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  ‘CSI:NY’ Meets ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
I wasn't able to catch the recent CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, but thankfully other bloggers were on the case. Here's a link-dump from around the blogosphere about this TV / virtual-world mashup...

  • Good, short review of CSI:NY's Second Life crossover episode. Sounds like the TV episode was solid. How will the Second Life side measure up?
  • Virtually Blind reviews the recent CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, including the in-world experience: "While it has flaws, it is head and shoulders above any mainstream virtual world tie-ins we've seen so far."
  • The Second Life Herald's Pixeleen Mistral notes that some Second Life merchants attempted to game-jack incoming CSI:NY viewers by adding CSI-style search terms to their store descriptions. Clever!
  • Roundup of some mini-reviews of the CSI:NY / Second Life crossover. Mixed results, still expecting more discussion of this over the next month or so. How many people signed up to play the Second Life experience?
  • About CSI:NY / Second Life crossover, Tateru Nino says "large numbers" registered for SL, but the custom OnRez viewer download failed for many. "No flood" of newcomers to SL. "The Jury is still out as to whether the whole shebang will be a hit or or a miss.
  • Prokofy Neva muses about the aftermath, noting SL signups log-ons [thanks for the correction, Prok] actually went down from 41k to 38k during "this supposed 'rush.'" Reportedly about 700 avatars in-world on the CSI islands.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Electric Sheep’ Improve ‘Second Life’ Interface  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Electric Sheep Company, a large third-party developer of virtual-world products and services will soon launch its own window into the world of Second Life. The pending client software (known as a "viewer") has been commercially licensed by Second Life maker/maintainer Linden Lab, according to an official press release.

Based on a limited range of screenshots and online discussion about the upcoming viewer, it appears that the Electric Sheep Company has gone a long way in addressing one of the chief problems facing new users: The interface. Historically, Second Life's viewer has been difficult to use, suffering from the classic "designed by engineers" syndrome plaguing many graphical user-interfaces and software applications.

Continue reading: ‘Electric Sheep’ Improve ‘Second Life’ Interface
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘EVE Online’ Seeks Citizen Journalists  
 
 
Posted 2007-10-09 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Players of sci-fi MMO EVE Online have been invited to apply for in-world reporter jobs as part of the "News Clones" wing of EVE TV, a web-based broadcast by the makers of the game for its players. According to the official call-out, the EVE universe is too large to cover with EVE TV's original staff: "Stationing reporters and correspondents across the Galaxy means we can cover more events, investigate more stories, and offer a broader scope for news."

News Clones, a sort of citizen journalist team, will be unpaid, but will receive special social status and broadcast credits. Applicants need only to possess "decent" English skills and the ability to file stories on time... hardly a high standard in reporting, but given that EVE has already had success with its own in-house magazine and its (paid) fan contributors, it's likely some skilled News Clone reporters will emerge to cover EVE from the inside out.

Continue reading: ‘EVE Online’ Seeks Citizen Journalists
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Fallen Alternate Reality Game’ Wins Primetime Emmy Award  
 
 
Posted 2007-09-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Congratulations to Xenophile Media for their Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Television" in recognition of the Fallen Alternate Reality Game. Designed and created with Matt Wolf of Double Twenty Productions, the game was an intensive promotion and tie-in to the ABC Family TV movie Fallen which aired last summer. As part of the Xenophile team, I played a critical writing and design role on the game. Because there's a press release out already, I can finally talk publicly about some participation numbers: 2.8 million visitors to the game's web site, and 250,000 players. Nice!

This is the second major award the game has received this year, and the second Emmy award for Xenophile's lauded alternate reality games. Thanks, Xenophile, for inviting me to write stories and develop game-play on these projects. I love my work.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘CSI’ Creator Plots Virtual World Extension  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-14 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
CSI creator and series executive producer Anthony Zuiker will deliver the opening keynote speech at the upcoming Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo, according to the event's organizers, who say that Zuiker "will provide insight into how the top rated CSI: NY will be utilizing virtual worlds to extend the broadcast television property and making it interactive in the virtual world."

I won't be able to attend the conference, scheduled for October 10-11 in San Jose, but I look forward to hearing the details of CSI's virtual world plot. What I'd most like to see happen with the series is one or more CSI-themed events, or a semi-permanent "crime lab" installation staged in There or vSide. What I'd least like to see is an entire virtual world revolving around CSI.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Pirate Master’ Walks the Plank  
 
 
Posted 2007-08-07 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
So-called "reality" TV show Pirate Master has been fed to the sharks. While it started out promising enough, the show ended up sailed into Uninteresting Territory after a few episodes--really, it was a pity the producers didn't just mount a piratey live-action role playing game instead of a TV series.

