Category Archives: Digital Convergence

Microsoft Xbox Is Winning The Living Room War. Here’s Why.

Microsoft Xbox Is Winning The Living Room War. Here’s Why.

Forbes analysis, no less. A good para:

In May Microsoft effectively stopped treating Live like an add-on for a videogame console and started pricing the console as a loss leader for an entertainment platform. Rather than pay $199 just for the unit, users can now get an Xbox for $99—as long as they also take a two-year contract to Xbox Live Gold. This new low price looks even better when you consider you don’t need to buy a new TV, which is what Samsung and, soon, Apple want you to do. “If you want to start a phenomenon,” says Ballmer, “it doesn’t start with thousand-dollar-plus devices that sell at unreasonably low volume and need major room redesigns.”

Advertisements

http://learninggamesnetwork.org/2012-game-design-boot-camp/

http://learninggamesnetwork.org/2012-game-design-boot-camp/

Intensive Weeklong Workshop Brings Teachers and Teens Together to Conceive, Design and Develop New Game Concepts

The Learning Games Network is now accepting applications from teachers and students for the 2012 Game Design Boot Camp scheduled for Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27 on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. Qualified teachers and students will be chosen from among applicants to participate in an intensive workshop introducing teachers to new instructional resources and working with them to develop coaching strategies that can be used to guide students through an extended (i.e., quarter- or semester-long) and comprehensive research and creative game design process.

Exploring topical and subject-specific material through game design activities, lesson plans and challenge worksheets, Boot Camp participants combine learning and fun while developing their critical, conceptual, creative, and strategic thinking skills. Teachers will learn how to utilize the Game Design Tool Kit to engage middle and high school students in a game design process that supports learning of important topics and standards across the curriculum. Students attending the Boot Camp will be guided through the early stages of game design, creating a paper prototype and “pitch” presentation for their game concept.

A select group of teachers will work with teams of middle and high school students where each student will be assigned specific roles and responsibilities building on existing skills and interests as they are encouraged to develop new ones. Using the Game Design Tool Kit, teachers will guide their groups through the process of game design from the inception of an idea to the strategic and creative applications that turn a concept into a playable paper game prototype.

The camp offers teachers the opportunity to develop their abilities using a proven teaching method that encourages effective and collaborative relationships while giving them the mechanisms for engaging and energizing students in the development of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills. Teachers completing the Boot Camp will receive a Professional Development certificate from the MIT Education Arcade. Students with a strong interest in game design will learn everything from basic conceptual skills to advanced strategizing and will leave the camp with the knowledge needed to begin developing their own video games.

The 2012 Game Design Boot Camp will be facilitated by Learning Games Network and will include expert instructors and designers from the MIT Education Arcade, FableVision (a Boston-based storytelling and interactive development studio) and LGN.

The weeklong workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27 and will be held in classrooms on the Cambridge, MA campus of MIT.

Teachers interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Students interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Attendees will be selected based upon criteria outlined in the application materials and will be notified of their acceptance by June 1, 2012.

All applications must be received by Friday, May 18, 2012.

What’s Next in TV: Machinima, The No.1 Entertainment Network on YouTube

What’s Next in TV: Machinima, The No.1 Entertainment Network on YouTube

Video content is one of the fastest growing categories online. Television networks are scrambling to keep up, because the success stories so far have been smaller entities creating highly targeted and Web native content. The most successful video content producer right now is a company calledMachinima, currently in the middle of an investment round that will include money from YouTube parent company Google. Machinima (its name is a combination of the words ‘machine’ and ‘cinema’) is a “video entertainment network for video gamers,” specifically targeted at the 18 – 34 year old male demographic.

Video games at the Smithsonian draws massive audience, perhaps future show

Running from March through September, The Art of Video Games exhibition at the museum understands that video games are art and spends its space and time tracing that art’s evolution and influence.

and

“I had many of them come to me and say that they had never considered video games before, but they will never look at them the same way again.”

Could Apple Become Games Console King? Part II

Here’s the article from MacNN:

Apple TV: RSS plugin, video games, bounty

Here’s the most relevant highlight:

newly released hack allows users to play video games on Apple TV via video game emulation for NES, SNES, N64, and Sega Genesis game consoles. After enabling SSH and installing VNC, users can install Richard Bannister’s free emulation software for Mac OS X, including Nestopia 1.3.6 for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (US), Generator 0.4.2 for the Sega Genesis, BSNES 0.17 for Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and Sixtyforce 0.9.0 for Nintendo64.

I blogged first about this question last year, in Could Apple Become Games Console King?  This was only one of nine killer scenarios I mentioned in last year’s blog:

  • play a classic arcade game running in an arcade emulator running on the iTV itself

The MacNN article lists several other hacks that have been made that push toward getting some of those other killer scenarios I also mentioned.  More from the MacNN article:

Following last week’s revelation that Apple is not disabling hacked devices, over the past few days readers have developed a RSS plugin for Apple TV that offers the ability to display RSS feeds (version 1.x/2.x) within the Apple TV interface. While still in beta, the plugin is expected to be updated with support for ATOM feeds and video RSS feeds (streamed rather than synced via iTunes).

