Amyris Fernandez is a PhD student who is currently visiting the Center for Computer Game Research. As part of her research project, she is looking for game designers willing to take part in a questionnaire. If you are a game designer and want to help, please click here. The test doesn't take more than 30 minutes and you can only do it once. Thanks!
Cartoon Network just launched what they call their "most ambitious game to date", based on their show Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. I am really happy to report that the game was produced by Powerful Robot Games' amazing team (I am so proud of you guys!). rThe game is episodic and will feature new content every month for a whole year!rYou can play the game here. Registration is required but no email address or personal info is collected (you just need a username so all the game data can be stored on a server). rI hope that you enjoy playing it as much as everybody at Powerful Robot Games enjoyed making it.
Today at ITU we had a discussion on cloning and casual games. The first thing that I do after returning to my office is open up The Escapist and find an article about cloning and casual games. rIt is very easy to enter in the blame-game: who copied whom; who was inspired by whom. The classic example is the Zuma/Luxor/Puzz Loop. rThe article also accuses PlayFirst/GameLab's super-popular casual game Diner Dash as a "a straightforward imitation of Betty's Beer Bar by Mystery Studio. (Mystery is a two-man team based in, believe it or not, Uruguay.)" I know for a fact that Betty's Beer Bar was released before Diner Dash and it is true that the mechanics are quite similar. Personally, I am not interested that much into figuring out if this is plagiarism or not (even though I am biased towards the Uruguayan game industry. Go Uruguay Go!). I am more interested by understanding why Diner Dash was such a hit and Betty's Beer Bar (BBB) did not do so well. Multiple hypothesis are available. A plausible one is that BBB dealt with alcohol, a taboo subject in the States, where overeating is not a problem but overdrinking is. As Jesper Juul pointed out today, it may also be because of the game's narrative: Diner Dash's main character, Flo, escapes from her office job to start her own chain of restaurants (this may help fuel the fantasies of the mythical +35 old women who play casual games at the office). rIn any case, The Escapist's article is worth reading. And congrats to Mystery Studio for helping to get the word "Uruguay" and "Innovation" published together on the same phrase!
By now, you all are probably a bit fed up with all the E3 coverage. True, it is interesting to see Sony doing a couple of faux-pas (tilt sensors on the controller!) and Peter Moore siding with Nintendo (he said that players will buy a 360 + Wii and pay the same price of a PS3). rIt is fun to be in the predictions game but, as I get older and my hair goes grayer, I have seen my share of console transitions to say that it is too early to draw conclusions. After all, it's the games that count and we should not underestimate the power of the Playstation brand. That being said, of course I am cheering for the Wii. Keep in mind that I was cheering for Sega -I am a big Dreamcast fan- but my lovely support was not enough to save them :) rSo, we'll need to wait to 2007 (I doubt we'll be able to put our hands on a PS3 before then). Meanwhile, enjoy the E3 coverage and play with whatever console is around. As I said, it's all about the games.
I have posted an extensive analysis of the UNBELIEVABLE real story on how Defense contractors shown evidence of al Qaeda videogames to US Congressmen. The "real" evidence turned up to be an amateur video featuring voice overs from South Park creator Trey Parker. It would be funny if these weren't powerful people. Interestingly, mainstream press has so far failed to publish about this embarrassing event. As far as I know, Congressmen have not yet been warned that they were fed fake information. In a normal world, people would lose their jobs over this, to the very least. rClick here to read the full report and be ready to lose whatever respect you had left on the current US Government.
Hey, if you speak Dutch, maybe you can help me with a little problem that I ran into. There seems to be a big discrepancy between the Spanish and English translations of Huizinga's famous definition of play. The English translation states that play is "a free activity standing quite consciously outside ”ordinary” life as being ”not serious”, but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly". On the other hand, the Spanish translation introduces a make-belief element (play is performed "as if"). Here's my literal translation of the Spanish version: "a free activity performed 'as if' and perceived as being outside 'ordinary life". rTranslating is never easy, I know. I just wanted to know if that "as if" element is present or not in the original Dutch definition. If you happen to know, please let me know. Thanks!
I just received a review copy of JPod, Douglas Coupland's new novel. I enjoyed Microserfs (many, many moons ago.) I have plenty of work-related books to read but I guess that since the novel deals with game developers, I could argue that it is work-related and therefore I can read it for my thesis! :)
After 5 years. Damn, I can't believe time goes this fast. In any case, last week was ludology.org's birthday. Blogs have birthdays? I guess they do. In any case, I felt the urge to post something about it so this is it.