Mar 08

What teens want online and their phones

Anastasia Goodstein brings together a group of teenagers to talk about how they use mobile and the web.

  • they are early adopters but the tech needs to meet core needs. This is atalk with a panel of teens from ages 12-17
  • What do you like? 

    •, cos a social network site, plus reviews of books,, signed and unsigned bands, get a taste of a lot of stuff
    • myspace and facebook, cos create own layout and put pictures, customise the design, to communicate with friends and family (sisters)
    • myspace and facebook, more facebook cos it has addons – can make own superhero.  to be connected with everyone at school. Also Digg, Newsforgamers
    • myspace, hi5, to keep in touch with friends and family – especially on holiday times.  Looks for bands/music. Meet new people from school that I don’t know.   (is 12, and is 16 on myspace)
    • myspace, mixmatters – a music website, has artists, plus a mixtape website (datbizz)
    •, to keep updated with styles, not too good, does not tell you how to do the hairstyles., for playlists and new music.
    • myspace, to talk to friends and family. runescape. chat to people all over the world. (12, but 99 on myspace)
  • What annoys you?

    • ads everywhere, distracting ones. They slow down the computers. On, ads for Miller between each vid that got annoying – the same things everytime.  Viral attack on myspace. Insterstitial ads are really annoying. Sound files on ads. Taking 6000 years to load – so much crap to load, 800000 video ads that pop up and stay there
  • Are you getting social network fatigue?

    • not changed for me, I just check periodically. With facebook I use more, due to the add-ons
    • when first on myspace, I was checking every hour, going to everyone’s pages. Once added all the pages, then just check occasionally.
    • . when I got myspace (you had to you were a total social loser). They keep updating things to try and make it better but they do not need to  – messages and pictures but it’s not my life.
  • It sounds like myspace is email for you? do you use email?

    • I created my email just to get into myspace. use it to register on sites.  for fanclubs etc.
    • I use email for my sisters, and teachers at school. I email to ask for homework etc.
    • The campus has email to contact teachers and school friends.  For business I have a ‘professional’ address, to get interviews, for reporting.  You have to be able to write an email, as myspace and IM abbreviatyeswords etc. we have to keep the writing skills.
  • Do you use IM

    • no – when younger to talk to school
  • Phones. So what kind of phone, did you want that kind of phone. What do you have on it?

    • Don’t have a phone
    • LG Music phone. Unlimited SMS, I have to text. play tetris a lot, no ring tones, as can;t use web on phones, occasionally bluetooth it.
    • TMobile Blackberry Pearl. It’s connected to email, unlimited testing – use it a lot. Like to play pacman. A lot of ringtones, get them from phonezoo – you can do their own. No web as too expensive.
    • Trakphone – no plan, cost. only for emergencies. so it’s never charged. no ringtones or wallpaper.
    • A older sprint phone, in about 4 pieces on my pocket. nothing special – calls and SMS.   Have emergency games if I was bored out of my mind.
    • A sony exersion. Listen to music, text. I plau games – pacman and dinerdash
    • Verizon LG camera. I use texts (500/month) I pay for this. I need the texts. I have ringtones, $3 and have tetris $5. Don’t have the money for a lot.  Use camera a lot to take pictures and send to friends
    • I can record videos and watch them
    • They said they could not live without (those who had had it a while)
  • How about virtual worlds?  Social networks with avatars?

    • I have one in runescape, a lot of places are trying to copy this. I spend about an hour or so working to be rich in runescape
    • Xbox live is the closest. I play people on Halo.
    • I used to use Ziwinkie, It’s really dull and boring, about 2x a year. It’s noting different.
    • Runescape, Gaia online, played many different MMOs, the cost $50/month is a problem.  the pay to play is dying on me.
    • Ziwinki, I don’t use it anymore.did not want ot play anymore
    • Don’t really use it avatar stuff anymore.

Opened up for questions?

  • I’m from marketing, trying to sell. With UGC, have you done these and what do you think?

    • I did something for YouTube, for AirJordan.  It was pretty easy to use (windows movie maker)
    • If I had a camera I would do
    • I had a video camera, I have done them, just never enter as miss the deadline. It’s cool, when you interact with something they are trying to sell, it is good makes you have a little feel that you have influence?
  • Does it make you respect the brand?

    • If you open up, it makes me respect that company more – makes you feel better that they think you can do as well
  • I’m curious about content -news, political, cause? do you consume that? What would make you do that?

