Gaming Data

17 11 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/isriya/1786868715/

I find most press releases very ignorable, but according to this one on MCV today, Everton Football Club have licensed the football manager database from Sports Interactive, apparently allowing them to search through 340,000 or so players.

This is a very intersting by-product of such a popular game, and strikes me as related to a couple of interesting finds from the past few weeks: Aftershock, a game about earthquake preparedness based on a USGS report, and the fact that Google search results for certain terms strongly parallel flu outbreaks.

How many data sources are there out there that would readily plug into entertaining and useful game mechanics? While it’s by no means ubiquitous yet, games driven by data are going to become more common.

(CC image by isyria)

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Virtualisation, Dematerialisation

14 11 2008

http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkchips/2886907177/

James Governor has written a fascinating account of his visit to Microsoft’s Virtualisation team, who are attempting to simulate as much as the possibly can. It has potential to improve both the efficiency and the greenness of businesses, as James puts it:

Moving Atoms has a cost. I have recently started talking about Bit Miles as a Greenmonk narrative, defined as is the carbon cost associated with moving a good or creating a service that could instead have been delivered digitally. Bit Miles offer us a moral imperative to digitize: a simulation of the world is a beautiful opportunity to rethink and potentially dematerialize business processes.

Why not Supply Chain Simulator ™, which would pull together all of your plant information (pulled in from OSI, say), where your people are located (Peoplesoft), and how you move goods and services (SAP) around the world? An organisation could begin to run really deep “What If” scenarios about the energy costs of their businesses with simulations like these. But what would really make these models sing is the fact they’d be visual and immersive. Telling is rarely as effective as Showing. What would a low energy manufacturing business look like? With virtual technology we could maybe work it out.

Quite revolutionary stuff for Microsoft, and leaning heavily on their growing expertise in games. Another related post I read yesterday is “Who Stole My Volcano? Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dematerialisation of Supervillain Architecture.“, which compares the opulent fortresses of Cold War Bond villains with the briefcases and phones that their modern counterparts work from. The utter difference in philosophy and power is obtuse at first, and utterly alien to the old guard, yet is accelerating into an unstoppable force.

I’ve been fascinated with the dematerialisation of physical objects ever since starrting to read Bruce Sterling, notably his book Shaping Things, which looks at the tendency of physical products to become information, ultimately existing as specific kinds of data that can be instantiated in the real world.

While AutoCAD is still the standard for architectural design, all the designers I know who use it regard it as outdated. The tools and skills that game developers use are up to the minute, and stand a good chance of being extremely relevant to the world in much larger ways, not only in terms of simulation, but also designing and producing physical chunks of it.

(CC image from MS Virtualisation studio, by RedMonk Red)





Invader Interview

13 11 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/kurtxio/2280690723/

“My name is Invader, my mission is to invade the planet with videogame characters made from tiles”

Invader has been placing mosaic 8bit sprites in cities for a decade now, and has moved on to even having public commissions. Jetset Graffiti have posted a video interview with him, which is short but is at least an introduction to him and his most recent projects (unfortunately part 2 seems to have disappeared). The most interesting thing is that he’s now working with QR codes.

(Interview found via Auntie Pixelante, which is one of the smartest indie blogs around)

(CC image by kurtxio)





Encroachment

12 11 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/stoic1/2741922393/

More news of non-games companies moving further into videogames this week. Tomy announced that they have a 50 year old catalogue of IP, and intend to take it into games publishing for current consoles and handhelds via a new Tomy publishing label. I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that toys and non-electronic games are exactly where Nintendo started and worked before going anywhere near videogames.

Meanwhile, a new patent by Apple reveals, potentially, that they may incorporate motion control into the Apple remote. As that VentureBeat piece points out, it’s wouldn’t necessarily be a huge technological step to start offering games though the app store and Apple TV, and it makes sense when the Wii has created a market.

This could go in all directions. Places like the App store can encourage indies to work via digital distribution, but a proliferation of more traditional businesses could also lead to an explosion in work for hire (and another cycle of publishers marketing departments thinking they can design games…) as well as exposure to new markets.

(CC Dingbot photo by Stoic)





Indie Arcade

7 11 2008

War Twat

One of the events we ran in London last week was the Indie Games Arcade, which was a huge success. We showed a handful of interesting games, detailed at the linked page on our website.

The highlights were five or so developers from Beatnik Games coming down to continually run a Plain Sight LAN, and someone setting a staggering record of 1:40 and 1749 points on War Twat. All of our photos are on Flickr, and this page on our website has details of all the games along with links to them.

War Twat developer Robert Fearon and volunteer extraordinaire Andrew Armstrong have both written a bit about the expo and the indie arcade, here and here.





EA Terminates Casual Label

7 11 2008

http://flickr.com/photos/jlsotillo/2712496117/

Electronic Arts confirmed today that they will roll up their casual label, with president of it Kathy Vrabeck leaving and the label itself along with the Hasbro license being merged into their Sims label (as reported by Gamsutra). This quote is particularly interesting:

“We’ve learned a lot about casual entertainment in the past two years, and found that casual gaming defies a single genre and demographic,”

EA Casual was an expensive prototype with interesting results. It makes total sense that casual players have all kinds of tastes and come from all demographics, but it’s the kind of insight many people only have retroactively. For several years, the casual player has been thought of and talked about as a bored mid-thirties housewife, but this isn’t necessarily true.

(Apologies for the neglect over the last two weeks. We’ve been at the London Games Festival where we ran more events than we’ve ever done before, so things have been quite busy).

(CC image by Cosmovisión)