• "My main point brings me back to Pretending Apps. Because there are lots of other things you can steal from games, many other aspects of gaming that people find appealing and some of them might be more easily and usefully extracted." Yup. This was one of my main beefs with the whole "let's make everything playful/gamey!" trend that kicked off a few years ago: "game-y" was associated with "having points", and really, that's not what makes a game at all. (Other things that make a game: pretending, as Russell mentions, and visible mechanics, as I think I have to write about soon).
  • "There seems to be some sort of consensus that the highest form of play is fully immersive, interactive live theatre. Well not for me. The rhetoric of these things is often about people making their own choices, being free to act, creating their own narrative, etc, etc. And I always end up feeling like a piece, a pawn." Totally; not for me, either, though I'm not totally into "Social Toys" either – but Russell's points are perfectly valid and sensible. (I do like theatre, though). Probably ought to write more than a few hundred characters on this.
  • Solid illustration comedy gold, mainly from the 70s and 80s.

Quick heads-up about two upcoming events:

first, I’m going to be talking at Playful, a one-day event run by Pixel-Lab as part of the London Games Fringe. It’s got a fabulous line-up, is at the beautiful Conway Hall, and is a steal at twenty-five quid. If you’re wondering whether or not you should go, then yes, you should. If you’re wondering what I’m doing there: a short twenty-minute session (as they all are, in fact), entitled Everything Is Multiplayer Now. It’s a remixed, rejigged, and heavily updated take on some of the ideas in Playing Together.

I’m going to shoot off shortly after I’ve spoken there – not because of the quality of the afternoon line-up, because let’s face it, it’s cracking – but because I’m making my way to Nottingham for the remnants of Gamecity, a three-day games festival (that begins on Thursday the 30th). It’ll be a shame to miss the first day, but I’m hoping to catch Jonathan Coulton and his Zombie Choir, not to mention the excellent events on Friday and Saturday.

As part of that, I’ll be giving a lunchtime session on Saturday, in the Mogal-e-azam Indian restaurant. That’s going to be entitled “A World Run By Gamers“. The brief precis I supplied looked something like this:

It’s more likely than ever that in the coming years, people with power – political, industrial, corporate, technical – will have played videogames. And not just had a passing experience with them; they may actually be what we might term “gamers”. In the coming years, the world will face such as impending recessions, peak oil, and global warming (not to mention all manner of other difficulties over the horizon). And it’s not just impending disaster; there are all manner of positive challenges we’re going to have to rise to. What have videogames taught the leaders and innovators of tomorrow? What are the necessary skills for the 21st century that gamers have been learning for years? What can we learn from games, and what can gamers – and game designers – take to other industries and sectors? Tom will examine these questions with reference to MMOs, football management, survival horror, twitch-shooters, beat-em-ups, and more, with barely the briefest reference to SimCity.

Which, you know, could be interesting. And if it’s not, then the food will be good (and you know the rest of the festival will be awesome).

So: end of the month, lots of stuff about games in London and Midlands, and that’s where I’ll be.