    • reading Digg for news, getting things I’m interested in. YouTube and Digg etc.
    • Interested in the debates, keep up with that. On YouTube, and google news. Wikipedia (they all use wikipedia)
    • The Onion. It’s a kind of spoof..they bring me the paper.  Things that catch my attention are funny, or give a different angle. the news is so dead sometimes, you want to turn it off. Also the Human Rights Campaign.
    • (No one goes to main news pages)
  • (From PETA) do you think you can effect change online, for causes.

    • Grain of Rice donation, I did
    • The school is growing vegetables to sell and donate to a (hepper?). The school donates money to Bhopal, we send cards etc.
  • Would you rather do something physical?

    • Yes, cos you get to interact with people and find out about them
    • I liked the grain of raice, as it hid the cause behind the game
    • Things that are easy to do as far as websites, they can do it from their own home, an easy out to feel like they helped.
    • I have a couple of friends involved with peta, they leave bulletins on myspace. Doing stuff online gets my attention. eg posts about drunk driving, with graphic images. etc
  • (Disney) are you watching shows on tv or computer?

    • I like dramas, Veoh, crunchieworld, a lot of foreign dramas. subtitled
    • ABC family to watch it there – go to the channels sites.
    • I watch the disney channel – TV and phone. Also on web and play games
    • Usually use the DVR.  Also the web
    • Veoh
    • Watch the disney online.  Also ABC family
  • Are their any shows you have to watch?

    • Wrestling. they’re really cute. CSI
    • KyleXY when they on, my mom won’t record.  CSI – love to watch as there never anything else on.
    • anime – if I miss I go to veoh, if they don’t then go elsewhere.  Some spanish drama
  • I’m from the antimarketing world, trying to stop companies in selling you stuff? Would you be interested in pushing back?

    • advertising is always going to be there to help fund the website. I would help a little bit, if I did not see any progress, then back off 😉  Some advertising – a new game of course
    • They need to go with what you are going to. on I don’t want to see beer. they have to stay on websites like ebay – where you are trying to buy things.
    • it’s bad enough, it’s on TV and billboards, it is important to sell things.  There needs to be in someplaces and not in places. mysp[ace when there are 600 banners around your page is really annoying.
  • I work for an interactive advertising agency. we build a lot of teen and tween brand.coms. do you visit websites like that and what types have you gone to. for online ads, do you play games which are ads?

    • I do like to play the little games,
    • WhatNext – on tv and I had to go to the site.  Maybe.
    • Tropicana – they were giving away free xbox points.
  • I’m from Gamelab. how about little flashgames?

    •, I like doing that.
    • the computer I use is too old, so won’t work. I like them, but can;t really play them. I think they are cool.
    • go to game sites, play new games,
    • newgrounds. a flash portal to submit games. albinoblacksheep, ebaumsworlds. not blocked on school I will go.  lots of flash games.
    • (they all know how to get round the blocks)
  • Do you go outside?

    • yes. still have friends, go outside, play on basketball team
    • I go to camp, I have a job
    • football. but always on the computer, there’s nothing wrong with that, right?
  • when you make plans with your friends – online, phone or person.

    • sms.
    • in person during school
    • in person or on the phone.
    • there’s a reason they invented the phone – in person or text.
  • have any of you gone to a party base don a bulletin

    • no
  • what don’t marketers get about the web? If you could have a greater say in how brands appear on the web would that be better

    • most adverts are very annoying, unless they are clever. I don’t like ads
    • I like give aways,

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Mar 16

SXSW – Is Google Evil

Read this from Ewan, notes from a SXSW Music Panel on Is Google Evil? With no consumer representation on the panel and no questions from the floor without being written down and screened by the moderator

and I forced my question into the discussion flow. “Can we ask who represents the consumer on this panel?” The answer? “No you can’t ask.” (Eric Rice has a chain of thought blog posts starting at the above link as well). I’m sorry, I’m going to debate strongly that it should be asked. Turns out the audience was on my side and wanted the question answered as well. Result? End of Panel, thank you for coming.

Mar 14

SXSW – Creating a Global Microbrand

Again my rough notes; this was one of fun ones here, i recommend you grab this podcast when it comes out.

Blogger Hugh MacLeod has espoused the notion of “The Global Microbrand” or a small, tiny brand that sells globally. The Global Microbrand is nothing new but with the advent of the Internet and blogging it’s much easier for merchents and even consultants to reach a global audience. For many, blogging is an avenue to creating a personal Global Microbrand and getting off of the corporate hamster wheel. This panel will focus on the two most well known stories — English Cut and Stormhoek — showing how blogging has changed the rules and allowed small players to break out and play to a global audience.

