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.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Konsoll

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.

 

Continue reading

Naval War: Arctic Circle

I’ve been looking forward to this game being released for a long time. And I therefore have to give a little personal rant before talking about the game:

I’m a huge fan of Turbo Tape Games. They’ve done so much excellent work in bringing the computer games industry into the spotlight in Norway and doing an excellent job in preaching the value of the industry. These guys have opened so many doors and broken down so many barriers for the future of game development in Norway – I hope that we can do it justice. I remember meeting Fredrik Sundt Breien (Managing Director) at a First Tuesday event about games (OMG! 7 years ago!). He has the charisma and enthusiasm to charm any audience into believing that games are worth investing in – which he’s done! And continues to do so as he’s speaking at (Bergen’s new innovators and The Nordic Media Festival). In many ways I guess I’m kinda jealous, cause I’d like to do the exact same thing some day.

I met the technical director, Jan Haugland, at the Industrial Gaming conference, which was also one of my first presentations of Machinima hungover – thankfully come a long way since then! We had an indept conversation about game mechanics and the genious of Tetris, the details elude me, but I remember the happy feeling of meeting a good friend that day.

As for the rest of the gang – we still haven’t reached the threshold where hugs are a natural greeting. 

So when Turbo Tape Games was established, it was only natural for me to invite myself and the cHixOrs (pre Spillpikene) to visit the headquarters at Pixel Park. My what a long way they’ve come! I remember spending a good hour in their cramped office and still having absolutely no clue what Naval War was about. All I saw was a lot of code I did not understand and a lot of indication that this game was going to be just a tad too complicated for my taste.

—-

But as you may have understood from the long personal rant and reminiscing – I adore them and on launch day of Naval War: Arctic Circle – I wanted to stop by and wish them good luck. I incidently had a meeting next door and thought I’d stop by with the gift of coffee and wish them good luck. They were surprisingly calm and relaxed and I felt like such a fan girl being so enthused and excited for them.

And then … I was allowed to try the game and I was scared.

Continue reading

Entertainment, Games, Technology – wOOt?!

There’s been some interesting blogposts lately about the frustrations of what articles to put where, what to discuss where and what words describe what?

Aleks, at The Guardian Games Blog ponders on the acceptability to blog about social software in a games oriented blog. Second Life (which my puter stubbornly is denying me access to), MySpace, Flickr and del.icio.us all encompass play, as well – but is it right to discuss them in a games blog?

“For me, social software often fits the bill more so than goal-directed environments in which I have to shoot things (badly), solve puzzles (incorrectly) or collect items I don’t care about (slowly). Yet in these environments there is play. Even if the play is not formal, there are playful experiences. And so I think they deserve as much time on here as the latest chart toppers.”

I think I disagree. I think we’ve moved beyond this now – these places deserve their own spaces for discussion. But ofcourse, sometimes these social software sites produce games as well and sometimes people make some fascinating gaming observations of them, like “Digg-ing the game”! Which definitely deserves discussion in a games blog!

Meanwhile, over at Wonderland, Alice ponders about BBC’s editorial decision to report that the World of Warcraft expansion is delayed in the Technology section, alongside news about YouTube and Google. I think a lot of news about World of Warcraft is very interesting to technology readers and definitely deserves space there as a lot of what’s going on there has to do with technology, culture and society. But that the expansion is delayed is pure entertainment news, to be sure! I understand that it can be confusing at times, though. Seb Potter has a comment which I agree with:

“I’d like to see “Virtual” as a section, but I guess you’d start to need to just duplicate all the categories of real-life news eventually.”

I’m partial to ‘Virtual Life’ as a section. Some World of Warcraft news is pure gaming news, technology news and virtual life news – we shouldn’t have to think that just because World of Warcraft is a game, that all news from within has to be documented in a games section. And I certainly feel that there is room for another section of news with the title ‘Virtual Life’ – I’m sure most gamers who don’t play Second Life are extremely tired of all the Second Life news in their medium, and well…Second Life isn’t a game! BUT! If someone were to design a really cool game in Second Life – I’m sure they’d love to read about it! And as for the technology section, I’m sure the social impact new technology has had in MMORPGs is only interesting to a certain point, I think it’s time to move on! Unless you’re actually interested in ‘virtual life’! Sigh…am I making any sense?
It certainly is obvious that we’re at a crossroads here, which is so exciting! I can imagine myself as a granny someday saying “Oh…I remember back when we thought these worlds were just games for pure entertainment! Ha ha ha! We were so naive!”

‘Protectors’ an independent player group?

