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Duncan Gough

Duncan is a Creative Technologist with a particular passion for gaming. He is a co-founder and CTO of GameLayers, a games company based in San Francisco, where he co-created a passively multiplayer game called The Nethernet.

When Movies Did This, Games Did That

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".


Facebook Is The Ultimate "Minimum Viable Product"

Like many people, I've considered deleting my Facebook account. Not out of spite, or the desire to make a stand, but mainly because it's no longer useful. I've met all the people I'm going to meet on Facebook, and I struggle to see the value in remaining a member.

Whenever I seriously think about deleting my account, though, I can't go through with it.

It might be that I'm holding out for some of those long-lost friends to get in contact. I keep the Facebook beacon alight and fire the occasional flare into the internet, where I know the people who don't Twitter or Instagram will see me.

Searches for "delete facebook" on twitter


But that's not really it, and now I see what keeps me connected to Facebook when the value in the service has disappeared:


A Plateau Of Toy Technology

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?


Instagram and Creative Blindness

Over the last month it's been exciting to watch Instagram grow within Made By Many. Tim's post Quora is from Mars, Instagram is from Venus talks about the "simple pre-verbal delight of sharing something beautiful by showing it to other people" and that's the heart of the attraction. Instagram is incredibly casual, it doesn't demand you share your location, and the community is clearly encouraged to "like" other photos, rather than submitting comments, or rating pictures.

My first reaction to realising how much and how often I checked the Instagram feed was to start thinking about an API. Perhaps that's a natural reaction, wanting to build things on top of a successful, social application, but I'm becoming more convinced that it's also the wrong one.


A Short Post About Gameification

Whatever people say it is, gameification isn't about games.

Mind you, enough people are saying it's not about games already. So I'll tell you what gameification is about, and it's called community building.

Amy Jo Kim wrote Community Building on the Web a good few years ago. Enough time has passed for those lessons to have been incorporated into a lot of the more successful websites of the last boom, and clearly enough time has passed for those lessons to have been forgotten.

Now that everyone is on Twitter and Facebook, we've forgotten how to build communities on our own. We've out-sourced authentication to anyone with a big enough social graph, and in doing so most websites now import your friends into their service, losing the knowledge of why people visit and why they tell their friends.