[OT] As if you were doing work…

While I find it hard to motivate this as a post in retrocomputing context, I guess, it may be appreciated by anyone with an interest in the subject. (It has actually much to do with why I personally became interested in computer history and human-machine interaction.) The thing in question is what may be called an accomplish-anything-in-a-WIMP-interface-environment simulator and is somewhat of a (web-based) game (we do not do games here), and it is certainly amusingly frustrating and nostalgic at the same time.


The author is Pippin Barr, assistant professor in the Department of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montréal. Here’s a bit of background information on the project: https://github.com/pippinbarr/itisasifyouweredoingwork/tree/master/press

It is as if you were doing work had been around for a long time before I really managed to start working on it properly. I actually documented the original moment that sparked that game in a blog post titled Close analysis of having a game idea - basically I was watching Rilla resizing an image while working on a project and suddenly felt like it would be amazing to have a game entirely premised on totally conventional operations with traditional user-interfaces.

The page also includes a short promotional video:

Via HN, discussion at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23430671

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Very realistic! A good mix of inspirational nonsense coupled with an artificial motivation to do more. It does have a relaxing familiar Windows 95 feel to it - but it lacks a number of the usability features, I think.

“It’s relatively fast-paced, and that makes it an interesting game. It seems to be a reasonable compromise between action — pushing buttons — and thought. Thought does help you, and there are some tactical considerations, but just plain reflexes also help.”

Surprisingly, this is not a general description of working with modal interfaces, especially in a corporate environment, but Steve Russell on Spacewar (found on p.55 of Stewart Brand’s “II Cybernetic Frontiers”, the extended book version of the “Fanatic Life & Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums” Rolling Stone piece.) :slight_smile:

Just to pick up on this, and somewhat thinking aloud:

wall of text in here

I think I’m right in saying that this idea might go back to early 2013 or even late 2012, when the Retrocomputing Community was started on G+, when we were thinking about how to attract the kinds of conversations we wanted. We were particularly concerned, as a niche interest group, in being overwhelmed by topics which are much more mainstream. We felt it was OK mainly because there were plenty of new Communities springing up which catered for retrogaming and which typically hosted platform-specific conversations. There was nothing to stop people joining as many communities as appealed to them, so relatively narrow definitions of what was on-topic was no great constraint.

Similarly we preferred to discourage discussion of beige boxes in the PC line, because there had been such an explosion of brands and models, and popularity. So again the concern was with being overwhelmed: for every posting about Sinclair or Atari there might be ten about PCs, which could ultimately discourage the conversations we wanted.

For me, discussion of games on retrocomputers - how they are made, how they are designed, how they make best use of the platform - is potentially very interesting, whereas discussion of gaming - the experience of playing games - much less so. If the platform isn’t a retrocomputer, that’s probably not on-topic. Just possibly, as in this case, the mechanics of the game might relate to retrocomputing, even if the platform doesn’t.

For me there’s a particularly interesting genre of games, namely games which include an element of programming, especially if programming a suitably retro target.

Here’s one of that genre:

This parallel-processing assembly-language game has a very good reputation:

“This processor is unlike any you have ever seen”. Unless you have worked with Chuck Moore’s recent products like the GA144.

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