Hugh MacLeod Blogger,
David Parmet Owner, Marketing Begins At Home LLC
Gabe Rivera CEO, Techmeme
Kathy Sierra CreatingPassionateUsers

David: please give us some a definitions

Hugh: a small business, but instead of local community stuff, it has a global community of customers and users and people who care about them. as a blogger it is tempting to think you could not have that with out the web. but not true, look at holland and holland, shotguns, that cost about $120k; their reputation is world wide and everyone buys from there eventually, if a shotgun geek. make 200 guns a year. they do not want to grow further with guns, but are extending in other ways. been around about 200 years. now you do not have to wait that long to be there with the web. now I’m recession proof, income from all over the planet. can build community with a blog. I don’t have a boss anymore and no-one can tell me what to do. i have a constituency of several thousand people, some give me money and some don’t. it’s not about how easy it is to make money, the key is freedom and personal sovereignty. I don’t have to work in a cube in a glass building with a dickless boss.

David: so how does techmeme fit in?
Gabe: it’s fueled by people’s global microbrands (GM). it’s a news site, there’s a lot of news sites but a lot of other kind of people who are not really trying to report news but are also writing stuff ..with an identity that transcends their job, that translates into excellent future opportunities. a lot of these people have great first hand knowledge, or axe to grind (which can make news interesting). Robert Scoble is an excellent example of a GM, a following that moves with him. he has a personal brand. look at Jeremy Zawodny and Matt Cutts, they got into a war about who was copying whom [their respective companies]…an inside account about what it was like to complete in these companies. they come out as voice of companies even though not their day job. do this to promote own GM, but provide content that is for the good of the web. As a GM you are not going to advertise, so you have to create content that people will link to and value. create stuff that people want to repeat, that people want to augment, put stuff out there that people want to attack or bash.

David: Kathy, on tips on how to grow GM

Kathy: i was inspired by Hugh, 2 years ago, the big moment for me when I had a higher ranking that my publisher. (O”Reilly) on Technorati I would not have started if I had not lost my job at Sun.. now I would not go back. the rules I follow may not be agreed with, other people have had success with some of the things I say not to do. they come to me all the time, asking how to get readers. so here are the 7 virtues of the GM

Be grateful.. the single most important one. every moment people give us attention to read us…so with 55m blogs..for someone to spend 30 seconds on yours..i never stop being grateful, it is a gift and the day I forget this is the day it stops.

Be Humble: a lot of people find this difficult. don’t make it all about you. you have to give something back. our job is to make people feel better about themselves, not us. we want people to think that they rock. you want the reader to say that they are brilliant, not that the product or company is brilliant.

Be Patient: we did not think about monetising, we thought about giving what we could give. give them info that is helpful. see what happens. you have to wait. took about a year, year and half to have bigger ranking than hugh

Be Brave: you need to grow thick skin, the critics come out with popularity, they can be brutal. I got slammed and I started pulling back..I needed to take own advice, do stuff that is love or hate, not mediocre.

Show respect: recognise the value of time you give me is really worth a lot. enchant your users. give your readers superpowers. respect what people are coming there to see.

Be generous – giveaway your knowledge, what i get paid to do, is the stuff i do online as well. I help people with presentations, send them slides, will talk and advice. tell people how you do what you do. Do a learning blog..if you can teach people how to do it. we give away what we can, be inspirational and motivational. it;s the outside expert syndrome..f someone says says it it is more meaningful. remember talk to the brain not the mind, therefore don’t blog the cat..dont; name drop! It;s not about you. the people who have taken it, have been pretty successful.

David: the blog is a resume. you will piss people off who may be potential clients…but there is a flip side.

Audience Questions:

Q: how do you demonstrate that you are grateful.

Hugh: if they leave a really nice comment, then I will quote it. readers can tell whether you find them interesting. I’m bad a responding in comment section, I wish I was better. you try and be nice. I don’t put up with trolls, I will tell the to fuck themselves. I quote in follow up posts, I”ll link to URL, I’m comment. you get all these interesting people and you can learn so much from them. link to people who read rather than the a-list.

Q: you don’t have time to respond all…so how give back without an overload point?

Hugh: with great difficulty. I took Stormhoek to bloggers. i want people to think it is real. offered to all bloggers. you don’t have to be an influencer, we sponsored geek dinners. we wanted to start a conversation, believe good things would happen down the road. 2 years ago we were selling 40k cases a year..and now we sold 40k cases last week.

