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  Spam Headline Uncovers ‘Productive Play’ Dungeon  
 
 
Posted 2008-08-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Got the following spam email today:

"BREAKING NEWS: Video Game Designer Forces Children to Play Mini-Game for Lunch Money"

At first I thought it was an auto-generated email, but then I searched for the phrase on Google and found the real article (or a copy of the real article). Summary: Game designer tests out game mechanics on his family members.
"Mr. Neil's wife says he finally crossed the line when he made their children put the families CD's back into their proper CD cases in order to earn lunch money for the day. The task had to be accomplished before the school bus arrived at 7:30 a.m."
Evil taskmaster, that Mr. Neil.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Is The Cartoon Network Confused, Or Is It Just Me?  
 
 
Posted 2008-05-01 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Clipped this from a Cartoon Network email I received minutes ago, talking about how awesome its upcoming FusionFall MMO is going to be:
"How is FusionFall different from other online games out there?

The biggest difference is that we are combining two play styles: platform gaming with RPGs. That hasn't been done before in an MMO and it's really exciting."
Hasn't MapleStory combined platform gaming with RPGs in an MMO format since at least 2005? Someone tell me if I'm wrong, this Cartoon Network assertion is making me dizzy.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Alternate Reality Band:  ‘The All-For-Nots’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
While in Austin for SXSW, I caught the launch of The All-For-Nots, described by BuzzFeed as "a new web comedy about a fictional indie rock band," except that what I saw on stage was just a band--the comedy occurs offstage, apparently. As explained by a friend of mine at the event, the band's scripted between-gig antics are shot for webisodes, which you can check out on the band's official web site. Not entirely clear on the target demographic for this--I'm going to guess 12 - 24 year-olds (the project is going after both MySpace and Bebo users, which seems around that age range).

I suppose what I saw on stage was a salad comprised of alternate reality bands like The Monkees, Josie and the Pussycats, Jem and the Holograms, and Spinal Tap--a pref-fab band appealing to your love of music (if you like derivative indie-rock), comedy (via webisodes rather than on-stage), and presumably to your wallet as well (merch? albums?).

I kept waiting for something crazy to happen during the band's energetic set, but no. What would have been cool is for them to fire their drummer on stage... anything involving fire, actually. Oh well, will keep my eye on this project, maybe it'll blossom.
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  ‘Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues’  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Following are my rough notes from the SXSW panel "Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues," featuring Michael Smith (Mind Candy), Adrian Crook (FreeToPlay.biz), Joe Hyrkin (Gaia Online), Jeremy Liew (Lightspeed Venture Partners), and Nabeel Hyatt (Conduit Labs)...

Moderator: What constitutes immersiveness for a virtual world? 3D? 2D? HTML?

Crook- A casual MMO is like Puzzle Pirates, in terms of delivery platform, java, etc. Facebook and Travian are other examples. For me, a Casual MMO is a place where people gather online with some kind of game structure, like Club Penguin with a loose game structure. A casual MMO is an online world with reduced barrier to entry in terms of price or platform.

Hyrkin- A range of categories apply. Casual MMO success depends on the community and engagement between users.

Smith- Presentation matters, we've stayed from avatar-based virtual worlds. At the last SXSW, I heard a lot about avatar-based worlds, but that space is getting very crowded now. Room for other types of games, such as PMOG.

Hyrkin- Not being 3D has a lot of benefits; nothing to download, easy access, reduces barrier to entry. MTV has 4 virtual worlds, built around their shows, they came top us and asked for a Gaia-like experience. We had huge success with Virtual Hills in Gaia.


Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  ‘Casual Multi-Player Online Games: Serious Revenues’
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Stories, Games and Your Brand  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Liveblogged from SXSWi in Austin, my rough notes from the panel "SXSW 2008 Notes: Stories, Games, and Your Brand."

Dan Hon case study: Cloverfield.
-- More people heard of the marketing than saw the movie (based on informal audience survey)

Rachel Clarke case study: Honda.
-- Puzzles built into posters, web site, game play engages viewers, every time you play the game it takes you closer to the brand

Roo Reynolds case study: Perplex City.
-- PC had a nice collecting element, but a great backstory, bits of everything in it... in my work in virtual worlds, I've been disappointed to not experience this level of depth (although VWs are good at turning people into participants)...

Continue reading: SXSWi 2008 Notes:  Stories, Games and Your Brand
 
     
 
   
 
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  SXSW 2008 Notes:  What Teens Want  
 
 
Posted 2008-03-08 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Liveblogged from SXSW... rough notes...

7 tweens and teens on the panel, Goodstein moderated.

-- 12 yo: "goodreads.com" social networking and book reviews. "Purevolume.com" signed and unsigned bands.
-- MySpace, Facebook, "you can create your own layout," "customize your own designs," "communicate with friends and family after school"
-- MySpace, Facebook, prefers FB because of the add-ons "if everyone from my school wasn't there, I wouldn't be there", Digg.com, favorite game is Counterstrike Source
-- MySpace, "high five," helps her keep in touch with friends, "can't live without music," meet new people, talk a lot, make new friends. 12 yo in real life, 16 yo on MySpace
-- MySpace, "Mix Matters" music site, and "DATpif" (?) mix tape web site, keeps him up to date on recording artists. A gamer, plays sports games, plays Halo 3
-- 17.com for hair and makeup tips, Hipster.com for playlists and new artist discovery
-- MySpace, Runescape online roleplaying game, likes to make new friends with people around the world, 12yo in real life, 99yo on MySpace.

Continue reading: SXSW 2008 Notes:  What Teens Want
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games, Work, Play, And Collaboration:  Quick Links for 2008-02-04  
 
 
Posted 2008-02-04 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
 
     
 
   
 
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  Games, Values, and Learning  
 
 
Posted 2008-01-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
If games are good teachers, what do/could/should games teach? Here's a quick dump of topical links relating to this theme:
 
     
 
   
 
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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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  Ad-Creep In Kiddie-Worlds  
 
 
Posted 2007-12-15 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
American watchdog group Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood isn't happy with how popular kiddie-world Webkinz has begun running external ads atop its already-commercial service. According to GamePolitics.com, "A current Webkinz campaign is promoting the film Alvin and the Chipmunks (screen shot at left), while similar ads ran for the recent Bee Movie." Virtual Worlds News reports that Ganz, maker of Webkinz has since pulled one of the ads, although it's not clear to me if this is a response to public pressure.

The ethics of advertising to children aside, Ganz's choice to blast ads at kids whose parents are already paying for Webkinz access comes off like a crass cash-grab . It's the same story with in-game ads found in many of today's video games--the consumer isn't sharing in the publisher's increased cash-flow. A more reasonable approach to advertising via Webkinz (again, irrespective of the ethical issues) would be to offer a discounted or free service in exchange for client-side ads.

Continue reading: Ad-Creep In Kiddie-Worlds
 
     
 
   
 
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5224 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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