Interactive Australia 2007

The Centre for New Media Research & Education (which looks really cool, by the way) at Bond University in Australia has published a report that:

“…provides data on who is playing games in Australia, what their attitudes and behaviours are like compared with non-gamers, the nature of the games market, the importance of games in the family experience and the role of online access in game purchasing and play.
The study is based on a national random sample of 1,606 Australian households who responded to more than 75 questions and over 300 data points in a 15-minute online survey run by ACNielsen Surveys Australia in late September 2006. Two units of analysis are explored in the study: the household and the player individual within the household.”

It’s interesting data. Nothing that really surprises me – but nice to see such reports finding nice little heartwarming details such as:

“Parents and children are increasingly playing together. 35% of gamers are parents.”

I would really like to see the questions asked though, because it seems just a tad too optimistic – too good to be true, in a way. But then I’ve always been skeptical to such things as I’ve done my fair share of phone surveys. ;)

The Future

So I’m sitting at my desk at university going through my thesis because I’m finally going to defend it in 2 weeks! I’m also extremely honoured and excited because I’ve been asked to be a guest lecturer for HUIN 206 & 307: Critical Approaches to Technology and Society 1&2. I’m kinda caught in the middle between scared to death with what on earth I can say of any relevance and the excited jumping up and down feeling of “YES!!!! I’ve been wanting to present this stuff for AGES!!!”. It will be fun to see which feeling wins the scale of balance when I walk in there. Either way it is a perfect opportunity for me to practice my defense by working on my presentation.

Reading through the thesis isn’t half as bad as I thought it would be. It was good to take a break and read it more calmly now – I’m not 100 % pleased with it – in fact – far from it – but I’m more calm about seeing what I’ve done wrong and what needs a little bit more analysis and explaining. It’s kinda fun, you know!!!

Also, I’ve come in to university today to start working on an outline for a research fellow position that’s opened up at the department. I’m not sure I stand a chance – but I’ll hate myself if I don’t try. Department politics seems to be central on my mind. What would that professor like me to write about, what would that one – and how do I present this to convince them that they really want someone researching this stuff here – they just didn’t know it before? I think I’d love to move on to Machinima. But that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. Thought I’d read a few articles and see which angle I want to focus on. The department is really focused on democracy and media – so I’m wondering if I can lure them in somehow with ‘voices of the people’ or something. Sigh. I’ll think of something. It’s running around in my head full speed – but if you have any suggestions you’re welcome to throw them this way.

In the mean time I’ve been to a few interviews for jobs and my financial situation is making me desperate! Job hunting would be fun if I didn’t have to worry about my bills at the same time! I’ve really enjoyed all the interviews – but there’s really only been one who’s job was exciting and inspirational – and it’s in Oslo – waiting to hear from them tomorrow or Friday. It was just so extremely lovely being at an interview where I could actually talk ‘shop’ and not ‘fake’ being excited. I really genuinely was. It’s easy to put my life on pause and hold my breath till I know if the job’s mine or not – but I can’t.

I knew this would be a weird time in my life. It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities of the future – but at the same time it’s hard not to have moments of depression and self doubt. I need to feel I’m going somewhere though! So yesterday I started jogging – hehe! Didn’t get very far – but I’m hoping this will turn out to be a daily thing and notice my body getting fitter and fitter. I’ve got way too much ‘thesis’ plus ‘holiday’ fat to get rid of!!! It’s my own psychological treatment!

So we’ll see just what happens! Maybe I’ll end up with a job at my local grocery store – they’re always so friendly! Or maybe I get to work on a PhD? Or maybe I’ll move to Oslo for a great job? Or maybe I’ll move to Singapore? Or maybe I’ll have to move on to the street and be on welfare for the rest of my life?! It’s all so confusing!!! Hehe!

Win a Wii


The Norwegian Oil Industry Association has a website to encourage education within the oil and gas industry – and they’ve got a competition to win a Wii!!!
Roughly translated:

The new Nintendo console is very reminiscent of tools the oil industry has used for several yars. When geologists use their advanced 3D programs and virtual room to look for oil and gas – it’s just as first rate as any computer game design.

It’s only for those between 13 and 25 that can enter, though – so I’m out.

Columbine game is all about art!


It’s funny how certain tragic events can spawn new luscious things!

There’s been a whole lotta uproar these past few weeks because Super Columbine Massacre RPG was pulled as a finalist from the Slamdance Guerilla Gamemaker Competition.

