Monday, August 16, 2010

Youth, digital media and games: Future challenges in a nutshell

I will be giving a couple of ´youth/games/digital media´ talks this fall. I thought of sharing some points I will make in those presentations.

1. Playfulness a way to gather, process and share information
  • Games and entertainment in different forms is the typical way children and youngsters learn to use digital media
  • This is already visible in digital marketing (see e.g. Coca Cola Happiness factory games) and social applications such as Facebook, Tripadvisor or Foursquare
  • Playful features are a way to generate interest, make long term commitment and urge to participate and stand out of the masses
  • Indie game developers are interesting in a way that they present different / novel game mechanics and experimentation introducing a sort of “out of the box” thinking but within social networks = more visibility than ever before
  • Augmented reality (AR) gaming (see e.g. Finnish company Grey Area), Sony Move, Microsoft Kinect or Nintendo Wii and Pokemon Pedometer (Silver & Gold, Nintendo DS game) bundles and other such…
  • Playfulness visible in social online services where one can get activity or popularity points (Youtube), reach goals (Twitter), make score/levels, gain rewards, prizes, taking roles, making memes or do storytelling (Dyson vacuum cleaner)
  • Always on beta and more generally speaking beta-attitude – it is ok to play around with services and also clear that it is not yet 100% done

What this means to service developers?
Value web is broad, things should happen fast and be specific or different to be interesting.

2. Life style driven consumption
  • Role of work and the value gotten from traditional work is decreasing, people look for alternative ways to be and live
  • Creative entrepreneurship is on the rise at the moment which is supported / boosted within various networking events/initiatives (see also Ycombinator and other clubs, Open coffee, IGDA…)
  • Mass networking >> quantity is everything
  • Individuals making revenue over web (e.g., virtual goods in Second Life, online services) >> anyone can make business casually
  • Crowdsourcing and networked activity to brand one self, define and share the field of interest and/or personal values (e.g. Carrot mob).
  • Playful real world gaming example:
What this means to work places and organization cultures?
Organizations need to change to meet the way changed way of doing things. New generation has learned to use digital media by playing. 10 000+ hours of gaming should be considered as an advantage. Work place is part of self expression and way of life decisions. Too organized or defined way of working does not work anymore.

3. Co-shopping and utilizing web to search for deals, offers etc.
  • Japan is a good example of a country where such co-shopping clubs already exists -- clubs where co-shoppers can get special offers
  • Social networking and collaboration is generalizing in “real world” as well. People get benefit for doing things together (e.g. shopping, activity or sport, traveling etc.)
  • Location based data and instant location based events will be part of this (urban lifestyle, spending time in the city)
  • Companies can collect information based on movement or location and give specific offers based on location and/or time (potentials: GPS, pedometers, altitude, distance, group actions etc.). This data could be linked together with consumption habits (for example: playing in a mall, expo games, sport events etc.)
  • Generally speaking brand centric consumption linked with more personalized or location based offers and digital services >> consumption (what you consume) is part of identity, socialization, spending time, making a statement…

Youth are interesting group of users (compared with e.g. adults) that they are searching for themselves, identity, values, friends, lifestyle, partners, experiences, information, appreciation or admiration etc. New potentials are seen as positive possibilities. Thus it is easier to provide novel services to this type of consumers.

I will post the slides to Slideshare (late September), please do check them out and comment if you find these ideas interesting.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Assembly 2010

19th Assembly computer festival was arranged at Hartwall Arena Helsinki Finland from 5th until 8th August. Once again the event attracted 5000+ participants and there were plenty of gaming and quality compos during the weekend.

Winners of the demo, 4k intro and 64k intro were impressive. The winner of Short Film category also received lots of attention. It is cool alright but reminds be a bit of Pato Pooh's video Follow Me (which is super)!
We had fun, thanks all!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

IGDA Finland presenting Finnish game startup companies

IGDA Finland chapter will organize "Startup stories" presentation session on Tuesday 8th June at 5PM (GMT +3). Check out the live stream at web site. The recording will also be available through the site later on.