Users have already managed to get a full version of Mac OS X and the Joost internet television application running on the device as well as hacked the Apple TV USB port, enabled Xvid files, and provided instructions for upgrading the internal hard drive.

Note the link there, if you’re curious about drilling in, to the article about an Apple spokespersons official assertion that they are not monitoring or disabling hacked AppleTVs.  From that article:

Apple on Thursday afternoon denied allegations that it was undoing hacks on the Apple TV. A company spokesperson asserted that Apple has a resolutely hands-off approach to the media hub, choosing not to monitor or control user habits through users who allow the device on to the Internet. Owners can modify both the hardware and software as much as they like as long as they understand the risk of voiding the warranty, Apple said.

Whether Apple or Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo or someone else gets to the full function killer convergence device in our living rooms first, someone’s going to.  Here’s my product description from last year’s blog.  I’ll stand in line to buy one of these:

The really really interesting potential for this, if they do it like customers would want it, instead of as proprietary business instincts will want it – the really interesting potential for this is to make it a cross-platform convergence device, which will let us do whatever we want with our TV and entertainment center:

  • play music from our iPod or other mobile music device
  • take calls from our cell phones
  • watch DVDs or MP3s or Tivo or any other video stream
  • play a game that runs on our PC or Mac or Linux box
  • play a game that runs on our XBox 360 or PS3 or Wii
  • play a game that runs on our PSP or GBA or Zune
  • play a classic arcade game running in an arcade emulator running on the iTV itself
  • surf the web – putting that in one bullet isn’t really fair; there’s a whole range of Web apps which would be unprecented on a good audio/video entertainment system – just think about how much is happening with digital media of all kinds on the web, and how ideal our home entertainment system is for all those kinds of digital media
  • manage, organize, tag and edit our audio or video or digital photo collections, right from an ideally comfortable, loud and big-screen seat

Lost in translation: Film adaptations of video games keep bombing

Here’s a link to the Seattle PI story, by Winda Benedetti

The article traces is deep and detailed and worth a thorough read. It talks about the adaption of movies to video games as well (the other direction). It’s fairly scathing at times, but also points to some very hopeful developments as Hollywood and the game industry try to come together better on these converging medias. Some highlights:

“Doom.” “Super Mario Bros.” “Final Fantasy.” As video games go, each has been wildly successful, earning legions of dedicated fans while selling thousands of copies.

But as films go … well, that’s another story.

Stinkers. Bombs. Total failures. These are the words that most accurately describe the feature films created from these best-selling video games.

Everyone agrees Hollywood and the gaming industry are growing closer, the entertainment titans not just adapting each other’s material but also adopting each other’s storytelling and visual styles.

Yet, the mating of games and movies remains a rocky endeavor that has come to inspire distrust and derision in the minds of consumers who’ve learned the hard way that video games based on movies most often are mediocre at best. Movies based on video games have a worse track record.

in recent months, gaming companies and Hollywood types have begun forging creative partnerships of a different kind. Superstar directors Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and John Woo, as well as actor Vin Diesel, have signed deals with game developers and publishers in an attempt to find new and, one hopes, more successful ways to blend movies and games.

Some of the worst video games sprouted from licensing partnerships with Hollywood. Back in 1982, for example, the video game adaptation of “E.T.” was so bad that it’s often blamed, at least in part, for the downfall of the Atari system and the gaming biz crash of 1983.

Ouch! 😀

“You don’t have to make them good because people are buying them because they recognize the name,” says Michael Pachter, who studies the games industry as an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities.

Boxofficemojo’s Gray is equally cynical when it comes to movies adapted from games.

“Unfortunately, it’s not about the quality of the movie, it’s about the bottom line,” he says. “You base a movie on a popular video game and you have a built-in audience.”

Bad reviews or not, plenty of “Dead or Alive” fans are sure to throw their money at the film adaptation simply because they love the game franchise.

But game makers say that time pressures are frequently to blame for quality problems. A good game can take up to two years, or more, to make. By the time a movie has been greenlighted, they have to rush to release the game at the same time as the movie.

It comes down to this, says Boxofficemojo’s Brandon Gray: “A video game and a movie are two different things. Video games may have the trappings of a story but they’re ultimately about playing, about hand-eye coordination.”

Wes Nihei, editor in chief for GamePro magazine, agrees to a certain point. “You can’t get away from the fact that one’s interactive and one’s passive and at some point the twain shall not meet.”

Spielberg, for example, has signed an agreement to bring his storytelling expertise to EA, where he will create three original games not based on films.

Action star Diesel has dipped his fingers in the biz as well by creating Tigon Studios, his own games production company dedicated to mixing the best film and gaming have to offer. Tigon has joined forces with Midway to create “The Wheelman,” a game that stars a digitized Diesel as a badass driver who comes out of retirement to save a woman from his past. MTV Films and Paramount Pictures plan to develop a major motion picture in conjunction with the game.