Kathy its been quite some time since I could keep up with comments. I’m trying to respect peoples time with posts I make. I do graphs so that people can get idea without reading post do it, get the idea, respect the time, I don’t post all the time; if I’m busy and can’t add value, I won’t clutter the feed with posts for posts put quality not just posts.

Q: (Tara Hunt) it s a problem of volume, of being important, you read too much, have followers…it was an important step when I stopped reading techmeme. the more readers I got, the less care I took. I had to let go of the drug. the relationships are more quality.

Hugh: before stormhoek, I was working with Thomas, tailor. I built him a blog. his business tripled inside 6 months. now he gets 3 more suits for every order..he has 6mnths waiting list to get on waiting list! he does not care about Technorati rankings, trackbacks. he does not care about the technorati mafia. he cares about making the best suits in the world and his customers. when I talk about a GM, I’m not talking about consultants with blogs, I’m talking about people who make products.

David: it’s not about reaching the most people, it’s about reaching the right people.

Hugh: at the beginning we were following the numbers with English Cut…then we focused more on the business. Tara’s transition from numbers to letting go is the same.

Gabe: forget metrics and then you find your own footings..then you do better.

Q: (Brian Overkirk) can you talk about the other things that come from it. stories about the tiny victories that mean a great deal

Kathy: i year ago I posted about my seizure disorder, i blogged it, and a reader wrote to me with advice and a new drug I would not be here without that advice

Hugh: David was a blog reader, left comments, he lost his job and blogged about it, so I blogged about it, asked people to hire him. with english cut, i started a traveling service where thomas would visit in NY hotels. we needed PR, I knew nothing about PR so I asked David. David was them working for us, we got in NYT which tipped the scale and we were taken seriously. he’s not this fantasy tailor blogger. next thing Scoble and Shel Israel were righting a book, talking about Thomas, David and I hooking up in the book. and now David has the reputation of being The Suit Guy.

Gabe: when I launched in 2005 I was reading a bunch of blogs I found useful, I had a lot of respect for people writing the, over time, every single one of those have said they have found my site useful and that is personal success for me.

David: its about meeting;s about being able to convince my kids they don’t have to works a the big glass building with dickless death…

Q: I get a kick out of being here…a kick because you come to know people, it may be a one way relationship; you can figure out that you have similarities,in cube land you forget there are people like you.. it;s not about how often you publish…snot sure how long you do it with quality. I appreciate what has come out of panel, i see so many people trying to be popular..2 quotes come to mind…Jerry Garcier – at first you worry about copying and then you get your own sound. and the other quote was stop worrying about the best you can do and start being the only one. so, you are all awesome

hugh: go back 2-3 years…we all started hitting critical mass, we’d spent a few years writing and then we had a business week article and the next thing you know this may be real. i get to write what want, i have the readers I want and I am grateful for that. it makes me happy when other people make a good go of it. and real jobs do suck the more people who find something remarkable and can express it to the world the happier this would well be.

Katthy: i always try and take it one step further…my job is to make someone be kick-ass at what they do. take focus off myself, i did not want it to be about me, it’s about helping others. I’m happy now, I reaching more people and that is what is rewarding to me.

Q: (Chris Messina) i find helping people kick-ass the better I feel. I wanted to share an anecdote….I started at LesBlogs in Paris…I thought i had to sound really smart, be really articulate, but then I went out (drinking heavily) with Tom Rafferty and he had told me to stop thinking about having an audience and think about 3 or 4 people you are writing to, as an email.. once is abandoned the idea of writing to a large audience…I was able to get a lot more out of it personally and were able to speak with a clear voice. I used to work for Flock…the work I was doing there represents me, the people i work for reflect what me is. once flock stopped representing me and my values. , I left

Hugh: questions for you.I think the best way to get approval is not to need it

Chrsi – I had to give myself permission.

Q: you say that blogging is a great way to make things happen indirectly, look at twitter, social objects etc. what is your take is.

Hugh: a had this idea, i did this cartoon. ” if you talk to people the way advertising people talk, they would punch you in the face.” [one of the cartoons I rotate as my desktop at work] you start a conversation, you start rather random. i started putting cartoon out in hi res. they can be printed. is ell things, but you can still download. you’ve taken the time to read my stuff and I want you to enjoy it.

It’s all about love!!! and don’t forget to google social object.

Mar 14

SXSW – Will Wright Keynote

These are the live notes from Will Wright’s Keynote. no context or analysis yet.

