Tag Archives: Digital Distractions


Digital Distractions: Pokemon Go

Last week, Niantic Labs released a new mobile version of Pokemon, Pokemon Go. If you haven’t played one of the many previous Pokemon games on Nintendo consoles, the basic premise is exploring a world to capture and train adorable little monsters for a life of battles. Pokemon Go puts a twist on the model, inviting players to step outside and explore their own world while capturing monsters imposed over camera imagery. This makes for some awesome pictures (and selfies with Pokemon pre-capture) a…


Digital Distractions: Interactive Cats


With my semester hitting crunch time, I’ve been using a number of digital distractions for quick breaks in between grading and editing. The internet is, of course, great at providing cat pictures for those who turn to Facebook or Twitter for diversion — but there’s also a number of recent awesome cat-centric interactive works that can provide both cool models of interactivity and cuteness. Here are three of my current favorites:


Digital Distractions: ARGs and Endgame

A new book by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Endgame: The Calling, launched earlier this month. The book chronicles twelve players representing ancient cultures who are trying to save their societies with the fate of the world at stake. If you picked it up without knowing the full story, it would seem like a disappointment as a book: the players are presented with clues, but the puzzles and mysteries are left unsolved. This is because Endgame isn’t so much a book as the launching point fo…


Digital Distractions: Pokemon and the Challenges of Collaboration

For the past few days I’ve run the live video feed of “Twitch Plays Pokemon” in the background while I work. It’s  an incredible opportunity to watch attempted mass collaboration in action. The project is described as a “social experiment,” as it offers a live version of the classic game Pokemon Red. Pokemon Red is a Nintendo Game Boy title that first introduced American gamers to a world where capturing cute creatures and forcing them to battle one another is a popular sport. The franchise is …


Digital Distractions: Zombies, Run!

We tend to think of our digital distractions as exactly that—distractions from the otherwise productive business of our daily lives. The Zombies, Run! game, however, could just as easily fit alongside the health and wellness posts on ProfHacker. This smartphone app (available for Android and iOS devices) is essentially a running app wrapped up in zombie narrative. Each run enacts a single “mission” in post-apocalyptic world threatened by zombie hordes. You play Runner 5—a courier with a my…


Digital Distractions: The Grading Game

Exam resultsGiven the popularity of phrases like “grading jail” to describe the stress of the competing demands to offer meaningful feedback in the shortest amount of time possible, it seems unlikely that there’s any fun to be had in grading papers as part of a game, but that is the wager of The Grading Game, by modes of expression.

The Grading Game (iOS) makes you the TA of Dr. Snerpus, the meanest faculty member on campus, who dem…


Digital Distraction: Ascension


Ascension icon

In May, Cory introduced a new series here at ProfHacker. Digital Distractions are our semi-regular recommendations for that little something to help you take your mind off your work for a five- or fifteen-minute break.

One of my favorite pastimes is playing modern board games as I find it’s a great way to interact with friends and family. But on occasion you might find yourself without a partner to play against. And in that case, a digital version of a board game works great. In the coming mo…


Digital Distraction: Steam

This weekend I recommend not an individual game, but a platform for gamers called Steam. What is Steam? In some ways it’s like an iTunes for desktop video games. You download the Steam app—for Mac or Windows—and with the app you can purchase and download from a huge library of video games. Steam is also a community of gamers. You can follow other games, see when they’re online playing, or even compare progress through games. I don’t use Steam’s social features much, but I do love the platform fo…


Digital Distraction: Small World

This week, I’m going to stretch the term “digital distraction” to recommend our family’s favorite board game: Small World by Days of Wonder. Small World is a strategy game set in a Tolkien-esque fantasy world. I’ve heard Small World compared to Risk, but it has unique and randomized gameplay elements that, in my opinion, elevate it far above it’s more famous predecessors. The most thorough (and fun) explanation of the game that I know comes from the podcast Tabletop: :

If you enjoy Small World,…


Digital Distraction: DLC Quest

Many people turn to video games for their digital distraction. (See Anasasia’s review of Diablo III and my own write-up of Honey Badger Don’t Care.) DLC Quest is an entertaining video game distraction, adding a splash of old-school nostalgia with a whole lot of sarcasm and puns.

If you’ve played any modern games, then you know how some games take “DLC” (downloadable content) to an extreme. DLC Quest is a satire that pokes fun at those games by making you collect all of the coins in the game before you’re able to do anything else in the game. There are over 16 different DLC packs that you need to purchase with those collected coins. Even the game’s sound and moving capabilities are among the DLC packs that you’ll need.

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