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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Publicness

Wow! I woke up this morning and started writing this blog post in my head! I haven’t done that in soooooo long! I screenshot from iphone with worried sim at 13:37suppose it’s a sign that it is my last week at work and my own thoughts and desires are starting to come out of their protected shell.

Two weeks ago I was fortunate to catch the back end of an amazing symposium in Bergen called “Data is Political” organised by Amber Frid-Jimenez and Ben Dalton. I suppose I had been too wrapped up in my own life to notice that this event was happening so thank goodness for the fabulous Jill Walker Rettbergwho tweeted from the event. After work I stopped by to catch the panel discussion and get some form of conclusion about what they had been talking about all day. I mean … what an interesting subject for art students and scholars to be discussing? I was so impressed and rather excited!

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Is Facebook a virtual world?

I remember being absolutely gobsmacked when I first read about Edward Castronova and his economic analysis of the online game Everquest. And it all spiraled from there … do you remember? We all got caught up in the rights of the avatar. I remember being enthralled in discussions about what is real and what is not real and what rights avatars have in games such as Everquest. Because we  saw avatars as extensions of ourselves, therefore we should have the same human rights as we have in our own ‘real life’. Ownership issues and freedom of expression where things that I thoroughly enjoyed exploring and debating.

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Machinima, copyright and schools

I had an interesting phone conversation the other day.

There’s an organisation that promotes art to schools here in Norway, Kunst i Skolen. It’s completely new to me, but it’s existed since 1948 (way to go Norway!). So I’m still kinda dazed about this – but from what I can gather, they have these travelling exhibitions for schools (and I think members – although, I’m not sure if the schools need to be members). They’ve got loads of great stuff to offer, including CD-roms of collections and art for teaching purposes.

So why am I getting into this?

I was asked on Tuesday if I could put together a DVD of some Machinima films and I also offered to write a little summary of what machinima is. Now – ofcourse I’m having difficulty. Since they’re an official organisation they need all the copyright details to be in order – and I’m struggling. The game companies certainly have come around the last couple of years – but the music industry – hell no. So when trying to present an art that’s all about reproduction of media – fan art – remediation – or whatever we’re calling it these day – what to do?

It’s frustrating, and in my opinion needless, ridiculous and depriving so many of some great art. But I take comfort that they can be found online – which is just another rant waiting to burst out of me soon – but another time.

Anyhoo – I’m in desperate need of machinima with copyright issues in order. I have to play catch-up on my machinima copyright laws, but if memory serves me right Blizzard and Microsoft are fair – leaving it up to the artist as long as they don’t make any money off it. I’m unsure about The Sims, though, but I’m thinking they’ll be alright. What about Take 2?

Please let me know if you have any good ideas and machinima to offer.

I have a time limit on this that’s insane – I basically need to send this in the post on Monday. But how could I refuse? Machinima in schools? Are you kidding me?! I love it!

49% Casual Gamers play everyday

Chris Bateman’s got some interesting results from a survey they’ve done for a new player model, with 1040 responses.

Of those who classify themselves as casual gamers 49% play every day! Sounds like a statistic Jesper Juul would be interested in.

Also only 1.25% enjoy games without stories. I think that’s interesting.

We’ve received 1,040 responses to the survey, of which 55% (576) are from North America, 30% (317) are from Western Europe or the UK, 5% (52) are from Australasia, and a few responses from everywhere else in the world besides.

The majority of respondents play games every day (66%), with many of the others playing every week (26%). Interestingly, of those that self-identified as “Hardcore”, 81% play every day, and of those that self-identified as “Casual”, 49% play every day. It seems that even people who see themselves as a Casual player are still playing amazingly often.

The most popular approach is to play alone (40%), with just a few playing single player games with pad passing or some similar group play (7%). The remaining players all prefer some kind of multiplayer format, whether in the same room (17%) or over the internet (19%, of which 5% is team or clan play), with the remaining 16% preferring virtual worlds and MMORPGs.

