(downtimetown.com) Here in Seattle, the geeks, dorks, nerds and Microsofties have gone completely wackadoo for a board game called “The Settlers of Catan.” You’ve never seen anything like it, unless you’ve logged some time under a Dungeon Master. Parties will actually stop dead, or split in two, as large numbers of believers gather round a table and play a board game while the Xbox sits forlornly in a corner, remembering when that Metallica-themed “Rock Band” made it the most popular geek implement in the house. DowntimeTown is a website that caters to this New Geekery pretty much wholesale—it features critical reviews of board games old and new, previews of upcoming games and loving close-ups of “Magic: The Gathering” cards. (There’s a tiny section on video games, but it seems mostly neglected.) I don’t know if this site will ever get me to sit down at a table where “Settlers” is being played, but it’s nice to read an acknowledgement of the gaming traditions that reigned supreme in the thousands of years before the Wii.
(lostworldsfairs.com) I would rather be at a World’s Fair right now. There’s a stunningly beautiful expo taking place in Shanghai through Oct. 31, and I truly wish I could be there to see it. Taking it further, I wish I could have seen Expo 2000 in Hanover, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and the Atlantis World’s Fair of 1962. The pressurized greatness of the latter is only hinted at in “Lost World’s Fairs,” a tribute site for Atlantis and two other World’s Fairs—El Dorado 1924 and The Moon 2040—whose nonexistence doesn’t change the fact that all are about hope. Even when stripped of an actual bricks-and-mortar fairground, the World’s Fair concept has just about the same impact: In the end, World’s Fairs are all about imagined possibilities, our hopes for the future and some really cool fonts. While the only place that the El Dorado, Atlantis and Moon Expos will ever exist is on this website, you hardly mind because the graphics and fonts are tip-top. I wonder what fonts will be like … in the future?
(dotty-dots.appspot.com) This one takes me back. Dotty Dots reminds me of the early days of the Interwebs, back when pages that showed off a certain kind of animation were a dime a dozen. This simple Web app does two things: It allows you to write out a phrase in multicolored dots, and to scatter and swirl those dots by mousing over them. It’s so basic that it’s kind of brilliant, and damn if it isn’t big fun to play with for minutes at a time.