James Portnow wants to talk about how good games are

… and we should help him.

James Portnow from Extra Credits (and also much loved speaker at Konsoll 2012) has started a crowdfunding project called “Games for Good“. He wants to create a conversation about games that isn’t reactionary or in direct defence of games, but rather talk about the good that games do in a louder and more accessible voice. He’s observed that politicians in DC aren’t finding experts to educate and advise on game legislation and feels that we should become better at representing the industry. In this campaign he also wants us to start talking louder about games that do good and why. We’re doing something similar here in Norway with the Game Developers Guild – but I’ll write about that after Mr. Portnow explains his vision:

Honestly, I’m rather shocked that the computer game industry isn’t already heavily represented in American politics through lobbyists.

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“Hold on, we’re in charge of the machines”

I just read this brilliant interview with Aleks Krotoski in The New Zealand Listener about her new book, Untangling the Web. You should buy it NOW – I just did!


Me behind Aleks Krotoski at State of Play conference in Singapore. I told her I was a fan right before or after this was taken. I’ve never felt more like a stalker!

My enthusiasm escalated quite early here:

Dr. Aleks Krotoski, a US-raised writer, broadcaster and academic, says real serendipity in online searches or online dating, for instance, requires an aspect of “wrongness”. “I’d be fascinated if, when you hit on Google I’m Feeling Lucky, instead of delivering exactly the results that the machine thinks you want, it delivers things that are kind of wrong, and you as a human being would go, actually, that’s taken me off in a completely different direction.” Sometimes you want exact searches, she says, but sometimes you want stuff that’s a little bit different from what you are looking for.”

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Programming with children

(Pictures shamefully stolen from Lær Kidsene Koding)

Last summer I was at Edinburgh Interactive and was for the first time introduced to the highres_245711632wonderful organisation Coder Dojo, which is a program or space for young people eager to learn about programming and technology. Bill Liao, one of the founders, took the stage and started reciting a poem which really moved me. He concluded with the statement “We’re teaching our children how to read but not how to write. We’re teaching our children how to use technology but not how to create and express themselves with it.” – it really got to me.

Ever since then the subject just kept on popping into a lot of discussions and meetings I was having last winter. Of course, a lot of the meetings I was having, were with very engaged technology enthusiasts. But it was uncanny the way I could be sitting in an introduction meeting between Jill Walker Rettberg and Henchman and Goon where w ended up having an opinionated and enthused discussion about the lack of programming in Norwegian education. And this just kept happening. General consensus was that something had to be done and we might as well be the ones to do it. Meetings were had between me, Jill Walker Rettberg from Digital Culture at University of Bergen, Anne Marthe Dyvi from Bergen Center for Electronic Art, some sporadic members of The Game Developers Guild, Martin Lie, Trygve Trohaug from HackBergen and one of my favourite librarians Sverre Helge Bolstad.

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Something’s brewing in Norway – part 3

This is part 3 of a series where I’m trying to describe the lay of the land of game development in Norway. The more I dig the more astounded I am over the talent that exists here and some of the wonderful projects that are about to burst outta here! For more please read part 1 and part 2.

Moving east we arrive at one of the most exciting game developing companies in Norway, Rock Pocket Games. These days they’re developing the gorgeous looking Oliver and Spike – Dimension Jumpers:

Still not convinced? Here’s some more people drooling:

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Something’s brewing in Norway part 2

In part 1 I started introducing the game developers in Norway starting with Bergen. So far I’ve mentioned Rain (keep an eye out for them at GDC – they’ll be at the Nordic Game stand), D-Pad Studios, Henchman & Goon and Turbo Tape Games. I still have a few more I’d like to mention:

Mentalfish Mentalfish logo

This is pretty much a one-man band named Petter Sundnes. I’ve had the privilege of working with Petter on a few potential projects and I enjoy his visions and game developing skills. We’ve also worked with students together and he’s an excellent and patient teacher  while introducing Unity (I’ve even started dabbling with it). His game mechanic skills are excellent, creativity top notch and management skills are great. I hope to work more with him in the future and is my number one choice to bring along for meetings with potential new clients.

Read more about Mentalfish here.


