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Worth Reading: 03/07/2014

Gain insight into the evolution of Irrational Games, speculation on the future of games and gambling, and lots more.

People know my aversion to directly influencing crowdfunding, but there are exceptions to every rule.

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Brandon Boyer is the chairman of the Independent Games Festival, and has been instrumental in the independent gaming scene. His fingers are everywhere, even if you can't always see them. He's helped make some of the games you love come alive, and his passion has helped develop a community that is now poised to become a deeply influential part of the industry.

He's also more than $100,000 in debt, thanks to cancer. His full story is on GoFundMe, but the short version: he got screwed. Even though the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, that didn't kick in until this year. Unfortunately for Brandon, he became sick in 2013, and he's now stuck with an enormous bill.

Even if you can't donate, think about sharing the link. And if you're looking for a way to get some games and feel good about helping a person in need, Devolver Digital is running a Humble Bundle with games like Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior. There are even some movie 'n stuff! You can't really go wrong.

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And You Should Read These, Too

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Damn. Bravo, Chris! The Polygon reporter spent time with a bunch of Irrational Games employees, and came back with this report about the tumultuous development of BioShock Infinite. There are probably more stories to be shared in the future, but there's much to be gleaned about life within Irrational from here. By the end, there's little surprise that big changes have come to Irrational. Possibly the most fascinating bit? How much better the studio seemed to work with deadlines and structure, both of which, ironically, disappeared after BioShock's success. In another universe, maybe things turned out differently.

"Many former employees believe Irrational would not have shipped BioShock Infinite without Fergusson. As one source puts it, 'Rod insulated the team, but also earned Ken's trust and didn't interfere with Ken's creative vision.'

As VP of development, Fergusson served as the practical, metrics-minded foil to Levine's creative method. And according to sources, Levine benefited from the structure and deadlines. One source says Levine actually excelled under restraint; that, given a deadline, he and the studio did their best work."


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We joke about how the psychology driving some F2P games is no different than gambling, but it's easy to forget Zynga actually partnered to launch an online gambling portal in the UK. Legal reasons are the only hurdle stopping something similar from happening over here. Jon Nathanson's piece walks through some of the legal changes probably coming, and how we might see a domino effect that results in online gambling establishing in the US. He makes a leap regarding the involvement of game developers, but it's not a big one.

"The biggest roadblock facing Zynga, and anyone else, is the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. Originally drafted as a last-minute rider on a port security bill, the UIGEA has been used to prohibit companies from offering Internet-based poker, sports books, and games of chance to Americans. Its passing put an end to a decade-long gold rush in online gambling in the U.S., led by sites such as Bodog, PokerStars, and Full Tilt Poker. A series of indictments, issued most notably in United States v. Scheinberg, showed that federal authorities were willing to prosecute broadly and aggressively on behalf of the UIGEA. In Scheinberg, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara alleged that the founders of PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Cereus (Absolute Poker) were guilty of bank fraud and money laundering as a result of transferring funds to and from players online. PokerStars and two other defendants agreed to forfeit over $731 million to settle the case, and PokerStars was permitted to continue business operations."

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Patrick Klepek on Google+