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Researchers Looking for Industry Participants for Video Game Character Design Study – by Mike Sellers

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Researchers Looking for Industry Participants for Video Game Character Design Study

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


There has been a lot of research done into how characters in videogames are depicted: which images are harmful or stereotypical, which ones depict minorities in a poor light, etc. Unfortunately, thus far research has not considered the industry’s perspective or the role of production within game studios on how characters are designed.

If you have worked on a video game development team in a capacity related to character creation (design, production, art, etc.), you are invited to participate in a short interview that will investigate the process and decision-making behind character conceptualization and video game design. This study seeks to understand the design process from the practical and economic considerations of the industry in order to balance out the academic research that has overlooked these factors.

The interviews will be conducted by Jessica Tompkins (Ph.D. student) and Dr. Nicole Martins of the Media School at Indiana University, Bloomington. Jessica and Nicole have previously conducted research on video games and Jess herself is an avid gamer. Participation involves a single interview via Skype or phone. All participants will be entered to win one $50 Amazon gift card, the odds of winning dependent on the total number of participants (about 1 in 20 or 1 in 25). 

If you are at least 18 years old, have worked on character creation for games, and would like more information about participating, please contact: Jessica Tompkins at jetompki@indiana.edu or Nicole Martins at nicomart@indiana.edu

Interviews will last approximately 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Participants will remain anonymous in any papers or presentations that may emerge from this study.

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Educational Games: The Big Picture Parts III and IV – by Sande Chen

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


[This article originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month under the topic of Game-Based Learning and Mods.]

The first article in the Educational Games: The Big Picture series  on Games + Learning“Is the School Market Still Just a Mirage?”, focused on the issue of getting games into the classroom.  Part II was about development funding sources.  Parts III and IV, “The Merging of Entertainment Games and GBL” and “Facing Edutainment’s Dark Legacy,” are about the use of entertainment games in education.

The educational potential of commercial games is exactly why educators became interested in using games in the classroom.  Commercial games have inherent educational properties that can be adapted, or modded, for classroom use.  MineCraft and Kerbal Space Program are two commercial hits that have been adapted by Teacher Gaming.

By Clarence1996 on DeviantArt

It’s essentially thinking about the problem from the other side.  The first article explained the hardships and problems with making a profit targeting schools. In order to recoup costs, some companies considered selling those games made for the classroom to consumer markets.  But instead of that, what about bypassing the school market entirely?  

For entertainment developers, the educational market could be a secondary revenue stream, especially for hits that have already run their course in the entertainment market.

Read more about how entertainment companies have become educational game developers in “The Merging of Entertainment Games and GBL” and how some developers are straddling the divide by focusing on entertainment with educational value in “Facing Edutainment’s Dark Legacy.”

Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.

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Stealing from the movies – by Alvaro Vazquez de la Torre

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


Although it feels like it has always been here, the videogames industry is relatively young. Specially if you compare it with movies, for example. If you think about when games started to be marketed (1972 – Pong debuts in the arcades), our industry is in the equivalent timeline as movies were in 1940. Our Citizen Kane (1941) has not been made yet!

This article aims to encourage us all to learn from the mistakes that movies made along with their development as an industry. I know, you can’t really 100% compare both industries. They’re different for sure but I believe they share more similarities than differences. In any case, if you disagree with this initial statement feel free to move along. There are other articles in Gamasutra.

Still here? Good, let’s move onto some discussion topics and lessons I believe we can extract from the movie history. Enjoy!

Auteurs are too risky

Between the 60-70s some moviemakers embraced the “Auteur” theory, by which directors should not have limitations (budget-wise in particular) to make his art in any way they consider appropriate. Some masterpieces were created, but also colossal failures (i.e. Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate even sent United Artists to bankruptcy). By the 80s that approach was widely considered far too risky and the “creative freedom” was substituted by a strong supervision from producers.

Videogames have gone through this phase as well, of course. We’ve had our own share of “geniouses” failing deadline after deadline only to demand more funding / time with no solid plan ahead. This has somehow set a questionable example on other creatives who have been lead to believe projects should go on for as many years as needed until something good comes out, no matter the cost.

I think we’re somehow living the latest stages of this period in videogames: Publishers seem to be learning from these experiences and unlimited power for creatives is rarely seen, while the use of “closer” producers who can outrank anybody is also becoming more and more common. A balance between both needs to happen, like it did in movies.

Gimmicks won’t last long

Along the Cinema history there have been many attempts to “enhance” the viewing experience with additional sensory technologies (i.e. Odorama, or the recent push on 3D that seems to be losing momentum). However only the core ones have really improved with the time: Better video and audio quality. The rest have had their blazes of glory here and there, but most are currently relegated to amusement parks as “one hit wonder” experiences.

