OK. I am taking off next week and here's my talk schedule. - Georgia Tech, IDT (USA). Tuesday, Nov 5th. - University of Bergen (Norway). Monday, Nov 11th. - IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark). Friday, Nov 15th.
In addition to this, I will be in London and probably in Paris, too. Some readers from London have suggested to have an informal meeting (a.k.a. pub, beer, fish and chips), but since my London schedule is not yet completely defined, please go ahead and email me and we will see if we can put it together.
Brazil has a new president. It's hard to get excited by politicians in these times, but so far I am really glad about Lula's victory. Brazil is one of the biggest, richest and most unfair economies in the world. Inacio Lula da Silva is not rich, as most previous Brazilian presidents are. He suffered hunger during his childhood and didn't even attend high school. Of course, this won't necessarily make him a better president, but it's good to see that, sometimes, democracy works without frauds and rich daddys. I really hope the PT can improve Brazilians' life. It's a wonderful country and they surely deserve to live better.
If you like to save the good stuff for dessert, the last two things to read in Game Developer Magazine are Jennifer Olsen's editorials and Soapbox, the article on the last page (yes, that one that makes you flip back to the previous page). In the current edition (November's), Ernest Adams makes several good points about the role of academia in videogame production ("In Defense of Academe", p.56). Since the article is not online, I will try to quote as extensively as possible without having a team of lawyers after me.
Adams dixit "It's time that we in the game industry changed our attitude toward formal education and game research. The academy can do things that industry can't, because it's not constrained by the requirement to build profitable products". Then he enumerates three main reasons why "academic research isn't helping you to make better games". These are "game research is just getting started";"You may not be paying close enough attention" - for example, much of the work showcased at SIGGRAPH is made in universities; and "You may not be pushing the envelope [...] [because] since the academy doesn't have to sell its work, it can look into areas that are really speculative".
Personally, I understand part of the fears that academics raise within the industry. Many seldom play a game, but that's changing as the new generations are pushing in. It is also true that after the dot-com crash, new media has been fading out and gaming is becoming "cool" in academic circles. This phenomenon will take some time and meanwhile we will see plenty of re-inventions of the wheel (for example, dozens of articles on "the use of Propp in game design" , "gaming is just a form of interactive narrative" and other sophomore attempts that have been around for way more than a decade). The good news is that there is also a cool bunch of new researchers out there that are looking into games with a fresh mind and willing to take risks (one of the beauties of not having tenure), people who know their PS2s inside-out and will be able to talk with a game designer without quoting Derrida and Lacan every 30 seconds. Yes, we are witnessing the birth of a new discipline. These are the good times and we should enjoy the ride. Later, in a couple of decades, it will probably be institutionalized and will become the nightmare of some poor student on a Sunday night ("Gee, my ludology paper is due tomorrow 8 a.m. I should have studied Law instead...")
I am pleased to say that I will be giving a talk in Denmark around mid-November. More details to come. It will be a great opportunity to meet some of this site's readers and discuss, well, games. Here's some trivia: Denmark ranks 5th on the top reader list, according to my server stats, and has been one of the fastest growing groups, along with Australia. On the other side of the ranking is Qatar, where ludology.org seems to have one single faithful reader who has been with us for a long while now. Whoever's the guy in Qatar: "Have a nice one and thanks!" :)