Tag Archives: gaming

Fed Ex as a game engine

This is the delivery schedule I got this morning from Amazon.  I’m waiting for a pair of headphones.  As you can see, these are “out for delivery” and should arrive today.

I looked at this and thought, “but surely there’s a game waiting to happen here.”  It would take a detailed knowledge of Amazon delivery routes and membership in Amazon’s “free delivery” club, but it should be possible to game the system.  (I should leave this to the likes of Kevin Slavin and Jamin Warren, but lets see how far I can get on my own.)

Using FedEx as a game engine opens several possibilities.  For instance, we would see how close we could come to making two packages pass in transit.  Could we make two packages run through Maspeth, New York at the same time?

Here’s what we know:

1) The system is out there and moving packages in any case.

2) We can discover where a package was at any given moment.

3) We can use this data to work the delivery system.

4) This mechanical system could be used for some other purpose.  We can set objectives and competitions.  

This is a culturematic in the spirit of Bill Winkenbach’s Fantasy sports invention.  Bill said, look, the NFL throws off all this data.  Let’s use it for another purpose.  Let’s use to create an alternate sports reality.  

So working the system as a system is really just the beginning.  We could treat packages as game pieces on a chess board.  We could treat them as balls in a pinball machine.  We could set up one of those flash boards that pinball machines have and run up numbers as someone succeeds in sending a package to Maspeth, then Hartford.  Oh, damn, he missed Stratford!

FedEx as a game engine.  That’s the idea, I think.  

Kill Screen, a new resource for the CCO

This is promising. 

Those of us who study culture watch for new windows.  Kill Screen may be one of these.

So when I read this paragraph, I reached for my wallet and signed up immediately.

The idea for Kill Screen was born while Jamin Brophy-Warren  was hanging out with pal and fellow Pitchfork writer Chris Dahlen in March 2009 at the Gamers Developing Conference in San Francisco.  The two began commiserating over the lack of a Tom Wolfe or Chuck Klosterman of video game writing. “Sure there were tons of bloggers dedicated to the subject,” Jamin says, “But there wasn’t anything high-end and intellectual publication on gaming. So we said, let’s do this.”

The gaming world is a kind of laboratory in which cultural definitions of self and world are being reworked, cultural rules and tolerances tested and refined.  Actually, laboratory might not the wrong metaphor.  What makes the gaming world so exciting is that it operates more like a skunk works, less academic deliberation and more creativity in real time.  In either case, if Kill Screen lives up to its objective, it will be necessary reading for the CCO.  


Boyd Myers, Courtney.  2010.  Kill Screen Magazine: what does it mean to play games.  PSFK. June 4. here.

Edery, David, and Ethan Mollick. 2008. Changing the Game: How Video Games Are Transforming the Future of Business. FT Press.  

To subscribe to Kill Screen, go here.  


Thanks for PSFK for the head’s up on Kill Screen Magazine.