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Links: Diana Jones Award Announces Nominees, Go Machine Goes, and HABA Asks for Submissions

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• The nominees for the 2017 Diana Jones Award for Excellence in Gaming have been announced, and as usual they cover an interesting cross-segment of the gaming community. The nominees are:

Gloomhaven, with which users of this site are probably familiar
Terraforming Mars, ditto
Gen Con, the largest game convention in the U.S., which celebrates its fiftieth anniversary in 2017
End of the Line, a LARP by Bjarke Pedersen, Juhana Pettersson and Martin Elricsson that DJA describes as "the most interesting thing to happen in Vampire for a long while [combining] two decades long traditions of LARP, American Masquerade and Nordic style LARPing."
The Romance Trilogy, a set of role-playing games from Emily Care Boss and Black and Green Games
The Beast, a card game from Aleksandra Sontowska and Kamil Węgrzynowicz published by Naked Female Giant (and available at DriveThruCards); here's a description of this creation from DJA, which falls far outside BGG's definition of a game, but which sounds enticing all the same:

Quote:
The Beast is an unsettling, erotic journaling game for one player. Each day for twenty-one days you turn up a card with a prompt on it and write a response in your journal. The game takes you deep into imagining a disturbing, secret sexual relationship you have with a beast. If there's one thing you don't see much of in hobby games, it's meaningful interior narratives, but The Beast's weird, unique brew of dark transgressions, playing as a fictional version of yourself and journaling the results, somehow surfaces real untold truths in us about how the world works, and how relationships work, and what's important in life. The Beast is memorable, transgressive, and procedurally and thematically unlike anything else you may have played.

• AlphaGo, an AI developed by DeepMind (a company purchased by Google in 2014), defeated the world's top-ranked Go player, Ke Jie, in a series of matches in China in late May 2017, and now having bested the best the program will play Go no more. In a blog following the 3-0 victory by AlphaGo, DeepMind CEO and co-founder Demis Hassabis wrote:

Quote:
The research team behind AlphaGo will now throw their energy into the next set of grand challenges, developing advanced general algorithms that could one day help scientists as they tackle some of our most complex problems, such as finding new cures for diseases, dramatically reducing energy consumption, or inventing revolutionary new materials. If AI systems prove they are able to unearth significant new knowledge and strategies in these domains too, the breakthroughs could be truly remarkable. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

As a parting gift for Go players, DeepMind offered the following:

Quote:
Since our match with Lee Sedol, [a world champion that AlphaGo defeated 4-1 in 2016], AlphaGo has become its own teacher, playing millions of high level training games against itself to continually improve. We're now publishing a special set of 50 AlphaGo vs AlphaGo games, played at full length time controls, which we believe contain many new and interesting ideas and strategies.

We took the opportunity at the Summit to show some of these games to a handful of top professionals. Shi Yue, 9 Dan Professional and World Champion said the games were "Like nothing I've ever seen before — they're how I imagine games from far in the future." Gu Li, 9 Dan Professional and World Champion, said that "AlphaGo's self play games are incredible — we can learn many things from them." We hope that all Go players will now enjoy trying out some of the moves in the set.

Those quotes will resonate with anyone familiar with Hikaru no Go and the main character's quest for the "divine move"...

• The U.S. division of HABA is running a game design contest that's open until July 31, 2017. To participate, you need to purchase a $3 design kit from HABA that includes random bits from various HABA titles, then create something for 2-5 players that plays in 15-45 minutes using at least three of the elements in the kit. If HABA doesn't sell its two hundred design kits prior to mid-June, it will bring copies of the kit to the 2017 Origins Game Fair. Sounds like a late-night challenge for fairgoers!

• The city of Nürnberg, Germany contains seven municipal museums as well as various historic sights and collections, including the German Games Archive, which contains more than 30,000 parlor games. How did I not know about this before?! Apparently I need to stay in Nürnberg a day or two after Spielwarenmesse ends in 2018 so that I can check this out.

Aside from that archive, games show up in other places as well, with Ken Fisher's card game Wizard being featured as the "showpiece of the month" for June 2017. BGG admin Emile de Maat was visiting the city in late May 2017, and at the Stadtmuseum im Fembo-Haus he ran across a "games with antiquity" exhibit (depicted below) that features modern games about olden times. On June 13, 2017, the Stadtmuseum im Fembo-Haus will feature a presentation by Reiner Knizia titled "The World of Games". Lots to check out in that city!

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