BERG on Connected Devices

I'm a fan of the London design firm BERG - they always have fascinating forward thinking ideas and experiments in consumer technology, networked objects, and more. Their Little Printer project is good fun, combining emergent network behavior with a home miniprinter to give you a little surprise every day. BERG Cloud is a picks/shovels platform for connected devices that I must try out... would love to build a bridge from it to Unity to have a truly cross platform software/firmware/hardware authoring system for connected devices. 

Anyways, a very interesting chat between GIGAOM's Katie Fehrenbacher and BERG's CEO Matt Webb. 

"I sort of regard the network as being like the next generation of electricity: it will end up hitting all products sooner or later. But we wont really think about them as being “networked products,” in the way we don’t think about things as “electrical products.” Take a sewing machine: in the old days you had to stamp or pedal it, and then sewing machines became electrified and you just plugged them in. So now people don’t buy an electric sewing machine as a part of their collection of electrical goods — they just know they don’t need to pump their foot anymore. The product is slightly better. There will be a bunch of that with connected devices…."

I heartily agree - like electricity, the network will disappear into every object around and on (and likely inside!) us. He discusses the creepy factor in these inanimate objects coming to life, which is typical of the technology adoption curve. We'll get over it, especially if there is playful interaction to be had from the swarm of connected devices that we will be swimming in.

Let me know if your company needs any help in preparing innovative entertainment products for this coming global platform!

With 13 years in the game industry and time served in theme parks, internet and film before that, Martin Caplan has done some pretty fun and weird stuff. Currently he's consulting as an Executive Producer with Transmedia SF (Connected transmedia experiences) and Neomyx (Mobile / Location games). In the past, Martin has been Executive Producer at Robot 11, creating amazing mobile connected toys. Before that, he was a Producer at BioWare / EA leading teams to create amazing next generation experiences in mobile games with AAA brands. He was Senior Producer and New Business Director at Other Ocean, pitching and running projects in the mobile/social space. At Sixense, he served as Senior Producer leading an internal dev team to create innovative gameplay for the Razer Hydra motion control hardware in a Valve game mod for Portal 2. He was previously a Producer at Sega of America for 5+ years with 18 shipped titles. He has worked in the serious games industry as a game and interface design consultant for U.S. intelligence agencies, earning Secret clearance. Finally, he founded and sold Paragon Games, a tabletop RPG game company, developing and publishing RPG books and boardgames.

Marty can be reached at d33vle at gmail dot com


Excellent Candy Crush Saga Teardown

As usual, Deconstructor of Fun delivers a fine teardown of Candy Crush Saga, a game I'm currently playing a lot myself.

The breakdown of meaningful virality into "shareworthy" and "clickworthy" conditions is particularly interesting:

Shareworthy conditions
·   Instrumental: The feed is a result of rewards, or, it is incentivized i.e. it signals a prospect of rewards in case another player responds – asking help for progress unlocks in CCS is a great example
·   Hedonistic: The feed allows to show off personal achievements and/or creativity
·   Socially obligating: The feed seeks others’ commitment via the promise of mutual benefits, 
or via a social gesture, e.g. a partnership or investment
·   Altruistic: The feed provides an increased feeling of self- worth while giving something out 
for free or helping (‘Jack helped Timur to build in Millionaire City!’) 
Clickworthy conditions
·   Rewarding: Responding to the feed is incentivized; promises instant rewards or progression
·   Provocative: The feed provokes to return back to the game through competition (‘Have 
revenge’), empathy (‘save the panda’), or curiosity (‘Jack just earned a million dollars’)
·   Socially obligating: The feed is persuasive through a reciprocal gesture (e.g. gifting, cry for 
help), or a social tie/ gesture that it represents (‘Linda made an investment on You’; ‘Jim has new buildings in his/her city. Thanks to those who helped!’) 

I try not to get too wrapped up in guidelines like the above on the creative side - a good game design comes from the heart first, and is then refined by principles like these. In fact, this is the dynamic that has emerged between game designers and product managers. Get that right, and you have a powerful team-up that can build a business on fun.

The full post is visible here:

What the $%#&! is a Ludologist?

A ludologist is a person who studies games.

Ever since I can remember I've been fascinated by play and how humans use play via games for cognitive development and leisure alike. There is an emerging field of academia that focuses on the cultural, social, biological, technological implications of modern video games. Luminaries such as Ian Bogost and Jesper Juul are highlights. However, formal games are around 5,000 years old, it seems, and a great deal of work is yet to be done to map the territory of games against history and evolution.

What does that have to do with the modern multi-billion dollar game industry? The intense development that's occurring around mobile, online, social, free to play, etc. in parallel to the bar-raising as games tell better stories and become culturally relevant works of art is incredibly exciting.

There's no industry I'd rather be in - I'm a lifer!