Yes, it’s five things.

I’ve seen the Five Things meme floating around and now Nik tagged me. If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, like Nik I’m going to point to Iain who did better research and explanation than both of us could be bothered to. Anyway, you need to know five interesting/unknown facts about myself. It’s not an easy task… so it took a while.

  1. Various nicknames of mine have been Blade, Bongo and The Captain. Blade was great until Wesley Snipes ruined it.

  2. I broke my front tooth when I was playing the piano at around age 11.

  3. I can make a strange alien voice by holding a bubble of air in my throat and talking at the same time.

  4. My mum tells me I would have been called Claudia if I had been a girl. My dad wanted to call me Felix after Felix Leiter from James Bond, but the popular cat food persuaded my parents otherwise.

  5. I (not so) secretly think Tom Cruise is one of the world’s most under-rated actors. No wait, hear me out. I know he’s rubbish in most of the things he does, but in Born on the 4th July and a few other films he can be a brilliantly intense actor. The whole Katie Holmes thing is ridiculous and so is he most of the time. This means he is forever doomed to be awful and unbelievable because his stardom gets in the way of the role he’s playing.

Okay, time to pass it on to another five. I suspect these people won’t succumb so the meme will die here. It’s probably not a bad thing, but we’ll see:

Chris at Pixelsumo
Nigel at Explanatory Gap
Dan at City of Sound
Mike at Digital Agency
The folks at UVA

Regine comes to the Bauhaus

Regine Debatty

I’m delighted that the very brilliant and extremely well-connected Regine Debatty from we-make-money-not-art.com is giving a talk at the Bauhaus on Wednesday. If anyone is in the area please come along.

Details below:

Wednesday 17 January
19:30 h
Dachgalerie Limona
Steubenstrasse 8

(Photo shamelessly stolen from WMMNA.)

Apple iPhone

Apple's iPhone

I’m going to join what will be an enormous club and blog about Apple’s iPhone. I nearly didn’t, just to not follow the crowd, but given my interest is in emerging technologies, interactivity and interface design I really need to.

So, well, it is amazing of course just as a great piece of product design and technology. It’s great to see a full-screen device that ditches buttons as well as many of the multi-touch interface ideas that Jeff Han has been working on for some time. I’ve been waiting to see these ideas in an everyday product.

Running OS X, with its attention to detail and multimodal ways of working, is also very positive. But the main thing is that it could completely change the landscape of mobiles.

Completely change the landscape?
Yes. When I was chatting the folks at Fjord about some of the work they’ve been doing in the mobile space (incidentally Fjord have just finished this project, Go, for Yahoo! ) I had a thought about the ridiculous range of mobiles, even from one company. Apple have been smart with the iPod in the way they have kept the concept roughly the same even as they make new versions. Nokia, for example, might be much better off not segmenting the market but rather creating a really decent range of maybe two or three phones and then just keep simplifying them. That’s the Apple model and that’s what they have done with the iPhone.

Additionally, the Wi-Fi, the most likely very easy Apple-style manner of setting up your connections will also get over the big bugbear of mobile devices – namely that they’re such an incredible pain in the arse to set up if you want to do any kind of decent network communication.

Some of the user-interface elements (like the multi-touch and drag and throw style interaction) might seem small, but those things have been huge and permanent hurdle to people using mobile services.

Lastly, it’s probably reasonably easy to make nice apps for the iPhone, especially given the widget-style interface. This opens it up to a great deal more innovative development than on current mobiles.

There are probably many more things to be added to this list and probably some downsides, but I’ll have to get hold of one first…

Invitation À Jouer

I was recently contacted by Yves Bernard who writes the ArtNumeur blog about a piece I wrote a for the Game/Play exhibition little while back called An Invitation to Play (a phrase, incidentally, that I completely owe to Mark Pesce who mentioned it to me once when we were talking about a student’s work – he first used it here.

Very pleasantly, Yves has translated a section of my article into French. For those of you wishing to practice your French, here it is:

Cet essai explore les ‘art games’ et comment et pourquoi ils réussissent (ou ne réussissent pas – cas le plus fréquent)   engager l’utilisateur. Ceci dépend la plupart du temps de la capacité de l’artiste à construire une ‘invitation à  jouer’, c’est à  dire, d’étre capable de nous séduire pour nous entraîner dans un comportement ludique avec l’oeuvre, pour jouer avec elle. Et s’il rate cette invitation, alors tout autre message, contenu ou idée contenu dans l’oeuvre est perdu, non communiqué – et alors à  quoi bon faire oeuvre interactive?

I quite like the sound of it like that, I must say.

Playpen on WMMNA

Just a quickie to thank Regine for the name-check on we-make-money-not-art.com. WMMNA is the source for all things interactive/new media art/design, or as she much more articulately says the “intersection between art, design and technology”.

So I’m very flattered that Playpen is on her list of 2006 blogs and mags discoveries and doing a weird circuitous blogging thing of linking back to it (actually you should take a look at the rest of the list).

Regine also writes for Worldchanging.com, which is another of my favourite online reads (and offline now, with their book). Smart lady.

Games Studies Journal new issue

The new issue of the Games Studies journal, Volume 6, Issue 1 was published in December, just in case you missed it in the holiday rush. Here are the contents:

Nick Montfort: Combat in Context

Mia Consalvo, Nathan Dutton: Game analysis: Developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of games

Rob Cover: Gaming (Ad)diction: Discourse, Identity, Time and Play in the Production of the Gamer Addiction Myth

Hans Christian Arnseth: Learning to Play or Playing to Learn – A Critical Account of the Models of Communication Informing Educational Research on Computer Gameplay

Joris Dormans: On the Role of the Die: A brief ludologic study of pen-and-paper roleplaying games and their rules

Thaddeus Griebel: Self-Portrayal in a Simulated Life: Projecting Personality and Values in The Sims 2 Charles Paulk: Signifying Play: The Sims and the Sociology of Interior Design

Benjamin Wai-ming Ng: Street Fighter and The King of Fighters in Hong Kong: A Study of Cultural Consumption and Localization of Japanese Games in an Asian Context

Jonas Heide Smith: The Games Economists Play – Implications of Economic Game Theory for the Study of Computer Games

Hector Rodriguez: The Playful and the Serious: An approximation to Huizinga’s Homo Ludens

Jussi Parikka, Jaakko Suominen: Victorian Snakes? Towards A Cultural History of Mobile Games and the Experience of Movement

It’s very readable and generally doesn’t suffer the usual problem of opaque (read: badly written) cultural theory texts. For some reason I particularly enjoyed the fact that Nick Montfort’s Combat in Context included the entire 2KB of machine code for Atari’s Combat game.

(Via Jesper at the Ludologist who also posted the above contents so neatly for me to poach).

Light Tracer wins Tokyo TDC Award

Light Tracer in action

I’m a bit late with this announcement due to the holidays, but I’m very happy to see that an ex-student of mine, Karl D. D. Willis won the Interactive Design Prize in the 2007 Tokyo Type Directors Club Awards with his Light Tracer work. He joins a pretty heavy-hitting alumni of winners over the years.

Karl and I had some pretty lengthy and healthy debates about Light Tracer in terms of play versus interactivity, technology versus exhibition, etc. and it’s great to have seen it develop and be exposed to larger audiences. Interesting too to see different crowds use it in different ways – in club environments people work out the interface very quickly it seems and use their phones and iPods to create traces. In more ‘gallery’ based environments people are, well, more well-behaved, which perhaps is less exciting.

If you are in Germany at the end of the month you can see Light Tracer at Transmediale in Berlin. You can also view all Karl’s documentation (including videos) on the Light Tracer website.