Friday, May 16, 2008

Everyone likes to play

Greetings from Helsinki, Berlin and Malmö!

I have been enjoying good company as well as joined interesting seminars and conferences lately. Here is a short sum up of the last few weeks.

In Berlin I enjoyed Rodeo Club/Restaurant (nice dinner!) and checked out Typical! Chichés of Jews and Others exhibition held at Jewish Museum in Berlin. From there the exhibition will go to Chicago and Vienna. Even though I didn't find the exhibition that strong as a whole there were several very good examples of preconceptions and differences in perceiving foreign cultures. One of my favorite artwork was a wall-projected video collage of hilarious posters and advertisements from the past.

In Helsinki I joined Varjomaailma (Shadow world) seminar held by A-Clinic Foundation. They developed a web site, cartoon and teacher’s material for all (but focusing on children of alcoholics). The cartoon was distributed to ~70 000 primary school children in Finland. They hope Varjomaailma type of approach would make it easier to talk about alcoholism and the type of situations children might have in their homes.

Varjomailma website tries to make it easy to share stories and create a cartoon of ones own. Sisko Salo-Chydenius gave a nice talk about stories and storytelling and highlighted factors which are important in games too. Story (or a game) is not a reflection of the world as such but a view, vision where the action is often presented in a form of a battle between good and evil. Story can help children to think of their actions and consequences. One can also get consolation or different experiences from the stories. Described setting is not univocal truth but stories are space for dreams and magic (in comparison to real life as “work”). I think that was nicely put and would also work for games.

The last few days were well spent at the Nordic Game conference. The biggest benefit from the conference was to hear lessons learned from other game developers. One of my personal favorite was Fumito Ueda's presentation of the development of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Harmonix, the creator of Rock Band gave really nice performance before their presentation which was also quite ok. They talked about design decisions and what type of challenges they had when developing hardware and software in parallel. I also loved the cosy atmosphere of the conference even though there were some 1200 participants this year (!).

There was quite a bit of talk about casual games and the shift from "1980s game genres" to novel ones which might also interest non-gamers. The change of games industry came through in various panel discussions and presentations. They discussed about a games as performance, as containers, as services, games as a way to socially interact with people, as a hobby... and so on. If nothing else, games certainly are in the mainstream and innovative game concepts can evolve outside Japan, too ;)

1 comment:

SonjaK said...

Rock Band begins its European invasion this week as Harmonix, the leading developer of music-based games, and MTV Games, a division of Viacom's MTV Networks (NYSE:VIA)(NYSE:VIA.B), along with marketing and distribution partner Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS), today announced that Rock Band has shipped to retail and will be available in the United Kingdom, France and Germany by the end of the week.

Rock Band will have an exclusive launch window on the Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft beginning on May 23. Rock Band will be available for additional platforms later this summer.