If we were to port this premise to videogames, we can infer that improvements on the graphic, sound and online fronts are to be expected, but gimmicks such as the recent buzz about virtual reality won’t last long. Even the motion detection systems so popular when Kinect / Wii were first released are pretty much stagnant today.

Adult content barely exploited

It’s a well-known fact that the VHS’s success was in no little part due to the support of the porno industry. Since then, this industry had increased the platforms where it’s present, and despite the lack of media visibility the total world revenue that X-rated content can generate is substantial (and I’m being conservative with the adjective).

What about porno in videogames? It certainly exists, and if you’re interested you can probably find the way to get some. But as far as I know these are not particularly polished products and still not easy to access. However, the amount of money this industry can generate should be valued and we should try to find appropriate distribution channels for these games.

Unfortunately, most of the existing channels put a lot of effort to be perceived as “family platforms” (i.e. all existing consoles) and veto / censor any product that could jeopardize this image. For the moment there is no short-term solution to this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if prejudized-free entrepreneurs can find a way to make adult content accessible for those who’re interested. There is certainly big bucks to be made!

Stardome

Hollywood got it right, the public needs big names to drive the attention over your project. We’ve had some stars on our own but let’s admit it: We’re not even close to have the same glamour as actresses/actors have.

However, the reality of videogame development is that the real stars are the teams. If you have a well-staffed, experienced and reliable team you can do wonders. No matter how much in love you may be of any videogame celebrity, if you bring him into a lousy team you can be sure the game will suck big time. One person doesn’t make a difference in our industry. The team does.

Now, how to translate this into some sort of star system? Difficult to say. Recruitment wise your project background is certainly valued, but in terms of public recognition I wonder if there is any way for teams to have more media visibility…

Prestigious awards

Yes, we do have a bunch. But there is no one to “rule them all”. If you pay attention to the news there are no less than ten games claiming to be the game of the year (GotY). When everybody is a winner, well… none is.

Movies also have a number of them, but the Academy awards are by far the most prestigious and more importantly the ones with more public impact. Translated into numbers, analysis indicate that a movie can make up to 50% of its revenue if awarded with an Oscar

The media and economic impact of such approach should not be underestimated. However I don’t think we can “forge” a master award overnight to achieve this. Only the Academy of motion pictures could do it, and I would be surprised if they put any effort on this. However, maybe we can find an alternate solution…

Metacritics is widely used in our industry as the “less bad” solution to assess the quality of a game. What if we take the same approach to choose our game of the year? Let’s say a (still non-existing) website tracks each of the individual awards delivered by different magazines and associations, and add “GotY” points to the games in the database. All these points would be add up to a total score, which will determine the true winner of the Game of the Year.

Don’t start without a solid script

In the movie industry everything starts with a green-lighted script. It can be modified afterwards at a certain extent, but the bigger the changes the lesser options they have to be considered. You don’t go to the shooting without a script you feel 95% confident with, and even that generally means dialogue changes (which have the less chances to affect the production schedule).

I am of the opinion that more rigorous work on the concept and pre-production design documentation and prototyping would be enormeously benefitial for the industry. Right now lazy designers can use the “iteration” mantra to cover the lack of preliminary design work. It often works like this: A cuestionable designer suggests to work on a half-cooked system, or simply a bad one. Often not even proper documentation is delivered. The team highlights these issues, but they are told “we need to play it first to see if it’ll work or not”. After months of iterations, the team still struggles to make it work when it was obvious from the beginning it was not a good idea in the first place.

Like they say in movies: “A good script can end up being both a good or a bad movie. But a bad script will always end up as a bad one”.

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Granite City Comic-Con 2016 – Why Is Batman Hanging Out With Deadpool?

Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

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Held at the lavish Hilton Treetops hotel it’s fair to say that Aberdeen’s second Granite City Comic-Con stepped up its venue this year from its humble beginning at Transition Extreme. Spanning a full two days and with entry now costing this year was truly the make or break moment. With entry being free to the last event thousands upon thousands of people descended upon a ‘Con that only had a few vendors, artists and publishers attending, but with tickets for this year requiring folk to fork out money this was the true test to see if the community was willing to support a local Comic-Con.

Yup. They were.

