On a nar­ra­tive lev­el The Shaw­shank Redemp­tion is a movie about the pow­er of hope in the face of extra­or­di­nary hard­ship. But under­pin­ning Andy Dufresne’s sto­ry we also find a blis­ter­ing cri­tique of the prison sys­tem and crim­i­nal jus­tice pol­i­cy in the Unit­ed States.

It’s pos­si­ble to build a Tur­ing machine with­in Mag­ic: The Gath­er­ing

It may be a high­ly unlike­ly sce­nario, but a recent paper post­ed on the physics arX­iv proves that it’s pos­si­ble in prin­ci­ple to build a sim­ple com­put­er with­in this mas­sive­ly pop­u­lar table­top game using just the right com­bi­na­tion of Mag­ic cards. While the inputs must be pre-pro­grammed, “Lit­er­al­ly any func­tion that can be com­put­ed by any com­put­er can be com­put­ed with­in a game of Mag­ic,” said co-author Alex Churchill, a long­time Mag­ic fan who has been work­ing on the prob­lem for sev­er­al years.

I could swear there’s more talk about role-play­ing games than ever. My gut tells me that pop­u­lar­i­ty is rapid­ly increas­ing. A few facets of thought:

  • Crit­i­cal Role — a show chron­i­cling the dra­mat­ic adven­tures of voice actors lead by the amaz­ing Matthew Mer­cer as Dun­geon Mas­ter — has been explod­ing on YouTube and Twitch.
  • Peo­ple are start­ing to 3D print their own game minia­tures and have built strong com­mu­ni­ties on Red­dit and YouTube.
  • There’s a brand new Dun­geons & Drag­ons starter set com­ing out, and it’s exclu­sive to Tar­get (yeah, where you buy your hand soap and tow­els).
  • LitRPG is a new fic­tion genre that’s only a few years old, but is grow­ing and has become quite pop­u­lar in audio­book for­mat. The genre fea­tures sto­ries about the char­ac­ters play­ers become inside a game, whether they know so or not.

It’s all cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence and intu­ition on my end. What do you think?

What hap­pens when you mix Swedish pop music, Japan­ese visu­al kei cul­ture, and prob­a­bly a few too many Anne Rice nov­els? This — total­ly this.