Personally, I can’t believe they waited for it to get so far only to pull it off the list – which makes me rather suspicious. They write that:

“There are always legal checks and balances with any Slamdance program. Specifically with the subject matter of Super Columbine Massacre Role Playing Game Slamdance does not have the resources to defend any drawn out civil action that our legal council has stated can easily arise from publicly showing it.”

Man! Capitalist society can be such a ruthless freedom-of-speech stomping evil dictatorship!

Then, other game developers start pulling their games from the festival in an act of solidarity. TGC (thatgamecompany) explained it very nicely:

“As game designers, each project we have done so far, and plan on doing in the future, aims at showing games as a serious and expressive medium. We cannot help but wonder, if SCMRPG were a film, if the reaction by the Slamdance organizers would have been the same. Removing it from the festival is discouraging, because it implies that games are still not to be taken seriously, that games are only for mindless fun. If we are trying to work against this stigma as artists, then we also have to fight against this stigma as entrants in the festival as well.”

So this incident has really triggered an inspirational discussion about games as art! Which I think is really exciting! And my heart pounded even more when I read Clive Thompson‘s excellent piece, ‘I,Columbine’ in Wired this week! I don’t think I’m exaggerating by saying it’s the best artistic critical analysis of a game I have ever read!

You’re constantly reminded of how creepily unbalanced Harris and Klebold were. One minute they’re tossing off nihilistic riffs: “When I’m in my human form, knowing I’m going to die, everything has a touch of triviality to it,” Klebold muses. The next minute they’re quoting Shakespeare: “Good wombs hath borne bad sons.

I’m having a hard time pulling out quotes because it’s all so relevant and good – but I’ll paste this one in just in case you don’t read the whole thing – but you really should! It’s a beautiful beginning of art criticism in games!

“It uses the language of games as a way to think about the massacre. Ledonne, like all creators of “serious games”, uses gameplay as a rhetorical technique.”

Gameplay as rhetorical technique! I love it!!!

It’s tragic that Slamdance felt they had to pull it from the competition – but I’m loving the discussions that have spawned from it!

The Joy of Joichi Ito

Joi Ito is such a gem! He’s a joy to listen to and his thoughts encompass so much about what’s going on in cyberspace (although in this presentation he says he doesn’t believe in cyberspace anymore – and with good reasoning). I’m in awe of this man – smart, insightful and sees ‘the big picture’. I certainly enjoyed this presentation of WoW and hope you do, as well. He talks about everything, how players relate to each other, how ‘real’ the experiences are, the use of voice communication in MMORPGs, the interface design of a guild leader, the differences between Second Life and World of Warcraft , user-generated content and so much more. The presentation is from The Chaos Communication Congress. Enjoy!

Joichi Ito is the founder and CEO of Neoteny, which is a venture capital firm “committed to helping entrepreneurs build sustainable information technology businesses”. And I’m just going to cut’n’paste from Wikipedia here:

Continue reading

Kinaesthetic Mimicry in computer games

I can’t stress enough how unbelievably great Chris Bateman‘s blog is for anyone wishing to look into what games are!
He’s got a great post about Wii and Kinaesthetic Mimicry in video games! He’s so generous with sharing his knowledge, experience, thoughts and time! I know some readers of this blog are thinking about writing about games for their thesis – subscribe to the feeds of this blog – you’ll be so much richer for it!

Oh dear – I feel compelled to write a list now – seems unfair to just mention Only A Game – but my list is long – and that should be designated to another post, I think!

MMORPG professionals

Raph Koster writes about a new group that calls themselves “The Virtual Citizenship Association”. It’s a new group advocating virtual citizen ehm ‘rights’. In his blogpost he points out the relevant problems with their social contract – which I completely agree with – so I’m not going to bother repeating it all in my own words here – you should just read it – I can’t do his words justice here!
But entering the site – I was quite intrigued by how they define themselves:

“We’re a group of MMORPG professionals, people who enjoy playing in online universes in general and people who advocate the use of Free Software.”

I find that interesting. When I think of ‘MMORPG proffesionals’ I think of game operators and designers – not players, but it’s a relevant point! Why shouldn’t players be labeled as MMORPG professionals? I kinda like it – it tickled me!
As for what they’re advocating, I agree with Koster when he writes:

“I’d prefer any such social contract to focus more on how operators have to treat players, than on forcing particular business models on operators.”

Too right!

And in case you don’t have the time to read the comments, I have to paste glorious Mr. Bartle’s comment – where would this industry be without his precious sense of humor?

“Why is it that these “players’ rights” advocates always target the virtual world developers and never the people who run guilds?

Richard

PS: Wouldn’t it be amusing if a virtual world developer banned membership of such organisations under its EULA?”