Monday, July 30, 2007

Games as a [sort of] sporting event

As an addition to my previous post, the NY Times writes about World Series of Video Games Tournament.

"Wiewers flicking channels looking for a ballgame or golf tournament may instead encounter a couple of young guys rocking out on plastic guitars, or some (literally) disembodied digital boxers throwing uppercuts, or a fanciful animated wizard casting a spell."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Manly men play In the Groove

The odour of sweat and persistent THUMP THUMP sounds ascertained me to be at the right place. On Saturday and Sunday the best of the best Finnish dance gamers were competing for the Finnish Champion title.

It was small surprise that basically all competitors were male. It was also interesting to see how casual but sportmanlike the guys were. They were resting and stretching before their turn (2 songs at a time) and supporting other players after their shot.

The competition would have been a good wake up call for those who consider gaming to be bad for your health or antisocial activity. This time we didn't see those doupters in the audience, just dance gamers and a bunch of people following the competition. BTW Finnish Dance Gamers Association was added as a affiliate of Finnish Dance Sport Assocation (May 2007).

The competition was played with In The Groove arcade machine. For those who don't know, a short introduction to dance games might be useful. DanceDanceRevolution and In the Groove are the best known dance games on the market. Konami (Japan) has been the father of dance games and it actually acquired Roxor (developer of In the Groove) last year. In the dance games a player is stepping on the up-right-down-left panels when the corresponding arrow on the screen reaches the right spot. In the Finnish Championships competitors were evaluated according to their accurancy (hitting the right panel at the right time) percentage. Every song has a unique stepping pattern reflecting the rhythm of the song.

Ok.. but back to the competition. There was A (bar and no-bar > to lean on) and B category. Rangifer (red clothes) won the B-category. My absolute favourite was Hardcore of the North - Säkkijärven polkka remix played on Saturday. Unfortunately I don't have a video of that but WOW! It was super!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Puzzle for the clever

Would you like to win 2 million $? All you have to do is to solve a puzzle. "Eternity II" will be lanched on 28th July. It is a puzzle with the $2million prize (online demo available).

¨Unlike most puzzles, which only have one correct way of completing the final solution, there are thousands of ways that Eternity II can be solved to win the $2 million prize. The puzzle consists of 256 square pieces that are bordered by coloured patterns which must be aligned across the whole puzzle.¨

You can check the demo version from Eternity II website. It is really compelling game. My best time is 1.49.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Adult female gamers Do exist!

Greeting from Åland! The streets of Mariehamn are full of snails and crowd attending Rock Off festival.

I was browsing eCOGRAs study on eGaming when I came across very interesting data regarding female players. I have guessed that women find online leisure games (played just for fun, killing time) more interesting than gambling/money games but according to eCORAs study "online" is the key word here. Online enables easy access to games (both leisure and gambling), social interaction and relatively low risk for female players. According to the study 54.8% of online casino gamers are female and what is most interesting is that we are not talking about 'young adults' here, the online casino queens are ~46-55 year olds. [Internet poker is 73.8% dominated by young male (26-35 year olds).]

And similarly to leisure games, there are profound differences between how and why men and women gamble online. My observations: internet is everyday life tool also for (adult) women, women do kill time and get entertained online (earlier it was strongly pointed out that women are occupied with children, cooking, housekeeping and do not have time to have fun with games), women and men get motivated or excited with different issues (level of risk, social interaction, relieve of boredom...).

I also believe that online gambling sites will move towards Social Networking Services and leisure games in many ways. This will put up exciting possibilities both for game developers and researchers. This is an interesting data to be discussed further at SuperMarit Bombastic!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Back on track -- user generated games

After long & relaxing holiday I am currently focusing on innovation methods and pondering what values people get from playing games [Easy to play, social interaction, excitement, fun, entertainment, relieve boredom, gaining something, reputation, bonuses, branding], what are the motivational and risk factors in games and what type of horizontal innovations [Everyday life >> leisure >> games >> wellbeing] could be developed. I will share my thought of that a bit later.

This time I wanted to put forward YoYo Games which is somewhat related to GreatGamesExperiment and Kongregate. Lessons learned? This is clearly a trend and it surely is evolving (which make it interesting to follow). It remains to be seeing how different user generated games (portals) are from mainstream publications/concepts and will truly innovative concepts/games be posted to such portals. In the music industry (e.g. MySpace) it works well but games industry has totally different operational logic. Anyhow it is nice to see the trend of user generated games (incl., & related) growing!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Highlights from CultureTechnology (Korea)

CultureTechnology07 was one of the most diverse conference I have attended for a while. Interactions between technology and culture were looked from different viewpoints ranging from online games to digital cinema and from virtual performances to music shows. Albeit it was challenging to follow (due to variety of viewpoints and theoretical approaches) it was very inspiring! In a way "out of the box" thinking for me. It was excellently organized, so big thank you to KAIST and their cooperators!

The highlights:

- Social Networking Services (SNS) are huge and highlight interesting trends in online cultures

- CyWorld have 16 million users (out of 48 million population)

- The success factors are somewhat similar to other online communities: friend list/relationships (il-chon), guestbook, photo scrap book, avatar and testimonials (il-chon pyung)
- is the largest portal (e commerce) site in Korea (23 million members) by Daum Communications

- The company provides e-mail (, an online community (DaumCafe), an Internet search engine (DaumSearch), and multi-media content (Contents Plug)

- Unemployed youth (Baegsoo) is an interesting group creating of novel type of virtual lifestyles

- is a site for unemployed youth in Korea

- Online wasn't as visible in the streets/malls as it was in 2003 when I visited Seoul for the first time (It seemed that consoles are gaining more popularity but still pc online gaming has its strong foothold in Korean game culture)

- Jake Song (XLgames) was talking about the success factors of Korean online games. According to Mr. Song: high speed internet, weak console market, together culture, PC Bang culture (founded by ICT specialists fired from bigger corporations due to financial crisis at the end of the 90s) and every developers were the key factors why the success of games such as Lineage and MU amazed westerners in 2003 (those were the first big MMOG hits)

- Mr. Song sees the future of online games to focus on storytelling, user generated content, realism (Ai, physical and visual) as well as technology (interaction, emotions etc.)

- Content is advancing technology not the other way around (anymore)

- Presentation slides available:

** Seoul by night
** Excellent dinner
** MGame's Holic was on beta at COEX mall. (It was really interesting format and nice set of minigames utilizing computer vision).
** 2.0 is everywhere :)