The Descent of the Serpent is a Zelda-like game that’s chock full of actual history.
Google’s Arts & Culture division has released a charming new educational game all about ancient Mesoamerica. The game, The Descent of the Serpent, is available to play right now in your browser or via the Google Arts & Culture iOS and Android apps.
There’s a light plot to Descent of the Serpent, shown in a short video that plays at the beginning of the game. While exploring a museum, a large artifact is stolen by Tezcatlipoca, the Lord of the Smoking Mirror, and a living statue asks for your help to recover 20 icons included on the artifact to prevent floods from taking over the world. You, naturally, agree, and the statue says they’ll send you back in time to ancient Mesoamerica.
You’ll be able to pick from one of four adorable animal “disguises” for your characters that all have roots in Mesoamerican culture. I picked Huitzilopochtli, represented by the wolf, but you can also play as Xolotl (the dog), Xbalanque (the jaguar), and Mictlantecuhtli (the owl).
The game, which was made in partnership with Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology, plays kind of like a simplified top-down The Legend of Zelda title. You’ll roam lush (though small) environments to collect the missing icons, which show up as gold coins. When you pick up one of the icons, the game will present a little bit of history about what it is and point you to an exhibit on the Google Arts & Culture website if you want to learn more.
While exploring the world in Descent of the Serpent, you’ll also have to dodge simple obstacles like roaming crocodiles and monkeys throwing things at you. On the game’s easier difficulty, getting hit just stuns you for a short while. But on the “challenge” mode, you’re on a timer and get sent back to the beginning of the level after taking five hits, so you’ll have to be careful. I’d recommend most people just stick with the standard difficulty — I don’t know if this is a game that is much better by being any tougher.
More games are being used to teach history
Descent of the Serpent is just the latest educational web experience from Google’s Arts & Culture group, which has already made things like a collaborative jigsaw puzzle app and the awe-inspiring blob opera. And Descent of the Serpent is also part of a trend of games being used to teach history, like Ubisoft’s educational versions of Assassin’s Creed and Take Two’s CivilizationEDU.
I’m only partway through The Descent of the Serpent, but I very well may finish the game on my own sometime soon. It’s been a fun way to learn more about a culture I’m not very familiar with, and I really want to spend some more time with my wolf buddy. After I’m done, I might have to play a round of Google’s pétanque — or make a song with the blob opera.
The sincerest form of flattery.
I had little interest in Apple’s Dynamic Island, but once a developer built their spin on the idea for Android, I had to give it a try.
Surprisingly, I’ve found I actually like it, and while dynamicSpot isn’t as well-integrated as Apple’s version, it makes up for it with customization. Nilay’s iPhone 14 Pro review asked Apple to reverse the long-press to expand vs. tap to enter an app setup. In dynamicSpot, you can do that with a toggle (if you pay $5).
Image: Richard Lawler
The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.
This summer, a former Twitter employee who worked on platform and content moderation policies testified anonymously before the congressional committee investigating the violence at the US Capitol on January 6th.
While she remains under NDA and much of her testimony is still sealed, Anika Collier Navaroli has identified herself, explaining a little about why she’s telling Congress her story of what happened inside Twitter — both before the attack, and after, when it banned Donald Trump.
But how does it sound?
Our review of Apple’s new AirPods Pro can tell you everything about the second-generation buds. To find out how you’ll sound talking to other people through them, just listen to Verge senior video producer Becca Farsace.
The Bootleg Ratio.
Policy Editor Russell Brandom digs into a phenomenon we’ve all seen on social media before:
I call it the Bootleg Ratio: the delicate balance between A) content created by users specifically for the platform and B) semi-anonymous clout-chasing accounts drafting off the audience. Any platform will have both, but as B starts to overtake A, users will have less and less reason to visit and creators will have less and less reason to post.
And now it’s coming for TikTok.
The latest Alex Jones defamation hearing is not going well for Alex Jones.
The Infowars host has already been hit with millions of dollars in damages for spreading lies about Sandy Hook — but today’s hearing suggests he could be on the hook for even more.
Here’s a look at a few Pixel Watch watchfaces.
Google is ramping up the marketing machine ahead of next month’s Pixel 7 and Pixel Watch event and has released a short video (via 9to5Google) highlighting the design and showcasing some of the watchfaces it will have. Most of them are quite simple, with just the time being displayed.
These videos always look great from a marketing perspective, but I think they poorly reflect how I actually use a smartwatch. I want the computer on my wrist to show me useful information like weather, calendar appointments, timers, etc, which means it’s never as sparse or simple looking as it is in these ads.
Please stop trying to order the Hummer EV.
GMC is closing the order books for the Hummer EV truck and SUV after receiving 90,000 reservations for the controversial electric vehicle, according to the Detroit Free Press. It just can’t seem to keep up with demand, so the GM-owned company has decided to stop taking orders until production picks up. Maybe if the Hummer’s battery wasn’t the same weight as a whole-ass Honda Civic, it would be easier to manufacture, but I digress.
GMC is the latest automaker to run into the problem of EV demand far outstripping supply. Ford also is having difficulty making enough F-150 Lightnings and Mustang Mach-Es to fill all its orders. Waitlists for most available EVs are longer than my arm. Things are going to be tight until the auto industry is able to bring more battery factories and assembly plants online, and unfortunately that could take a while.
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Tesla recalls 1.1 million vehicles to prevent drivers from getting pinched by the windows.
The issue is that the windows would not recognize certain objects while closing, which could result in “a pinching injury to the occupant.” It’s a pretty enormous recall, covering some 2017-2022 Model 3, 2020-2021 Model Y, and 2021-2022 Model S and Model X vehicles.
Tesla said it would issue a fix via an over-the-air software update. Notably, nobody has been been injured or killed by Tesla’s ravenous windows, but I wouldn’t recommend sticking your fingers in there just to see what happens.
Congress is trying to make Google pay news outlets for links again.
The controversial Journalism Competition and Preservation Act — which would let news publishers negotiate payments for being linked by sites like Google — suffered a setback earlier this month thanks to a surprise Ted Cruz amendment trying to limit the platforms’ moderation options. After some negotiations between Cruz and sponsor Amy Klobuchar, it’s back for markup today, and it’s got critics even more worried than before.
Twitter asks a court to make its whistleblower reveal if he contacted Elon Musk.
The Delaware Court of Chancery has issued another couple decisions in the fast-upcoming Twitter v. Musk trial. It’s letting Musk add allegations that Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko received a $7.75 million payout from the company. Meanwhile, it punted on a Twitter request for details about whether Musk or his associates knew about Zatko’s whistleblower claims before he took them public — Twitter and Musk’s lawyers will fight that out in a September 27th hearing.