Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Friday, August 17, 2007

Who will win: Zuma or Facebook?

Park Associates has put out somewhat doubtful information regarding the popularity of casual games. As much as I tend to think positive and like casual online games, I find it somewhat difficult to digest the news.

Park Associates is right about casual games being current and cool topic at the moment. Anyhow it surely is quite a challenge to compare registered users (e.g. Second Life), actual users (e.g. LinkedIn) and non-registered users (casual game sites) against each other. Most of casual game sites run solely on advertising revenue and do not ask for registration. It is true that you can buy the games in a "try-before-buy" matter but I would say it is exaggerated to say casual game sites have more mature revenue models. Additionally I wonder how Park Associates actually compare SNSs with casual game sites? What type of sites actually belong into this category (btw)? Fun games, money games, puzzle games, short games, simple games...?

Whatever the case, this is surely an interesting topic to discuss. According to Park Associates: "While developers and publishers look to sites such as YouTube, Facebook and MySpace as inspiration for community features in upcoming games, research shows that 34 % of US internet users play games online on a weekly basis (and according to one study more than half are females), compared to 29 % who visit online video sites and 19 per cent interested in social networking."

That's something!

[Partial source GamesIndustry.biz]

"Sex in Games" by Samsung

Trance Vibrator for Rez (PS2) was used as a sex toy though it was not explicitly marketed as such. It is one of the many examples Brenda Brathwaite has used when talking about Sex in Games. Now Samsung is giving their's contribution to the topic by filing a patent for device which measures body temperature.

According to Gizmondo.com: "A cell phone that lets lay-deez know if they're running a higher-than-normal chance of getting pregnant is the latest idea from Samsung. Samsung has filed a patent with the US Patent & Trademark Office for a portable device for user's basal body temperature (BBT) and method for operating the device. An ultrasonic or laser-based distance sensor, and an infrared ray temperature sensor installed around the speaker of the phone measures the distance of the phone to your ear and the temperature inside your eardrum. Then, software inside the phone processes the measurements and transforms them into BBT records, before recommending that, yes, you can have hot, crazy rumpo with no consequences, or yes, you've got a chance of making Junior if you get busy tonight." Yep!

Samsung is active in another games-related field as well. They filed another patent for mobile phone-gaming device. N-Gage déjà vu? Mobile phone manufacturers seem to be persistent about turning mobile phones into portable gaming devices. Samsung seems to believe that one button gaming will be followed by richer audiovisual game experiences. And that mobile phone manufacturers have a way to compete against Nintendo (DS) or Sony (PSP). It seems quite far fetched that they could actually compete against current wireless consoles but... Samsung has done tremendously well lately so who knows? And there are many lessons learned from N-Gage.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I still remember what I did last summer

...or was it fall? Anyhow, I confess spending hours and hours in gaining more weight and lowering the age of my brains. I was totally obsessed by Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training and Big Brain Academy. Every waking hour on a bus, at work, at home... was potential time for extreme training - truly HC! After my brains remained 20 year old for several weeks, my brains weighted nearly the maximum weight and I got a pile of platinum coins from different tasks, I started growing tired of it.

Last Friday Dr. Kawashima came back to my life. More Brain Training game was waiting for me when I got home. Is this the end of relaxed evenings and lazy mornings? Is this the beginning of another gray era of measuring weights, making pairs, memorizing stuff and calculating up and down?

After playing the sequal for four days, I am somewhat relieved to find that More Brain Training is too similar with the first one. Coin calculation is somewhat copied from Brain Age and tasks where you have to memorize numbers is practically same as the one at the original Brain Training. Dr. Kawashima is still the same amusing guy with a number of tips for the gamers. This does not mean that the game is a lousy one. It still offers a nice set of brain training activities, but for me it is too similar with the original Brain Training exercises.

If you would like to experience the fun of brain training but do not own NDS, check out Pelikone web site which was launched at Assembly a week back. Pelikone has some puzzle games too. My favourite Pelikone puzzle is Roadmania, but still... it is not nearly as entertaining as Dr. Kawashima... so... maybe this is not the end of our relationship after all :)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Assembly for tourists

If you consider visiting Finland next summer (beginning of August), do include Assembly computer festival to your itinerary. You don't have to be into games, digital music, youth culture or anything like. Assembly is a huge experience for tourists as well. Or perhaps you would prefer moving your office to Arena for four days ;)? The atmosphere is something completely different and out of the ordinary. This year over 5000 participants (~20 countries) settled to Helsinki Arena for four days and competed in different compo categories (from music and graphics to programming). Also Finnish Dance Gamers and GuitarHero gurus were there as well as working members from Finnish game developers association. Pelikone.fi web site was released. It is yet another "user generated games" site. (You'll find most recent ones (=Uusimmat) and Most popular ones measured by number of plays (=Pelatuimmat) and Most popular ones measured by the rating (=Parhaimmat). Also cool IRC-Galleria page was set up for Assembly.

The first photo is an overview of the Arena (from 2004) and the cute pink cuff is from this year ;)