Some insiders believe that SPORE may be the most ambitious most highly anticipated computer game in history. USA Today calls it “gaming’s giant leap.” The New Yorker says it explores the “limitless possibility of life itself.’ And the New York Times, suggests that SPORE ‘deserves to be seen as a work of art.’ Drawing on inspirations that range from the SETI project to the Eames movie, The Powers of Ten, SPORE takes gaming to an unprecedented scope and scale to the concept of life itself. You begin as a microscopic cell struggling to survive in the primordial soup. If you can evolve, growing and gaining intelligence, you can travel a vast galaxy deciding the fate of entire planets. Join us as Will Wright, the visionary game designer behind SPORE and arguably the most celebrated game designer of our time will discuss his plans to bring to life vast beauty and possibility offered by our universe, and create a game that encourages every player to consider his or her place in the galaxy. He will also address the challenges of developing a narrative in non-linear and linear mediums, and explore his inspirations for the game. This session should not be missed.

I was not intending to present Spore, I was preparing a presentation of story. But then read the speach notes…so I will mash them up.

I’ll tell you I hate the stories my computers try and tell me. Novels have been the model, I’ll tell you about the nature of story. I look at the world as a simulation, things cause changes in other things, a dense web events, but a story is a causal chain. stories are unchanging and linear. games are mesh, many interactions. movies are visual, games are interactive. when we take control away from player we take the most important thing away. moving interactive to passive. games are a branching tree. we try and find the compressed rule set to give all the possible options when we design and build games for computers.

There is topology difference btw games and story – dense to open. you can present a dramatic arc with movie when all viewers feel the same. the game arc is very different, it is not a dramatic arc, you can repeat things all the time. we think linear drama is more compelling than interactive.

Stores based on language, empathy, imagination.

actors are emotion-sims, emotional avatars

Film has a rich emotional palette as they have avatars – joy etc, games appeal more to the basic instincts. pride accomplishment, guilt, expression.

Appeal is empathy for film whereas games are agency, i can chose what happens in games. both build models on different ways empathy vs agency

you are stuck in a timestream but we want to move experiences outside either outside place or time. story allows learning

experiences – play or story – an abstraction – models – help predict further and change behaviour

the best way to prevent the future is to predict it

stories start out, with characters, the structure is fuzzy at this point. once it starts you see the sequence and all acts narrow the range of possibilities. In your head you imaging eh the possibilities whilst watching films,

at the end, you start amplifying, dramatic amplifications, at the end of start wars there are 2 major possibilities. – will the rebels be blown up or the Death Star.

the biggest obstacle in interactive is that in linear the director knows the end state; interactive you don’t they are chaotic systems, Stories show causal chain as it is relevant, with interactive you can’t. film makers are playing with this causal chain; much in literature, films such as magnolia or timecode show multi threads. I like films that take a massive left turn, change the expectations. Momento plays with causal chain. each point causes you to reevaluate what you know. deeper in the story you were having to reconstruct what happened.

Groundhog day is a brilliant film, it felt the most like a game. goes through he same things again. with restarts. the director knew future and past, you could skip over things you filled it in. we should do this in games. let players skip levels if they keep failing. The real world does not have a restart, but it makes games interesting

Game stories can be branches or gated; early adventure stories…pick your pages. branching models. they get expensive if you deepened the story

Gates – within level have freedom, then have to get to next level etc. have different topologies. you have subgoals etc. and you have hybrids btw gated and branches. all of these things just throw data at problem.To double experience you need 4x as much work

New approaches are generated stories, have story fragments, have a trigger and result conditions, you can put the bits together to put story together. got more potential than has been explored; not clear what level we want to do.

Player stories…they are unintentional, subversive, expressive. players have stories about how they were playing in a game, describing what they did. Players come across bugs etc and they make the back story for it. Subversive stories are where players are trying to push out the envelope. they get excited about finding exploits. Expressive…they are like the sims, they have an intentional message, I developed a character in GTA, I hung around, finding what I wanted. I did not like messages, just wanted to hang and tell stories

With Sims, players they would be verbalising the story as they played it. they were dealing with parallel simulation but turning into linear stories. players were good at creating stuff and showing off; we put a site to collect the stories. they were like small novels. Then there’s the whole machinima movement. They are entertainment and meaningful stories, allowing people to express what is happening in their life.

so we have storytelling and story listening. with interactive entertainment, it’s more interesting to me to think about listening to stories, teaching computers to listen. let computers get understanding, understand the theme. the computer learns the story that is in the players head. you can look at stories at different levels, have the computer understand, is it girl meets girl or teen slasher etc. if we know the goal states we can present obstacles, to amplify the drama. if we can parse, present, influence/assist and then replay as a movie. we can change the the environment, drive events to clarify he story. I suspect this is more likely to happen with a lot of parallel learning, watching millions of players. this is close to truman show. the computer is like the director of the truman show. It can control environment but not violate freewill. the truman show and groundhog day are both closest to games,

Looking into the future there is this concept called the magic circle; everyone respects the rules of the game, those outside the circle do not ness respect the rules. in the circle you agree to follow them.

stories are similar, they sit around together and have similar things. storytelling has evolved, as has story.

