That good part

Filed under: Blog in May 15, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

We’re coming to that good part of the year, where all students are working hard on exciting stuff and the traditional courses are done.

The open office landscape of GAME is filled with the invogorated and ambitious GAME staff. There’s coffee, bright sun, loud music and a frantic energy.

Love this feeling.

GDC 2014

Filed under: Blog in March 17, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

It starts

It has begun.

Visiting The Internet Archive & Jason Scott

Filed under: Blog in March 16, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

The Internet Archive is housed in an old church
The Game Developers Conference starts tomorrow. Adam, Tommi, Marcus and I will cover 4 tracks simultaneously and meet with alumni, GGC speakers and pretty much reach out to anyone that interests us that we didn’t get to in New York (Google, Canadian game networks etc. etc)

But today, I set up a visit to the Internet Archive and Jason Scott – who will keynote at Gotland Game Conference – took the time to show us around. With a mission statement like “Universal Access to All Knowledge” I don’t have to explain how much amazingness is concentrated in this place and how motivated the people working here is.

This is where Brewster Kahle sits when he’s onsite.
Office of the Founder

Brewster went to China once, and was impressed with the Xian warriors. After he got back, he decided to start making sculptures of anyone who had dedicated at least three years of service to the Archive. There’s more than 90 of them to date, on display in the Great Room.
After 3 years working at the archive, they make a statue of you and place in the pews. :)

Jason motherfucking Scott, the Internet Historian

We spent a good two hours checking out their tech, backends and various projects. I can’t wait for his talk at GGC 2014!

New York New York

Filed under: Blog in March 11, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

Monday

It’s 23:00 hours on the first day in New York, and we’re just back from an evening meetup. Just thought we should drop a few lines about what we do here. Adam, Marcus, Tommi and I are in the US for Game Developers Conference 2014 (starting next week) But we decided to make more of the atlantic crossing this year, by stopping in New York to visit all the proper game educations. Parsons, Instititute of Play, University of New York etc. We’re also meeting groups and organizations that are relevant.

So, Parsons have been dodging our attempts to reach them, since January. So first order of business today was to walk over to their new building and talk to meat people. We managed to reach through the reception all the way up to the principal, so she’s putting us in touch with suitable faculty. Hopefully they’ll manage to get their ass in gear by Thursday or Friday.

This evening we visited the New York Open Data-group, near the World Trade Center. They’re all about using technology and visualization to tell stories about publicly available governmental data. They get excited talking about big data, data management, data analysis, data processing and visualization, and they teach R, python, hadoop, processing, D3.js, agile workflow, and etc.

Lots of interesting stuff covered during these talks, but let’s just drop some names and we’ll talk about the content of these presentations when we come home. We got to meet with Chad Pry, who created chicagolobbyists.org, crimechicago.org and opencityapps.org. We’re meeting him again later in the week to talk more about collaborations (today was mostly about what he does). Vivian Zhang founded supstat.com (statistical consulting) and runs the Open Data Group itself. We talked about her possible doing one of her multi-day workshops in data acquisition (eg: screen scraping, APIs, parsing, cleaning, etc) and -analysis for our students.

We’re all alive so far. More t/k.

Tuesday

Today we visited New York University’s Game Center. They offer a Master of Fine Arts in Game Design that’s incredibly similar to our undergraduate degree, in both intention, perspective and execution.

We met with director Frank Lantz, watched some of Eric Zimmerman’s workshop with the MFA students, and walked past the office of Ken Perlin – it was quiet today though. (har. har. har.)

Then we walked here

And then we walked here. 😀

Wednesday

Institute of Play was GENIUS. I’m flying them all over to present at GGC so I won’t spoil it now. GENIUS.

