• "Far Cry 2 is about you and death. Of course every single person you meet wants to kill you. Of course you spend about as much time fighting the environment as other persons. Of course you are clinging to the barest scrap of health and well-being; Even the malaria is trying to kill you."
  • "I spent 10 weeks last Summer as an intern on the strategy team of Transport for London's (TfL) London Rail division…. My general task was to help London Rail start to make use of the oceans of data spewing out of the Oyster smartcard ticketing system, but I spent the bulk of my time working on a project that came to be titled Oyster-Based Performance Metrics for the London Overground. I've posted my final report and slides and outline for the presentation I gave to TfL executive management." Some interesting data and information here.
  • BioWare now have a blog. It looks like it's going to be full of good stuff about games and, especially, writing for them. Can't wait.
  • "The international conference “Thinking After Dark: Welcome to the World of Horror Video Games” unites scholars who all study a corpus that has been left out up to now: horror video games. Considering the relatively slow progress of generic studies among the recent surge of academic interest towards video games, this event represents a major first step."
  • Science doctoral candidates attempt to communicate their thesis subjects through the medium of dance. The winners get time with a professional choreographer to make the whole thing better, and to see it performed by professional dancers at the end. Crazy, wonderful.
  • "this portion of moby.com, 'film music', is for independent and non-profit filmmakers, film students, and anyone in need of free music for their independent, non-profit film, video, or short… the music is free as long as it's being used in a non-commercial or non-profit film, video, or short. if you want to use it in a commercial film or short then you can apply for an easy license, with any money that's generated being given to the humane society." Moby is smart when it comes to licensing his music. I think this is a really good move, and not something you'd expect from a major recording artist.
  • "For one, there's an undercurrent of a siege mentality in journalism right now, with newsrooms cutting staff and print operations frozen stiff in the headlights of the internet. The focus on narrative and story gives a softer edge and an escape valve, though – this group is not primarily a tech-driven community, but they catch on to new developments quickly and bend them into the service of storytelling." Interesting round-up from Mike, particularly with respect to the NYT's election coverage.
  • “You know what a sign of love is, in this family? It’s if you come home and the elevator is on the ground floor,” says Linda. “Because that means whoever came home before you walked up twelve flights of stairs.” Fantastic article about Jay Maisel's house.

Back from Develop

01 August 2008

So that was Develop.

To put it in a nutshell – or at least, what I remember that can be bounded by a nutshell:

strong ideas, building bands, Kirks and Picards, theatre, cultural studies, mise en scène, horror through constraint, good individuals versus great teams, cultural studies, importing the wrong ideas about movies, rather good chocolate cakes, putting many names to faces, impromptu One Life Left appearance, listening to children, being a good teacher, nuArgs, still needing to play Chain Factor, developers’ main hatred of Flash being its lack of IDE (and static typing), all games are alternate realities, feelies, importance of good user-testing, importance of realistic user-testing, input-behaviour-control, cybernetics as model for AI, de-emphasising behaviour in favour of farming out to concepts, fish and chips in a Hove park, sea air, 2K Boston’s virgin-hiring practices, Kotaku-headline meme, lists of fantasy movies, The Final Countdown on four-player Band Brothers DX, raspberry coffee.

As for my talk, it seemed to go pretty well and people were positive. I’ll try to get it up within the week. I’ve also got some notes from a few sessions I’d like to write up, because my web and design readers might enjoy them. Doing that might make sense of some of those notes.

Thanks to everybody who made it so memorable: it was a pleasure to meet you all.

NLGD wrap-up

29 June 2008

As mentioned earlier, I spoke at the NLGD Festival of Games conference in Utrecht a few weeks ago; it’s only now that I’ve got time to write it up.

I had a lot of fun: I got to meet a lot of smart people and as well as seeing some excellent presentations, on everything from interaction design to data visualisation, from storytelling to mobile play. I also got to participate in one of the best beer tracks I’ve seen in recent years, and met lots of lovely, smart, switched-on people and talk to (and at) them at length. I’ve got reams of notes to condense at some point, and lots of happy memories; in my books, that’s a success. Many thanks to the organisers, and to everybody who made me feel so welcome and who engaged me in chat.

I’d love to put the talk online, but you’ll have to wait a few more weeks; I’m going to be presenting a slightly tweaked version of the talk at the Develop conference in Brighton (as part of its Online track). Have no fear, though: once I’m done in Brighton, the slides and notes will all be online.

In the meantime, you might be interested in a brief interview I did with Gamasutra, which is now online, and which touches on some of the topics both of my own session and the rest of the conference.

Some exciting news: I’m going to be talking at NLGD, the Dutch Festival of Games in Utrecht, in two weeks time.

I’m going to be talking about “What games can learn from social software”. There’s lots of interesting stuff going in social software and Web 2.0 as a whole that really isn’t permeating far enough into the games industry – yet – so this talk is designed as an overview of some of the more interesting (and not immediately obvious) aspects of social software, and how they might apply to games. I think it should be both fun and informative, and despite the usual pressures, I’m looking forward to writing it a lot.

The talk itself is spun out of my session at Gamecamp, which turned out to be incredibly successful – lots of great discussion and enthusiastic feedback.

And so I’m going to Utrecht. Looking forward to it, if only because it’s always exciting to attend a conference outside your core interests. I’ve spoken about games before, but never to the games industry, so that’ll be quite exciting: lots of new people to meet, lots of new perspectives to hear.


20 April 2008

It’s been linked up all over the place, but I may as well link it again: the Guardian are running Gamecamp, a one-day unconference about games and play, on the third of May, and I’m going to be there, cooking up some nefarious quiz-shaped entertainment with some of the usual suspects such as Dan, James, Lee, and a few others.

Obviously, it being an unconference, everyone attending is encouraged to talk, and I’m working on thinking up a session – but about what, I have no idea. Or perhaps I have too many. I’m hoping to do something along the lines of tight criticism – something detailed and focused. And I’m not sure what sort of games to talk about yet. But I’ll work something out, and I’m looking forward to what the other participants will bring.

Like most events suffixed -camp, it’s going to sell out fast. Tickets are available from Monday April 21st. If you’re interested in coming, good luck getting one. It’ll be fun to see you – and if you’re interested, I’ll gladly corner someone for a game of Lost Cities

My notes from Reboot 9 are now online. Forgot to mention this when I did it last week, so am now making up for lost time.

When I say “notes”, I mean my notes on other people’s talks (as opposed to the notes on my own talk, which have been much requested and which are still in the pipeline).

Anyhow, do check them out if you’re curious as to what went on. They’re vaguely useful if you weren’t there; most things in [square brackets] are me extemporising, rather than anything the speaker said.