Ookoohko, Rocket Pack, Relationship Games, Uplause, Fantastec and Ironstar Helsinki will be sharing their stories with us.

After the IGDA Finland Presentations session it is IGDA Finland Gathering as usual at Cuba Cafe. Mighty Housemarque “The First Game Start-up still alive” together with Rocket Pack, Relationship Games, Uplause, Fantastec and IronStar Helsinki are sponsoring special drink ticket game. Also Microsoft Lipshack singing booth is open! Let’s celebrate current and upcoming Finnish game success stories and one of the most active IGDA chapters in the world!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Nordic Game 2010 conference was stellar!

(Luckily) deserted Malmö Mässan ceased to exist and Nordic Game conference moved to Slagthuset. New venue worked well for the conference & expo and was well in line with the casual & cosy atmosphere of the event. The other difference was that this year there were no super stars from Asia but instead really solid set of Nordic success stories. For example Trials HD (xbla), Max & the Magic Marker (Wiiware), Icy Tower (Facebook) and Angry Birds (iPhone) post mortems gave really good insight and lessons learned from those projects.

Rovio CEO Mikael Hed announced that Angry Birds have sold 2 million copies and over 3 million lite version have been downloaded so far. That takes Angry Birds to the top of the paid-apps list in 38 countries! Max & the Magic Marker wasn't as big success but still getting featured or presented at some Nintendo events caused immediate rise of sales. Something to think about when trying to stand out at the app store or elsewhere. Trials HD is a bit different example. I would say top quality development, right timing and resilience really paid off.

Another interesting / related topic was brought up by both Kristian Segerstråle and Jason Della Rocca at their presentations. They talked about how to kill product, what should be learned from failures and when is right time to do the decision to quit development of a game and move on with new ideas. Jason also referred The Medici Effect book on innovation. The author of the book Frans Johansson uses a mix of story, instruction, discussion and interactive exercises to put the principles of innovation to work. He zeroes in on these four areas of innovation including how to:
1. Never run out of ideas.
2. Discover insights and creative ways to improve your idea.
3. Drive away fear of failure.
4. Create a realistic action plan for implementation.

This year Nordic Game keynote speakers were CEO Kristian Segerstråle (Playfish), Co-CEO Guillaume de Fondaumiere (Quantic Dream) and AD Saku Lehtinen (Remedy). Saku Lehtinen told an interesting story how Alan Wake came into being. He highlighted that there were 30-50 people developing Alan Wake (that's related to long development time), passion and dedication as well as pedantry and that it is important to focus on creating a franchise. I was expecting some practical Heavy Rain driven stories from "Movies and games: Collision or Convergence?" keynote by Guillaume de Fondaumiere but for me the presentation was just generic blah blah of how weak movies have been created based on games and vice versa. And that there should be enough material to start with. Great top seller game do not make a great movie. Duh. My absolute favorite of the keynotes was the one given by Kristian Segerstråle. He talked about game entrepreneurship and how to succeed when starting something new (he started mobile games company at the beginning of 2000 and social game company in 2007).

He gave five lessons for game entrepreneurs: 1. think like a CFO, 2. create great product, 3. learn to kill product, 4. build platform and 5. be a number ninja. He also highlighted how franchises matter. In his presentation he focused on access barrier (comparing expensive consoles to new social games platforms (web, FB) and better possibility to reach potential players). He also pointed out that the game development is very different for social platforms. It is more about release early and update often. He compared FIFA series to social games development. There has been 21 generations of FIFA during the last 17 years but 1,5 years old Pet Society (FB) has already gone through over 100 generations. Constant development and improvement of the game is a key to success and something players are expecting.

Besides good presentations Nordic Game awards and development fund recipients were announced. Finland did really well this year. Trials HD (Redlynx) was nominated as the best Nordic Game and Zen Bound (Secret Exit) got award for Best Artistic Achievement. Other awards (best childrens game, best talent) went to Denmark.