While I could never quite describe it as being packed with people, there were a lot of comic fans who invaded the hotel, intent on picking up some sweet loot and admiring the many amazing costumes on display. I’ll be curious to see what the official numbers are once the event is over, but I’m confident it was a complete success given how all pre-sale tickets were sold out well in advance. Arriving at the door I snagged my press pass and began getting a lay of the land before hordes of people were unleashed upon the unsuspecting hotel staff and guests. I have to say that a highlight of my day was watching the slightly stunned expression of an older lady sitting in the foyer as comic fans traipsed through the door. Priceless.

The day could have gone slightly south, though, as I was briefly arrested by the attending Judges who were acting as police for the event, stomping up and down the lines, demanding to see tickets and ushering cars out of the way. Clearly enjoying their roles and their impressive costumes the Judges cut imposing figures amidst the other cosplayers, both helpful to those who needed it and utterly belligerent to everyone else as they told citizens to move along. Having snagged a quick pic of one of them guarding the front door I was slapped in handcuffs for my impertinence. Then things went a tad downhill as one of the two Judges quietly admitted that he couldn’t find the key. Cue a few minutes of frantically checking many pockets and pouches and the other Judge idly thinking he should have gotten multiple copies of his own key made just in case. I didn’t mind too much, though – I was already writing an article in my head about what it was like to attend a ‘Con in handcuffs. Might have made getting pictures a touch more challenging, however.

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Freed of my bonds and with an apologetic Judge’s words echoing in my mind cavern I ventured forth into the ‘Con proper having spent a few minutes snapping pictures of the line which was forming, and simply enjoying the sight of loads of cosplayers being in one place. Shockingly a hotel isn’t exactly a huge place for a ‘Con, but compared to last year there was a veritable feast of things to look at and people to chat to. It’s still much smaller than the MCM Glasgow event I covered last year, yet considering this is just year two Granite City Comic-Con has already grown massively, and it was a genuine pleasure to feel like that I was, in a tiny way, a part of that growth by simply turning up to the first event to show my support. Returning a year later to see how much it had already improved was an honor. There’s also something to be said about the more intimate and quieter nature of this ‘Con over Glasgow. at the MCM event last year it was so crowded and busy that merely moving from one stall to another was a tedious, annoying process as it meant have to dodge a pile of people, get bumped around, wait patiently for a gap to open and then have that gap stolen.

Inside the hotel there was one large hall and one small room devoted to stalls selling their wares and comic book artists/creators looking to amaze people with their books. Even John Wagner, the man who created Judge Dredd, was present throughout the day, happily signing things for free and chatting to anyone willing to stop by. The stalls were a varied bunch, ranging from simple things like comics, figures and POP! Vinyls to other stuff such as steampunk apparel, loads of artwork from some seriously talented individuals who were happy to do commissions, and even tiny top hats that could be pinned in your hair. As always I love looking at all the geeky merchandise and wanted so badly to come home with some art or a Dark Knight Batman & Superman figure pack that looked beautiful, but alas money was tight and I was aiming to pick up some comics to review, just like I did at Glasgow last year. And that was probably the best part of the entire ‘Con for me; friendly comic artists and writers who were willing to stop and chat. Glasgow was a huge and impressive event, but the sheer volume of people made it difficult to stop and talk to the creators themselves. At Aberdeen, though, there was time to learn about the books on offer, their history and whether it seemed like something I was interested in reviewing. On that topic I did come away with a few books; Moon, Bust, Death Sentence amd Western Noir. Keep an eye out for reviews in the next week or two, plus hopefully some simple Q&A sessions with the writers themselves. It was fantastic getting to pick these guy’s brains and learn more about their work. I even found out that the writer of Bust actually spent ten years in videogame journalism, including writing for VG24/7.

