Posted: November 30th, 2006 | No Comments »
The ITU will issue its new 2006 report of the “ITU Internet Reports” serie:
||Prepared especially for ITU TELECOM World (December 4-8 2006 in Hong Kong), the report begins by examining the underlying technological enablers of new digital lifestyles, from upgrading network infrastructure to value creation at its edges. In studying how businesses are adapting to fast-paced digital innovation, the report looks at how they can derive value in an environment driven by convergence at multiple levels. The question of extending access to underserved areas of the world is considered as an important priority. In light of media convergence, a fresh approach to policy-making may be required, notably in areas such as content, competition policy, and spectrum management. Moreover, as our lives become increasingly mediated by digital technologies, the role of digital identities (both abstract and practical) presents a new challenge. Concerns over privacy and data protection are not being sufficiently addressed by current methods for managing identities online. As such, the report examines the changing digital individual, and outlines the need for improving the design of identity management mechanisms for a healthy and secure digital world.
Update the report is available here.
Posted: November 30th, 2006 | 1 Comment »
Thanks J*B for pointing me on this awesome timeline of timelines. One of the timelines that struck me was the chart by Charles Renouvier’s that depicts “the theoretical relationship between the actual course of history and possible alternative paths“:
Why do I blog this? I am working on a chapter of my dissertation about visualizing coordination over time. This is an interesting example of how to express divergence in timelines.
Posted: November 30th, 2006 | 1 Comment »
Finding Uses for New Technology: Moving with a Magic Thing by Anu Kankainen. The paper describes a user research method called “moving with a magic thing” proposed by Giulio Jaucci for “discovering appropriate markets for technology-pushed mobile products” as it says.
“Moving with a magic thing” is a field method. Users are met in their environment and given a “dummy” mock-up of a mobile device. They are told what functionality the device has and are asked to show what they would like the magic device to do for them as part of their daily activities. To collect more scenarios, users can be asked to also create a “moving with a magic thing” photo diary. After the initial observation day, they are given a digital camera for a week and asked to take pictures of the situations where they would use “the magic thing”. At the end of the week, users are interviewed based on the photos they have taken.
This method results in high-level use scenarios which do not come from brainstorming activities conducted in a meeting room but are based on the observation of users in real contexts.
Why do I blog this? it seems that this notion of magic is so omnipresent lately in human-computer interaction that it even pervades methodologies.
Posted: November 29th, 2006 | 1 Comment »
The iperg newsletter features a good overview of the field of pervasive gaming called “Highlight: Challenges of Pervasive Game Studies” by Markus Montola. It basically describes the challenges encountered why working on this multidisciplinary project. For those who are not aware of it iPerg is an EU-funded research consortium, which investigated pervasive gaming from diverse perspectives. The article is a condense overview of what they done, the problems they faced and the issue that emerged. Some relevant parts (to me):
When you look at how people are speaking, this field really is a tangled mess. (…) SOLUTION: We have chosen a fairly broad framework for discussing pervasive games. The claim is that they differ from regular games in that they are not fixed in predefined space, time or participation.
Where does the pervasive game end and where does it start again? (…) SOLUTION: In the first Prosopopeia we encouraged seamless merging, and in the second prototype we go for even more emergence and even further seamlessness (…) When it comes to studying the games, it’s far more difficult: Acquiring the consent for recording outsider activities is impossible, so you have to rely on the player accounts.
It’s hard and costly to try these games out in real situations. But paper prototyping often fails to grasp the essential phenomena such as the aesthetics of urban space, feeling of time when traveling around or the influence of interference from outsiders during the game. (…) SOLUTION: We prototype with paper mockups, prototype again with paper mockups, and when we believe that it might theoretically fly; we do a big technical prototype. Evaluation methodology changes from game to game
More importantly and more related to my concerns:
The few trailblazers of the genre were single shot games that ended years ago, or at least you have to travel somewhere to hook up at the location-based game. You can’t try them out for real, and when writing comparative analyses, you can’t really expect your readers to be acquaintanced with your portfolio of examples. (…) SOLUTION: Expert interviews, witness reports, game documents and the like should be our daily loaf. An hour of chat with Tom Söderlund on Botfighters gets you deeper into mobile gaming than any book I’ve seen so far, but unfortunately the availability of both specialists and documents is an issue. Pervasive gaming community also needs to document much more than it has done in order to learn from it’s ups and downs. Unfortunately the conference paper format is far too brief for the larger games, and thus a better standard is needed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed hoping that the book on the IPerG planning table might solve this for the people tracking our trails.
