Category: Gaming

Pinball Economics

image-44Because I was trying to understand virtual items and micro-transactions, I researched the trading card industry. It made sense to me to consider the fundamentals from an industry that has been around for a while as a yard stick to relatively new terrain. (Yes, yes, looking forward through the rearview mirror. Thanks McLuhan. Now go back to bed.) Today I found a similar parallel between the incentivized game design so common in social games (e.g. Farmville) and pinball machines. — read on

Dissertation Revolutions

Two days ago I submitted draft 2 of The Disseration (tm) at 3:00 am. After my committee had punched some initial holes in it, the whole thing is in much better shape. It even has a spiffy new title: Social Gaming and Discursive Play: Games as Communicative Exchange.

This dissertation shows that video games are a highly social phenomenon, because playing is a form of expression. Traditionally, however, the study of the phenomenon has focused primarily on their socially detrimental ‘effects.’ I argue that this is the result of applying a linear, informational model of communication in studying video games. In its place I offer a contextual approach, and situate contemporary video games in a larger set of media practices.

Conventional wisdom on video games makes the following two assumptions. The first is that play, leisure and games are frivolous activities that exist as separate realms from everyday life. The second is that games “cannot express ideas, impressions, feelings, or information unrelated to the game itself.” (Limbaugh 2002) Combined, this amounts to regarding the phenomenon of video games as a suspicious activity that encourages a-social behavior, varying between a loss of social capital and outright violent behavior.

— read on

Dissertation Reloaded

[As I'm entering the final stages of writing The Dissertation (tm), I will be posted snippets online. You know, for purposes of fair use and the hope that seeing my own handiwork in a different context may help writing better. In this first installment, you'll find a section from the Introduction chapter, where I lay out the general theoretical approach. Comments welcome.] In studying communication and media we are confronted with the problem of how to describe what we experience, in the broadest sense, in the midst of experiencing it. Succinctly speaking, the former necessitates a consciousness that negates the latter. Moreover, for the same reason that we cannot escape our own media technological moment in order to describe it, we also cannot enter into one from which we are spatially, temporally, or epistemologically removed. Panofsky’s Perspective as Symbolic Form, a classic text in the fields of architecture and art history, reminds us that “it is essential to ask of artistic periods and regions not only whether they have perspective, but also which perspective they have.” (41) — read on

Player Modeling

One of the sexiest aspects of digital environments and online worlds is the ability monitor player behavior in an unprecedented way. Every single action, decision and event can be recorded, aggregated and analyzed on a scale that would make Orwell look like an absentee baby-sitter. — read on

Anything But Business As Casual

[Disclosure: A slightly modified version of this article appeared in the April edition of DFC Dossier.]

What in the early Internet days started as an afterthought today has grown into a market of its own. In 2008 the total revenue for casual PC gaming totaled a respectable $1.58 billion* in Western Europe, North America and most of Asia. DFC expects this number to increase to $1.69 billion in 2009.

Life’s been pretty good thus far: an average annual growth rate more than 60% has allowed everyone to do well. As more competitors entered the party, casual gaming also underwent a lot of consolidation as big-ticket publishers aggregated eyeballs for advertising’s sake. RealNetworks spent a lot of money to capture an audience large enough to sustain its ambitions for world domination. And as the current biggest casual company with 11.7% of total market share (based on revenue), it’s fair to say this strategy has paid off. The company is currently working to spin off its games division, RealArcade, as a separate entity.

— read on

Trading Card Freebie

  After spending a lot of time on free-to-play, I'm shifting to a game industry that is getting no love. Together with the wizkids over at To Be Continued, LLC I'm been working on a white paper that we plan to launch into the world in a few weeks. Trading Card Games (TCG), roughly the same size as casual gaming, are a natural extension of currently emerging free MMOs. For one, trading card games attract the same demographic. The immensely popular Yu-Gi-Oh!, which dominates with about 50% of the entire market, is hot sh*t with 12 year olds.
— read on

FlightControl by Firemint

Not entirely unrelated to my previous post, I DL-ed an $0.99 game for my iPhone which may well be one of the first ones to earn the label of worthwhile. While I maintain the theory that iPhone games suck (which they do), i'm observing contrary data points. FlightControl gets an honorable mention because it is clever and sans BS. — read on

Stizzate of Plizzay 6

After nearly two hundred days of radio silence, I return to jot down a few words. Last week Dan Hunter asked me to run a grad student workshop at State of Play 6, which will be held this June at the New York Law School. A lot of familiar faces will no doubt make an acte de presence, not in the least the members of the meme that is Terra Nova. — read on

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