Tag Archives: technology

Ed Catmull on Icons and Story in Games

I had the fortunate opportunity of seeing Ed Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, in a moderated conversation today.

During the Q&A, an audience member asked Catmull if there exists a current icon who fills the roll of Walt Disney, a man known as a figure who focused on the impact of technology on human experience and story and delivered his message to the public via TV broadcast. While my head went straight to Neil deGrasse Tyson as a viable figure, Cutmull’s answer was quite interesting.

A bit of Catmull’s reply, paraphrased by yours truly:

You can’t make another Walt or another Steve or another John. I think this is a problem the games industry faces. They make great experiences but have a hard time telling great stories. I think we have yet to see who will make that happen.

He deliberately went out of his way to focus on the games industry. He had also made reference to the games industry earlier in the discussion; however, the context is now escaping me.

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‘How video games have the power to change real lives’

A fun piece cataloging the impacts of the technology used in video games on urban planning, PTSD, education and more.
Daniel Nye Griffiths, The Guardian:

Games are incredibly successful training systems – but all they usually do is train people how to play within fictional worlds. As the tools employed to make them evolve, the potential is there to engage with the real world. In this way, video games offer the power to capture, comment on and change lives.

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Building Blocks

Martin Scorsese, as quoted by FirstShowing.net:

We have many names for what we do – cinema, movies, motion pictures. And…film. We’re called directors, but more often we’re called filmmakers. Filmmakers. I’m not suggesting that we ignore the obvious: HD isn’t coming, it’s here. The advantages are numerous: the cameras are lighter, it’s much easier to shoot at night, we have many more means at our disposal for altering and perfecting our images. And, the cameras are more affordable: films really can be made now for very little money. Even those of us still shooting on film finish in HD, and our movies are projected in HD. So, we could easily agree that the future is here, that film is cumbersome and imperfect and difficult to transport and prone to wear and decay, and that it’s time to forget the past and say goodbye – really, that could be easily done. Too easily.

It seems like we’re always being reminded that film is, after all, a business. But film is also an art form, and young people who are driven to make films should have access to the tools and materials that were the building blocks of that art form. Would anyone dream of telling young artists to throw away their paints and canvases because iPads are so much easier to carry? Of course not. In the history of motion pictures, only a minuscule percentage of the works comprising our art form was not shot on film. Everything we do in HD is an effort to recreate the look of film. Film, even now, offers a richer visual palette than HD. And, we have to remember that film is still the best and only time-proven way to preserve movies. We have no assurance that digital informaton will last, but we know that film will, if properly stored and cared for.

Our industry – our filmmakers – rallied behind Kodak because we knew that we couldn’t afford to lose them, the way we’ve lost so many other film stocks. This news is a positive step towards preserving film, the art form we love.

Earlier today, I vocalized a theory to a colleague that within the next two years we will experience a technological “rubber band effect.” It’s not to say that we will fall out of love with the magic that tech provides or that we are desensitized to the magic, more so a realization that there are places where magic is not needed. Music production is over bloated and uncomfortably tight, there is an eeriness that all eBooks are the same weight and thickness, and the reliance of post-weathering filters and blurs on digital photos are non-starters. All different approaches to “improve” on digital mediums or mock analog as novelty, now overly used splinters in the senses.

I also predict an increased interest in non-fiction books in lieu of race-to-the-bottom listicles and online publications full of obnoxiously placed online ads. I’m not sure if it fits into the same argument but it feels like there is some overlap here.

Digital is becoming tiring. Surely a great outlook for a blogger.

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Sokobond: Chemistry-themed 2D indie puzzle game

This game looks fun, gorgeous and powerful. Coming to Steam on July 21st. Eventually being released on iOS and Android.

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The Untold Story of Unroll.Me

Perri Blake Gorman, co-founder of Unroll.Me:

Personally I love being a woman in tech. There is nothing that has helped me be more memorable than being a woman. Our first piece of press happened when Courtney Boyd Meyers (@CBM), then at The Next Web, reached out to us. She asked to write a piece because she had seen me tweeting about it. As a female founder you get on people’s radars. That press was followed by a post by Lifehacker which generated over 26,000 signups in 24 hours.

A great outlook on the ongoing and magnified diversity problem in the tech (and gaming) industry. Just unsubscribed from 85 newsletters, rolled up 29. My favorite part are the Most Unsubscribed / Most Rolled Up awards.

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App: The Human Story

Björn Jeffery, Toca Boca:

Making apps for children: it’s not a perfect science, it’s more like art. This is sort of shaping kids’ memories of them growing up. That’s a big responsibility. That’s something we should be taking very seriously.

A big responsibility indeed.

‘App: The Human Story’ looks to be an extremely compelling, promising and well crafted documentary about the history and future of apps. The roster isn’t half bad either.

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Disrupting racism and sexism

Sarah Jeong of The Guardian on the anonymous nature if Uber:

It’s doubtful that Uber specifically set out to improve the lives of African-Americans. But the company accidentally did something that anti-discrimination statutes and awareness-raising campaigns were unlikely to ever achieve. It’s not exactly a huge blow to racism, but still: technology is changing how people of color experience and are represented in the world, and it’s all the more remarkable that much of this was never intended in the first place.

A very interesting read on technology’s inadvertent effects on racial and gender discrimination.

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Not from school

Lorne Lanning, creator of Oddworld in an interview with Polygon:

I’m a kid who learned how to read from Sesame Street, not from school, so I believe in the power of media to make a better world.

I had an eerily similar thought this morning. I’m a kid who learned how to type from AIM, not from school, so I believe in the power of experiential learning to make a better world. This is something I believe to be at the heart of video games.

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Study: Video games causing spike in music composer employment

Study: Video games causing spike in music composer employment

I can’t help but feel Austin Wintory’s Grammy nomination for the Journey OST will help inspire others as well. However, a paycheck is nice too…

SoundCon found that the number of composing jobs remained flat until 2009, when growth in the space took off. As the graph above shows, SoundCon found that the dramatic increase was largely due to the arrival of Apple’s App Store and the Facebook Application Developer.

– GeekWire

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Study attempts to identify risks for ‘problematic’ video game usage

Study attempts to identify risks for ‘problematic’ video game usage

A new measure of individual habits and preferences in video game use is developed in order to better study the risk factors of pathological game use (i.e., excessively frequent or prolonged use, sometimes called “game addiction”). This measure was distributed to internet message boards for game enthusiasts and to college undergraduates. An exploratory factor analysis identified 9 factors: Story, Violent Catharsis, Violent Reward, Social Interaction, Escapism, Loss-Sensitivity, Customization, Grinding, and Autonomy. These factors demonstrated excellent fit in a subsequent confirmatory factor analysis, and, importantly, were found to reliably discriminate between inter-individual game preferences (e.g., Super Mario Brothers as compared to Call of Duty). Moreover, three factors were significantly related to pathological game use: the use of games to escape daily life, the use of games as a social outlet, and positive attitudes toward the steady accumulation of in-game rewards. The current research identifies individual preferences and motives relevant to understanding video game players’ evaluations of different games and risk factors for pathological video game use.

Frontiers in Developmental Psychology

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