Over in another room there were several panels hosted across the weekend. Saturday kicked off with international Cosplayer Cosplex giving a talk about what it’s like to take part in Cosplay competitions around the world. Slightly hesitant she nevertheless cut a striking figure and delivered an interesting panel regarding a topic I know largely nothing about. Seriously, I just turned up in a Batman shirt and jeans. It’s crazy to think that Cosplay has now gained so much traction with the community and become a massive, substantial part of the Comic-con experience. There were so many wonderful costumes to be found at Granite City ‘Con, from the terrifying mixture of Captain America and the Predator to Iron Man wearing a kilt (Iron Min) and so much more it was a wall of stunning eye candy. The talent on display was supreme, and I’m deeply saddened to have missed the Cosplay competition that was held on Sunday. Looking at the many pictures adorning the events official Facebook page it looks as though I missed some staggeringly talented people. But anyway, Cosplex’s panel was followed by her delivering a Cosplay workshop outside in the marquee. The next panel was the Star Wars panel which was hosted by Shane Rimmer, Paul Blake and Garrick Hagon. If those names are instantly familiar to you then don’t be shocked; they played a Rebel fighter pilot,  Greedo and Biggs Darklighter respectively in Star Wars: A New Hope. While I have no intention of sounding crass or unappreciative it’s also fair to say that the played very small roles in one of the biggest franchises of all time, and yet the fans didn’t give a damn, filling the room and enjoying panel. Shane Rimmer was frankly showing his age a bit as he struggled to hear some of the questions, but his sense of humor and personality shone through. It was Paul Blake who really held everything together, delivering a superb panel alongside Garrick Hagon. They have a natural chemistry together, and wonderful voices that are easy to listen to. The next panel would be by Dr. Sketchy, presenting a performance and life drawing session which I ultimately had to miss on account of heading to the hotel restaurant in order to do horrible things to a delicious pizza. Not only was the food quite enjoyable, if very expensive, but the bar was brimming with Cosplayers and it was a pleasure to drink in the sight of various anime characters eating lunch or having a pint. Staggering back into the hall with a belly full of pizza and Pepsi it was time to attend the panel entitled “Getting into the Business” where a number of convention business owners talked about the ‘Con industry, how its growing, their experiences within it and more. There was more, though, as Phil Vaughan took  to the stage to chat about how comics, videogames and animation crossover, discussing working on a Marvel game, how the videogame industry is shaping up in the UK and so much more. Naturally I was into this panel and Vaughan did a good job, even if its clear he’s not a natural at talking to a crowd. His hesitation was more than made up for by his insight.

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The star attraction of the panels, at least to my mind, was Robert Llewellyn, best known for playing Kryton in Red Dwarf and presenting Scrapheap Challenge. Witty, informative and clearly happy to interact with his fans he delivered a near hour-long panel where he chatted about shooting two new series of Red Dwarf, his days on Scrapheap Challenge, his books and much more. He also answered a variety of questions from the audience, and even gracefully rose from his seat at the command of General Zod who ascended to the stage. No power on Earth, however, could make Llewellyn kneel before Zod. His years of presenting TV shows were showing as Llewellyn was clear perfectly comfortable being on stage and chatting to a crowd, happily pulling faces and imitating his Red Dwarf castmates. It was a brilliant panel from start to finish that the crowd seemed to love. Llewellyn also made himself available in the signing room for anyone that want to come along and meet him, and perhaps pick up a signed copy of one of his many novels. As the event wound down I got the pleasure of spending a few minutes chatting to the man himself, and found him to be incredibly relaxing to be around.

As wonderfully enjoyable as browsing the stalls and watching the panels is, however, it’s ultimately just being in a crowd of people who are there for the same reason as you that makes going to a ‘Con worthwhile. You’ll rarely meet a friendlier bunch because ultimately everyone feels accepted, bonded together by going to event that the world at large sees as the ultimately pinnacle of geekery. It doesn’t matter what your background, race or religion is, everyone is here because they love comics or anime or cosplay or all of those things, and that creates a palpable sense of friendship, regardless of whether you’re an outgoing person who speaks to as many people as possible or someone who prefers to keep quiet and just absorb the atmosphere while admiring the many costumes. I fall firmly into the second category, and yet there was never a moment when I wasn’t enjoying myself by simply soaking everything up. To see some many people gather in one area to celebrate a medium I adore and to support an event  was satisfying beyond words

I can’t really comment about the Sunday since I was unable to attend the event for the entire weekend, and even had to miss the after-party on Saturday night which I hear was a blast from start to finish. Having seen people chatting about the Sunday and the photos popping up all over social media I’m really sorry that I had to miss it. But hey, there’s always next year.

Monday played host to a game day courtesy of local company ABZ Games where Magic the Gathering and Star Wars: X-Wing tournaments were held alongside a painting competition and open tables where folk could simply set up a game and play with the many people who attended. While the hall wasn’t packed full of eager gamers the turnout was respectable, and the people friendly. And that friendliness is exactly why I ended up playing a lengthy game of Star Wars: Armada where I got my ass royally kicked by somebody who was playing their very first game. I love tactical games, but I never claimed to be great at them. Still, I must commend the man on a well-fought battle and his knowledge of the rules, which were better than my own despite having reviewed the game six months or so ago. It was a great day that only got better when I followed up my epic defeat by catching Captain America: Civil War at the local cinema. My only regret is that it was only gamers that turned up – I was hoping to see a lot more people from the actual ‘Con arrive and hopefully become interested in one of my favorite hobbies.