Deadlines are truely a wonderful thing! Because otherwise I’m certain nothing would ever get published! I’ve currently got 4 chapters up and running on the screen because I’ve figured out that’s the best way for me to work, it helps me see the flow of my arguments – and it also messes things up all the freakin time! I’m so sick and tired of second guessing all my statements – I just wanna get this over with already, so I can move on! But sometimes I just have to face the fact that I’ve overlooked some crucial, fundamental and important facts! It’s devastating finding these things so late in the process that tears seem to flow constantly (so glad I’m a woman) and I’m amazed I still have hair on my head as pulling them seems to satisfy my bursts of anger! Reasonable arguments like I shouldn’t care so much and I should stop overthinking things just refuses to hit home with me! Argh! So…after revealing my psychological and personal breakdown let me present you with my current dilemma!

Continue reading

South Korean gaming culture


The New York Times has an interesting piece on the gaming culture in South Korea. It’s so well written and balanced that it just deserves a mention here!

Seth Schiesel
really makes an effort in understanding why pc gaming is such a vital part of Korean culture. Several interesting points, really.

Lee Chung Gi, owner of the Intercool bang, said: “It’s impossible for students in any country to study all the time, so they are looking for interesting things to do together. In America they have lots of fields and grass and outdoor space. They have lots of room to play soccer and baseball and other sports. We don’t have that here. Here, there are very few places for young people to go and very little for them to do, so they found PC games, and it’s their way to spend time together and relax.”

Which reminded me of Henry Jenkins’ “Complete Freedom of Movement”.

He also mentions the Korean student work culture and how parents are encouraging their kids to play to ease the stress of expectations. But he doesn’t deny that there is a problem with gaming addiction as well.

Great lazy Sunday reading and there’s even a multimedia presentation! And you just have to love the fact that they have loveseats in PcBangs, like in this picture! I’ve got to take a tour of Internet Cafés here in Bergen to see if anything similar exists here!

Brought to my attention by fascinating blogger Alice in Wonderland.

Bully

You can’t really surf through the web, like I do, and not have heard of Rockstar’s new Bully! I’m certain most households are aware of it’s existence and that it’s coming out October 17th. There have been protests and court cases. All of these, include Jack Thompson, ofcourse! I mean…how irresponsible to come with comments like “Columbine Simulator” – that’s just tearing up wounds and fears that should be left to heal.
I haven’t played it yet, but I really can’t wait! And after watching the trailer, bellow, I can’t help thinking that this game is really a social commentary! An investigation into school politics from the kids perspective, if you will! But ofcourse I may be wrong! I just seems to me that the game is trying to mediate something, actually using game as media! Oh how I love that!

Reservoir Dogs Marketing Campaign

I’m glad I’m alone here right now and no serious students around trying to study! I just had one of my surfing breaks from my hellish monstrosity and was introduced to the Reservoir Dogs Game ads!!! I love them!!! I’m sorry – I know they’re crude and all that….but I’m certainly smitten!!!
Aleks at the Guardian Games Blog asks if it isn’t illegal to use kids to promote something “that would give broadcast output an 18+ rating”? That’s an interesting question actually! How exactly are broadcasting regulations and the internet combined?! Ooooohhh!!! This would be a great subject for a Master’s thesis!!! Although I’m sure it’s already been written a lot about….seems so familiar…yet I cannot remember what the law is! Must restrain myself from searching for the info – MUST FINISH, MUST FINISH!!!


Anyways! Hope you enjoy them just as much as I did!

What’s the point of having a blog if I don’t share?

I’ve noticed that my del.icio.us’ing has minimized my blogging immensley! And I have way too many posts that I haven’t finished yet! Sometimes I just don’t post stuff because I’m sure EVERYONE’S informed from somewhere else, which is the case with this lovely coke ad! I didn’t want to like it, but I think it’s just beautiful!!!! I’m gonna see if I can tidy things up this week and get some of these unfinished posts out, blog the stuff tagged ‘toblog’ – and then there’s THE WORK!

News Games

So there’s two new News Games (I guess that’s what we’re calling them now) out, that just claw viciously at my definition of game.
Either way, they weren’t very enjoyable for me and I’m saddened that anyone would! I suppose this is why the word ‘fun’ isn’t a requisite in any formal definition of game. Nasral is…well…just filled with some really nasty connotations! Which I suppose has all the qualities to properly be defined as a game, just my lack of fun while playing it. But fun is a point of view, isn’t it? I mean, I don’t have fun playing car racing games either (hmm…should brush up on my Koster). So I guess it’s a perfect example of how games can ‘mean’ something, and I’m not just talking narrative here, we’re talking real Bogostian theory! And then there’s this one with Google maps – impossible to gain points, which I guess is the point! Gruesome!
(via Guardian Games Blog via WaterCoolerGames)