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  SXSWi Reminder: ‘What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From ARGs?’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
As previously threatened, I'll be kicking off a conversation today at SXSW about how the video games industry might pick up a few useful tips from Alternate Reality Games. The conversation takes place between 3:30pm and 4:30pm in Ballroom E. I'll be joined by Steve Peters of 42 Entertainment, probably Dan Hon of Six to Start, and whoever else wishes to drop in.

The idea for this so-called "Core Conversation" was pitched months ago, so I hope to freshen and expand the topic by identifying some areas in which video games have already adopted ideas and mechanics made popular by ARGs. Looking forward to the chat, hope you can make it.
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi: ‘Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Thanks to Dee Cook and Dan Hon of Six to Start for joining me yesterday on a last-minute SXSWi panel entitled "Cross-Media Cross-Pollination: Mashing Up Video Games and ARGs."

We chatted about how ARGs and video games relate, and how these two game-forms might learn from each other. There were at least 60 people in attendance, many of whom were probably expecting the original panel "ARGs: The Future of Entertainment." Given that we only lost a few people during our panel, and given the number of eyeballs focused on the panelists, I think it was a success. Attendees joined in the discussion during and after the panel--I'm hosting a follow-up conversation on Monday at 3:30pm if anyone at the conference is interested in further conversation about ARGs and video games.
 
     
 
   
 
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  PSP Gets Skype Integration  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Sony will roll out Skype services for its latest PSP handheld game console (the slim, lightweight one) through a software update scheduled for late January. According to an emailed press release, the software update will allow PSP owners with WiFi access, a microphone, and a Skype account to make and receive free voice calls, manage contacts and presence, modify their Skype account settings, and make use of the SkypeOut (place calls to non-Skype phones) as well as SkypeIn (receive calls from non-Skype phones) services.

While this is fantastic news for anyone who already has a slimline PSP, I'm not sure it's going to push PSP sales in general. As the ill-fated N-Gage phone/game console showed us, there doesn't seem to be much interest in a game console which doubles as a phone. Skype services are only available wherever WiFi hotspots are, so coverage isn't exactly ubiquitous in most parts of the world. I don't really see how the inclusion of Skype helps the PSP brand, either--is it a game console (its game library is weak), a media player (its original movie format is dead or dying), or a communications device (only where there's WiFi)?
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Gaming Links for 2008-01-06  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Eleven Fit Teens Fail Wii Fitness Test  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-30 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
MedPage Today reports that Wii Sports, a game for the Nintendo Wii console, wasn't found to contribute to recommended daily exercise standards set in Britain, according to a Liverpool University study. Nintendo has been hoping its console would be seen as a fitness aid, releasing the Wii Fit controller and Wii game in Japan earlier this year (due out elsewhere in 2008). A number of academics, researchers, and consumers around the world have been looking at the console as a potential fitness device, with varying results. A Canadian hospital is even using the game console as part of a physical rehabilitation program.

The Liverpool study--ironically, funded by Nintendo's UK marketing arm--might have dashed the game-maker's health-hopes if it wasn't for the fact that only eleven subjects were reportedly involved. The teens--six boys and five girls--were physically fit to begin with, and were studied playing only two games: Project Gotham Racing for the Xbox 360, and Wii Sports. The study found that active games like Wii Sports burn about 50% more calories than passive games like PGR, but that ultimately this only represented a 2% increase in energy expenditure in a typical week.

I'm no scientist, but it seems clear that a larger-scale study might be in order. A more diverse, and larger group of subjects; a wider range of games, particularly some which could be considered more active than Wii Sports. In my own experience, playing 30 minutes of Raving Rabbids on the Wii reminded me how atrophied my spaghetti-thin arms are. While the Wii may not appear to affect fitness levels according to this study, I'd rather play an active video game than a passive one, and I suspect most parents would rather buy an active video game for their kids. Perhaps the next study will involve the Wii Fit peripheral, hopefully with more promising results.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘PaRappa’ Creators Team For Wii Game  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Masaya Matsuura and Rodney Alan Greenblat, creators of the surreal and endearing rhythm game series PaRappa the Rapper, have reunited under the Majesco banner to produce a music game for Nintendo's Wii console. According to a Majesco press release, the game is due out next fall, and seems to be aimed at the same casual market as PaRappa and Majesco's hit Cooking Mama series.

PaRappa was delight to play (particularly the first installment in the series) and the paper-doll aesthetics were great fun. A Gotland University student even did a thesis project which addressed the idea of how a game "feels" through the live reenactment of one of game's levels. I'm counting on Majesco's upcoming Wii game to involve performance elements using the motion-sensitive Wiimote controller, allowing me to kick, punch, block, and chop to the beat.
 
