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Which Way Gaming

Reality Is BrokenI’m sitting here reading Jane McGonigal’s new book “Reality is Broken” and right in the front she says something like “…[a year after her 2008 GDC rant] everywhere I turned I saw evidence this movement to harness the power of games for good was already happening.”

Right next to her book I’m looking at some of the reviews for Bulletstorm plus our own recent rant about the advertising for Dead Space 2 and I find myself wondering…

Which way gaming?

Will the next 10 years bring gaming up into something more relevant, more mature, and more important that feeds our souls and inspires us to live well or will better technology only drive gaming ever deeper down into our id with hyperrealistic gore – always feeding our basest nature?
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Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 12:17 pm.

1 comment

Dead Space 2 is the new Joe Camel

EA’s new ‘Your Mom Hates This‘ ad campaign for Dead Space 2 is one of the stupidest, most short sighted marketing moves I’ve ever seen. It will come back to bite EA almost without question, but more importantly it will come back to bite all of us who want to see the gaming business mature and garner respect.

Back in the late 90s there was a huge broohaha when the FTC said RJ Reynolds’ Joe Camel ads were a deliberate attempt to market cigarettes to minors. That single ad campaign quickly created a perception in the American mind that cigarette companies were flatly evil and astronomical tobacco settlement cases are part of the 90’s zeitgeist. What EA is doing with this ad campaign is even more blatant and is likely to launch a whole new barrage of class-action lawsuits from the folks who are already convinced that video games create Columbines.

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Posted 3 years, 9 months ago at 11:08 am.

8 comments

Intel AppUp 1 Year Later

It was exactly 1 year ago that we got our first taste of Intel’s AppUp Center when they launched the beta store at CES 2010. It was received with mixed reviews and nobody really knew what to expect from it.

What a difference a year makes.

AppUp Has Angry Birds

Note to Intel: Why does this page still say "Moblin?"

Today you look at the AppUp Center and right up front is what must be the biggest runaway hit game of 2010 – Angry Birds. What a huge coup! What a great “I told you so” moment. Congratulations to Intel – Peter, you called it man.

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Posted 3 years, 10 months ago at 10:18 pm.

3 comments

Taking back the boxed games?: Do you prefer eVersions

Are you buying family games this Christmas? We are. We bought a few favorites for the kids, but actually took them back in favor of the eVersions. This was a choice my wife made. That really surprised me. Let me just say in our family, she is not the gadget freak the rest of us are. My Kids and I play games on all of our devices (we have many, one of the perks being in the gadget/game/app development business). She has always resisted using them…until now. To set the scene, about two weeks ago the kids introduced her to Angry Birds on the iPad. She was instantly hooked. Then this last weekend the  Electronic Arts sale was announced and I grabbed many of the titles for 99 cents that were usually $6.99 – 9.99. One of the games happened to be the same as a boxed game she had bought, Piktureka, as a Christmas present . After playing as a family and enjoying the sounds, unique and enjoyable playtime, she bagged up the boxed version and took it back to the store.

I asked her why,  and she said that it just  made sense. The iPad version reduces clutter, is more fun to play, you can’t lose pieces,  and she really likes the sound effects. And to top it all off this is coming from the least techy person in our house. So there you have it. What games are you buying this Christmas. We are also enjoying Clue Spy, Yatzee, and the kids really like Life, although Life for me feels a bit claustrophobic on the iPad.

Posted 3 years, 11 months ago at 10:00 am.

5 comments

TRON: Legacy – What’s in a worldview?

by Ryan Green
heckling by Chris Skaggs

This last weekend, some of the guys at Soma took a field trip to the theater to experience TRON: Legacy in its full IMAX 3D glory. (I have it on good authority that for true awesomeness and full rumble effect, rows 4-7 front and center is the sweet spot.) Mike and I, who are stationed up here at “Soma Games : High Altitude Command” in sunny Colorado, were pretty disappointed to miss this event with our fellow mouth-breathers and resolved to plan our own nerd-outing.

Quorra is HAWTFirst, however, I had to come clean with the boss. I had never seen the first TRON. His response reassured me I wouldn’t be kicked to the virtual curb: “The original Tron was a bit like the first [name withheld for boss protection] movie – it kind of sucked. You’re not allowed to SAY that in geek company but it’s the truth we all know about. We still love you Ryan.” – (Chris: The movie in question is Star Trek. C’mon, you know I’m right.)

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Posted 3 years, 11 months ago at 10:29 am.

6 comments

CGDC 2010 – A Pleasure As Always

It’s midnight on Saturday and we’ve spent the last three days at the 2010 Christian Game Developer’s Conference in Portland, OR. Once again I come home with a lot of things in my head that really span the gamut of available emotions.

