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December 19, 2006

Receiver #17


What is play and what's in a game?

Receiver #17 is a truly playful issue. While the urge to play is a human universal, gaming cultures differ widely across different societies – that goes for the games people enjoy as well as how they enjoy them. You can play with interactive media alone or to socialise, to compete or to relax, at home or in the street. What is play and what's in a game? Here are nine answers.

Matt Jones: The space to play :: Play – that is nothing less than how and why we learn, explore, interact with each other, understand each other and develop together. This is what Matt Jones thinks, who authors this receiver's opener. The designer was creative director for the award-winning BBC News Online and, after some time as a consultant at Sapient and KPMG, returned to the BBC to design BBCi's web search and an ambitious social software service. For the past three years he has been at Nokia, firstly in design research and now as Director of User-Experience Design for Nokia Design Multimedia. In "The space to play" he explores themes from his research into the universal human urge to play – and how it relates to the way we design our technology, our environments and our future.

D.B. Weiss: Lucky Wander Boy – the microsurgeon winner :: Los Angeles based D.B. Weiss is currently in the headlines for working on the script for a movie adaption of the "Halo" video game series that is scheduled for release in 2008. But that's not why we asked him to join receiver's gaming and playing issue. He indulged his playing passion already in his smart debut novel Lucky Wander Boy, a story about a man who finds a purpose through and is ruined by his obsession with video games. Of which we want to reprint an excerpt here. Read it – or listen to the podcast.

Jim Rossignol: Gaming international :: Jim Rossignol is a British technology author specialising in video games. His work appears in Wired, PC Gamer UK and the web development portal Gamasutra.com. His essay on Korean gaming culture was recently republished as part of the DigitalCultureBooks anthology The Best of Technology Writing 2006. Rossignol is currently researching a book on gaming culture and keeps a research blog at www.big-robot.com. In "Gaming international", he tells us about the experiences he gained during a visit to Seoul and compares European and Asian approaches to gaming.

Stuart Dredge: Mobile gaming – the troubled teenage years :: Stuart Dredge is a technology writer whose key areas of knowledge are mobile entertainment and consumer technology – fields in which he has also worked as an analyst. He covers mobile gaming as a freelance writer for several industry publications, edits the mobile games section of consumer website Pocket Gamer and covers consumer technology for Tech Digest. In his receiver contribution, Dredge takes a look at the future of mobile gaming, focusing on how mobile games could move beyond the familiar hits like Tetris and Pac-Man to new concepts blending innovation and connectivity.

Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn: Games in spite of themselves :: Tale of Tales is a Belgian design studio founded by Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn. Samyn started creating digital art and web design under the name of Zuper! in the mid-90s, and New York-based Auriea Harvey, prior to moving to Belgium, was known as Entropy8. They worked together as Entropy8zuper! and now join forces to create emotionally rich interactive entertainment – for example "The Endless Forest", a multiplayer game in which everybody plays a deer. There are no rules in this forest, and playing in it doesn't require much of your time. Come and meet the other deer and take in the scenery!

David J Edery: Playing by creating :: David Edery recently became the Worldwide Games Portfolio Planner for Xbox Live Arcade, and is a research affiliate of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program (CMS). Prior to joining Microsoft, David was the CMS Program's Associate Director for Special Projects, during which time he co-founded the Convergence Culture Consortium and managed an exertainment project called Cyclescore. Edery also pens Game Tycoon, a business-centric video game industry blog. In "Playing by creating", he tells us why we should be excited about user-generated content.

Gonzalo Frasca: This just in. Playing the news :: Gonzalo Frasca is a video game theorist and developer, currently researching serious gaming at IT University of Copenhagen. He publishes the game research site Ludology.org and is editor at Game Studies. He is also a former head of video game development at Cartoon Network LA and webmaster/journalist at CNN International. Frasca co-founded Powerful Robot Games, a studio known for its work on election video games as well as its newsgaming.com project – an area Frasca will introduce us to in receiver. Let him convince you that games are the new news.

Noah Wardrip-Fruin: Three play effects – Eliza, Tale-Spin, and SimCity :: Noah Wardrip-Fruin is a digital media creator and scholar whose current work focuses on digital fiction and play, fields he explores as an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of California, San Diego, as well as in his posts at the group blog Grand Text Auto. He edits and writes books on digital media, games, and storytelling – his newest just published by MIT Press (Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media). In his receiver contribution Wardrip-Fruin looks at three different models of what we experience through play.

Lev Manovich: Interaction as an aesthetic event :: Media theorist Lev Manovich is a Professor of Visual Arts at UCSD and a Director of The Lab for Cultural Analysis at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology. He's author of Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (MIT Press 2005), and The Language of New Media (MIT Press 2001) which was hailed as "the most suggestive and broad-ranging media history since McLuhan". Currently he is completing his new book Info-aesthetics. In receiver, Manovich takes a look at the playful user interaction in recent cell phone models and other personal information technology.

Posted by jo at December 19, 2006 05:39 PM