We went from small groups, to epic with films and then started circling back to home, ipods etc, back to being a small group. we can do fractal stories, 3 min things from YT. stories circles change in time space. diversifying across platforms. there are many game niches and story niches.

Linear entertainment is watched at a fairly similar percentage across ages; interactive participation has a strong peak in the younger groups. Games are not just about story and sports, are now evolving as hobbies, tools are increasing and we start to fulfill design aspirations. players love making content. They like making, sharing and collecting, people like organising the power of collective effort is amazing, there is a quality vs quantitative; most is crappy, some OK, some great. as tools be better we should be able to increase the quality of what they are doing.

Players are building mental models in their head and we now have chance for the computer to build models of people, how they play, what they do, how they move, what they buy, what networks do they do.

We can build fairly elaborate models predicting behaviour. give tools when they can build things and then get the computer to amplify…the asset they build has value.

So take what they have made, see what other things they may like and bring it back into he world. move player away from being Luke Skywalker and playing a role and to George Lucas and making a story.

With Spore, we wanted to make the universe a game. There has been a lot of friction for players to create, so in this case the process of creating is the process of playing the game. we want the game to share automatically. we can build an infinite sized worlds.

[there followed a demo of the world, building, creating, moving between the dimensions of gameplay]

i want the game to bring up issues for players, history and future of life. philosophical implications are huge. i think of the games as elaborate montessori tools. how can they learn. this is a phil tool so that you can think about life. so what happens when you have your planets – we have weather, geology. climate etc. you can terraform. and you can destroy. game play at certain levels based on my favourite science fictions, eg the monolith tool from 2001 to raise intelligence etc. As I travel I can build up an encyclopedia of everything I have seen. over time you can explore larger and larger areas, se the entire galaxy, things are built b the players.

technology is an extension of the human body, computers do a lot of things, but importantly they extend our imagination. we use for entertainment, education communications, etc. so how does this impact? we go through a major shift every now and again, social changes, etc technology is driving paradigm shits more often, the rate is more frequent, political changes, social issues, environment issues, warnings etc about what is happening,

games have a reputation as a time waster, but they can much more, they can change how we see the world, how we behave. we can navigate the future with a little more intelligence than we could before.

Mar 13

SXSW – MMORPGs in Austin

Over the years, Central Texas has emerged as the mecca of massively multiplayer game development. Why did this happen and what does this mean? How will the massively multiplayer market change in the next five to ten years — and, assuming such changes occur, will Austin be able to retain it’s position as the geographical leader of this genre?

Moderator: Gordon Walton Co-Studio Dir, BioWare Austin
Gordon Walton Co-Studio Dir, BioWare Austin
John Blakely VP of Dev, Sony Online Entertainment
J Todd Coleman Dir, KingsIsle Entertainment Inc
Shannon Cusick Orbis Games LLC
Richard Garriott NCsoft Interactive

Q: what advantages does Austin have?

Cusick: networking, companies already here, relaxed attitude, environment, resources. College students; existing gaming industry
Blakely: about 30 or so known game companies in Austin. talent base is here; getting people with that experience is invaluable. lots of support from state government. talent pool is stressed and this is a great place to attract them.
Coleman: talent pool is the biggest attraction. and austin is pretty sticky, people want to stay even if move away from your company. Austin is also ripe for deals – known, resources, community leverage etc.
Garriott: agree with everything said. and there is another special aspect – thought technically competitors we are all very friendly, especially in MMO space. these games are big, take a long time, relative infrequent and so rarely head to head. also no signs yet at being at saturation, so successful games help each other. Churn rate is under a year, so all these games out for multiple years, every game that has had over 100k subscribers still has that, even after 10 years for some year. each new release does not cannibalise. it’s a rapid growth segment, and with good conscious we can root for each other.
Walton: talent is mobile, people get brought in. it is totally environment based; we have high tech meets creativity meets tolerance. you can be weird here, there is tolerance for it. a lot of places that were making games are making less than before, we used to be spread out and now we cluster

Q: what are the disadvantages?