The following companies got development fund to put together next success stories :)

  • Rocket Pack Ltd. of Finland was awarded DKK 600,000 ($106,780) for Cats vs. Dogs.
  • Prodigium Game Studios of Finland received DKK 550,000 ($97,882) for Floorball League.
  • Tactile Entertainment of Denmark was given a DKK 500,000 ($88,984) grant for The Wolf in the Iron Forest.
  • Press Play of Denmark received DKK 500,000 ($88,984) for Tentacle Terror.
  • ZAXIS of Denmark was given DKK 400,000 ($71,187) for You've Got Snail.
  • Toltec Studios of Sweden was awarded DKK 250,000 ($44,492) for The Ball.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

GDC2010: Microsoft Women in Gaming Awards

Yesterday I attended the Microsoft WiG luncheon. Microsoft had invited Jade Raymond and Peter Molyneux to give keynotes at the luncheon. Jade's talk highlighted the role of mentoring when pursuing a courier in games business and that mentoring and learning from seniors (as well as applying good practices from other industries) is the only way to become a leading expert in game business. Peter talked about the necessity of diversity. The games as just as good as the development team behind it. Naturally what counts when building a team is the skill set. Many companies do not understand that besides essential skills in game development, personal viewpoints, preferences, experiences and thoughts are also very valuable. In relation to that one of my own favorite example of identifying new potential is Shigeru Miyamoto's Wife-o-Meter. With Wife-o-Meter Miyamoto gauges product's potential success with an expanded audience. The point is that some things might not be interesting or sensible from his personal viewpoint but without his Wife-o-Meter method Nintendogs and Wii games might have never been invented. The same wisdom goes for game development teams.

IGDA Women in Games SIG is also providing online mentorship program.
Karen Clark (Sr. Project Manager, EA) is the chair of the mentoring program.

Between the talks the following ladies were awarded as winners in the following categories. I was honored to be a member of the jury.

Art: Amy Beth Christianson, Principal Artist at LucasArts

Design: Jenna Chalmers, Creative Director for Zynga

Engineering: Corrinne Yu, Principal Engine Programmer at Microsoft Game Studios

Production: Megan Gaiser, President/CEO at Her Interactive

Lifetime Achievement Award: Amy Hennig, Creative Director for Naughty Dog

At the expo floor Sony presented their Move controller and 3D stereoscopic gaming. Notice the game on the
screen (!) --that's Super Stardust HD by Housemarque. I am not too excited of either Move or 3D gaming. Still it is clear that at the moment Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo all seem to be moving to the same direct ion and trying to catch players' attention by focusing on social and functional gaming. Similarly there is a clear consensus in SNSs (Facebook gaming) as well. Zynga model of developing social games for the Facebook seems to be the way to go. I am hoping to see someone to push the envelope. There is still a lot to be invented.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 2 & 3 at GDC2010 highlights

After the first two summit days it was time to kick the main conference going. Uncharted 2 and social games are in a very big role this year. A love letter to flash = funnies video of Wednesday :)

Playdom people talked at their presentation "Games as a live service: a 360 degree look at the art and science of managing social games" about user generated content and their community building efforts. They highlighted that social features are the best viral features in Facebook such as pick or steal a boyfriend at Sorority Life. Same message came from Zynga, too. Gifting and adopting lonely cows or winning super berries instead of strawberries (top seller items) have been excellent choices. They also talked about choosing colors -- how colors matter when communicating to certain type of an audience (e.g. Mafiawars vs. Farmville).

They highlighted how relevant it is to balance game performance (stability) and new stuff (new features); bugs and features; user feedback and disruption. In Sorority Life competitions people can (and do) create content to the game (virtual items, clothes etc.). In Christmas and New Year, 53% of the revenue came from company generated content and 47% from user generated content. Issues adding stickiness: loyalty features, support features, blogs, fan Pages at Facebook etc.

