The film is satirical in tone, but actually, worlds like Second Life which allow user-created content and real/virtual currency exchange are viable places for hiring out "sweatshop" labor, depending on what sort of work product you're looking for.
So-called "camping chairs," which pay Second Life users to linger in specific locations (known as "camping" in gamer parlance), pay a very low wage to workers in North America and Europe, but could actually provide a decent income in some countries. A few years ago, the New York Times reported that most Chinese gold farmers make under $0.25 USD per hour. The sweatshop featured in Invisible Threads pays in virtual currency equivalent to $0.90 USD hourly.
Indie warlord Jim Munroe informed his mailing list today that his Artsy Games Incubator is holding an open house in Toronto at the Mobile Experience Lab on Wed. April 23rd at 7pm. Writes Jim, "there'll be short presentations of the games we made using accessible tools... we're also inviting people in the indie games community at large to bring their games-in-progress to demo -- and no, you don't have to identify as an artist." Yes, but how do we define "indie?" And what if I'm not indie but I'm making an artsy game?
The third installment of the Toronto Game Jam was announced to mailing list members today. Registration is now open for the frantic game-making event, which runs May 9 - 11, 2008. From the call-out: "It's FREE and open to anyone in the world with a modicum of game making ability. Coders! Artists! Designers! Musicians! All are welcome." Sounds like fun, if you can stay up for 72 hours straight.
Lastly, the Second Skin virtual world documentary will make its Toronto debut on April 21 and 23. I make a 15-second appearance in the film, so I'm totally biased when I insist that you go see it--more importantly, help the filmmakers get the word out to local media so that the uninitiated flock to the film in droves.
"We're in early stages on a feature film...pre-production stages...but it will still be a while," says 'Oddworld' creator Lorne Lanning as he heads towards 'Oddworld 2.0' business model. Whatever that is.
Fictional game shown on 'CSI' fails to be launched as actual game. Missed opportunity not just for gaming but for transmedial storytelling. Good opening for a "fiction-jacker" to create their own version of the game.
"This paper presents a survey of different kinds of interaction designs in movies during the past decades and relates the techniques of the films to existing technologies and prototypes where possible."
"Violence depicted on television, in films and video games raises the risk of aggressive behavior in adults and young viewers and poses a serious threat to public health, according to a new study." Panic on the streets of London!
Since 2006, I've been following the adventures of the team at Pure West--filmmakers researching and journaling MMO game culture for a documentary which would come to be called Second Skin. The team's blog gave a behind-the-scenes look at the trials of the documentarians and their evolving subject-matter, but I was fortunate enough to meet the filmmakers first-hand during one of their many journeys across the U.S., Canada, and overseas. These guys weren't just trying to cash in on the swelling interest in MMOs, or exploit players as objects of curiosity or ridicule--it was clear their mission was to seek out and reveal some compelling human stories at the intersection of real and virtual worlds.
The Second Skin trailer makes its debut today, and I'm not excited about it simply because of my brief on-camera appearance :) I feel like this will be a topical, socially-relevant documentary that will make a lasting mark. Something that may end up as course-material some day (certainly I'll be buying the DVD). The filmmakers clearly poured their blood and sweat into Second Skin, and at first glance, it really shows. Congratulations to the Pure West team and everyone (it seems like dozens) they interviewed. I think you have a hit on your hands.
Almost 7 years ago, a team of creative Canadians launched Broken Saints, an online motion-graphic novel which evolved over 24 chapters and garnered a massive international fan-base. Series creator Brooke Burgess described the series as "cinematic literature" in a 2002 interview. I'd call the series "groundbreaking" in that it pushed accepted boundaries of web-based storytelling as well as the technical limitations of Flash as a production tool. Unlike cartoon "webisodes," Broken Saints used a painterly, textured approach more at home on film than the web.
The award-winning series has since been remastered and released on DVD through 20th Century Fox, but the project team hasn't stopped there: The "band" reformed to produce a series of mini-films as part of a promotion for the Will Smith sci-fi thriller I Am Legend.
According to a press release Brooke Burgess sent my way, he and cohort Ian Kirby have been secretly producing the animated shorts since last spring, when they were approached by Will Smith's production company. The mini-films range from 3-9 minutes each, and feature original music, sound design, and voice talent from the Broken Saints audio team. Apple is hosting "Awakening" and "Isolation," which echo all the best Broken Saints production values in the I Am Legend universe.
Applications are due February 1, 2008, for next year's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies, a 10-day program designed to give eight teams of documentary-makers a taste of new media, gaming, and cross-platform possibilities. Hosted and organized by the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) in San Francisco, the Producer's Institute is intense, energetic, and highly productive. The program runs May 30 - June 8: For complete information, or to submit an on-line application, please go to: bavc.org/producersinstitute.
I was a mentor at the 2007 Institute (held earlier this year), and thoroughly enjoyed working both with BAVC and the invited documentarians. It was a fantastic opportunity to teach, learn, and cross-pollinate, and I'm sure the 2008 event will offer more the same.
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.
"By using Second Life, the minsters were able to reach a much wider range of the earth’s population to talk about the impact climate change is having on everyone." If 'wider range' means reaching up to 200 people who happen to have high-end computers and substantial bandwidth, then yes, mission accomplished.
Tile-based strategy game Zombies!!! sells 100k copies since 2001, not including localized versions or expansion packs. Bloody good sales for a relatively obscure tabletop game. It's an easy pick-up-and-play game with tiny plastic zombie figures, so that explains some of the appeal.
Please help me. I've become hooked on the dangerously-addictive Flash game Desktop Tower Defense after playing it under a dozen times. The first time I was exposed to the "tower defense" concept was through a custom-made Warcraft III mod (like this one here) one of my students showed me last year. The idea is simple: Plan, build, and maintain a defense system which automatically destroys waves of brainless attackers. The Warcraft version didn't pique my interest--it seemed too "busy," but the Flash version cuts to the chase, throwing out the fancy graphics in favor of finely-tuned game-play. The addictive nature of the game--for me, anyway--is in discovering optimal strategies for play given that the configuration of in-game defenses is limitless.