Garriott: i see a problem, our demand for certain education levels, skill sets and experience has tapped out the market and cannot find a wide variety of people, such as 3d artists, 3d software engineers. in some specialties we have to compete, with outside town, state and country. have opened large office in china to get talent pool. definitely not cheaper and easier but truely cannot find staff I need.
Coleman: harder and harder to find people which I why I keep stealing them from you richard. need to educate people in general about how big the games industry is in Austin and how much an impact it will have. music and film get the press but games is a staggeringly large impact and does not get press.
Games are growing and this will continue to be a burden.
Walton: we need hits to attract talent, as we have not had a lot recently. Financing side, we only have small publishers in town. we are not where the money goes but we are where the work goes. the digital distribution gives us an advantage

Q: who are our competitors
Cusick: california, (SD/LA) and east coast. Baltimore etc.
Blakely: seattle, consoles etc. WoW growth, people will go there. I keep a close watch on Blizzard.
Coleman: I don;t spend a lot of my tome thinking about competition in this space. the job os to come up with a creative vision and see it through. who is doing things, similar, is not as important, the biggest thing is losing people and then they would have gone to austin not another city
Garriott: our biggest competitor is ourselves, we will live and die on game quality and how we educate how big the industry.
Walton: West coast, aligning with Asia which is a centre of gravity.

Q: Where do you see the MMO market going 5-10 years?

Garriott: that’s one product cycle?? it eveolves slowly; I hope my new game shakes it up a little; most MMOs are built in model of everquest, they are refined but in similar. that is the first thing that needs to change. we need to bring in elements of other kinds of gameplay.
Coleman: you’ll see different business model, ads, freeplay and pay for powerups etc. you will see some implosions, there us a lot of money coming in, attracting investment, you are starting to see deals going to teams that have not done it before. and what we do is not easy, you have all these problems. every hard problems is there to solve. as well as the tech issues it still needs to be fun. we will see a lot of large losses, with really dramatic wins, and interesting play out of places we do not expect.
Blakely: the console..what does MMO mean on console. there is a shared experiences etc so how d we tackle that. we need less traditional play and we need to deliver the new stuff.
Cusick: want it to be as big as hollywood and this the place to be.
Walton: they are still in their beginning as our iteration cycle is slow, so when we think about MMOs they are part of one big landscape. there is opportunity to branch out. The tools are getting better which means that smaller teams can do stuff; only huge hi cost teams have been able to do things for a while. those are the opportunities.

Audience Questions

Q: traffic and housing will impact life quality…would like to understand…content creation in SL, is this a way to bring in creative types? what is your comment on SL environment and is anything going on in Austin about this?

Garriott: when thinking UGC I think of pen/paper and D&D. the early adopters were all good story tellers, small audience. as it expanded you lost the storytellers and it was no longer fun. the majority of UGC is not exceptional and is abhorrent to wade few. but we only employ a small % of the talented people. so provide a tool set and let the creative excellence bubble up. the largest MMOs who have tried UGC have failed in the sorting process..we need to solve this. we need to filter and push the good stuff. there needs to be an economic feedback loop to drive to the good stuff.
Blakely: We announced our Home at GDC; we need to provide tools that allow people express themselves. still a puzzle we are trying to work out.
Walton: the concept of ownership is very sticky. if I won something in a game I am stuck in the game, so tapping into it is important.

Q: Perplex city – we are sending people on quests, we have developed a permanent large world. everyone seems to be ending up in the same areas but approaching form different areas.

Walton :not everyone is going after massive audiences, may 80% of us are. mass markets are not where most MMOs and ARGs are going forward, a lot of niche markets.
Cusick: most of our stuff is niche, but we would like to do mainstream stuff.
Blakely: gameplay has roots in a community of shared story. It;s a new thing about story telling, all mediums coming together. Look at the Heroes community. we will see more of this across all mediums.
Garriott: as attractive as find metaverse games, but it is never going to be a best game as a particular niche, ie games are cool in one part of offerings that are out there.

Q: it was difficult to build games and have a life outside how do you ensure the workers have a life?

garriott: I spent many years with 12+ work days 7 days a week. once i could afford it, but now I have many more interests. for the last game we have a policy against crunch mode, we keep demands low, no more that 8-10 hrs a day. I think we have a well managed overtime policy; we manage the crunches well, we think lifestyle is important
Cusick 0I’m a firm disbeliever in crunch time
Blakely: we try and be smarter about how we do games, looking at new techs, educate the investors, publishers etc. mange the efficiency. Keeping it measured and predictable etc. in an increasingly competitive environment you need the talent to stay around.
Coleman: if you kill people up to launch, then when it launches it is dead, you need people on top form then.
Walton: yet to see creative business that can run to a schedule; we have good intentions, the challenge will remain to do what we set out to do; there is never enough time or money. we are purely managed, have little foresight about times and crunches are always a possibility. have to be s,art enough to minimise it, years away from being able to build a plan
Coleman: not sure you ever can build to plan.

