Video Game Confidential: Susan O’Connor

From http://tedxbeaconstreet.com/susanoconnor
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.

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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!

To be or not to be a girl geek

A little personal reflection …Image

If your reading list is like mine, you may have noticed the controversial (or tedious) blogpost in Forbes about Fake Girl Geeks. I initially hadn’t thought to comment it, but alas – I can’t seem to help myself. I remember our first Girl Geek Dinners Bergen meeting and when we started discussing who was allowed to come to our events and who was not, the brilliant Hilde Corneliussen just simply said “Why should we have to exclude anyone?”. And so began our policy that anyone who wanted to come to our events was welcome.

I sometimes felt torn about this decision. I relished every moment I had with these great women. It was so fun to talk about so-called geeky subjects at the same time as I could giggle foolishly without seeming insincere. But there was just no way that I would turn anyone away that was interested in coming. The word “girl” has also been an issue that’s been discussed on the subject of girl geeks. Some have felt that in order to be taken seriously we should call ourselves “women” (which we are). But for me, I loved the relaxed atmosphere and the unseriousness of the word “girl”. I desperately needed a venue to chill and talk about geek issues and could never think of these events as business networking opportunities. If we used the word “women” I feared that the atmosphere would become too serious and businesslike. But this is for the next generation og girl geek leaders to decide – I’ve stepped aside.

My geekdom

Another hinder we kept coming across were girls and women who wanted to join our dinners but feared that they weren’t geeky enough or that we weren’t geeky enough. I was constantly asked to define exactly what a geek is and this is the line I usually came up with:

“A geek is anyone who’s extremely fascinated about something and wants to share it with us. The subject can be anything from a favourite knitting pattern to a space shuttle design.”

I’ve always felt very pleased with that, although I never seemed to gather large swarms of crowds – but it felt right to me.

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Bogost & Colbert

Ian Bogost was a guest on The Colbert Report promoting his new book, “Persuasive Games. The Expressive Power of Video Games” – oh the courage!! I have to say, I was partially disappointed and partially impressed. Disappointed by Stephen Colbert, because I didn’t find his jokes that amusing and impressed by Bogost because he articulates his thoughts so well – it must be pure joy to be in his class. I was expecting to have a good chuckle but instead I’m in a pondering mode. Ian Bogost says that video games are an expressive medium because “video games model the way things work”. To me, there’s not question – he brings up an interesting example from San Andreas where the only thing you can eat to get energy levels up is fast food a.s.o. He sums up really nicely by accepting Colbert’s pun on World of Warcraft preparing him for orc invasion “You will be ready to think of the way things work”, the system, the complexity. I think that’s very nicely put. Video games do make you think about the way all things are interconnected and related to each other! Whew – sounds very philosophical! Persuasive Games are designed to comment on society and politics – and they manage to do this through gameplay – not interactive storytelling – but gameplay – they’re really quite genius!
Will you look at that? I can embed a Comedy Central clip – lovely!

 

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ian Bogost
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:91012
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Now I need to run! I’ve got so much fun stuff to do and my head is just spinning with excitement and delight – need to take a breath and focus on one thing at a time!

Is the Second Life hype brought on by overly eager marketing types, killing Second Life?

Yesterday my feed reader was bombarded with Norwegian articles and blog posts about Second Life. Now, being a ‘job hunter’ who wants to continue working within the virtual world field, I get quite excited about such days! When I hardly have time to read all the Norwegian news about a virtual world – that means my future job prospects are looking up, right? Ssshhhh – don’t answer that – let me continue being deluded, sometimes ignorance is bliss and hopeful! ;)

The attention, it seems, comes from Wired’s “How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life” by Frank Rose about how most places in Second Life are deserted and businesses aren’t finding the consumer wealth they were looking for. I’m not certain what to make of it all. Two thoughts spring to mind: 1) Refreshing to see Second Life getting som critical press coverage from Wired 2) Do I really care enough about Second Life to go defend it on the different critical Norwegian blogs and websites? Not really.

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The Playing Columbine Trailer

The trailer to the documentary about Super Columbine Massacre RPG is out. Some may remember the controversial debate that followed after it was pulled from the Slamdance Guerrilla Gamemaker Competition. If anything at all this game has spurred great discussions about gameplay as documentary/storytelling/art. I’m not very opinionated about this documentary yet, except that I adore the debate and I’m looking forward to seeing the whole thing. But for some opinions check out Kotaku, Water Cooler Games and Game Politics.

Those Creative Spammers

Goldfarmers in World of Warcraft are becoming desperate as Blizzard has now inserted a new ‘text-filter on broadcast chat messages to prevent gold farmers from spamming users about their websites’ – I don’t get how it can work, but I guess it really does!

This just impressed me so! Dead gnomes dropping out of the sky to spell an url?! I’m sorry, that just blows me away! So now I guess WoWers will have to put up with rainy days of dead gnomes instead of text spam? I have such a hard time disrespecting such creativity, but then again I’m not a WoW’er so I’m not hassled with goldfarming spam. ;)