Thursday, August 31, 2006

Erratum: Single-player non-game audience alive and kicking

Oops! Thanks Chris Bateman for opening my eyes on this one. Forget the dramatic tone of the previous post, and here is why:

"Recent analysis from a survey of nearly 2,000 U.S. online gamers by Dallas-based market research firm Parks Associates ..."

They were researching online games - not single-player activity. That changes it all. Forget the last post - I knew something did not make sense. We do have a potential audience. Back to work, now.

New audience model = NO audience model

From Only a Game, King Lud IC, Next Gen and, finally, Park Associates comes shocking news I was not expecting: a new audience model for the games market. According to research, those are the groups that compose the scenario:

* Power gamers represent 11 percent of the gamer market but account for 30 cents of every dollar spent on retail and online games.

* Social gamers enjoy gaming as a way to interact with friends.

* Leisure gamers spend 58 hours per month playing games but mainly on casual titles. Nevertheless they prefer challenging titles and show high interest in new gaming services.

* Dormant gamers love gaming but spend little time because of family, work, or school. They like to play with friends and family and prefer complex and challenging games.

* Incidental gamers lack motivation and play games mainly out of boredom. However, they spend more than 20 hours a month playing online games.

* Occasional gamers play puzzle, word, and board games almost exclusively.

Got it? Dormant gamers and Leisure gamers - the ones I would count to enjoy non-games are more interested in complex, challenging titles. But wait:

“Social and leisure gamers may play simple, non-competitive games, but they want to play these games with friends and players they meet online,” Cai said. “For this type of gamer, there simply aren’t that many options.”

Ok, Social and Leisure gamers would play non-games - if they were not single-player. As I'm working on a single player non-game (although I should add a "challenge mode"), this research sounds like bad news.

Now can someone please tell me how Nintendogs and Animal Crossing got so successfull?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Selected picks from Manifesto! Games Beta

Greg Costikyan's brainchild, Manifesto! Games is on Beta testing stage. Here is a passage from their statement that I've found to be a synthesis of MG's main reason of existence:

"Games are art. Some are bad art, of course, but some are sublime products of the human soul. We strongly believe in small teams who love what they do and risk their livelihoods and their futures on ideas that they need to instantiate and impart to gamers.

But because of the conservatism of the conventional industry, teams like this will never get funded, or achieve conventional retail distribution.

Manifesto Games is committed to helping them find a market."

Fingers crossed, I'll need that kind of help in the near future.

Meanwhile, some of their games I recommend / would like to try out:

Endless Fire
Football Deluxe
Virtual Villagers
Wik & the Fable of Souls

... and still waiting for...

Play With Fire

Friday, August 25, 2006

The PS2-less Guitar Hero

Fret on Fire is a PC game that plays similarly to Guitar Hero. It is for free and includes a Song Editor, so you can transpose your band´s promising demo tape or whatever James Blunt tune you´ve been whistling for the past week.

I´m glad games like this are made for many reasons: First, I´m an amateur musician (or something close to that), so I enjoy watching this universe as video games settings. Secondly, the fact you can use it as a tool to actually create songs and share them in a different way. Also, the rhythm/melody based gameplay is an interesting one.

I haven´t played FoF yet so, if you have, let me know how it feels like.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Back from FILE

I was thinking of writing an event coverage feature on FILE. However, since time is scarce and their website is so comprehensive, I'll just stick to some random comments.

* First, my lecture went well, thank you very much. The content was pretty much the same from its first incarnation, although I explained the nature of games a little bit more this time, since the audience was not necessarily into the subject.

* Other lectures on games included Videogame: good or evil?, by Andre de Abreu; Smoking & No Smoking: a dialogue between Cinema and Games, by Cesar Baio; and Playtime in the white cube/Game art: between interactive art and video games, by Andrew Hieronymi.

* You probably know Hieronymi's work MOVE. If you don't, check his website - it's great! I'm used to read about projects like that on, but this is the first time I actually get to play with one. Interactive art is frequently playfull, and Hironymi extrapolates this characteristic with his deconstruction of game design. His installation was probably the most popular artwork on the event. His lecture was also brilliant.

* Some computer games were exhibited on FILE Games:
McDonald's Videogame, by Molleindustria;
a.Shooter: Sonic Invaders, by a.Game;
Panda Park, by Andreas Zecher;
The Cróquets in the Quelicera´s Mansion, by Antonio Carlos Vargas Sant´Anna;
Circ: Planet Treasure, by Barry Smylie;
The making of Balkan Wars: The Game, by Personal Cinema;
Las Familias- a gambling den, by Frank Werner;
The Ball of Bastards, by Jan-Philipp Behrens;
San Francisco Zero, by Sam Lavigne;
Derrota dos Deuses, by Vinicius Gouveia Armelin Ferreira;
Social Engine, by Urtica; and...
Insular, (surprise) by yours truly.

