Where I’ve been

08 November 2009

Me, on Bufavento Castle, in Cyprus

Up a hill, mainly.

First holiday in a year: hiking in the Five-Finger mountains in Northern Cyprus (the Turkish bit). Really excellent: sun and skies and outdoors and lots of photographs I am currently processing. Recharged batteries that were more run-down than I realised.

And, before that, I moved house again. Could have done without that, but on the plus side, the new place is lovely.

The links have still been chugging along, as you can see, and there’s been lots more stuff from me over at the BERG blog.

There should be some stuff here quite soon, though – something on loot and Borderlands (ah, Borderlands, how I love you), not to mention a few other things – so in the meantime, I hope you haven’t minded the cavalcade of links.


Back from Develop. It was very good; some good sessions, some great banter, some new friends, and my sessions didn’t go too badly. Winning all round, I think. There were two sessions I want to write some more about on Infovore when I get a chance, and I’ll also upload a tidied version of my talk in the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime: I’m off to another conference on Tuesday morning. I’m going to TEDGlobal in Oxford.


This all came about rather surprisingly and quick; I was invited along by Nokia, one of the sponsors of the event, who are covering my ticket. It’s highly generous of them, and to be honest, I’m not sure what criteria led to my selection.

But it’s not an offer you turn down; just look at the programme! I’d never afford the $4500 (yes, really) myself for a ticket, but it’s also an opportunity I’d never turn down if I got the chance.

So that’s next week, then: off to Oxford with a notebook and a camera, to have my mind filled, and, I hope, a little blown. Exciting times.

Next week is Develop in Brighton, the UK’s premiere games industry conference, and I’m going to be involved in two sessions there.

The first session is part of “Evolve“, a single day before the conference proper combining their old online and mobile tracks into something more focused on the edges of the games industry – so now including social and casual gaming as well.

With a panel of industry experts, I’ll be asking the question “What Do Social Networking Sites Have To Offer The Games Industry“:

Facebook and Myspace each have over 100m unique users. The users of these sites are not only coordinating their leisure time through them, but spending their leisure time on them, and even playing games on them. What does that mean for the games industry? How can traditional games and game companies engage with the social networks – their users, their platforms, and the core gamers already using them? Are Facebookers casual-gamers-in-waiting? This panel invites representatives from top social networks to explain what gaming means for their products, and how they can support your efforts as games developers.

Hopefully, given the panel’s strengths and expertise, we can come up with some wide-ranging – and interesting – answers.

In addition to that, as part of the conference proper, I’m going to be talking about Games As A Service: what service design is, what it means for games and products of the future, and how some of the territory Schulze & Webb has been exploring when it comes to unproduct might apply to games. It’s called Never Mind The Box: Games As A Service:

The effort and finances needed to build full retail games is growing unsustainable. But what if you weren’t making a product? What would Games As A Service look like? Services encourage loyalty; they turn products into platforms; they empower users; they play well with others and connect to existing services; and at the large scale, they wrap other products and become super-products. Using examples from inside and outside the games industry – from tiny, open-source Davids to console-licensed Goliaths – Tom Armitage examines already successful notions of service design and explores what it will mean for your games, big or small.

So that’s next week, then. Better start writing them. And if you’re going to be at Develop next week – do come say hello!

Old news, but worth an announcement: I now appear to be doing some semi-regular writing for Offworld, the Boing-Boing stable’s wonderful gamesblog. As well as making the odd post from time to time, I also seem to be writing a regular feature entitled Something For The Weekend, which each week looks at one game – which you can play right now – that I’m going to be spending some time with over the coming weekend.

So far, it’s covered Outrun Online Arcade and The Chronicles of Riddick; this week takes a turn for the indie with Popcap’s awesome Plants Vs Zombies.

If you’ve not been reading Offworld, do check it out; Brandon – the esteemed editor – is a lovely chap, it’s got some fantastic regular contributors (including comrades Rossignol, Robertson, and Parkin), a great take on the world of games and game culture that really marks it out from most of the other gamesblogs there, and a lot of fine writing. In short: worth your time.

Service announcement over. You may return to the rest of your RSS feeds.

Service announcement

17 March 2009

Just a quick note to acknowledge that things have been quiet here recently; even the torrent of links has become a steady stream. Personal life in 2009 has been rather hectic and consuming most of my available cycles. Come April, that should be over, but until then, service will be slightly sporadic and reduced. Which is a shame, as I have loads of notes and half-written posts to put live.

Until then: please remain patient, rather than unsubscribing. Thank you for your time.

What’s next

06 February 2009

Today is my final day working at Headshift. I don’t talk about work much on this blog, but this felt worth a post.

