Wandering around the KYORAKU company web site I came across a recruitment section including two manga that tell (dramatised) stories of the development of machines. The image above is from one of the manga that tells the story of the development of a pachinko Winter Sonata, a popular Korean soap. Pachinko machines like this are developed to attract more women into pachinko parlours as audience numbers are declining. I was struck that the team, at least as shown in the comic, has no women designers, which raises the question of whether there are any women designers?
Archive for the ‘Computer Games’ Category
I’m at the Replaying Japan 2015conference at Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan. You can see my conference notes here. The conference features a keynote by the father of the Final Fantasy games who will talk on “From the Famicon to the World: The Lineage of JRPGs’ Globalization from the Perspective of the Genesis of Final Fantasy.”
CBC Spark with Nora Young had a segment on Why empathy is the next big thing in video games. The category seems to map onto “persuasive games” or “art games.” Some of the games mentioned:
- RIOT – a forthcoming game where you experience being in riots
- Spirits of Spring – about a “young native in a mythical land”
- Papo and Yo – about alchoholism
Ian Bogost talks on the segment and makes the argument that in empathy games one feels a different type of empathy than in narrative media. When you make the choices you have something at stake. He also made a point about empathy with systems that I didn’t quite get. He talked about systems oriented game design where you get exposed to a different system or environment and learn about it through playing. The idea is that by playing someone running a fast food chain you learn about the system of fast food. You learn to empathize with the fast food mogul in order to understand the constraints those systems are under.
The Let’s Play Archive is a charming collection of play-throughs of games. Some use screenshots and text, others link to video with voiceovers. Useful for understanding historical games.
Just finished a gem of a game called Gone Home: A Story Exploration Video Game. The game is simple. You are the older daughter returned to an empty home after a year in Europe. You wander around the house finding notes and other clues as to where your family is. In the process you uncover the stories of your parents, your sister and a dead uncle. The ending had me in tears – proof for me that a game can evoke emotions.
The empty and mysterious mood reminds me of other games that use that mood like Dear Esther and even Myst.
CBC and others are reporting on a new Nintendo Creators Program where Nintendo will take a percentage of the ad revenue associated with a YouTube channel or video with playthroughs (Let’s Play) of their games. See YouTube gaming stars blindsided by Nintendo’s ad revenue grab or Nintendo’s New Deal with Youtubers Is A Jungle Of Rights. This will
In the past, advertising proceeds that could be received for videos that included Nintendo-copyrighted content (such as gameplay videos) went to Nintendo, according to YouTube rules. Now, through this service, Nintendo will send you a share of these advertising proceeds for any YouTube videos or channels containing Nintendo-copyrighted content that you register.
This program is only for “copyrighted content related to game titles specified by Nintendo”. This is probably because Nintendo has to be careful to not be seen as making money off playthroughs of other publisher’s games.
This new policy/program raises interesting issues around:
- Fair use. Is a screen shot or a whole series of them that make up a playthrough covered by “fair use”? My read is that the publishers think not.
- Publicity from Playthroughs. YouTuber’s like PewDiePie who post Let’s Play videos (and make money off their popular channels) argue that these videos provide free exposure and publicity.
- New Economic Models for Gaming. Is Nintendo exploring new economic models tied to their copyright? Nintendo has been suffering so it makes sense that they would try to find ways to monetize their significant portfolio of popular game franchises and characters.
Wired and others have stories about how Nintendo Is Finally Bringing Mario to Mobile Phones. They are entering into an alliance with DeNA by buying DeNA stock (and DeNA will buy Nintendo stock.) Iwata (Director and President of Nintendo) and Isao Moriyasu (President and CEO of DeNA) made a joint announcement. You can see a translated version of the presentation on YouTube here.
This is a big change for Nintendo as they have been losing money as the traditional console gaming industry loses market share to casual and mobile platforms. I had heard ex-employees say Nintendo would never make the transition, but stay committed to tight integration of their games and dedicated devices. Obviously things have changed and now Nintendo will be deploying their IP to smartphones, especially to reach a global market. Nintendo stock closed 27.5% up.
My understanding of Iwata’s explanation was that they now see mobile versions as building their fan base and therefore helping sell dedicated devices/content. They are afraid that they will be marginalized globally if they don’t expand the reach of their IP. They have now decided how to use smart devices as a way into dedicated systems.
Because the interfaces are different, they don’t intend to just port existing titles to mobile platforms. Instead they will work with DeNA to create new content specifically for smart devices.
The Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs has released a first version of their Media Arts database (only in Japanese). This database has, among other things, about 36,000 game titles. I think the games database was developed by the team at the Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies (RCGS) – they were certainly working on this when I visited.
You can read an announcement from Anime News Network here.
This Friday and Saturday I was at a lovely two day conference, Press Start: Culture, Industry, and Innovation in Japanese Gaming. The conference was put on by the University of British Columbia Centre for Japanese Research. The conference had excellent involvement from Japanese game companies like Bandai Namco, Sega, Capcom, and DeNA. The industry folk talked about the challenges of the expanding mobile market and how their Vancouver studios are positioned in their larger business.
I gave the opening talk on beginnings (as in Press Start) and kept conference notes here.
The Toronto Star has a nice story, The computer program billed as unbeatable at poker, about a poker playing program Cepehus that was developed at the Computer Poker Research here at the University of Alberta. Michael Bowling is quoted to the effect that,
No matter what you do, no matter how strong a player you are, even if you look at our strategy in every detail . . . there is no way you are going to be able of have any realistic edge on us.
On average we are playing perfectly. And that’s kind of the average that really matters.
You can play Cepehus at their web site. You can read their paper “Heads-up limit hold’em poker is solved”, just published in Science here (DOI: 10.1126/science.1259433).