “Clue­less­ness”

Long Live Glitch! The Art & Code from the Game Now Released into the Pub­lic Domain

Find Austen’s works in our col­lec­tions of Free eBooks and Free Audio Books

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Long Live Glitch! The Art & Code from the Game Now Released into the Public Domain

Back in 2009, a start­up called Tiny Speck (whose co-founder Stew­art But­ter­field also co-found­ed Flickr) launched a mul­ti­play­er online video game called Glitch, which won praise for its cre­ative visu­al style. Although more than 150,000 peo­ple played the game, Glitch nev­er quite found its foot­ing in the mar­ket. And, in 2012, it was shut down. But, now Glitch ris­es from the ash­es and lives again.

Yes­ter­day Tiny Speck made this announce­ment:

The entire library of art assets from the game, has been made freely avail­able, ded­i­cat­ed to the pub­lic domain.… All of it can be down­loaded and used by any­one, for any pur­pose. (But: use it for good.)

Tiny Speck … has relin­quished its own­er­ship of copy­right over these 10,000+ assets in the hopes that they help oth­ers in their cre­ative endeav­ours and build on Glitch’s lega­cy of sim­ple fun, cre­ativ­i­ty and an appre­ci­a­tion for the pre­pos­ter­ous. Go and make beau­ti­ful things.

Accord­ing to Tiny Speck, this release “is intend­ed pri­mar­i­ly for devel­op­ers and those with the tech­ni­cal abil­i­ty to take advan­tage of the struc­tured assets.”


Now, assum­ing you have some tech chops, here are some help­ful links that will get you start­ed:

Long live Glitch!

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Tim­o­thy Leary Plans a Neu­ro­mancer Video Game, with Art by Kei­th Har­ing, Music by Devo & Cameos by David Byrne

Run Vin­tage Video Games (From Pac-Man to E.T.) and Soft­ware in Your Web Brows­er, Thanks to Archive.org

Ancient Greek Pun­ish­ments: The Retro Video Game

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.