"Fate of a small social game studio" by Justin Hall was one of the best talks on Thursday. Raph Koster wrote a good summary of Justin's talk. Another nice talk from Thursday was given by Nicole Lazzaro. I have seen her presentation a couple of years back. Basically talking about the same issues aka emotions and fun factors in games. She has quite a bit of data & presentations online as well. According to her, four keys to Farmville success: score, feedback, friendship and reward.

Game development fund. The Mochi GAME Developer Fund is a $10 million fund that will help promising Flash and social game developers support their games through sponsorship, licensing and publishing deals.

IGF winners:
Monaco won top honours at the Independent Games Festival 2010.

PlayDead's platformer Limbo (Go Denmark!) was multi-award winner, earning Excellence in Visual Art and Technical Excellence. Closure Team's puzzle platformer Closure was recognised for Excellence in Audio. The Direct2Drive Vision Award was given to Press Play's Max & The Magic Marker (Go Denmark!) , and the Audience Award was claimed by Heroes of Newerth by S2 Games.

The renamed Nuovo (Innovation Award), which honours unconventional game development, went to Cactus for puzzle game Tuning. Best Student Game went to Ragtime Games' platformer Continuity and IGF Mobile Best Game went to Tiger Style's Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor.

At the Game Developers Choice awards this year’s big winner was Uncharted 2, which walked away with a total of five nods. Check out the video for more.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

GDC2010, day 1. My top 3

1. Nexus One
Woot, I got a Nexus One! I don't like the design but new gadgets are always cool! And some feelings (see the photo) from North Hall (GDC2010) -- that's so 80s ;)

2. Focus group driven development not as relevant in Facebook
10 years ago the popular saying was that if you manage to get girls into gaming, you will double the market and become a billionaire over night. The development was _very_ segment driven. Developers were wondering what teenage girls would like to do in a game and how the game should look like. The result was that the market was full of friendship adventures and doll house simulations. With social games it is clear that game development is no more that much focus or segment group driven. It might well be that the e.g. Facebook game developers were thinking of certain type of gamers -- but that is exactly the issue here -- social games (at Facebook, MySpace etc.) are played by everyone and as a brain break. Basically Farmville attracts both 11 year olds and 31, 41 or 71 year olds. The development does not start with typical mechanics or game play or even games but instead is "an activity you do in the net". So it is casual past time activity and social in its virtual and asynchronous way. I think this is a good point! The change of viewpoint (purposely or by chance) is the key. Facebook games are different type of activity from "normal" games. In Facebook people don't want to achieve high scores, practice their skills or spend hours gaming. They just want to take care of their farm or fish tank a couple of minutes now and then, chill out and relax.

3. Social, viral and game patterns in Japanese social games (DC Collier talk)
DC has given brilliant presentations at E3 and GDC for years already. Again he presented some current SNS trends from Japan. This time there were nothing really shocking or surprising. Instead many examples were pretty typical SNSs. Also brands were not as much in the limelight than some years back. I think Disney was the only branded game in the selection. Other than that many themes and the game play was very well in line with what we have here in Europe or US.

The slides will be available though his company's blog shortly, you can check more details from there. Still I would like to share a couple of remarks from the presentation. Many popular Facebook games have Japanese parallels. Most popular applications implement OpenSocial. In Japan Mixi, DeNa and Gree have many times more users than Facebook and better ARPU.

He also presented examples of social patterns, viral patterns and other game patterns. Viral patterns e.g. "wink me" and get points, "visit my shop" generated page views and trading benefits. Game patterns such as grinding and collecting stuff mentioned in his examples. Social patterns: location based teams or items, decorate & show off and different ways of poking (aggressive, win-win etc.) were just some of many examples shown.

Oh... I also learned that if you want to succeed in China -- the best way is to marry a Chinese woman because foreigners have so many limitations related to running a business in China. Hm... Another China comment was that currently there are no Chinese games in Facebook top 20 game applications but it is just a question of time when then move from cloning to inventing something new. Last but not least James Gwertzman's nine points how to start a gaming business in China (in a nutshell). His slides.

