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  • #76
    Just noting that I added a bit to the post on Hi-Quality Builders and other construction companies about Sick Building Syndrome.

    What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
    Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


    • #77

      The wide world of video games. As a commercial enterprise, it started in 1972, with the founding of Atari and the release (not by Atari) of the Magnavox Odyssey. Craig D. Lyon has written a book, The Black and White Game Consoles: History of Early Video Games, and there is also Michael Z. Newman's Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America, about the social impact of early video games. For those interested in the history of Atari, there is Curt Vendel and Mary Goldberg's Atari Inc: Business is Fun and Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost's Racing the Beam, as well as the rather pretty to look at Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino. In the early 80s, there was a massive crash of the video game industry which hit Atari pretty hard. The documentary Atari: Game Over (2014) looks at the crash and Atari's legendary burial of thousands of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial video game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill. (One could easily see a version of this as some sort of bizarre plot by Tellus and Rainbow to corrupt a Caern or other spiritual site.)

      The next phase came with Nintendo and SEGA. Blake J. Harris (the same guy who wrote Moneyball) has done Console Wars, about how Sega became the only company to seriously challenge the NES's near total dominance of the post-Atari home gaming system landscape. There is also Jeff Ryan's Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, Sam Pettus's Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA, Nathan Altice's I am Error, David Sheff's twenty year old Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World, and Dominic Arsenault's Super Power, Spoony Bards and Silverware: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

      Sony got into the market with the Playstation. Reiji Asakura's Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation is, oddly, the only book I can find on the history of the system.

      Then came Microsoft with the X-Box. Russel DeMaria's Game of X, which is apparently split into two volumes, is an in depth look at the behind the scenes development of the system.

      As far as development and creation of actual games goes, we have Jason Shreier's Blood Sweat and Pixels and Walt Williams's Significant Zero. Tangentially, there is also David Kushner's Masters of Doom, about the people who created the landmark first person shooter. Activision was the first third-party producer of video games, and they still live on as part of Activision-Blizard, producers of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush Saga, among others. Electronic Arts is another of the current major companies, having gobbled up the companies which make Mass Effect, The Sims, Angry Birds and others (many of which they've apparently killed after milking dry).

      And for those who just want a simple overall history of the subject, Tristan Donavan's Replay is really good. Also, Dustin Hanson's Game On, Richard Stanton's A Brief History of Video Games, and Johnathon Hennessey's The Comic Book Story of Video Games.

      There are a number of YouTube channels devoted to video games, doing everything from reviews and live streaming to retrospectives and weird trivia. One of my personal favorites is Larry Bundy Jr's/Guru Larry's Fact Hunt. Of special interest is "Five Game Consoles Literally Rotting Away", which gives you a good idea of what kind of plastics Rainbow might be making.

      Fiction-wise, one can't go without mentioning TRON (1982). It ties in well with both Sunburst and Tellus, and the MCP makes an interesting idea of what could easily grow into some sort of malevolent mix of Wyrm spirit and AI. (The 2010 sequel is pretty good too.) Brainscan (1994) is very cheesy, but does offer an idea of the sort of entertainment Tellus and their game developers shoot for. I also admit to having a soft spot for the movie Grandma's Boy (2006), as a few of the characters seem like the sort of lunatics who would go far at PENTEX.

      As for where the video game world is going, and what Tellus might be able to exploit next, David Cronenberg's Existenz (1999) is an excellent film, all the more so for the idea of biologically based computers that plug directly into the players' spines. I have no doubt that many many people at Tellus are currently hard at work to make this a real thing so that they can just start downloading Banes directly into their customers' brains with little to no effort. (I recommend seeing it alongside 1983's Videodrome, which has some really good 80s OMNI stuff.) Also, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, in either book or film form.

      Regarding Tellus/PENTEX video game products, ones mentioned include Eden Online (World of Warcraft and other MMOs), Biological Warfare (Call of Duty or the various Tom Clancy games), and Clones (the Sims). It's almost certain that Tellus has it's own fighting game, one that makes Mortal Kombat look like an episode of My Little Pony (Death Match?). Most definitely something akin to Grand Theft Auto, only more violent and antisocial (Felonious Assault?). I also imagine them having something akin to Bioware's various RPGs (Wyrm Age might be too on the nose), in which the players are actively encouraged to make the choices that cause the most damage, hurt the most people, and violate societal taboos, likely by offering super cool powers for doing so.

      As far as Fomori breeds go, I imagine "Twitchers" or something like that, violent antisocial sociopaths with super ADHD who go around thinking their in a video game. (One episode from the first or second season of the British tv series The Misfits had something along this line.)

      Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-14-2018, 08:12 PM. Reason: Spellcheck

      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


      • #78
        ^^^^ Always loved Tellus. Thanks for that, No One. My favorite entry, so far.


        I'm a gamer. I'm conservative. We exist.


        • #79

          Because phones have effectively become our computers, I figured I'd take a brief moment to talk about the subject. For those of you too young to legally run for Congress, the US telephone system used to be a monopoly. AT&T's Bell Telephone System - known colloquially as "Ma Bell" - provided phone service for almost all of the US and Canada for nearly a century, until the US government forced their break up in 1983. The seven regional branches were spun off into their own companies, often referred to as the Baby Bells. MCI (Microwave Communications Inc.), the company that started the lawsuit which broke AT&T, became one of their main long distance competitors, along side Sprint and others. However, with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, this trend was reversed and you started seeing a lot of mergers and buyouts, so that by the mid two thousand teens, there were really only three real long distance telephone companies left, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. (Comcast cable company's recent efforts to merge with AT&T only continues this trend.)