Why do I blog this? these challenges are important and still problematic. It also shows how the pervasive gaming initiatives are very different from the “classic” video game industry. However, the work they done is very pertinent (I am referring to the whole project and the various deliverables can attest it). I hope this documents could serve as seminal pieces for the development of the field, and I am very curious to see emerging more pervasive game projects here and there (and then a structured industry? or should it stay out of the industry).
I know mobile gaming is a slightly different concept but when I read this sort of trend report, I really have the impression that there is more to offer than “Consumers are demanding great graphics, great content and great game play” as the nokia game explains it (to their credit nokia is at least taking care of the social gaming side).
Posted: November 29th, 2006 | No Comments »
In a very old issue of icon, there is an article about the rules of architectures and gamespace by Alex Wiltshire. Some excerpts I found relevant:
Designers consider where the start point, or tee, in a level is. They must think about all the things that the player can see from that point, decide on the view distance and which hazards to show and which to hide. The goal of the level should either be shown or hinted at
A basic way of creating a sense of movement is with types of walls: long, linear walls encourage movement along them; tall, thin walls suggest movement up them; concave structures invite players inside; and convex structures encourage them to move around the building. Rhythm can be achieved with the repetition of certain structures, such as bulkheads along the length of a corridor on a space ship, which move or nudge the player forward with confidence and security. Tension can then be introduced with a sudden break in the pattern, like a collapsed strut in the corridor, that makes the pattern unpredictable. The designer can thus direct the player’s mood and movement.
A problem with creating richly detailed environments in games is a resulting loss of legibility, which leads to players not noticing elements that are meant to prompt specific behaviour, such as a certain action that must be performed or the direction for progression.
Once planned, gamespaces must be given meaning and significance for the player – a sense of place and atmosphere – with a set of aesthetic choices.
So in real terms what has the development of more complex and rich game environments done for videogames? Making them less abstract and more intuitively understood and believable, videogames are becoming more and more legible – and attractive – to people who aren’t versed in videogame conventions.
I was also interested in this idea of foreshadowing and how it can improve player’s self-awareness in space and how it can affect the decision making process:
Philip Campbell feels that foreshadowing, or previewing events in a level, is an important strategy to directing gameplay. (…) He made what lay ahead highly visible and made the upcoming sequence of architecture logical – players can see the exact structure through many levels of the building, allowing them to “feel clever” by being able to make intelligent decisions about the direction they take. He also placed a large window right at the start that semi-reveals the very end of the level and the last enemy
Why do I blog this? in most of the paper about game space, the discussion always stay at the blablabla level (game space is a way to think architecture as a playground and blablabla). In this short article, there are some more interesting content, with more precise description and I am pretty sure lots of game/level designers will disregard it because they have different ideas about it.
Posted: November 28th, 2006 | 83 Comments »
Judging from the press release, Webkinz is a curious game that connect first life and second life environment (take 2nd life as a general world referring to a virtual world):
Webkinz are a line of stuffed animals that come with a secret code allowing the purchaser to enter into an online fantasy world for a one-year period starring that pet. (…) Once registered, this cuddly interactive pet becomes a tangible companion for playtime, but on the computer screen a virtual image of that exact Webkinz pet appears in a room, along with a health/happiness/hunger meter. An initial $2,000 in Kinzcash (Webkinz imaginary cash) is provided to purchase furnishings for the pet´s room, buy clothes for the pet, provide the pet with toys, and to select from a variety of foods for the pet. In order to earn more Kinzcash, the owner can go to “Quizzy´s Question Corner” to earn more Kinzcash by answering age-appropriate educational quizzes. Also featured is a tournament arena of computer games and weekly contests. “Adopting” more pets equates to more playmates both on-line and off-line. The animals can even talk to each other, or the owner´s pet can speak with a friend´s pet.
Why do I blog this? this is another occurrence of a device that let people have an object with a virtual counterpart. The difference with other projects such as the v-migo is that the tangible interaction with the artifacts are not detected or used. It’s interesting anyway because it’s based on a toy ID that connects the object to a virtual world.
So what about a DIY version? like crafting your own stuffed pets, using Thinglink as an alternative to the webkinz #### and… mmmh this needs to be hooked to any virtual world that would let people do so.
Posted: November 27th, 2006 | 1 Comment »
Hello, world! is an installation for the virtual globe of the software Google Earth (carried out by students from the Bauhaus-University in Weimar, Germany):
A Semacode measuring 160 x 160 meters was mown into a wheat field near the town of Ilmenau in the Land Thuringia. The code consists of 18 x 18 bright and dark squares producing decoded the phrase “Hello, world!”.
