tokyo ho!

myself and ken wong will be visiting tokyo to do pre-production/research for a new game title. we’re looking for people in tokyo who would be willing to meet up, go out, talk about the city and its culture, and generally be our guides. if you’re living in tokyo and this sounds interesting to you then please contact me via email at (the japan trip is over now. thanks to everyone who met with us and helped us out while we were there!)

advergaming – super jack

recently game developer digital steamworks was kind enough to work on a proof of concept for a bit of advergaming called “super jack”. the idea here was simply to show a potential client what a game based on their brand might look like.

working known brands into viable video game ideas isn’t as simple as you might think. the brand has history, the brand has an identity, and these things must be protected. while i might think it funny and worthwhile to see company x’s mascot brandishing firearms and destroying bad guys, that sort of concept usually won’t fit with the image the corporation is trying to project about themselves and their product.

with a pizza chain like dominoes for example, one of the first ideas that pops into your mind is “a game about delivering pizzas!” this concept immediately creates an issue though: reckless driving to deliver pizza eventually causes destruction and death. some pizza chains were forced to stop advertising “30 minutes or less” by lawsuits that claimed this sort of guarantee wasn’t in the public’s interest.

so games built for brands like nike, jack in the box, or diesel have to take this into account while still delivering a play experience that is compelling enough to draw people away from “feature” quality games released by top tier game publishers. it seems that part of this is solved by creating smaller games (time-wise) of equally high quality. these tv commercial sized games can be played a very short amount of time, enjoyed fully in that time, and potentially replayed many times without becoming dull. i know this is possible because of things like deathmatch quake… a single level can provide hours of “repetitive” fun.

check out the digital steamworks jack video by clicking on the image below.
contact murray at digital steamworks if you want to speak to the developer that did this animation using the unreal engine.

jack

“jack in the box”, the jack image, and all related materials are (c) jack in the box inc, 2005.

more on advergaming…

“Advertising prepares to make its biggest push yet into the video game world.”
this article from cnn/money.com talks about the “/pizza” functionality being added to everquest2 online that allows players to order a pizza from within the game.

advertising is making more inroads into gaming… writer chris morris mentions eventually being able to browse in-game retail locations that offer goods and services in the real world. talk of dynamic ads, updating music content, and advertiser funded exclusive content is on the rise. personally, i see all of this as the next step in the evolution of game production. it will help the industry work on smaller games and with alternate distribution models which will mean rapid innovation. this should mean more work for more teams, more content for users, and a normalization of game content towards the mainstream.

looking at the evolution of mediums, i think this could be compared to cycles similar to those film&television have gone through. currently we’re locked into what is essentially a monopoly state owned by electronic arts. activision and other companies taking a serious interest in advertiser funded gaming must see this as the light at the end of the tunnel, the crest of the next big wave.

for some all of this “advertiser + gaming” talk sounds scary… but think about the alternative. when was the last time electronic arts put out an original game title?

impressions of shanghai

just a couple of quick shots from the streets of shanghai:


aligator
rocket
dog
fighting

this first group has some alligator claw in a tasty looking sauce. back in texas we used to eat some pretty strange stuff, armadillo, snake, alligator, and even squirrel… so eating an alligator doesn’t seem that strange to me. it’s the “claw” that i don’t get. i mean, if you’re going to eat something, go for a part that has a little meat on it! the next image features a “cute” little couple riding a nuclear missile. nice. but who’s missile are they riding? his or hers? then there’s the dog riding a scooter. not nearly as lethal, but equally cute. finally we have a collection of fighting crickets found in a pet market. i want to buy a couple hundred to guard my house. attack crickets.


fire
fire
fire
fire

ok, this scene was probably my favorite of the entire shanghai trip. we came across a group of people standing in the middle of the street (the street we were trying to drive down). they were all huddled around what looked like a mass of snakes. upon closer inspection we realized they had covered the entire length of the street in fireworks. they struggled for a while to get the first fuse lit. i couldn’t understand why they were being so damn cautious… then the street basically *exploded*.


fire
fire
peacehotel
skyline

you can see in these two final fireworks shots what happens when you light a couple hundred pounds of black cats all at once. it basically incinerated everything within 5 feet of the street. the noise was actually so loud that my brain stopped processing it and i could hear only static. finally we have the interior of the peace hotel in shanghai, where i ate lots of yummy dumplings. finally a view from the 87th floor of the tallest building in shanghai.

advergaming

a friend sent me this link regarding burger king starting a campaign with activision where they give you a portable game device with your meal. could this be the first step towards retailer/advertiser funded original game content? i hope so. the alternate financing and distribution that setups like this could afford the industry might help to ease the original-content-free monopoly interactive publishers currently have over the industry.

already i’ve heard that the games given away are crap. when will burger king and others realize they could produce high-quality interactive games inside their existing television advertising budget and create dual content (games and animated commercials) that actually drives original branding/ip?? thank you, drive through please.