     
 
   
 
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  2008 ‘Game For Change Challenge’: Second Verse Same As The First  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Microsoft has announced its 2008 "Games for Change Challenge," where students around the globe will submit serious games which address the theme "Imagine a world where technology enables a sustainable environment." I didn't think much of the competition when it was launched earlier this year, based around the theme of global warming.

In both cases, I see the best solution to environmental rehabilitation as reducing (ideally eliminating) the use of Microsoft-created technology altogether. Stop making so many faulty consoles--or any at all, given that computing hardware such as the Xbox 360 eats too much energy and ultimately ends up in landfill or the hands of poor recyclers. If you must make consoles, ensure full backwards compatibility with previous software libraries and hardware peripherals such as controllers. Increase power efficiency, not power demands. Reduce packaging. Require contest entries to be presented remotely.

The ultimate test for these environmentally-themed games is whether or not the player does more good than harm in playing. Ideally, this means motivating a gamer to go outside and make a real difference, but it could be as simple as reducing household energy demands by turning off hungry hardware (such as the game console). The contest's mission is to have student technologists "actively contribute" to improving the world--I'm not sure this can be accomplished using Microsoft's proprietary game console as a platform.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Silent Hill 5’:  Now With Jiggle-Physics  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-06 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
‘Silent Hill 5’:  Now With Jiggle-Physics
I've been a fan of survival horror game series Silent Hill since the first installment in the series, not so much due to the game play, but because of its inspirational creative elements. The visuals and soundscapes featured in the series are haunting, distinctive, and memorable.

One of the most recognizable monster-types in the game series is a sort of "zombie nurse," a faceless female creature dressed in medical garb which shivers and shimmies through darkened hospitals, looking for a handful of your flesh. When the Silent Hill movie came out last year, I was disappointed that the zombie nurses seemed to be re-imagined as slightly more sexualized monsters. Basically they became less "zombie" and more "sexy nurse." A pity, since the original creature designs seemed to be far more ghastly (and far more scary) than the ones shown in the film.

Sadly, the upcoming Silent Hill 5 seems to turned the zombie Sex-O-Meter up to eleven, turning an exquisite walking corpse into Nurse McBoobs, complete with a nipple-exposing wardrobe-malfunction. Jeux France has the full-sized pics. If the game features jiggle-physics, I'm going postal.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Quick Links for 2007-12-05  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-05 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Xbox Live’ Friends To Be Publicized:  Opt Out If You Like Privacy  
 
 
Posted 2007-11-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Microsoft announced via its Gamerscore blog today that as of December 4, 2007, adult members of the Xbox Live gaming service will have their friends lists exposed to the rest of the community. Previously, friends lists were private. Members will automatically be opted in to the new system, and will have to manually opt out if they'd like to keep their friends list protected.

According to Microsoft, Xbox Live members can opt out of the loosened privacy system by visiting an administration page and setting either "Friends Only" access or "Blocked" access. By default, the friends lists of all members aged 18 and up will be set to "Everyone" access. Minors will be disallowed from making their lists open to all, and are automatically given "Blocked" status.

Continue reading: ‘Xbox Live’ Friends To Be Publicized:  Opt Out If You Like Privacy
 
     
 
   
 
  3 comments  
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Dinozoiks wrote:
Wow! Thanks for that Tony. Just posted a bunch of other tips here... http://www.dino.co.uk/labs/2008/45-tips-when-designing-online-content-for-kids/ Hope it helps someone... Dino...
in Dino Burbidge's '10 Things To Remember When Designing For Kids Online'


yes, many of the free little games are crappy. but as an artist who has recently published free content on the itunes app store,…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


I vote for popup radial menus. Highlight a bit of text, the push and hold, Sims-style radial menu pops up with Copy, Paste, etc....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


Hey Tony! A client of mine is looking to hire an internal Flash game dev team to build at a really cool Flash CCG…
in Dipping Into Toronto's Flash Pool


Yeah, there's a lot of weird common sense things I've noticed they've just omitted from the design. No idea why though....
in More iPhone Gestures, Please


It also bears noting there's no mechanism right now for a developer to offer a free trial for the iPhone; the App Store isn't…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


@GeorgeR: It's on my shopping list :) I've heard good things about it as well. And Cro Mag Rally. @andrhia: meh, I don't know…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


...you get what you pay for, you know? I actually bought Trism based on early buzz, and it's truly a novel mechanic. I've been…
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


The only one I've heard good things about is Super Monkey Ball. Have you given that a whirl yet?...
in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?


Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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