Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Finland 7 points"

Interactive Entertainment Today listed Europe's top 50 game studios. Remedy was the only studio from Finland (with 7 points). Finnish mobile game developers have been well on view but there are still things to be done before they top the charts.

I think this list is a good reference point when trying to come up with better processes, higher quality products, technical innovations or original IP. And how can you come up with better processes or learn from the professionals? If you live in Finland, I warmly welcome you to the IGDA Finland lecture series this fall. We'll have an excellent line of speakers and we deal with practical issues on game development and lessons to be learned from other professionals.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mobile Games 2010

Nokia's Mobile Games 2010 report is out now. 'The Mobile Games 2010 report looks at how mobile gaming could be like in year 2010 from three points of view: games and players, technology, and business. The study was done by interviewing about 20 mobile game publishers, developers, operators, and inviting experts to write articles on the topic.'

Another view to the topic was given by Robert Tercek at GDC07. I met Robert at the E3 (in 2003) for the first time when he chaired an excellent mobile game session. I have been a fan ever since. The GDC keynote titled 'The first decade of mobile games' offered good points to the questions: 'What can we learn from the first decade of this new platform?' and 'What will come next?'. These two presentations/reports give a good overview of the history as well as current / future trends of mobile gaming.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Fête - Fête

The summer is finally here as well as various summer events and parties. The week started at the sunny terrace of Merimakasiini. I was having a dialogue/presentation with Marjo Laukkanen about the possibilities of social media, online communities and game-like services for youth work. The Youth Department of the city of Helsinki already has Netari (online facility for the youth) at the Habbo world and now they are looking for ways to reach more youngsters via the net. We tried to highlight that online world is not a separate world from the everyday life but an extension and not all of the online worlds are alike. Some support anonymous real time communication, some services are a way to show off etc. We created a list of terms to highlight the contradictions (see the image). In the evening I joined the IGDA Helsinki crew meeting. I am excited to be involved in the activities and I'll hope to get a "lecture/presentation series" up and running this fall. The Finnish game industry is growing and maturing rapidly. There are a lot of knowledge to be shared and IGDA lecture series is a perfect way to share the findings and experiences. I really hope developers agree with me on this. We'll see.

One manifestation of the vitality of Finnish game industry is high level game releases. Bugbear and Housemarque were celebrating their newest releases FlatOut Ultimate Carnage and Super Stardust HD on Wednesday. Super Stardust HD is already out (for PS3) and FlatOut (XBox 360) is to be relased on June 22nd in Europe.

On Thursday I discussed about the Millennials and the changes in working environment. The event was organized by Youth Academy and we really had a great discussion. My key point was that young people are applying communication practises of past time into the working life. Blogs, wikis, P2P networking, Rating, Ranking and Reputation and openness are just a few issues companies should seriously consider as MeWe/Millennial/Y-generation is already utilising these possibilities in the working life as well. But companies still do not have clear ideas about the social media phenomena, they do not know how to look at blogs, should they control "P2P / viral communication" and what to do when youngsters do not care about hierarchies or official procedures but instead do things proactively and ask from online networks and friends instead of some "gurus". Forum Virium Helsinki organized nice barbeque party in the evening. And on Friday I chatted with Finnish A-Clinic Foundation. They are creating really interesting "Shadow World" service for youth whose parents are alcoholics. It is yet another novel kind of attempt to utilize social networks and game-like worlds to deliver an important message and enable trusty interaction with youngsters in a same situation as well as with experts. Wine Tasting party at the beautiful balcony of Suze's brand new home was a perfect ending for the week :)

As a final reminder for all you girlgames and game designers out there, be sure to register for SuperMarit Bombastic! See you there in September.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Defining digital games

Is it PlayStation or Playstation? What is fragging? How would you define "spawn point"? What are the common modifiers for genres?
David Thomas, Kyle Orland and Scott Steinberg just published an additional reference guide to the "Video Game Marketing and PR" book. They are trying to describe all terms relevant to the game industry professionals and journalists.

Should be useful, interesting! Check it out: The Videogame Style Guide and Reference Manual.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Some notes from DigiFrance event

I am going to attend CultureTechnology symposium in Seoul at the end of June. I will talk about content crossing mobile and online as well as virtual and real from the European (game industry/culture) perspective. While looking for the latest facts and figures of the industry I noticed DigiFrance event organized by French cultural center. I though of checking it out whether it would offer some extra ingredients to my talk.

Mark Ollila talked about Nokia N-Gage which has transformed from an ugly handset into a pretty interesting software platform. Nokia is transferring social media trends (from PC Internet) into the mobile, like possibilities to Browse and Try or Modify and Review (~UGC) the content. There are at least two challenges: the limitations of the user interface and the lack of functional distribution channels. At the moment it is a bit hard to find interesting mobile content (though it exists!) and the mini joystick or keypad is not always the easiest mode of interaction.

Jani Kajala from Rovio was sure that mobile platform differences will vanish by the development of technology. He also believes that the future wireless device is mobile (cellular) phone (or multimedia computer as Nokia calls it). At the moment I find it hard to imagine a situation when I would pass on from cool and easy to use NDS with Stylus to a bulky Nokia N95 with relatively small keyboard. But time will tell... Mobile game developers certainly have a lot to do before they reach the sales of NDS.

What else? Online gamers can be divided into four groups (killers, achievers, socializers and explorers) said Stéphane Natkin. And according to Apaja online game portal's CEO Inka Mero, Apaja has invented a novel kind of online gaming which involved casual gaming, social aspects and avatars ;) What a novelty! What ever the case they seem to be doing pretty well with their portal (games like TicTacToe, card games, worm)! Their average player is pretty much the same as other free casual game portals have: F50/M50 and 30% are over 30 years olds.