Vostopia is slightly outside Bergen in beautiful Voss. Vostopia’s founding father is Bjarne Rene who has the most impressive game developing CV that I’ve seen around here. I keep describing him as a person with gravitas, by this I mean he is a man with experience and connections and we all value his opinion greatly. But he’s also a genuinely nice and fun guy who’s very willing to share and contribute to building a sustainable game developing industry in Norway. Here’s a little profile piece from our local paper, BT (again – in Norwegian):

Vostopia offers avatars or avatar systems for game developers. They’re very versatile and fun and I think it’s a very smart business idea. Are you creating a game in Unity I would definitely recommend having a look. Here’s their demo reel:

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Video Game Confidential: Susan O’Connor

Video Game Confidential
Susan O’Connor

Susan O’Connor knew from the age of four that she wanted to be a writer. What she didn’t know was that she would grow up to work in the videogame industry, where the audience runs wild. “In games, agency matters,” says O’Connor. “Players want to control the action.” Out of necessity and desperation, she (and writers like her) have found new ways to tell their stories.

Like magicians palming quarters, some game developers hide their plots in plain sight. Their sleight-of-hand gives players the freedom they expect and the storylines they demand. But these magic tricks come at a surprising cost. What are these game narratives telling us about our world – and ourselves?

Games in O’Connor’s portfolio have sold over ten million copies and generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. In her thought-provoking TEDxBeaconStreet talk, O’Connor spills the beans about what she’s learned about writing, illusion, and desire.

A native of Austin, O’Connor now lives in San Francisco and splits her time between game projects, TV assignments, and surfing.

Something’s brewing in Norway – part 1

I spent the better half of 2012 getting to know the Norwegian game development community. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening and I thought I’d take some time off this Sunday afternoon and write a few observations, while the local game developers are slaving away at Bergen Game Jam (over 30 participants and a good handful of women – not bad – very proud girl geek heart!).

There’s over 70 companies registered in Norway that are game developers and I’m willing to wager that there’s at least as many individuals dabbling with game development in their spare time but not taken the steps towards professionalisation yet.

Norway may be a very small country but we are also spread far and wide with massive mountains inbetween. Usually what comes out of our capital, Oslo, has the main focus, but I’m wondering if those of us who are a part of one of the “districts” of Norway are also coming into our “own”. We can debate on why later.

First off let me introduce my home town:


There’s so much excitement in the air here in Bergen. We’ve got a unique community here that is all about sharing and boosting each other’s projects. We meet once a month for beer and informal chats and it’s quickly turning into one of the highlights of my month.

At present I count 9 game developing companies in Bergen and nearby districts. I’m sure there are more, so please let me know if I’m missing something.
Rain Games
Rain is very currently adding the finishing touches to their game, Teslagrad and it looks beautiful, or as Nathan Grayson from Rock Paper Shotgun puts it:

“Titled Teslagrad, the outwardly Braid-esque (read: hand-drawn and utterly gorgeous) sidescroller deals not in time-bending, lionsheep-smacking hijinx, but instead traverses terrain by magnetizing objects and characters.”

January 17th, 2013

They’re a very passionate group of game developers and artists with a very clear vision of the worlds they are creating. They’re very dedicated to their craft and the results are obviously gorgeous. Here’s a clip of gameplay:


It should be finished and ready for release March/April 2013 – so look out for it!

Other media mentions of Teslagrad:

Indie Statik

Gamereactor (Norwegian)
Bergens Tidene (Norwegian)

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I’m extremely embarrassed that I haven’t been blogging for such a long time! I have so much to tell. I haven’t even mentioned Insert Coin here yet – which is an insult to my communications profession. Can we just say that I’ve been very busy and I’ve been having a hell of a lot of fun!

So remember how I was writing about a game event in Bergen in October? Well we frakin pulled it off!

We collaborated with several others in getting this done so the program tended to confuse people, and at certain times even ourselves. So it was a difficult concept to communicate which will be much better next year when we’ll be more independent.


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Me and the film business

So I’ve had a brief encounter with the film business the last 3 weeks and it’s been so much fun and way too much work than I had time for. I was in charge of getting extras and to be perfectly honest, I amazed myself at what I managed to accomplish and get. I have a really lovely network that are just so incredibly helpful and lovely!

It’s a web series made by the incredibly hillarious Pistol Shrimps and Flimmer Film. The webseries is amazing! I had such a great time and needed to be away from the filming as much as possible because I was in stitches. A lot of fun! But new territory for me, so I made a lot of mistakes which in return taught me so much. Scary as hell to be out of my element at this age, but so humbling! And such a privilege to be around such a lovely group of talented people!

The loveliest thing about working with these guys was that they have fans! They have inspired teenagers to tell their own stories and make their own films and I think anyone that reads my blog knows that I adore FANS! And I LOVE it when teenagers find new ways of expressing themselves.

So here’s a lovely little short that was made by two fans after our big zombie shoot on Friday! Isn’t it lovely? I think they’re great!