The idea of using cameras as game devices has been around for a while now but as penetration of capture devices reaches 100+ % [do you carry a digital camera and a cameraphone? I seem to] we're inevitably going to see more and more applications for them - something that was neatly evinced this morning by two emails I got back to back.

One was about this new spot [from The Glue Society [who are awesome]] for the Lumix Battle - a new campaign running in Thailand the pits teams of players against each other in photo fights. [More]

And the other concerned rumours of one of the first games being developed for Google's new mobile platform Android: WiFi Army - where players hunt each other across the urban landscape looking to snag sneaky pics on their camera phone, which are then uploaded and checked against a database of players for points. [More]

There are going to be loads more - cameras phones are the first devices to easily enable a visually augmented reality.

Homo Ludens


My plugged in Antipodean mate Anne put me on to the London Games Festival, which kicked off this week.

It looks awesome - especially tonight's BAFTA Annual Lecture with Will Wright.

[If you don't know much about Will Wright go and watch this where he talks about his new, much anticipated, much delayed, potentially game changing game Spore.]

The topic, chosen by Will, is "Interactive Entertainment - The Oldest Art Form" and it's on at 6pm tonight at BAFTA headquarters on Piccadilly in Central London and tickets are free from the website.

[Before you start wondering - they haven't tapped me up for a plug. I include all the details because I can't make it and I would really love to hear what he's got to say so - can someone PLEASE go and then blog about it?]

We need to play.

Man has been described as Homo Ludens - man the player - because play seems to be a necessary [although not sufficient] condition of the generation of culture.

Thinking of computer games as a discrete, stand alone medium you probably don't need to concern yourself with is an error in a transmedia age.

[Actually, thinking of any medium as discrete is an error - digitisation renders the delineation meaningless. Digital content happily flows across platforms, bits are bits, so there are only different types of content - delivery mechanism is increasingly irrelevant.]

Our desire to exert control over our media experiences will inevitably drive the expansion of gaming and gaming behaviours.

As transmedia properties develop, gaming elements will be built into other media forms to satisfy the desire to be involved, to be active.

Check the Heroes ARG for how it works at the moment.

Aren't you already jealous of your grandchildren? Think of the progression from Pong to Spore in your lifetime, project that forward 20 or so years at a hugely accelerated rate, and marvel at what they will call games.

Shoot the City


Urban games - activities that use the city as a game board - are pretty big over in the states.  Pioneered by wacky college students with things like Pacmanhattan they now have their own festival - Come Out and Play.

Over here in the UK things haven't caught on quite as much, but it looks like it's starting to happen. Shoot Experience run photographic treasure hunts around London - the picture is a winning entry - and they've got an event on in the City on 30th September.  Teams armed only with a digital camera look to solve clues and capture the answers in a defined area. Looks like fun.

Urban Golf has also developed a following - the Shoreditch Open is  a full 18 holes amongst the asymmetrical haircuts of East London.

Dealing with cities often seems to involve the reclamation of urban spaces - skateboarding famously has found a home under the Royal Festival Hall - perhaps as a way of normalising an environment that our brains weren't really wired to deal with.

I think anything that encourages people to play more is a good thing and advertisers have the resources to engineer fantastic branded games - yet another way to deliver value. Don't just badge a venue - create something!

Everyone plays games


When you think of games, video / computer / internet / whatever, the teenage boy is still the dominant conceptual audience. Of course, teenage boys still love gaming. But both the audience and the definition of what gaming is and how it's used is changing.

AOL found out in 2004 that the biggest demographic group of online gamers was women over 40. The poll then suggested they were mainly playing word and puzzle games between midnight and 5am. While the timing may be the same, today they are just as likely to be playing World of Warcraft.

This is indicative of the rapid evolution of gaming. The next generation consoles will begin to break down the siloes of gaming. The new controllers for the Nintendo Revolution are, well, revolutionary, allowing movement in 3D space as an interaction mechanism. Other consoles had begun to exclude new entrants to the market due to their inherent complexity - they required you to already be comfortable with the mechanisms from previous iterations.

Massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like Sony's Everquest and WoW provide entire virtual worlds in which to explore and interact, while attempting to increase the level of your character. They have real economies and writers working round the clock to develop storylines.

These games have evolved further into worlds like Second Life. Whilst they are very similar, being 3D environments in which you represent yourself with an avatar and interact with other players around the world, there is no 'game' element: no levels, no quests, only an online society where you can explore, participate and build a virtual economy. Thus while still recognisable in some sense as a game, it is also used by businesses to give presentations.

Advertisers have begun to use a construct known as 'alternate reality gaming' to make their communication more interesting to an audience that craves intrigue and engagement. Advertisers like Audi, who are definitely not targeting teenage boys [I doubt that the subset of wealthy 17/18 years old is their core audience].

The current thinking in the communication industry suggests that their is a tectonic shift occuring in the nature of the media consumer - from passive to active. Increasingly then, wouldn't it make sense for gaming, an activity based on interacting with content, to increasingly come to the fore?