No, not a joke: Pogo.com are bringing out Fairy Godmother Tycoon. It's just a throwaway mention in this long and pretty informative interview over at Gamasutra with Pogo's VP, this poor fella here, who was stuffed into his best grey shirt, propped up against a bog-standard mottled grey background and told to SMILE, PLEASE.
Bless him, he did manage to get the smile to his eyes, but he's gritting his teeth so hard, you have to feel sorry for him. I wonder why EA do this to their people: aren't games about having fun? You'd never know it from their corporate headshots.
I digress. Here's a few choice quotes:
Additionally, on the Club Pogo side -- which is our subscription
service -- we pioneered badges, or challenges into the casual
gamespace. One of the things that does from a social component is that
it provides a directed experience. When you have so many games on a
site or service, sometimes it's difficult for people to figure out what
game they want to play.
On women (or the propagated myth that casual gamers are all older females):
What we're trying to do is create a mass market product that will
appeal to the broadest demographic possible. That's not to say that
it's coincidental that it resonates with women, but I think it is the
driving segment of the market, and we want to make sure that we design
products that will appeal to them. I think we try to avoid experiences
that we know are not going to resonate with that audience, rather than
designing products specifically for women.
On free vs subscription:
We have about fifteen million unique players that are coming to Pogo
every month. Of those players, we have approximately 1.4 million paid
subscribers who are paying us either monthly or annually on the Club
And on fairy godmothers?
Fairy Godmother Tycoon is the newest game that's going to be
coming out. It's a downloadable product, but a standalone experience.
We're very excited about it. It really puts a twist on your traditional
I wonder if you'll be able to choose between good fairy godmother and evil fairy godmother. Cackle.
Heh, I kept hitting World Without Oil thinking I'd got the wrong site (the holding site was black): it's very authentic-looking! www.worldwithoutoil.org is already the number one google spot for "world without oil": funded by public service broadcasting in the US, this is quite the way to bring attention to a political (and ecological, and biological, and health, and etc etc) issue that would otherwise perhaps make people's hearts heavy with a mixture of apathy, fear and guilt.
The lazy in me is already confused as to where the 'game' part of this is, but perhaps that's because I come to it thinking 'game'. Maybe it's not a game. Maybe ARGs are theatre. Maybe they're this "new narrative format" that television networks oft repeat. In fact, WWO is calling itself an alternate reality event, if you skip through to the "I'm still confused" page, found here.
Seems like there's a call for participants to upload a fictional story, of their choosing, describing the crisis as it happened for them. Except of course, it hasn't happened. This is, of course, incredibly brave of the writers and designers of the event: the players will provide the material for the end result - in varying levels of quality and subject matter - and presumably the game masters will then shape and mould the raw stuff into something coherent and valuable.
WORLD WITHOUT OIL aims to help fill a huge gap in our nation's thinking
about oil and the economy. As people everywhere grapple with the
problem of growing global demand for petroleum, no one has a clear
picture of oil availability in the future, nor is there a clear picture
of what will happen when demand inevitably outstrips supply. That will
depend in large part upon how well people prepare, cooperate, and
collectively create solutions. By playing it out in a serious way, the
game aims to apply collective intelligence and imagination to the
problem in advance, and to create a record that has value for
educators, policymakers, and the common people to help anticipate the
future and prevent its worst outcomes. “Play it, before you live it.”
If you're thinking, like I was, that digital downloads are the way to go when it comes to software purchases or upgrades, you might want to think twice if you're about to try Adobe's offerings.
I'm currently on hold as I write this - on hold for the third time while someone tries to help me, but here's the problem. I own Photoshop 5.0 (disk, in storage in the UK, a.k.a. "lost"). I also own a digital upgrade to Creative Suite 2.0, which I bought in Feb '06 for a few hundred dollars more.
Now that I have a fresh install of windoze here, I need to reinstall Photoshop/CS2: but no disk, and no installer. None available on Adobe.com either: Creative Suite 3.0 is out, so they have removed any and all references to Creative Suite 2.0 or any earlier versions of Photoshop from the site.
I'm calling them with my two serial numbers, wanting a link to a download for CS2. They won't give me one. The options Adobe are offering me? I can either upgrade to CS3 for a few hundred dollars more, or I have to go to an Authorised Reseller to see if they have old copies of CS2 as replacement media.
I'm completely amazed by this. They may as well turn up on my doorstep and jeer, while they're at it.
On top of this, Adobe are telling me that my account is in the UK, even though I bought the digital upgrade from adobe.com, and "maybe the UK helpdesk can help", but they don't know. The only way for me to find out is for me to call Adobe in the UK, and probably at a fifty dollar international call cost, at the rate that they put you on hold. I can't even be bothered to think about this.
I'm beginning to think the only way to get my legal copy of Photoshop/Creative Suite 2.0 installed is to go find a torrent of the installer. Heh. Is this piracy? I'm a pirate because I'm a fully paid up customer? Brilliant.
Moral of this story: if you're about to buy Photoshop or Creative Suite from Adobe, just be aware that they currently link your account to the country you're in (travelling digital creatives, this means trouble for you), and once they bring out a new version, all older versions are killed off, making it easier to pressure you into upgrading.
If you get a digital download from Adobe, I suggest you burn it to disk, thereby returning to the tedious olde worlde of having to track disks. But, at least this way you get to 'own' it. Talk about one step forwards, two steps back...
So, I've spent 2 days wrestling Thunderbird 2.0 to the ground, and my giant mail archive, and the 6 day no-email backlog, and so far.. it's working .. and I get to this in an email that Daddytypes Greg sent in. Fuzzy little cuddly space invaders! MUST HAVE THEM ALL!
The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) has done some games research - which is good, because they're some of the ones who grade videogames for age limits, putting those film-like stickers on them bearing guidance ages of 15 or 18, PG or U. Here's a list of their most recent games decisions at time of writing, it's entertaining in itself:
Snort. Go Spongebob.
Their most talked-about headline from the research is their claim that videogames are less immersive than movies, due to the interactive nature of the content, which means that players are more aware that the content is fictional in games.
My favourite is this one, presumably referring to teens:
Younger games players are influenced to play particular games by peer
pressure and word of mouth, but negative press coverage for a game will
significantly increase its take up;
So much for reaching out to teens with good, quality stuff: they want schlock. No change there, then. There's an interesting escapist element to games, which boils down to control:
People play games to escape from every day life and to escape to a
world of adventure without risk which is under the control of the
gamer, unlike the real world;
Our need for control is fascinating.
Read the full list here. There's no detail there on how many people were polled, and there are standard responses from the girls: we play the sims and puzzle games, not so interested in violence. I'm not sure their questioning was particularly deep here - after all, racing games aren't mentioned, nor titles like Ratchet & Clank, or even Gaia Online, say. But I guess that'd be a whole other research paper...
Update: I got a download of the paper (couldn't find it anywhere on the BBFC, but it's available here) and the research is qualitative only: fewer than a 100 people polled. However, qual research is very meaty in terms of data, so you get a good story out of it. It's just a bit dangerous to extrapolate to 'everyone' as 100 folks isn't a big enough sample to be representative of, say, a country.
Also, racing is mentioned- briefly - in the paper: girls play more racing, boys play more shooting.