Skotos Tech's Shannon Appelcline provides a detailed account of Pirate Master's game play, finding that the use of real money as part of the in-game rewards system invited human jealousy (creating dramatic tension) and the introduction of barter added pleasing variety to game play. Applecline's analysis pairs up nicely with a few brief observations I made about the show's design last month. I'd still love to know how games like Pirate Master are play-tested.
 
     
 
   
 
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  Study: Young People See Technology As Means to End  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-24 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft released summary findings today from surveys of 18,000 tech-savvy young people across the globe indicating that technology itself isn't as important as the activities technology facilitates: Namely communication, social networking, self-expression, and entertainment.

The surveys also found:
  • Marketers are as influential and important as friends.
  • Digital communications and social networking compliment, rather than compete with TV.
  • Technology enhances, rather than replaces in-person interaction.
  • Japanese young people generally don't have their own computers until college-age, but do use mobile phones.
  • Chinese young people look to the internet to connect with others, since they have no siblings.
  • Young people of Italy, Brazil and Australia use mobiles to meet up, socialize, and take pictures.
  • Danes "can't live without" mobiles or TV. The Dutch "can't live without" email.
It's worth reiterating that the surveys were conducted with "tech embracing" kids and young people, therefore conclusions like "Young people are now constantly connected," or "There is a powerful link between TV and the Internet," uttered by MTV Network's Fahey Rush are forgone, in my opinion. How would the survey have been different if the other side of the digital divide had been polled?
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘Thursdays Fictions’: Book, Film, and ‘Second Life’ Presence  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Earlier this year I traveled to Tasmania to co-mentor teams of film and TV producers as part of the ongoing LAMP initiative driven by AFTRS. I had a rewarding experience working as the "guardian mentor" for a project known as Thursday's Fictions, which began life as a book, migrated to a DVD film (to be aired on ABC TV), blossomed into an interactive concept at LAMP, and will now be extended into Second Life.

The creative artists behind Thursday's Fictions, Dr. Richard James Allen and Dr. Karen Pearlman of The Physical TV Company, are brimming with imagination and talent, so I'll be interested to see how their original concept has evolved in collaboration with Second Life-savvy Gary Hayes, Director of LAMP at AFTRS and The Project Factory.

Following the ABC TV broadcast of the film on July 29, you'll be able to teleport to ABC Island in Second Life, where Drs. Allen and Pearlman will host a meet-and-greet in avatar form. A virtual Thursday's Fictions environment is now under construction, with new sections planned for launch this week, and some surprises to follow the broadcast. More info available on the ABC TV microsite for Thursday's Fictions.
 
     
 
   
 
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  ‘MTV True Life’ Seeks Virtual World Fanatics  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-18 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
MTV's True Life hopes to document your adventures in avatarism. A representative of the show's production team asked me to pass on a call-out in the hopes of enticing eligible candidates out of the woodwork:
Does your virtual avatar make you feel confident behind your computer screen? Is there something interesting or unique about your life online? Are you able to lead hundreds of people in games like World of Warcraft but find yourself shy in real life? Did you meet your significant other online? Is your online avatar completely different from who you are in real life? If so, we would love to hear your story.
If you appear to be between the ages of 16 and 28, and live another life on the web, email us at: sgibson@leftright.tv or Truelife@leftright.tv with your story. Please include your name, age, location, and pictures of you and a description of your avatar.
Yup, another virtual-world documentary [1,2,3,4] is underway. I think I've spoken to about six producers from virtual-world-related docs for both film and TV in the last 12 months. I don't mean to criticize any of these projects, but I'm concerned that audiences will get burned out on the subject matter by the time two or three of these documentaries are released, which could be bad news for those which aren't first to market.
 
     
 
   
 
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  How Is A ‘Reality’ TV Game Play-Tested?  
 
 
Posted 2007-07-11 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Maybe this is too early to call, but it seems "reality" TV game show Pirate Master is suffering from a bit of a positive feedback loop issue--the better the leading team performs, the better the leading team performs. This apparent flaw results from the intersection of game's design with the live human and environmental aspect. What's happening is that the lesser of the two teams (the "crew") works harder, eats less, drinks more alcohol, and has drastically lower morale than the Captain and his mates, resulting in a physical and mental downward spiral for the underdogs. Perhaps this is all part of the plan, or perhaps there's a design team standing by to make changes to the game as it progresses--obviously if the show continues as it is currently, it won't be very dramatic.

I don't know a thing about how "reality" TV game shows are designed and developed, but I'm curious to know if and how they're play-tested prior to deployment. I hope testing consists of more than just a dry-run on paper--it seems prudent to involve live testers in the same environments as the game will be staged in, as environment can easily trump game mechanics. Anyone have an inside scoop on how testing is conducted?
 
     
 
   
 
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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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