The project was realized in May 2006 and photographs were taken of it during a picture flight in the following month.
See the weblog of the project here.
Why do I blog this? I may be an old fart about this project but I found interesting to have a visual code (i.e. a connector between the first world and the second “virtual” world) of such dimensions.
Posted: November 27th, 2006 | No Comments »
On of those thing I spot on a regular basis in occidental cities (I took that one in Geneva last week):
Why do I blog this? this is IMHO, one of the most advanced incarnation of what happen when you have “street computing” so far. As a matter of fact, it’s neither the intelligent sidewalk nor the über cool ambient displays. Once again, it’s the dark side of computing. And for those who’re wondering why I keep posting about this sort of things once in a while, I simply think it’s good to ponder what I post here with the other “facets”.
Posted: November 27th, 2006 | 1 Comment »
Via Fabien: Mobile LBS Market by C. Desiniotis, J. G. Markoulidakis from Vodafone, and J-Fr Gaillet from NAVTEQ. The paper describes the mobile market of location-based applications (as opposed to web-based LBS for instance). Overall, it interestingly describes a more down-to-earth vision of the present situation:
mobile LBS were widely predicted to be the most promising “killer applications” in wireless communications. Today, most of these expectations are still not met and a significant delay in the market forecast has incurred. (…) Some of the most important reasons responsible for this turn are summarized as follows:
Poor tracking performance. Current deployed techniques only allow a few hundred meters to a few kilometers accuracy. For the time of writing, very few handsets with advanced location capabilities (e.g. A-GPS) are available in the market while they are offered at high prices.
Inherent customer perception issues. Privacy concerns arise as users are uncomfortable of feeling being watched. Security and location-aware phobia (both consumer and operator) prevent the users from adopting LBS as their usual habits.
Low throughput mobile networks. The unavailability of high capacity networks (that would enable the transfer of multimedia content) is also considered a preventive factor for the wide adoption of LBS. The 3G networks launch and commercial availability was delayed. Further to this, only recently WLAN have started to take up and provide Internet services to crowded hot spots.
Significant investment required. The initial investment and the high deployment costs (in terms of network equipment and marketing campaigns) imposed to MNOs and service providers did not justify the LBS development and market launch (at most markets).
User adoption requires time. Taking as example other successful services, the market should be well educated in order to adopt a new service concept. Therefore, the initial low take-up phase of LBS was unavoidable.
Not well defined business models. Taking into account that the emerging LBS introduced new service concepts, the business rules that would govern the value chain were not clearly defined among the business entities. This caused confusion in the involved players discouraging thus new initiatives.
Unfriendly User Interfaces. Inherent difficulties of mobile devices e.g. for entering queries and displaying results (images, 3D maps, etc.).
Why do I blog this? because it lists very pertinent factors regarding problems about the mobile LBS adoption. I am mostly interested in the “Unfriendly User Interfaces” and I think the authors are maybe a bit too usability-centered and forget that LBS suffer from more holistic “user experience” problems: the failure to be deployed in correspondence with people’s context and practices. And I surely believe that 3D maps won’t help in the short run.
The forecast described are also intriguing expectations (based on a survey: “LBS 2006 Temperature Meter”, LBS Insight Industry Survey, Berg Insight, April 2006):
I am not a fan at all of survey (especially in this case: we don’t have any ideas about how it has been conducted) but it’s like a barometer that gives the zeitgeist of the industry. Even though I find it pretty okay for the navigation and fleet tracking, I am curious about what is behind the figures for the location-based entertainment/games or information services. So far it was mostly prototypes with a low user adoption.
Posted: November 27th, 2006 | No Comments »
Game Boy Terminal Server by Pascal Felber, Reiner Ziegler and Michael Hope:
gbts was designed under contract to Invention City as a way of using a Nintendo Gameboy as a cheap intelligent display for some other system, for example a PC or an intelligent cartridge.
gbts provides on the Gameboy side a way of running primitives like ‘Draw image’, ‘Draw line’, ‘Set Font’, ‘Draw proportional text’, a way of caching frequently use commands for speed, and an event system that hands up events like ‘User pressed button A while at (x,y)’, ‘Timer expired’. Events can be attached to cached primitives, so for example a timer expiring could draw an image causing animation, or a click in a given box could XOR the area, giving the user immediate feedback while the client decides what to do next.
Why do I blog this? an old and curious gamebody hack