          When cell phones became a thing in the 90s, you had a number of companies like Motorola and Nokia making them. Personal Data Assistants, like the Palm Pilot, were also a thing. The development of the smart phone has pretty much killed both. Motorola was bought out by Google, and Nokia sold their mobile phone business to Microsoft. From a historical standpoint, this means that any cell phone company PENTEX may have once owned has likely been taken over by Sunburst/Tellus.

          Bookwise, there's a number of books about Nokia, but Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson's Ringtone: Exploring the Rise and Fall of Nokia in Mobile Phones is the most recent and most specific about their phone business.

          A forgotten bit of 60s and 70s culture is what was often called phone phreaking, ie hacking the phone system. Abbie Hoffman and others were contributors to the Youth International Party Line newletter, an underground publication about phreaking. It's first three years have been collected in Hacking Ma Bell: The First Hacker Newsletter. Phil Lapsey's Exploding the Phone The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell is a good history of the subject. If you're doing a game set in the 60s or 70s, especially one with Glasswalkers (or those Mage guys), it might be a fun thing to explore. Likewise the idea of some really old Random Interrupt who was part of that movement in his or her youth.

          (Unrelated, but something some people might find interesting from a civil rights/social justice/etc. perspective is Harry Lang's A Phone of Our Own: The Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell about the development of phone systems for the deaf in the 1960s.)

          From a fictional standpoint, Stephen King's Cell is a pretty good book, and the sort of craziness PENTEX might be hoping to create with cell phone networks. I've not read David Jacob Knight's The Phone Company, but it's Tether system sounds like the perfect template for a PENTEX phone system, so I'm going to have to check it out soon. I've never seen any version of One Missed Call, but in a world full of spirits and ghosts, it's the sort of thing that's likely happened more than once.

          Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-14-2018, 09:10 PM.

          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)


          • #80

            Back in the old days, companies had to work to find out information about potential customers (or enemies); Now people seem perfectly happy to hand it over and even pay for the privilege.

            A generation ago, PENTEX's ICS was a combination super-computer and army of data collectors. Odds are that, a generation before that (back in the 60s and 70s), it was more private investigators with little or no scruples and less computers. I suspect that, if PENTEX had its own version of the Pinkerton Agency (see the post on private security companies), then that was a large part of their job. These days, it's probably 90% computers and only a small number of field workers. Data Mining is the term used for trying to find patterns in large amounts of information, and that's part of what PENTEX's computer system does. The recent rise of Facebook and other forms of social media just make this process even easier via social media mining, web scraping, and other methods. The term coined for all of this is surveillance capitalism. If you can imagine the TV show Person of Interest (2011 - 2016) turned on it's head and the Machine being used for evil, that's probably ICS in a nut shell. Enemy of the State (1998), The Lives of Others (2006), and Eagle Eye (2008) offer some additional ideas on the subject.

            This sort of thing gets into a lot of cyberpunk territory and various ideas from Mage. George Orwell's 1984 is a classic, and one of the aspects of Big Brother is that everyone is watched via cameras and other devices in their TV sets. This suggests the concept of PENTEX secretly watching and spying on their customers via the computers and video game systems produced by Sunburst and Tellus, as well as through cell phones, TVs and other personal electronics, smart watches and anything else they can get people to buy. (Some people are alleging that Amazon and Google are already doing this via the Echo and Home devices, getting them to listen for key words in conversations even when you aren't telling them to do something.) The Dark Knight (2008) touches on this with the use of cell phones to monitor the entire population of the city.

            Non-fiction books on this topic include Julia Angwin's Dragnet Nation, Bruce Schneier's Data and Goliath, Rebecca MacKinnon's Consent of the Networked, Jaron Lanier's Who Owns the Future? (his You Are Not a Gadget and Dawn of the New Everything are also pretty interesting), David Brin's The Transparent Society, and Danial Solove's Nothing to Hide.

            As far as the Internet as a business, AOL was (way back when dinosaurs roamed the web) a big deal. Now, they are not. I will likely talk about them a little more when I get around to OMNI, as I plan to mention the AOL-Time Warner fiasco. Facebook is, of course, the new hotness (at least for the next 14 minutes). Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires talks about the founding of the company, and the basis for the film The Social Network (2010). The Cambridge Analytical date mining scandal is still ongoing, and topic of articles in various magazines and other sources. There's also Google. Ken Auletta's Googled is interesting, though almost a decade old by now. Also, Stephen Levy's In the Plex.

            Regarding the concept of corporate supercomputers, I've mentioned TRON (1982) before. Also, Hackers (1995) is wonderful 90s cheese, that includes a nice bit of corporate fraud and eco-terrorism. And as bad as it was, Terminator: Genisys (2015) offers up a few ideas. PENTEX's supercomputer system is originally described as being this monstrous thing maintained by Black Spiral Theurges and other Wyrm-witch types, so I suspect that the thing is this massive legendary level bane fetish, perhaps having become some sort of sentient AI-spirit fusion abomination.

            And then there's the dark/deep web, where PENTEX likely has it's own version of something like Dot.Kill (2005) or Feardotcom (2002).

            Next, Project: Odyssey, then soda companies and Young & Smith.

            What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
            Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)