On the subject of game stories, there is overwhelming consensus, with 93% saying either that stories are very important to their enjoyment of videogames (36%) or that stories help them enjoy videogames (57%). A mere 5% say stories are not important, and just 1.25% say they prefer videogames without stories. Clearly, story occupies a vital space in the modern world of videogames gamers love stories!

Protesting in a virtual world


Joseph DeLappe is an active artist protesting the war in Iraq.

On March 20th, the date of the US invasion of Iraq, DeLappe will enter America’s Army, peacefully.

America’s Army is an MMORPG designed by the US military which also functions as an active reqruiter. for the army.

He’ll be using the login name “dead-in-Iraq” and well…I’m almost tempted to download America’s Army to witness the action. But quite honestly, I’m not sure if that’s a good idea. Would I be supporting America’s Army or would I be supporting Joseph DeLappe?

“As of 1/17/08, I have input 3745 names. I intend to keep doing so until the end of this war. As of 1/17/08 there have been 3929 American service persons killed in Iraq” – Networked Performance

So he’ll be manually(!) writingthe name, age, service branch and date of death of each service person who has died to date in Iraq.

Does it all sound familiar? Well, it seems he started dead-in-iraq in 2006. It kinda gives you a perspective on matters when an artist repeats his protest 3 years in a row. That’s interesting.

I have to admit I’m feeling a tad sorry for the poor MMORPG players – I mean what are they suppossed to do? Hmmm – maybe they should join him somehow? Maybe he should invite them to. It would be lovely if someone documented the discussions this sparked in-world. It seems he doesn’t engage in any social conversation…well…who could blame him with 3745 US soldiers to memorialise.

It certainly made an impression on me. I think it would be cool if they could stream the protest but I worry about the privacy rights of the players.

Things I’m going to

Tomorrow I’m off to Gullstikken . It’s kinda an award ceremony for the best computer games of the year, well…that’s exactly what it is actually. From what I hear, its the best place to meet the whole Norwegian games industry in one place.

So I’m looking forward to seeing who’s out there.

I’m also going to a free information meeting about Datalagringsdirektivet on Friday. It’s about the EU directive of storage of personal information. I’m still quite confused about the whole thing, and I welcome a free meeting to inform me about what its all about.

Using Game Design to "foster social change"

The World Wide Workshop, an organisation commited to using the internet for educational purposes of youth and children in developing communities, has created a wonderful site called MyGLife.org, through it’s Globaloria Project. It’s still in Beta – so I haven’t been able to test it yet – but just look at this:

MyGLife.org is comprised of an open architecture of educational, programmable websites and related wikis that offer more than 100 educational activities, simulations and tutorials to play, learn, explore and contribute new ideas online.

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State of Play Conference

It was fun!
The conference started off with a bang. We got to see Glenn Thomas’ “Ideal World. A Virtual Life Documentary” – which is brilliant (Glenn’s also a super dooper, charming and smart man, by the way!). He’s really managed to get the full compass of The Second Life story into it and I applaud him for it!
The panels were exciting and from vast disciplines – which I thought was great! Some of the conference delegates (220 attending) had some amazing questions to the panels, which brought some great insight and discussion. I’m not too comfortable writing in detail here, as I’m in the middle of writing other articles for a serious publication. I’m not used to all this journalism thinking and I’m not sure what’s allowed and not in duplication matters on my own personal blog. So let me tread lightly till stuff gets published.
I’ve met some truly amazing people which I hope to keep in touch with. Lots of bright and colorful minds were present and I felt so privileged to meet them. All shall be mentioned when I dwell deeper into stuff here.
I found being a ‘journalist’ quite hard, however. Finding stuff that was news worthy for ‘regular people’ was challenging, which is why we’re holding off publication till it’s all in a lovely understandable package. It’s also quite hard finding the correct Norwegian words for stuff – any Norwegian readers out there willing to have a go at ‘in-world’? It’s such a great way to pinpoint what you’re trying to describe, “they met in-world”, “in-world business transaction”, I just can’t seem to find the right Norwegian wording for it. I have also found a great appreciation for the word ‘business’ in English. I think we have about alternatives in Norwegian and I find none of the satisfactory! Speaking of which, I need to get back to work.

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!