I’ve been here nearly a year and a half, and it’s been a fun ride: my first job in an agency/consultancy environment, rather than an internal role. That’s been a learning experience in and of itself. There have been lots of good projects, some of which are live already, and others which should be live very, very soon; looking forward to being able to point at one of them in particular. There was also a lot of good skills-learning, too; really getting on top of Rails, levelling up in sysadminning a bit, and lots of opportunities to balance all the code with some great interaction design work. It’s been great to have such a flexible position, and work on most of the levels the application stack, from initial design to code.

And, of course, there are the people; Headshift’s greatest assest really is its people, all of whom are fantastic in many ways, and all of whom have lots left to give. I’m going to miss them a lot; it’s always hard leaving a small company.

So what’s next?

What’s next is very exciting. Next week, I’m going to be joining Schulze & Webb, where I’ll be making and writing. More on the specifics of what I mean by “making and writing” will be coming shortly: it’s a really interesting role, and it’s the details of it that make it so.

Suffice to say, I’m very excited; Matt and Jack’s reputation precedes them, and I hope we’re going to make a lot of good stuff (and perhaps a little trouble) together.

The other interesting part of all this: although I’m a proper employee at S&W, my contract with them is for four days a week, and so I’m going to have a “spare” day, which I’m hoping to fill with all sorts of things: time to tinker on the many projects that I just can’t fit into the evenings; time to work on interesting things for interesting people; time to play. That’s going to be exciting, too. More on that another time, because the real focus for now is on the new job.

This, for me, is where 2009 really begins. It’s going to be exciting, I’m telling you.

Like a surprisingly large number of folks on the internet, the nice folks over at CBC‘s Spark saw my transcription of If Gamers Ran The World, and asked me if I wouldn’t mind doing a short interview for their radio show.

That’s due for broadcast in Canada today, but in the rest of the world, you can listen to the show online. They’ve also put up the uncut interview I did, which goes into a bit more detail. Everyone on the show was lovely to talk to, and I hope I did a reasonable job of explaining some of the thinking behind the talk to a general, public-radio audience.

Back from Pembrokeshire

05 November 2008

So I’m back from my holiday. As a reminder: I was walking around the Pembrokeshir Coastal Path, from St Ishamel’s, near Milford Haven, to St Justinian’s, near St. David’s. How did it turn out?

Broad Haven Sunset

Pretty good, I reckon. Two grey days, one soaking (which came on the way home, with the wind behind me), one wash-out (which I mainly spent in The Bench with a book and a sofa), and three gloriously bright days. I walked about 70 miles, and managed to cover all the intended ground. I stayed in a variety of accomodation with some very gracious hosts and some incredible breakfasts.

Walking alone is an interesting experience. I can’t remember the last time I’ve thought about so little (in a good way) for so long. Days went by with sporadic thoughts – individual verses of songs stuck in my head for hours on end, and when my ankles were getting almost too painful to work on, I just focused on “one foot after another” for long periods of time.

The coastal trail is particularly beautiful, but at times it feels hairy – perhaps more so, on your own. There’s usually very little between you and the edge of the cliffs, and they do get higher and more sheer as you head north. It’s an invigorating experience, but it brought tinges of Vertigo back.

But pictures like the one above from Broad Haven sum up the real memories I’m going to take home; afternoons on cliffs with no noise save the birds and the sea, and no-one else for miles. It was refreshing, and invigorating; I ate well (remarkably well the night I went to Cwtch), and read a fair few books. It was wonderful to slow down for a week.

A week later, I took the train back to London, still going at the 33rpm of Pembrokeshire. Photos going up slowly admist the bustle, but I’m trying to keep a glimpse of what going that slow feels like. It was very, very refreshing, and somewhat needed.

(If you’re interested: I booked the trip with Celtic Trails Walking Holidays who, to be frank, were excellent. They sort out accomodation along the route, and transport your bag between sites whilst you’re walking. For someone like me, who doesn’t drive, it’s a lifesaver, and it’s nice to see different scenery every day. There’s a premium for the fact they arrange everything, and also for being a solo traveller, but frankly, given they arranged the whole thing in 10 days, I was more than happy to pay it. They also supplied a fantastic welcome pack – guidebook with lovely walking maps, OS maps to cover the entire route, bus timetables, tide tables, and a decent, personal itinerary. Would recommend, and it’s also a great way to find places you like so you can stay there the next time you go back, when you arrange it all yourself…)

The other pressing event on the horizon is a holiday. A much, much needed holiday. Hurrah, etc.

I am off to Wales. Specifically, I’m off to Pembrokeshire, to walk around the coastal path for six days, and then to spend a day recovering in St. David’s (many thanks to Meg for the winning suggestion in the where shall Tom go on holiday? competition). I am going armed with little other than an itinerary, some clothes, a camera, and a big pile of books. I will be very much off-grid.

I’m looking forward to it immensely. I’m going to be walking every day, which will be a bit of an adventure, and consistently in one direction. I hope to write a little more about the how and why of the trip when I get back, but it’s looking pretty good from this end.

Off tomorrow morning; back in a week. Infovore will be a bit silent in the meantime, but normal service will resume shortly.