Here’s a thought: if the tools to make a movie and the tools to make a game were the same tools, this divergence and difficulty and inconsistency and parallel creation wouldn’t be so inevitable. And that is not a crazy thought. Game engine / movie technology companies working on this? For animated films, this is closer to reality. But I don’t think rendered video is really that far behind. Compare visual quality and resolution in Gears of War to that in Wizardry and Wing Commander and the original Warcraft, and then turn and look 10 years into the future…

It seems fairly obvious that the people who are going to solve this movie / game puzzle first and best are the ones who also have a foot in both worlds. Of the people named in the article, Vin Diesel is most interesting to me, since I know he actually does know and play games. Maybe Jackson and Spielberg do, too – we can hope.

And another thought for all of us who are gamers: it’s pretty shameless for them to think they don’t have to make a good game cause we’ll by it anyway because we liked the movie. That’s insulting to our intelligence, actually. Bad news is, it’s based on their experience. It’s up to us and our wallets to change that assumption, isn’t it?

Could Apple Become Games Console King?

If you haven’t thought about Apple’s ability to compete with Sony and Microsoft in the living room convergence market, and ESPECIALLY if you haven’t heard of the iTV yet – yes, that’s like iPod for your TV – than you really want to check this short article out, by Aaron Ruby of Next Generation.

And it’s as entertaining as it is full of very very thought-provoking information. How unusual!

You really should click and read the whole thing, but if you won’t, here’s the snippet chock full of the most mind-blowing information:

According to Disney chief Bob Iger, the iTV wireless streaming media device will have a hard drive. He recently said “It’s a small box about the size of a novel, and not War and Peace, by the way. It plugs into the television like any other peripheral would, like a DVD device. It’s wireless. It detects the presence of computers in your home; in a very simple way you designate the computer you want to feed it and it wirelessly feeds whatever you downloaded on iTunes which include videos, TV, music videos, movies or your entire iTunes music library to your television set.”

A plausible argument by Roughly Drafted’s Daniel Eran has the iTV being held just long enough for Apple to introduce 802.11n, which would allow 200 Mbit connections to an access point, nearly 10 times the a/g variety and more than enough to stream DVD-quality content wirelessly from a Mac (and possibly a PC). That would help explain the inclusion of an HDMI connection on Apple’s new device. As Eran points out, you don’t need an HDMI connection if you are simply streaming downloadable 640X480 content.

Some have speculated that the iTV may also be destined to get one of Intel’s Conroe-L processors, which it would need to process the HD content Apple eventually wants to sell over iTunes. Further, according to some, it’s very possible video card drivers could be written so that graphic output data could be sent to a network port instead of the monitor connected to the card. That opens the possibility of using iTV and a wireless controller to remotely play Mac/PC games (*cough* WoW *cough*) in your living room.

Convenient then, that on September 7, 2006, Apple filed a patent application for a handheld electronic device with “multiple touch-sensitive devices.” Sure, the primary application of the patent is likely to layer a touch screen over the iPod’s display, but applications that involve improving gaming control with Apple products is not far-fetched.

All of this basically means that Apple could be on the verge of launching a slimmed down, single-core Mac Mini capable of streaming interactive content from a host computer and capable of storing and playing casual games locally.

I’m sure I don’t need to point out how well this builds on the ridiculous social AND business phenomenon that the iPod has become. And I’m sure I don’t need to point out how much sense this makes for truly enabling digital convergence – something which to this point has only been lamely satisfied by PC and software and console makers who are more interested in selling their own product than in allowing people to enjoy their media and games where and how they want to.

But what I feel like I DO have to point out is the implications of this bit:

Further, according to some, it’s very possible video card drivers could be written so that graphic output data could be sent to a network port instead of the monitor connected to the card. That opens the possibility of using iTV and a wireless controller to remotely play Mac/PC games (*cough* WoW *cough*) in your living room.

That is yet another reference to World of Warcraft, yes, everyone’s Holy Grail in the post-dot-com quest for the return of gigabucks. Like the idea of playing WoW on your couch, with a paperback sized touch screen controller?

But WoW isn’t the point or the end, it’s just a one gigabuck per year example of what this could be capable of. The really really interesting potential for this, if they do it like customers would want it, instead of as proprietary business instincts will want it – the really interesting potential for this is to make it a cross-platform convergence device, which will let us do whatever we want with our TV and entertainment center:

  • play music from our iPod or other mobile music device
  • take calls from our cell phones
  • watch DVDs or MP3s or Tivo or any other video stream
  • play a game that runs on our PC or Mac or Linux box
  • play a game that runs on our XBox 360 or PS3 or Wii
  • play a game that runs on our PSP or GBA or Zune
  • play a classic arcade game running in an arcade emulator running on the iTV itself
  • surf the web – putting that in one bullet isn’t really fair; there’s a whole range of Web apps which would be unprecented on a good audio/video entertainment system – just think about how much is happening with digital media of all kinds on the web, and how ideal our home entertainment system is for all those kinds of digital media
  • manage, organize, tag and edit our audio or video or digital photo collections, right from an ideally comfortable, loud and big-screen seat

I highlighted my own personal favorites, and I could go on – but tell me, am I exaggerating the potential importance of a wireless digital box which can feed our TV/stereo systems content from ANY digital source? I don’t think so. I think this could be Apple’s next iPod-scale success. Could being the operative word.