In many ways, Soma Games was born at the 2005 CGDC. And I’ve grown to have a tremendous amount of loyalty to that group, people I’ve come to know over the years simply because we keep going to this conference each year. And once again I’m struck by the disconnect between the actual size of the conference (about 30 or so people this year) to the disproportionately large shadow it casts out in the world. It’s purely anecdotal but I have this strong impression that folks outside the conference wishing they were there or waiting to hear what comes out of it is far bigger than a few dozen folks in PDX would suggest. I guess that shouldn’t surprise me though. There is such an obvious (and well documented) gap in the video game market for faith-friendly games, perhaps it only makes sense that this underserved market niche is somehow always watching to see what will come of each year’s conference. I also know that there is a large but mostly hidden block of Christians working in the secular game industry. We’ve had several contact  us at Soma and several more attend CGDC over the years – I know many of them are anxious to see one or more companies bust out with genuine commercial success so they might work on a project that doesn’t rub against their values in uncomfortable ways.

Once again the best part was the people. Seeing folks again that I’ve really come to respect and admire, also meeting new ones like this one first-timer who winds up speaking on a topic on her first trip to CGDC. Certainly a very interesting topic, but I was really struck by how much wind was on her! For someone relatively new to walking in the Spirit, she had Jesus Culture coming off her like heat off a Death Valley roadbed – can’t wait to see what happens in her story next.

Still, for all the great experience I have at CGDC I can’t help but feel like there could be so much more. I feel like there is some huge kingdom-opportunity that is being missed here when the thing remains so small and unknown. Of course the reason that happens may be simple enough – time and manpower (or money which solves the other two). I know CGDC is put on by a bunch of volunteers, none of whom make the conference or the parent org a day-job priority. I’m not at all faulting those folks, the situation is what it is, but still I long to see the thing gel into something more than it is even if only to draw more people. I was very excited to work a little with Seth this year to organize a CGDC whitepaper project along the lines of Project Horseshoe. If nothing else, CGDC can provide some vocabulary and start to define terms in a space that really needs them. In fact, the first topic we scrummed out was “What is a Xian Game?” – you’d be surprised how difficult it is to define something like that. I won’t get ahead of myself here but I wound up pretty happy with the results of that discussion as well as the ‘Violence in Xian video games” topic.

Well, it’s bedtime but I did want to say thanks to everyone who came, supported or tweeted. Ws had a great group again and Soma was particularly happy to be able to come back again with the biggest presence we’ve ever had and win the Swing award. :)

——-

PS : Now with a little sleep I remembered there were a few things I wanted to mention.

There were two games at this year’s CGDC that were not newcomers but games I’d never had the chance to really see in action but finally did. The first was Vastar from Exodus Studios. I’ve been acquainted with Rebecca or years now and I think Vastar was released at least two years ago but I’d just never had the chance to see it – but it really well done. I’ll let her own site describe it to you but we were impressed. The other was Guitar Praise from Digital Praise. Some people have dogged this game because it is, in fact, a shameless copy of Guitar Hero. But it never claims to be anything so I can’t see the problem. But this is the first time I’ve actually played the game and I found it very cool and very fun. I like the songs, I like the already proven game mechanic, so I’m good. $90 feels pretty high these days when I can get Guitar Hero for ~$60 these days and the fact that it’s not on XBLA seems like an obviously oversight but the software and graphics are solid and I wish I’d purchased the game last year.

Posted 4 years, 4 months ago at 1:02 am.

1 comment

The Lament of a Flex Developer

or “Why Apple broke my heart and Adobe is holding the pieces”

by our very own Ryan Green

April 8, 2010 was the day the first salvo was fired, all out war declared, and the following day an Adobe employee named Lee Brimelow had his emotions get the better of him. His blog post told Apple collectively to… well… ahem. Apply screws to themselves.

See, the following Monday, was a day that I, as a Flex / Flash developer, loyal Apple fan-boy and AppStore developer had eagerly anticipated with bated breath. Monday, the 12th, was the day when the world would open up. When those, like me, whose livelihood depends largely on the Adobe Flash Platform would finally be allowed into the mobile space; unencumbered; invigorated; and empowered.

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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 11:34 am.

10 comments

Pride Comes Before A Fall

I just read an article in Bloomberg Businessweek called ‘Apple’s Endlessly Expanding (App) Universe‘ in which Steve Jobs is quoted as saying “We only shipped [the iPad] on Saturday, and on Sunday we rested.”

…Selah
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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 6:08 pm.

2 comments

Coming Down Off The Flash Fence

For the last several weeks (or has it been months now?) I’ve watched the Flash wars from a distance. Not for lack of interest but for lack of time. It’s been a busy season around here and for all the rhetoric I think I sensed that for all the headlines I really didn’t have the information I needed to make an informed decision. But I’ve had the chance to get more-or-less caught up and I think I’ve come to a place where I’m willing to come down off the fence.

I think Steve Jobs is right.
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Posted 4 years, 5 months ago at 6:06 pm.

20 comments

Legion Goes Way Beyond Heavenly But Kicking

LegionSo I ducked out out of house way late the other night to see the new movie Legion. I’m a big fan of Paul Bettany but to be perfectly honest I didn’t go in with very high expectations. I knew there was some mix of angels and demons and guns and you know, that sounded like it might be kinda fun. But I wound up seeing a movie much deeper and much more thoughtful than the previews suggest.

At its heart, Legion is about the line between following God’s heart and following His command. I’m going to just skip any theological issues I might have with the movie because it’s really not a theological movie at all, and yet it’s deeply about the meaning and cost of faith and obedience.

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Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 12:23 am.

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