Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My top 5 from GDC08

1. Community
In-game and common social interaction and community features were key theme at the GDC08. Microsoft explained how XNA game studio would democratize game development and distribution. I totally agree with Russ Pitts's report at the Escapist: "The silence in the room said more than (Christopher) Satchell could have in twenty more minutes. It was as if every single developer was thinking "if anyone can make games ... what am I going to do?". Despite the fact user generated content and peer-group communities are already here. Also e.g. Spore was much into community and user generated content is coming out in September.

2. Machinima
Several companies were providing tools for machinima developers at the expo floor. For example Korean I-TONIC company had developed a Kloseup.com game community within which players could utilize their favourite game characters to create short movies.

3. Sims success
TheSimsCarnival online community is out on beta. All Sims fans should check it out! EA also announced the Sims to hit a 100 million mark soon.

4. Fable2
Peter Molyneux disclosed Fable 2 to contain dynamic co-op gaming and possibility to get money for doing quests, doing jobs and for gambling. Especially the idea of linking an Xbox live arcade game with Fable 2 was interesting. A player coulg gamble (with fake money) online and transfer that as credits/gold to Fable.

5. Casual games
In his keynote, Playfirst CEO John Welch envisioned an opportunity to elevate video games to become a first-tier form of entertainment, like TV. The goal is reached when 'casual games' goes away as a category, and 'hard-core games' is the niche. I am not that sure about that but nevertheless casual games were everywhere from Facebook gaming to online casual game portals and advergaming.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Development Support for Nordic Games -new round starts

From Nordic Game:
A total of 6 million Danish crowns (DKK) have been granted for development support to Nordic game companies in 2008, and the available funds will be allocated over two application rounds. The application deadline for the first round is 24:00 (midnight) on 1 April 2008

The projects that are granted funding in the first round will be presented at the Nordic Game 2008 conference in Malmö on the 14-15 May.

More information about the program from Nordic Game Program website. See you all at Nordic Game Conference 2008!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Play + innovation

Playpump is an interesting innovation and a solution to a number of water-related problems. It is no news that any innovation which would solve the water problem in third world countries is a key to improve people's lives in the area. It just is not that simple... but Playpump innovation is really cleaver. It focuses on quality of life and fun which is -- as such -- already one solution to the problem. Also it does not only look at the problem but more of the everyday life and the context of the problem, motivational factors and values.

I wish this inspires you to think of play and/or games similarly in different context -- as a part of bigger solutions or innovations which do not necessarily have be "save the world" type of ideas but which could make a difference.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Any good living lab models out there?

In Finland many research projects got public funding (by Tekes, EU etc.). Funding is linked with personal experience (=longer courier and better business network) and/or enthusiasm; "sisu" (guts) to come up with a good R&D consortium. Too often the result is just another report or a prototype which will never be utilized commercially. That is because researchers get more steady income and more opportunities for experimenting at a research institution and companies have not really put that much effort to the project because it is publicly funded. Also some companies lack strategic solutions and operational model on how to turn a prototype into a product. Anyhow this has a lot to do with individuals and their will to take the project further. This IMHO is the key.

For example Google has promoted innovative solution to allow anyone to put 20% of their time to a personal project. This is very interesting because it motivates people but also gives responsibility. That would mean people have the will and the way plus good network of like-minded people around them. Another interesting example is Wikipedia. It is an online living lab where crowdsourcing and self-regulation is the key. This time the will is not as clear as the way.

Key words such as living labs, open or systemic innovations and community generated content have often been mentioned in touch with more experimental product development. In Finland Forum Virium Helsinki has put up Helsinki Living Lab project which tries to find ways to active citizens to contribute and improve communal services. Sound dull, right? The trick is to make a dull thing interesting and motivate people to take more active role in decision making and/or influence decision makers.

What would be the best model to come up with new solutions? Would it be open innovation, traditional public research project model, operator model, event/campaign model or sponsor model? How to make it more fun, interesting and personal? How to motivate people to participate in testing and innovating better services? Currently people seem to give feedback only if they are unsatisfied (=angry). They are able to point out the problem but who would link that to perhaps bigger strategical solution or a challenge especially if the problem concern e.g. two different operational units or bureau in Helsinki?

What I am asking here is: What would be the best living lab/citizen innovation model? Do other cities, countries… have any excellent models they would like to share?
Would living lab type of solution increase citizens wellbeing in general? Would it even be possible to activate them or are people just too lazy? What do you think? All comments highly appreciated!