Monday, November 29, 2004

Everybody Wins

Interesting article in the New York Times about the ascendance of games "where no one loses." The article focuses on the creators of Cranium, as an example of a highly successful independent game in which social cohesion and fun are more important than having one player defeat the others. However, the author notes that some competition is essential for a game to be interesting; there must be a delicate balance between competition and letting everyone have a moment to "shine."

This piece also touches on the importance of user testing in game design. The money quote: "there is no way to know if a game idea you have sketched on paper is going to work ... the only thing to do is endlessly play-test it, scrutinizing your players with anthropological intensity for signs of distraction or ennui."

In addition, the article mentions something for another Edgames wiki article: the card game Apples for Apples, which I hadn't heard of before. It's a word game in which there are no "correct" answers; instead, the aim of the game is to stimulate friendly, intelligent debate about vocabulary. The game has sold over a million copies in three years, and was designed by an independent designer, not a big game company. There is hope for us all!

Read the whole thing - it's well worth it.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Enlightenment for Christmas

What greater gift could one ask for than an elevated state of consciousness? In these cantankerous time, who wouldn't want a dose of transcendental bliss? Since no one has time for a stint in a Tibetan monastery while holding down a job, the marketplace has responded with The Journey to Wild Divine: "the first 'inner-active' computer adventure that combines ancient breathing and meditation with modern biofeedback technology for total mind-body awareness".

It's a combination of a game, some finger sensors, and a bit of tutoring by media darling Deepak Chopra, all for $160.

It reminds me of a day around 8 years ago when we spotted Deepak Chopra in a coffee shop in La Jolla. He was walking at a stately pace towards the men's room at just the moment that my 8 year old son announced that he had to go. Right now. And he zipped to the one-person-at-a-time bathroom just steps ahead of Deepak, who then had to stand around looking uncomfortable while Alex took his sweet time in there. No doubt Dr. Chopra was just fine, though. Having mastered his bladder chakra he was able to channel the pressure to a higher plane.

This actually sounds interesting. If you were wondering what to get me for Christmas, now you know.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Self-esteem Games

Here's a game that is harder than it looks. My score was 5.4 seconds. I don't know what that means, but I'm feeling sorta good about it.

There's an explanation, and a research paper.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Gaming Industry Hell

Isn't designing an egame fun? Well, if not, it will be in a week or two. Do you think you'd like to do it for a living? You might want to read the inside dope published here, and in the blogs she links to.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Serious Games on NPR

Serious Games is a project that explores uses for games and simulations for the managers and leaders who face challenges in the public sector. Their initiative addresses training issues in a wide variety of fields, such as education, law, the military, health, and public policy.

The Serious Games Summit was held last month in Washington, DC, and NPR was there. If you're interested, take a listen to their story, Gamers Make Serious Work of Computer Games.

uDevGames Official Website

Would you like to watch the process of game development unfold in real time? Visit the uDevGames Official Website, where voting by the public begins today. There are 32 entries this year, all for Mac, and the site links to blogs maintained by the developers themselves.

Among the entries:

  • ShineBug! - Collect bubbles of moonshine to keep your buzz!
  • Feathered Soccer - 3D arcade soccer game
  • Okugai - Outdoors, FPS-style 3D game
  • Nanocrisis - Zelda-esque 3d action-adventure game

And there are 28 more ready to download. The next Snood could be gestating somewhere on the list.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Hello Kitty Online World

Well, here's a pretty good depiction of my idea of Hell:

"Hello Kitty World will allow thousands of players to live and participate in Hello Kitty's magical and cute online world. You will be able to roam the streets of Kitty Kingdom, XO Federation, and Melody-land. Enjoy the beautiful landscape and architecture of Puroland or Badtzcity and participate in numerous puzzles, story lines, or adventures lead by the worldwide community of Hello Kitty World subscribers. You can even have a successful career, open different shops, earn and spend Sanrio Dollars in your bank, buy a house, and trade with other players around the vast game world."