My sessions Tuesday:
Indies and Publishers: Fixing a System That Never Worked
Ron Carmel (2D Boy)

Abusing Your Players Just For Fun
Jonatan (Cactus) Soderstrom (Cactus Software)

The State of Social Gaming: Industry Overview and Update
Justin Smith (Inside Network)

Why Are Gaming Veterans Flocking to Social Gaming?
Brenda Brathwaite (Slide), Brian Reynolds (Zynga), Noah Falstein (The Inspiracy) and Steve Meretzky (Playdom)

Social Games in Japan
David Collier (Pikkle KK)

Meet the Newest Chinese Import/Export Business: Social Games!
James Gwertzman (PopCap Games, Inc.)

How to Innovate in the Land of Clones
Nick Fortugno (Playmatics)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Facebook games for Grannies

In "2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research" report, the company found that fully two-thirds of social game players in the United States are 40 years of age or older, while the majority of players in the United Kingdom are under the age of 40. Young adults and teens in both countries are the least interested in playing games on sites like Facebook and MySpace: only 9% of U.K. casual gamers are 21 years of age or younger, and the proportion is 4% in the States. In their studies O'Reilly has also presented similar findings.

At the same time is is also a fact that practically all top gainers and the most popular Facebook applications have increasing user base amongst teenagers. Casual, easy social interaction with Facebook friends is at the core of the most popular Facebook applications. On the other hand the most biggest draws of developing an application for Facebook is the unprecedented access to the social networking site's massive user base. Applications that are set and forget can quickly fall into disuse. Also technical stability is a think that should be in place. If the application grows in popularity and use, technical issues should not cause problems.

These findings are interesting if you compare them to MMO / virtual world statistics. Majority of MMOs are targeted at teens. There is a fierce competition within that particular segment but lack of offering for older gamers. Yet this is not only Facebook or MMO challenge. Similarly many pc or console games are made by 20-40 year old men to 20-40 year old men. Nintendo Wii, Singstar and casual browser games have woken up the developers a bit but not until Farmville and other Facebook games started gaining huge popularity it has become clear that same games can easily work for both 16 and 36 year olds. It is more about mechanics and rewards than then theme or gameplay. Actually many Facebook games lack gameplay in a traditional sense.

If you look at the list of most popular Facebook application, you do not see traditional gameplay anywhere. One could draw a conclusion that people who haven't played pc or console games do not expect anything specific. Facebook games are not really competitive or co-op games. They don't have an end. And the games are not challenging at all but instead could offer short brain breaks or casual entertainment for idle moments. Surely Facebook users "play" with friends but the connection is merely a virtual one. I don't remember which of my friends are in My Mafia but it doesn't make any difference. Also it doesn't matter if you are at the level 100 and your friend is already at the level 600. It has no effect to the gameplay.

Current Facebook best sellers are never ending "poking games". I would like to see more short games on the list but then again if Bejeweled Blitz is not able to make to the high score, which game would? It is also clear that marketing will be more and more crucial for game developers. It does not help too much if your game is the best ever if no one knows about it. This might also advance new type of marketing methods.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Startup scene in Finland -- When should we start to worry?

Tietoviikko magazine listed 25 most interesting startups from Finland (February 2010). The list is put together by acknowledged experts from Forum Virium Helsinki, Technopolis and Arctic Startup. All of these corporations should have very good picture of the overall situation.

Finland has not exactly been the cradle of startups and entrepreneurship hasn't been that desirable alternative due to non-existing support systems, heavy bureaucracy and public image. Nowadays it is ok --or even cool and fun-- to be an entrepreneur!

Within the last few years there has been several good efforts to spur startups and "facelift" entrepreneurship in Finland. Few years back National technical research center VTT set up a division to spur research driven innovations and spin offs. Startup companies network e.g. at Open Coffee type of events and university students in Helsinki have set up Aalto Entrepreneur Society (AES). AES is one prime example of the new mindset. Traditionally Finns have been far from brilliant in pitching or even presenting things. I have heard many legends from the 1980s how Finns did things in their own way abroad. Maybe that is part of Finnish way of being -- it is good to be humble and make sure not to push your own persona or ideas too much. Otherwise you are annoying, too Swedish or American or just trying to be better than the rest. Lately the common understanding has been that if you want to make a difference, run a profitable company and make good exit you need to do networking and improve your sales skills. I personally am really thrilled to see things evolving. That's why I was surprised by the Tietoviikko list.

