This week is certainly about games for me; no small coincidence that the book I'm reading at the moment is Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal. Let's continue with exploring different facets of the games industry with these videos. First up is a panel discussion at the University of California at Santa Cruz about games and playable media, featuring Jordan Mechner (best known for creating the Prince of Persia franchise), Tracy Fullerton (game designer) and Arnav Jhala (Assistant Professor of Computer Science at UC Santa Cruz). They talk about the role of games in cinema.
Games are a fascination, a pastime and a way of life for some of us at Made by Many, depending on who you speak to. This week, we're going to delve deep into games and gamification in our weekly post on interesting presentations.
Have you heard of Portal 2? Surprisingly, for what is effectively an esoteric puzzle game, you might have.
The developers, Valve, have promoted it heavily having had little success finding an agency that understood the game.
No one knows the product better than the people who made it. We’ve had many creative kick-off meetings with agencies over the years, and you’d be shocked by the treatments that have come back. Copycat treatments. Cliché treatments. Treatments that reveal the agency weren’t listening in the initial meeting."
The really interesting thing about Portal 2, though, is the humour. The original game, Portal, was funny, but as this review highlights, where "Portal was a sequence of great jokes, Portal 2 is that rare beast, an actual video game comedy – and one of the funniest ever".
I don't like toys, I've lost the imagination required to play with them, and I have too many adult pretensions to play without the inhibitions required.
Toys are great predictors of the future, though. When technology is cheap enough to be embedded in toys, then we should be paying attention.
Recently I've been tinkering with Bakugans. Toys that would probably qualify as a craze just a few years ago, but from what I can tell are still popular now.
I almost universally hate them. They're unreliable. A confused mash of game mechanics and hooks designed to extract money from children with the smallest amount of fun in return. But aren't they pretty?
At the Nesta Serious Games conference the other morning, Anjali and I listened to Mary Matthews from Blitz Games and Alex Fleetwood from Hide & Seek discuss the application of games that make a difference. Her post, The business of games is an excellent read that covers pretty much everything that happened, so here's my take on the idea of serious games and the rising requirement for everything to be playfully interactive.
This morning, Duncan and I went to ‘Serious Games’, a talk at NESTA about how games can create lasting change in fields such as education and collaborative problem solving. Mary Matthews from Blitz Games and Alex Fleetwood from Hide & Seek presented their views on the subject (in short, Mary’s central thesis was that all games should have a purpose, and that they should be part of a larger plan in order to create impact, and Alex spoke about the increasing prevalence of pointsification and badgification as distinct from the much-discussed concept of gamification; more about that on the Hide & Seek blog here).
The NESTA site already has an excellent collection of resources that were mentioned or discussed at the event, for those who are interested, so I’m not going to re-cap the event per se. I’d like to focus instead on a few key things that I got to thinking about afterwards:
Minecraft, the indie game making all the news right now, exists as a kind of incantation repeated by game designers and developers. As a backlash against the kind of emasculated experiences that purport to be playful by nature, Minecraft is a powerful weapon.
Papa Sangre, being a “video game with no video” is just the kind of obtuse idea that I like. Furthermore, it appears to be closing in on a public release, and having read a short preview of the game, I’m excited to see that there are ideas under the skin. Real ideas, too. Something that might make you wonder about more than just the social or playful dynamics. Ideas that are worth thinking about.
The games industry is incredible self-referential, to the point of obsessive cloning and stagnation, so it’s refreshing to see a game with a new approach, not just from the point of view of innovative games, but also in terms of immersive experiences. Listen to, if you will, the video below:
We use Basecamp to manage projects. It’s great for creating tasks and milestones that can be assigned to those responsible. It keeps conversations neatly organized in threads while you can attach documents/screen shots to these.
There’s loads of similar web based services out there. But although they might be easy to use, this is in no way a guarantee that people stay on top of recording (or even completing!) their tasks. A few weeks into the project you often find that the whole group, previously collaborating in one space, have moved the whole thing offline, into their separate in-boxes and what have you. Now things have turned a little bit Texas.