Offices

Thursday

Today we met with one of the co-founder of General Assembly. He took us out for a proper coffee in the morning, but your offensively charming Program Coordinator and Subject Responsible roped this poor man in to a full-on lunch with extra everything. So a long meeting, is what I’m saying. 🙂

GA are offering education, training and community for creative startups in NYC. They do proper full time programs, they do courses, they do one-shot classes and workshops, they work online and offline. They even do “on demand” lectures and deliver them online. It’s incredibly efficient, compared to the more traditional academic structures. And, again, extremely relevant to the MOOC projects Uppsala wants us to get into.

Coffee-making in the US:
Fancy schmancy coffee

We also dropped by (as in; walked in off the street, smooth talked a busy security guard and bolted past a self-closing door into-) the Code Academy headquarters and sat down with their founder tonight. It’s -9 in NYC – thus, jackets. emoticon

They did not expect a delegation from Uppsala University at eight in the evening, but were excited and eager to sit down and chat with us. Cool stuffs.
Codecademy HQ

They’re 20 employees burning through venture funding and looking for monetization strategies like there’s no tomorrow. But codecademy.com is the online classroom we’re looking for.

The Nordic Ferry Tale conference

Filed under: Blog in February 16, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

This weekend we attended the The Nordic Ferry Tale conference arranged by the Swedish Games Industry. Adam, Hans, Felicia and I took the ferry ride with nordic game developers from Sweden to Finland and back.

On the speaker list were people from Supercell (Clash of Clans, Hayday), Mojang (Minecraft), Grand Cru (never released anything) and (on video link from Japan) music game maker Masaya Matsuura – the man who created Parappa The Rapper!
visit to SuperCell in Helsinki

So we boarded in the afternoon in Stockholm, had dinner and crazy ferry buffé with fellow Swedish developers. Arrived in Helsinki and had breakfast with developers, before being bussed out to SuperCell’s offices in downtown Helsinki.

Then back to the boat for a few conference sessions, more crazy ferry buffét, this time with Swedish + Finnish developers.
The conference room on the ferry

Back in Stockholm in the morning Sunday, and walked up to Paradox’ offices for another bunch of talks.

But unfortunately it was three days of mostly undergraduate content. With exception of Matsuura’s talk, there was very little insight provided in the conference. Especially as the entire audience consisted of professional game developers.

SuperCell was, by far, the most basic. Two guys talked about what a great company SuperCell was to work for. They discussed their new game without ever showing it, and didn’t let us take photos of any slides due to confidentiality. The questions from the room were pretty great (how much do you spend on user acquisition?) but they went, mainly, unanswered.

The trip was not an entire bust, however. We did get to reconnect with some of our awesome alumni who also attended the conference. The ferry was comfortable, and during the traditional conference-drinking sessions I got enough down time to play through Primordia – a gorgeous, clever, and melancholic science-fiction adventure game that I highly recommend! Easily the best experience of the entire weekend. 🙂

Nordic DiGRA + GGC = true

Filed under: Blog in February 7, 2014, by Ulf Benjaminsson. Print This

The Digital Games Research Association is the premiere international association for academics and professionals who research digital games and associated phenomena.

This year, Nordic DiGRA is teaming up with Gotland Game Conference on the paradise island in the baltic sea. Running along side GGC, we will be showcasing papers on the subject of Gamification and how game systems are becoming more pervasive in every day life.

Innovation and transformation at GGC, Gamification and application of design at DiGRA Nordic.

Call For Papers
We are looking for papers for presentation at DiGRA.

Game systems are being used in many areas outside of what’s thought of as Games – from Air Miles and Supermarket Loyalty Schemes, Twitter and FourSquare, to Kahn Academy and Duolingo. But we’re also seeing game based learning, research (puzzles for science!) and, in a limited way, even in the last US Election.

We are inviting submissions for full papers and workshops. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • gamification
  • games in society
  • games and learning
  • games as propaganda
  • persuasive games
  • games in teaching
  • critical stances to gamification and game-based learning

Conference Location
The conference will be held at Uppsala University campus Gotland parallel with the Gotland Game Conference 2014. Map and information here.

Organizing Committee

  • Ulf Benjaminsson
  • Petri Lankoski
  • Harko Verhagen