"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.
"We create physical, social games for public space. Our games get people moving and talking. They stimulate their creativity and get them to connect." Kars has a name for his new venture.
"The interesting, or arguably uninteresting, thing about this programme is that it is completely lacking in any sort of narrative arc. All the other programmes on Saturday night are a gift for a narratologist: with their judges’ scores, audience votes and dance-offs/sing-offs, they are all crisis, crescendo and narrative resolution. But Hole in the Wall is different. It’s just celebrities going through these differently-shaped holes in the wall, again and again and again… Hole in the Wall is the groundhog day of Saturday evening light entertainment." Saturday-night audiences like a good plot.
"Fresh data straight out of our uber warehouse: As the news breaks, scrobbles soar as people go to pay tribute to one of the greatest pop artists of all times." I really didn't want to talk about this story at all – but at least there's some interesting data about it. So have some data.
"Pincus said game-based activity like this was an investment of what he called “social capital,” a means of maintaining contact with our growing network of friends and acquaintances. If the industry further emphasized this advantage in future games, Pincus argued with charming bullishness, social gaming could become as pervasive as social networks themselves."
'With Facebook Connect coming to Xbox 360 later this year, could we see similar connectivity between Xbox 360 and Facebook games? "Absolutely," Facebook's head of platform Ethan Beard told me back at E3. "Yeah, totally. That's a simple one — that's an easy one. There's probably things that we haven't even thought of [coming later]."' Hmmn. Worth a quotation, at least.
"…once we return to the sun, late on in our economic history, are we still innocent enough to view it this way? The sun isn't so very different from the Beatles back catalogue – there's a lot of it around, you can't control it, we value it highly, it's a 'public good problem' – but the Beatles are subject to various legal and political protections, most recently retrospective copyright extension. If EMI are allowed to profit from music that they didn't create, might not North Africa have some right to profit from energy that it didn't create?" Some brilliant stuff from Will Davies
"Prayer is an appropriate analogy: So many prayers are poems, and most are repeated to the point at which they become pure sound, a soothing sequence of syllables which remind us of something. “Hallowed be thy name” is not a phrase, for example, which immediately gives up its meaning in everyday English, and yet it still comforts those who intone it. The shipping forecast shows a bit, I think, how both poems and prayers work." A top trump of the web today: S3FM, RIG, the shipping forecast and numbers stations all in one post. Blimey.
28 April 2009
I’ve written about Skate before, in the context of designing online games for a generation of players used to a world where they are in control, and where everything is shareable. Writing last year, I said:
I find Skate exciting because it’s a prime example of a game that understands Generation C; it allows players to share game-information outside the game – and in a manner that is so much more easily referenced, due to it having a permanent link – just as they share movies, photos, and blogposts.
The original Skate had an impressive community website, for sharing screengrabs and videos. It wasn’t without faults, though – it was very difficult to permalink to, as every request to Reel (the video-sharing community) first asked you what country you were in, and then redirected you to a homepage, rendering the permalink useless.
How refreshing, then, to see the improvements made to the new Reel site for Skate 2, released at the beginning of this year. Now, permalinks are encouraged – here’s an example – but the concessions to creative end-users go several steps further.
Once you’ve uploaded a video, Reel not only lets you view it and share it with friends, but also now provides proper good embed code, making it trivially easy to re-contextualise the video on your own site. Even more remarkably, though, Reel allows you to download the FLV (flash video format) file for the video, so you can upload it somewhere else – Youtube, Flickr, Revver, wherever you store your video. Here’s a video of me skating a short session – just click on it to watch:
They let you download the FLV! That’s brilliant. Because, you see, even though Reel is good, it’s not where my friends are; my friends are on Youtube and Flickr. When the first game was out, smart Skate-rs wanting to upload their videos to Youtube had to rip the FLV file by peeking into the source of the page; now, EA are enabling them to do that licitly. The file is, after all, still watermarked with the Skate 2 logo, still understood as a fragment of that product – so what if somebody wants to tweak it in iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, or cut it into a best-of compilation, or re-upload it to Youtube? They created the content, and so they should be free to do what they want with it.
The web facilitates and encourages this – the FLV file was always present, it was just obfuscated. By adding an explicit download link, EA demonstrate that they understand not only the fact that you want to share your footage, but also the reasons why you might want to share it, and also that they understand their place in the ecology of the web. They’ve provided the hard part: exporting video from a 360 or PS3 to the web. Now, you should be free to do what you want with it.
EA have even released a downloadable pack with more advanced cameras for filming replays – cameras that can track and follow motion-controlled patterns, for instance. Whilst you could argue that this functionality should have been free, it’s interesting to note an add-on for a game that’s about creativity and sharing, rather than gameplay – and more interesting to note that as well as providing more tools, the “filmer pack” also bumps the amount of video you can store online nearly four-fold.
The Reel site for Skate 2 is a great example of the enabling of permanence, and ‘going where people are”, that I discussed in my talks at NLGD and Develop last year. It’s also an interesting example of the kind of social play that’s much more common than simultaneous, co-operative play – namely, the sharing of play experiences around or after the fact; the objects that emerge out of play. That’s something I talked about at Playful last year (and which, I discover, shamelessly isn’t online yet. Will rectify that soon!) As ever, it’s always exciting to see real-world, big-money, examples of good practice in action. And, as a bonus: here’s my profile on Reel.
(I’ve been meaning to write this post for ages, and it’s been sitting in my draft folder for way too long. If in doubt: just release it into the world)