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March 21, 2009

The Lure of Burnt Meat

It's March.

We all know it's March. And that once the sun goes behind those trees it's going to be bloody freezing in the garden once more.

But still, as the sap rises and the first buds appear, I find my eye being drawn inexorably towards the barbeque in the corner of the shed.

Surely I can't be alone?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 02:02 PM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2009

Games...the last generation

A fascinating evening tonight - seeing various industry bods aggregate around Nolan 'I set up Atari' Bushnell's Bafta tribute talk. It was also nice to see who *wasn't* at SXSWi.

He made some very shrewd observations though. Particularly as it became obvious that behind his benign father-figure stylings there was more than a touch of P T Barnum.

One theory that particulary resonated was about the change of video games during the mid to late 80s. In the early 80s, his spiel went, games were things that a lot of people played just a little bit. Then two things happened:

1) the 'continue' feature was added, where you could put in another coin and carry on playing when you died...which meant games got harder
2) shooting, fighting, crashing games pushed more of (1)'s buttons, so they got more violent.

Put them together and instead of getting a small amount of money from everyone, with approachable games (around 55% he says), the industry moved towards getting the same amount of money from hardcore gamers (about 8%).

But, and this is where the industry hits a bit of a problem, many of the people who now set the benchmarks of what is a good game where part of that move towards the 8%. Those were their classic days. And even now, this is what they see 'proper' gaming as being.

Similar things happen in music TV. There's a lot of TV execs whose glory days were when punk was just breaking onto the scene - so to them, that's 'proper' music. Hence it being far easier to get a documentary away on Malcolm McLaren than on Duran Duran or Moloko. The latter just don't hit these people's sweet spot. Similarly, on the radio, there's a lot more time given over to post-punk guitar bands than I think the public really want - because that's what the elder people who make the programmes most like.

So the question, as I see it, is how can games step outside the hardcore gaming territory? How can it forget those difficult teenage years so that making playful cooperative experiences for the Wii isn't seen as 'dumbing down' or 'selling out'?

80% of boardgames are bought by women to recreate the hearth, Bushnell says.

How can I motivate my most creative brains to want to do the same?

Posted by Tom Dolan at 12:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2009

Acknowledging Your Inner Child

For some reason, knowing that Maggie Philbin is now following me on Twitter has created many more resonances than when Stephen Fry followed me back.

I've no idea why.

But it's probably to do with Brown Sauce's "I Wanna Be A Winner".

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:54 PM | Comments (0)

March 06, 2009

Trying to remember stillness

I've got the day off today.

I've spent a large chunk of it with a raging hangover, but I'm finding it surprisingly hard to step out of work mode now I'm able to function again. I'm almost too wired to be 'in the moment'. Which, when learning quite complex pieces of Ravel piano music, is something of a problem.

I have no intention of becoming some sort of workaholic, I'm not trying to get away from problems at home, and there are a million things I could do - would love to do - here.

But it's hard to remember I'm allowed to let myself stop and do them.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 04:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2009

Ticking along

Well so much for the promised blogging activity. I'm obviously not a man of my word.

Or perhaps Twitter acts in the way a busy inbox destroys the best intentions of my to-do list: providing little distractions from the matter in hand, tiny adrenalin rushes that appeal far more than longer term work.

(Even now, I've had an email from facebook commenting on my status which has taken me away from doing this. Which I've replied to. Oh, and there's a reply to that... CURSE YOU ALT-TAB!!!!!!)

The truth is I've been busy. Obviously I've been busy with work, but it's been a period of reinvention, and of laying demons to rest. Many of them I can't talk about yet, but if you peel back the frantic trafficing of proposal documents and firefighting on projects there's a calmer more self-assured Tom underneath.

I feel like I'm acquiring poise...

perspective even.

And that, distressingly, can only lead to opinions.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)