The Null Device
The Museum of Computing in Swindon, Wiltshire is exhibiting an artefact from a bizarre parallel universe of video games: a rare East German video game machine. The Polyplay was manufactured in 1985 as an ideologically sound Communist answer to Western capitalist video games. It consists of an 8-bit Russian commercial computer and a generic East German colour television (case and all) encased in a custom wooden enclosure in 1980s East German decor (which looks like 1970s Western decor). Some 1,500 units were made, many of which were recalled and destroyed at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Estimates of numbers of surviving machines range from 3 to "lots" (someone on Slashdot claims that they're more common than PacMan machines in Germany).
There were no amusement arcades in East Germany so these robust Poly Play machines were found in municipal buildings, leisure centres and swimming pools, and offered seven or eight simple games. In the mid 1980's, Westerners would have been enjoying 'beat 'em up' games such as Streetfighters or Super Mario Brothers. In stark contrast, these simple games included a variation of Pacman called 'Hare and Wolf', car-racing, ski-ing (similar to ZX 81 games), and Carnival (shooting ducks). Westerners may find it harder to relate to games such as a man chasing butterflies or Deerhunt, which may have a cultural significance for East Germans. Another game, 'Catch the drips in a bucket or drown', makes one wonder if the residents of state-owned apartments ever found themselves in a similar predicament!
Here's a BBC news story about it, in which they amusingly misspell Schiessbude as Scheissbude and come to the conclusion that it had a game named "crap booth". If you can't make it to Swindon, you can play it on MAME.
The worlds of modern art and classic video games meet in Pac-Mondrian, which is just what it sounds like. They have a Java version of the game that works in browsers, and are constructing an actual Pac-Mondrian machine for installation in galleries.
Some of the fastest-growing mobile phone markets are in Islamic countries, from Saudi Arabia to Indonesia. So is it any great surprise that there is now a mobile phone designed for Muslims? The Ilkone i800, designed in the United Arab Emirates, has as its features an Islamic/Gregorian date converter, a prayer time calculator, a device for showing the direction to Mecca and the complete searchable text of the Koran, in English and Arabic, as well as the usual polyphonic ringtones, GPRS and "exciting action games". (via Worldchanging)