At first it struck me that this lists is (at least between the lines) suggesting that not that much is actually happening in Finland. 8 out of 25 most interesting companies were founded in 2005 or earlier. Naturally it takes sometime to make magic happen but is this really the case? Is a company doing RFID solutions for industrial logistics (founded in 2002) more interesting than any other more recent startups? Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against this or any other company on the list and I know it takes some time for businesses to evolve. I am just wondering how long do we expect the next big thing to come from these companies? Aren't there really any challengers? The other interesting thing is the fact that the list contains several consulting companies or companies offering services. Again nothing wrong with that but sounds rather local to me.

There were also some surprises on the list. One is Grey Area. I was involved in Nordic Game Program jury when Grey Area got small fund to develop their location based mobile game further. I personally believe that there are certain niches in location based gaming (e.g. exergaming) which will make good business as soon as people have GPS phones and flat fare data transmission deals. As a basic concept location based gaming is not new and it is relatively hard to monetize. Of course I might be wrong :) Still I wonder if I got the message right: do the experts believe that LBS gaming will be bigger than social gaming (when looking at Finnish startups and their potential to pull it through)?

Oh - and at least one of the companies - Vilant Systems - was also listed as one of the key growth companies (Kauppalehti Dec 2009). Certainly the criteria and focus of these lists is different but still interesting. The discussion continues at the Tietoviikko web site (in Finnish only).


Thursday, February 04, 2010

We made Lyre Inspyre at the Finnish Game Jam

The first ever Finnish Game Jam (FGJ) was held last weekend. FGJ was a part of the Global Game Jam event taking place in 39 countries around the world at the same time. Game developers jammed for 48 hours and made games around the theme: Deception. Besides the theme Finnish participants were also asked to utilize at least one of the following constraints: lyre, fire or wire in the games.

Global Game Jam countdown
  • 4,338 gamers registered globally for this year’s event
  • 1,600 participants in the first year (2008)
  • 928 games created over the past weekend
  • 370 games produced the first year (2008)
  • 39 countries, from Argentina to Wales, took part this year
All together nearly 90 persons attended to the FGJ in three locations (or actually four as also Turku AMK was also participating unofficially).

The jury's choice was: Play Dead 2: Growling of the Dead which is a zombie murmur game (aka zombie singstar). The jammers' voted Grow Up! to be the best game of the Finnish Game Jam 2010. ...Yes -- bummer! It wasn't ours :) I was with a team who did Lyre Inspyre. We tried to do something we don't do at work (majority of or team does games for living) and/or to experiment with weird game play but at the end our solution was rather conventional one. The good thing is that we manage to pull it off, worked well as a team and got the game done by Sunday afternoon! I am also very happy that we managed to combine casual look and feel with hard core game play :D

All in all Global Game Jam is a brilliant concept and even if the teams were very concentrated on their projects for the most of the time, we also had fun. It was nice to see the variety of projects and interpretations of the theme.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Addition to my "closing of 2009" post

A couple of things: first of all thanks to the feedback to my previous blog post! I just wanted to add that yes, I am also working with good guys at Paf and we are about to revolutionize online money gaming. Unfortunately I (and we) didn't have enough time to do it last year ;) But I can assure you that it will most definitely happen this year!

So yeah yeah! I am also spending a lot of time with online gaming, social media and iGaming (= online money games). There hasn't been that many innovations in years. Online slot machines and lottery games are surprisingly similar what they were already hundreds of years ago. But wait no more. The change is coming.

