Thursday, September 30, 2010
Here's an oldie and a goody: My keynote from Games Convention Asia, "The MBAAA" - a talk about some of the economics of big-project mobile game development and a tutorial for entertainment property development. Now, please keep in mind that the first half of the talk references numbers from over a year ago, and time marches on as numbers drum upward. (Heck, we didn't yet have "six-cent-per-daily-active-user" stories to tell ...)
The second part of the talk is timeless, platform-less, and something that every developer, publisher, student, and scandalously good-looking public relations flack should see (if only to pound with virtual tomatoes). Entertainment Property Development should be mistress to entire business units at organizations everywhere.
When watching part two, you might find it helpful to know that people were booing and moaning when the Disney slide came up ... that doesn't really come through from the audio in this recording.
To borrow from "Yahtzee" Croshaw, I was positively stonked during the Q&A for this talk: Every question asked included the phrase, "Entertainment Property." Wish they had gotten that on film ...
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
As I say in the keynote, it's hard to give a talk about the future of gaming, as anything - and I mean, "anything" - is possible. (Also, on a side note, I was shocked by just how much fun the town of Newcastle is: If you get a chance to attend GameHorizon, stay and play.)
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Big Brother - 1999
The reality competition Big Brother is much like the individual competition-portion of Survivor, in that players vote each other out of the game until a “jury” of losers dictates the winner. Unlike Survivor, the competition takes place for nearly 80 days, with players sequestered in a mansion that boasts over 50 cameras (which can be viewed from the Internet 24-hours a day) - also, Big Brother contestants have access to booze.
The element that truly separates Big Brother from Survivor, and the reason that I mention Big Brother here, is that all but two players are safe from elimination for the week - alliances of players can be easily broken, making the social dynamics of the game of Big Brother extremely fluid. Also unlike Survivor, the Big Brother audience can influence the progression of the game via electronic vote - in some cases even by completely eliminating one of the players.
Not in the least bit legal, Big Brother Archives links to every episode of the United States version of Big Brother - check out the All-Star run (7) for the greatest season of reality television ever filmed.
SiSSYFiGHT 2000 - 2000
The only video game dedicated solely to coopetition (that I can think of), SiSSYFiGHT 2000 puts the player in the Mary Janes of a grade school girl who must find playground victory by teasing, scratching, grabbing, and tattling on the other girls - should two (or more) girls tattle at the same time, they will be punished worse than had they let the other girls tease, scratch, or grab them. SiSSYFiGHT 2000: Six girls may enter the playground; only one girl may leave with self-esteem.
The constraints of the physical world prohibit us from doing a perfect, digital Survivor. At the same time, the beauty of video games is that video games free us from the constraints of the physical world!
Why vote people off the island when you could eat them instead? Imagine a Survivor-like game where your team is without food: In order to maintain energy, you have to cannibalize each other, but, at the same time, the more (uneaten and energized) players on your team, the greater your advantage in challenges. Or, you could be less imaginative (and less twisted) by doing a one-frag-elimination first-person shooter where, once your team is victorious, they must then frag each other.
Think of the possibilities that social networking platforms like Facebook bring to the table of coopetition! Imagine playing Survivor with your friends and frenemies. Social gaming is all the rage: But social gaming won’t be truly “social” until players can harm each other as easily as they can help each other.
“Coopetition” is, of course, a repulsive portmanteau word that should be nailed to a post and left to die. However, Foe is correct that, oddly, most digital games are purely cooperative, purely competitive, or team-based with no ability to change teams. So-called "social" games, by contrast, are essentially single-player games transpiring in a universe with many other players, but in which player interaction is minor. To be truly "social," a game must foster communication and interaction among the players, which is best done when players may both injure and benefit each other -- so that negotiation, alliance formation, and backstabbing are critical elements of play.
Eric Zimmerman (blog)
In a sense, every competitive game is also cooperative: If you and I are going to take part in the contest of Chess, we both need to speak the same language - of playing Chess by the rules - and collaborate in order to make our game happen. Some game designs do emphasize the tension between competition and cooperation. SiSSYFiGHT was inspired by classic Game Theory problems like the Prisoners Dilemma, in which two players have to outguess each other, deciding whether or not the other player is going to collaborate or not. SiSSYFiGHT combined this core game tension with the angry mob / flame war / trash talking of the internet, making for extremely entertaining games. Sadly, SiSSYFiGHT did not survive the closing of Gamelab last year and ended its ten-year run online in 2009.
You find yourself at the very edges of a criminal empire. On the one hand, you are tasked with infiltrating it and bringing it to its knees. On the other hand, you have to work with the others already in the empire to build a case against them. Doing so requires you walk a delicate line, simultaneously working with criminals and against them all the while hoping they will implicate one another (and seeding opportunities for them to do so). Craft a set of rules which would allow for such a game.
* For those not in the know: Eric Zimmerman’s annual Game Design Challenge is one of the two ultimate feathers for a games professional’s cap. Past winners include Will Wright and Alexey Pajitnov. The other ultimate feather is the annual DICE Summit Poker Invitational. Past winners include Ray Muzyka and ... me. No person has ever won both, so suck it.
Posted by Scott Foe at 4:43 PM