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Beyond a doubt Granite City Comic-Con 2016 was a rousing success, and a gloriously good time. It’s one of those events that goes beyond words; you need to be there to appreciate it. And go you should. If you’ve ever had a love of comics then seek out your nearest local Comic-con and just go. Better yet the larger events have incorportated movies, TV shows and videogames into their world, and while that does mean that the original idea of these events being for comic book fans has gotten somewhat lost it’s nice to see everybody come together to share their passions. Plus, that’s what the smaller events like Granite City Comic-Con are for, focusing more on comics than anything else.

Stepping back perhaps what I find most interesting about attending ‘Cons at the moment being able to stop and think about how things have changed. Born in the early 90’s and having been a geek since pretty much day one I’ve lived through a strange transition where comic book fans were once at the very bottom of the social ladder, derided by almost everyone and their mothers. Now, though, being a “geek” has become a mainstream thing, and is even somewhat regarded as being fashionable. The hobbies I once was pushed aside for are now front and centre in movies and TV shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones and the juggernaut that is the Marvel movies, which isn’t even to mention the success of The Big Bang Theory, a TV show focused on nerd stereotypes. If I stop by the pub I’m no longer the only one wearing a Batman T-shirt or something with a quote from Firefly. With all of this now hitting the mainstream there’s a fascinating and clearly visible divide between the people attending ‘Cons, albeit not a bad divide in the traditional sense because there’s absolutely no hostility or awkwardness stemming from it. On the one-hand you’ve got the lifelong geeks like me that have always read comics, play videogames and boardgames and adored movies. On the other hand you’ve got those that have been brought into the fold through the Marvel cinematic universe, the DC movies and the TV shows. Quite often these folk have only read a handful of comics and have little knowledge of the characters outside of the movies, and yet they’re embraced wholeheartedly. There’s no room for snobbish behavior in geek culture. We all know what it’s like to be made fun of for enjoying things that are regarded with disdain, and have no desire to put anybody else through that. People at a ‘Con are just happy to see new fans entering the fold, fans that have arrived because of an age of acceptance. I suppose there’s some small, selfish part of my mind hiding away that misses being part of a small, tightly knit club that stuck together because nobody else had our back. The rest of me, though, appreciates all the new friends just waiting to be made. Y’know, from a distance. From behind something big. Because people are scary, man.

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Shacknews Recent Articles

Posted by on Jan 1, 1970 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Shacknews Recent ArticlesCall of Duty: Black Ops 3 offering double XP this weekendElite Dangerous Horizons coming to Xbox One in JuneAll of the New Weapons in Fallout 4’s Far Harbor DLCThe Talos Principle 2 confirmed from CroteamWatch the Chattycast play second fiddle today at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PTFinal Score: DoomNASCAR Heat Evolution will hit the track in SeptemberHitman’s Elusive Target #2 coming next weekMirror’s Edge Catalyst offers first look at huge Anchor District mapGran Turismo Sport beta canceledMinecraft is headed to ChinaNext Destiny expansion, Rise of Iron, might have just been leakedDestiny glitch causes Bungie to cancel Trials of Osiris eventBlizzard and Twitch teaming up to combat harassmentPath of Exile’s June update will add end-game content, new quest systemHow to Find all Five Islander’s Almanac Magazines – The Islander’s Alamanac AchievementThe Witcher 3: Blood and Wine will receive massive update ahead of launchBattleborn to receive its first free DLC Hero this weekendHomefront: The Revolution Developer outlines development difficultiesUbisoft on The Division: ‘There is not much to do’ at the end of the gameForge – Halo 5: Guardians Edition Coming To Windows 10 As Standalone GameGran Turismo Sport launching in NovemberHow to Find the Assault Marine Combat Armor in Fallout 4The Division 1.2 update adds stashes to DZ checkpoints, scavenging system tweaks, and morePSA: Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 Eclipse now available on Xbox One, PC

http://www.shacknews.com/rss?recent_articles=1 en-us http://www.shacknews.com/article/94777/call-of-duty-black-ops-3-offering-double-xp-this-weekend http://www.shacknews.com/article/94777/call-of-duty-black-ops-3-offering-double-xp-this-weekend
There’s no shortage of virtual bad guys to shoot this weekend. Battleborn’s running a double XP weekend, and so is Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops 3.

Matter of fact, you’re already a step behind if you’re just now finding out: the event began this morning at 10a Pacific / 1p Eastern, and will last until next Monday, May 23, at the same time.

It’s a good time to be a Black Ops 3 fan. The second expansion pack, Eclipse, launched yesterday for Xbox One and PC, and PS4 players have been playing through its new multiplayer and zombie maps since April.

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