Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Future of Gaming

The first keynote of todays NGI convention on Serious Gaming was given by Marc Overmars, not the soccerplayer, but a professor at the University of Utrecht. Here are my notes:

The future of gaming

First computergame: 1958 brookhave national laborotory: tennis for two.

Development from 1958 to Wii :

  • Better graphics

  • Computer opponents (AI)

  • Storyline (gaining experience, buying better equipment)

  • Internet Play (no hotseat)

  • Interface (1st interface very simple, then lots of settings and now back to simple controls).

Platforms :

  • Consoles

  • PC

  • Handhelds

  • Mobile Phones


When we talk about games we talk about a variety of games. It is not only hardcore shooters.

  • Puzzle

  • Sports

  • Strategy

  • Shooters

  • Etc.

NL Most popular games 2006:

Most popular games in the netherlands are relatively innocent games, only GTA could be considered as agressive.

  1. Braintrain (Nintendo)

  2. Fifa 2007

  3. New Super Mario Bros

  4. Grand Theft Auto

  5. FIFA Street.


  • Average age 33, and growing older.

  • 48% female

  • Gaming is a social activity (like in the old days)

Gaming Industry

  • Revenues: 30 billion a year.

  • Making a good game: 10 million +

  • 20 – 100 developers per game.

Serious Games:

  • Education

  • Training and Simulation

  • Decision Making

  • Marketing

  • Arts & Culture

  • User Interface

Why use games:

  • Motivating
    o Storyline
    o Challenges
    o Rewards

  • Adaptiveness
    o Reduction of frustration
    o FLOW

  • Direct Feedback on decisions
    o Better cognitive learning process

  • Always and Everywhere
    o Use of lost hours
    o Use at home
    o More time available for learning

Ingredients of a good game:

  • Storyline
    o Global motivation
    o Suspense or disbelief

  • Gameplay
    o Rules, rewards, challenges
    o Lasting interest

  • Simulation
    o Feedback on decisions
    o Not necessarily realisticE.G. Learning to drive: necessity to watch the rearview mirror, play a shooting game where every assassin comes from behind, learn to watch your back…

  • Social Interaction

In a good game these ingredients are well balanced.

Fields of application :

  • Training use of tools
    - Flightsimulation
    - Driving simulation
    - Simendo (medical)

  • Training procedures

  • Training facts and skills

  • Stimulate behaviour (Remission, Glucoboy)

  • Gaining insight in processes (Social, communication, businessprocesses)

  • Distraction (Pain reduction, Snow World etc)

  • Keep in touch (patients, elderly)

  • Marketing (e.g. America’s Army)

  • Etcetera

Making a serious game:

  • Don’t think you can design off hand, use professionals

  • It takes a lot of money

  • Think about implementation process

  • Train the trainers

  • Evaluate

The better the graphics, the more attention you pay to realistic behaviour. You have more freedom to act outside the storyline, but then the world doesn’t act the way it should anymore. (E.G. Destroy a complete shop in Oblivion and there’s no reaction from the shopkeeper, steal a feather and you will get arrested.)


  • World Interaction

  • Adaptive Gameplay

  • Physical Interaction

  • Brain – Machine interaction

  • Location Based Gaming (GIS, GPS) – Frequentie 1550, Triangler (TNO, mobile gaming award 2006)

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Halting State

In real life I had a day off. Not to lean back, but to take care of the kids who were down sick. This afternoon when they were asleep I just had time to immerse and join the Information Week session on Dr. Dobbs island where Mitch Wagner, a.k.a. Ziggy Figaro interviewed SciFi author Charles Stross.

Stross has always known he wanted to be a Science Fiction writer and started writing in his early teens and sold his first bit of wordplay in 1986. After a few stories sold, the dip came and Charles went back to University (Bradford) and did a postgraduate in computer science and hopped from techjob to techjob slowly crawling towards Edinburgh and suddenly went into web consultancy - This was right about the time of the dot com crash (if not the cause to it). He managed to establish himself as a proper Linux and Free Software journalist until...

"Even more implausibly, after fifteen years of abject obscurity, his fiction
became an overnight success in the US, with five novel sales and several Hugo
nominations in the space of two years. "

Charles, or Charlie, talked about the world of 'Halting State', a world set in our near future where Metaverses and augmented reality are part of our daily routine. Mitch Wagner says:

It's really hard to predict the future on the scale Stross does. Imagine yourself in 1996. Back then, would you have predicted the ubiquity of smartphones, user-generated content on the Internet (blogs weren't even invented yet), Facebook, MySpace, the massive American entertainment industry grinding to a complete halt over a dispute over Internet video, and post-9/11 geopolitics? Could you have imagined, in your bones, what it would be like to live in that world?

One of the things Stross sees is that in a few years from now it'll be mobile all the way. A large percentage of the computers on the world right now are already cell-phones. In a few years they'll have gigs of bandwidth. As Dr. Dobbs was quite maxed out with visitors, we were all yearning for that extra bandwidth as Second Life almost came to a halting state with clothing taking its time to download, or just plainly go missing.

Unfortunately I had to take care of one of my kids, so couldn't keep track of all the exciting things and visions Charles shared with the crowd, you'd best check out the Ugotrade blog in a few days to find a smashing recap.

Read more on this session at Information Week here. Now I have to run to be on time for my own presentation on Second Life (in Dutch) at the NGI island (slurl).

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