* There were several installations and interactive media artworks that could function perfectly (at least for me) as nongames. I should write about them on a future post.

More comments on FILE any day.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I´m on file

FILE is great, so far! My lecture starts in about two hours, so I´ll have to postpone a more in-depth analysis of it. I am really glad to participate in this event - some works exhibited here are fantastic, and the symposium is great too. More on everything later (today, I hope).

Monday, August 14, 2006

Links, trip, randomness

I'll be attending FILE this week. I'm not sure when I'll be able to post something about it, though.

If you pay attention to the links table on the right, you will notice three new ones: Debate Lúdico, Pensar Videojogos and Mushroom Corporation. These are the first non-English-speaking links on this website: the first one (maintained by me and announced here before) and the second one are written in Portuguese; and the last one, in Spanish.

On a side note, I must admit that, during the last months, I thought about removing the link to Casual Game Design, for its lack of updates. Well, I'm glad I didn't - it's back with an interesting post on chance and random reward - a subject I've tried to approach here.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

nongames @ FILE

From FILE's website:

"File 2006 - International Festival of Electronic Language - will be held at Fiesp Cultural Center, from August 15 to September 3, 2006, Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The programming will occupy the Art Gallery, the SESI-SP Popular Theater and the Cultural Center Mezzanine, hosting the exhibition, performances and lectures.

FILE, the major art and technology festival in Brazil, now in its seventh year, has included the country in the world context of new media, offering a compilation of art productions in the field of electronic and digital arts, and serving as an indicator of the variety of those productions. The choice of works participating in FILE 2006 was the result of an intense research and selection, which brought to the surface a great diversity of national and international productions.
About 200 artists participate in FILE's seventh edition - among groups, collective and individual works - from more than 30 nations, with works in the areas of net art, web art, interactive animation, hypertext, interactive web film, interactive movies, panoramas, VRML, games, digital poetry, software art, generative art, artificial intelligence, robotics, music, performance, interactive installations, and electronic installations."

There will be lots of people from games - both exhibiting and lecturing. Myself, I'll be presenting this:

16.AUG - 14h30
Playing the Other: Alterity in Peter Molyneux’ work

Let's hope the audience is not too hard! (they could be, specially because every other work or lecture looks so promising)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How much for that Wii?

Gamasutra reported other reports on Wii details, including its price. Apparently, IGN reported that it should cost around U$229. The curious fact - and reason I'm posting myself a report on that - is that Gamasutra also links to a report by a Brazilian website, in which the price of the console for the Brazilian market is announced as something between R&1,400 and R&1,500. In case you are not familiar to our currency, that would be something around U$640 and U$690. Gamasutra's comment:

"However, high import taxes and a rampant piracy problem mean that Brazilian hardware prices are often greatly in excess of that elsewhere in the world, with the DS Lite costing 800 real ($367), accounting for the particularly high pricing compared to the rest of the world."

I am glad this is being noticed. I know I have posted on that before, but I hope reports like that help to change this policy and, consequentially, help to develop the Brazilian game market - which is potentially very, very big.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Casual Hardcore

There is an interesting article on Gamasutra entitled Analyze This: Will 'Casual' Games Dominate the Future of the Industry?

In a way, the article contests the idea that Casual Games are necessarily *the* future of games. Although I enjoy casual games (specially for their cost of production), and try to keep in mind casual audiences, I cannot help thinking that "hardcore is the new casual" - something Manifesto! Games might eventually prove.

Also, a particular passage from the text intrigued me:

"Over on the PC gaming side, for several years now, Web games such as Yahoo!'s gaming service have done extremely well, and EA's The Sims franchise has been a long-time staple for that company."

Yes, most casual players enjoy The Sims, but I would not say it is a casual game, would you? It has quite complex rules and interaction schemes, massive interface, it takes time to learn and play... Just because casual audiences enjoy it (mostly, I believe, for the content - which they also can create), it doesn't mean it's a casual game. Maybe it's casual hardcore. Or vice-versa.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Playing Elite II

If there ever was a game that I've played as in a sandbox-style, it was Elite II - Frontier. Liberty City and San Andreas might be huge, but do they compare to our entire galaxy?

(image taken from Mobygames, contributed by Halleck)

Having played the Amiga version, I also loved to listen the classical music featured in the game (a trick borrowed from Kubrick?).

Although it was possible to engage into several missions, you could play it just for relaxing - in non-game mode, if you will. Open-ended was hardly a buzzword back then.

Another impressive fact: the whole game would take around 700kb. It's interesting to notice that Will Wright is bringing back this compact/procedural approach with Spore.

However, I cannot find working versions of the game for windows XP. Does anyone have any ideas on how to play it on modern computers?
Copyright, Chico Queiroz