Besides writing about 2010 trends, I also follow how other people and companies see the coming year. Atm one of my favorite post is by Osma Ahvenlampi (CTO of Sulake, and Scrum guru). His viewpoint (blog post: "Technology factors to watch during 2010") is purely technical but good stuff! I especially liked "Browsers vs desktops: what's the target for entertainment software?" discussion. See picture. Read more from the blog.

He also have a good point that: "the history of the “computer revolution” has been about automation changing economies of scale to enable entirely new types of business. The same trend is continuing in the form of computing capacity becoming a utility in Cloud Computing, extreme amounts of storage becoming available in costs which allow terabytes of storage to organizations of almost any size and budget, and most importantly, developing data mining, search and discovery algorithms that enable organizations to utilize data which used to be impossible to analyze as automated business practices."

Osma, good stuff! People: read it!

Friday, January 08, 2010

2009 highlights and plans for 2010

I am a type of a person who likes to make plans. I am far too rational to be a dreamer and I like to take risks and confront challenges. Every year around this time I plan what I would like to see happening within next 12 months. Besides making plans I also tend to look back and see how well my 2009 plans realized and what surprises and good things happened.

Last year I lived in Copenhagen Denmark. I got an opportunity to work with excellent team at Guppyworks, a company developing 3D GuppyLife MMO. I was asked to join the team because of my background and broad knowhow on game design and the specific target group (teen girls). For me that period in my life was very fun but also educational. I would say the key learnings are related to MMO business and issues to consider when running a virtual community (also necessities to keep in mind when building an MMO, how to support community feeling, how to evaluate the balance between unique features or technical development and making something happen business-wise asap, how to keep up constant change or evolvement and balance between polished content or stable technology vs. doing things fast and dirty). How relevant it is to make radical decisions even if you are in between productional limitations and VC's expectations. And those radical decision do not only related to prioritization issues. That's so much more.

Another cool thing was when I decided to take a step to unknown and invested in a startup company called MySites. I have done investments but never on startups. Why did I do it? It was a combination of Heureka! and convincing pitch by their CEO Ramine Darabiha. The Heureka! moment was linked to basic needs and how to make things easier for average Internet users. The case reminded me of comedian George Carlin and his joke how humans spend their lives accumulating stuff. Soon they have problems of where to store all of it. The third challenge is to access that data (of various kinds) in multiple locations and channels.

I agree with trend reports and believe that MySites is answering to few key challenges of coming years. Issues related to the fact that media consumption is (constantly) changing, people ask for one stop shops and easy ways to share different type of data or content with their friends (and strangers). Content needs to be distributed -- the same content should pop up in multiple locations, formats and channels and be personalized. It is very clear that sharing no longer means e-mail, FTP or high number of dedicated services with their limitations. Also I have to say Ramine did really convincing sales pitch. We'll see what happens but he is a clever and dedicated person -- I would love to see more of that energy not only in startups but also within well established companies :)

Besides I did plenty of work with digital media and digital games. I am the head of IGDA Finland and I do game reviews and blogging for, run Game Lab which develops experimental online game prototypes at Paf, I was in the jury deciding which Nordic game companies would get development fund, I wrote articles of the Finnish game dev scene to Pelaaja (Player) magazine, was in Nordic Game Jam 2009 jury and Live2011 jury, wrote few "digital media & games in a nutshell reports" for Ministry of Education, did consulting etc.).

I also did bunch of presentations (some of them are at Slideshare). My topics varied from game development and management to virtual identity issues -- and from business to academic talks. Just the way I like it. On top of that I wrote several articles and participated e.g. to Diginatives report (in Finnish) and Finnish Game Research Year Book 2009 (in Finnish). I also worked hard with a book focusing on digital media pioneer countries of the late 1990s (South Korea, Japan and Finland) and how social networking and novel ways to participate, contribute and develop digital content and services have changed the picture. It has been rather difficult to find international publisher for the book. If I get one more "no" as an answer, I will move to plan B to make sure the book will come out asap!

Now you might ask what's for next year then? I am not sharing my plans at the moment, I will get back to those at the end of this year and see how I have been able to reach my goals :D Happy New year! Make plans! Change the world! Share happiness!