Q: you made a comment that austin is where the work goes not the money – can you elaborate why and what can the city do to help?

Gariott: we are one of the publishers, compared to west coast we have close to zero publishers. They go through investment and withdraw from outside publishers. we have to get them in town to keep them here. None of the things for other industries have been offered to hi tech industries etc have not been offered to the game industries, eg tax benefits.

Q: the film board has said the same the other day, the same thing that the game industry are looking for, can someone do the same thing?

Garriott: I’m a convergence sceptic, but while there are some concept artists that can do art, that is the beginning and end of convergence; the same people cannot do both industries.
Coleman: skillset is difficult to cross over but IP is not. there are some cross overs from distribution, PR etc. but a lot of key differences.
Blakely: we are part of Sony Pictures..we find it tough to cross over. look to invest here, but money will always go back to west coast.
Walton: he who has the money makes the rules. the money is not here, it is Dallas, Houston. you need to finance it here or you just be a job shop.

Q: Are Sony doing a good job of promoting the games division?

Blakely: yep. our chairman has done an amazing job of letting us run our business. They are hands off, but look for opportunities to leverage IP. we have shared resources on recent products. Still a challenge internally figuring out the corss overs.

Mar 13

SXSW – Pervasive Electronic Games

Pervasive Electronic Games

Julian Bleecker (USC/Near Future)
Dennis Crowley (Dodgeball/Google)
Aaron Myers (USC Interactive Media)
Kevin Slavin (Area/Code)

This panel presents and discusses unique aspects of the design issues and technologies involved in developing “pervasive electronic games.” Pervasive electronic games are experiences that move game play into the real world, outside of the usual venues in which electronic gaming occurs. Moving from sedentary venues (living room, video game parlors) into more quotidian spaces is made possible by the proliferation of mobile communications devices, ubiquitous network access, global position sensing and electronic location tagging.

Julian: motivaton for these come from play forms, from children’s games, before electronic games etc. Been looking at different kinds game gestures; noticed that gestures are similar to electronic games. the RL gestures can inform online games. also been looking at how game interfaces have evolved. looking at how RL activities can them become a game.

Aaron: representing MobZombies, a game with a simple premise. you are guy with an exposed brain being chased by a bunch of zombies. you move around in RL to move character in the game world. Use 2 sensors to co-ord motion – a digital compass and an accelerometer. there is a continuing growing hoard of zombies you need to avoid and bombs to stop them. we are working on a version that can work i=on a mobile form. it works on a Sony Vaio thing now but looking for a phone version and a streamlined version of the sensor rig. looking to release as a kit for people to build own games etc.

Kevin: (reprised his PSFK talk – but the audience seems to be more appreciative). underneath pervasive games is an instinct to lie radically about where we are or to develop instinct. Games meet a need; most places are real, most stories are not. But places are becoming fictional. the need for stories does not stop with tech. You see geocaching, superstar, Games with computers in them, not the other way round.

Dennis: Dodgeball is about knowing where your friends are, where they have checked in, encourages rendezvous behaviour. Developed as my thesis project, working on games with Kevin to pay the rent. tried to take some of the game elements and add them to Dodgeball. mainly stats. introducing some of these competitive elements drove usage. Grew up on games; competition with brother. So how do you make real life into a video game; made Pedometer wars; record the stats and see who ‘wins’ by walking the most. has potential to change the way you experience a public space. got to elevator or stairs…then you may win more..walk more. condition you to change behaviour. but the pedometer was dumb, not networked, got boring. At the same time or so Nike+ came out; tracking through shoe, you can see your runs etc, lots of stats so I’m in love with this. then started adding multiplayer stuff, can make challenges. Extra motivation to run! Then started to be able to plot runs – but not really location aware so have to plot on maps. One day I was running and saw a graffiti and thought about the ability to run at graffiti and get super special powers…but got lazy and did not work out. Now go skiing most weekends…now in competition for skiing, eating, runs etc. Bought GPS, on phone and garmin. Got data off..every 15sec takes a reading and gets a download. Collected all the points, mapped out the mountain. now I can map myself or others to the map and turn the skiing into a game. Thought about RC PowerAm…putting those powerups and putting on the mountain…play games about getting to the powerups etc. No real time feedback etc but looking for it next year. Waiting for NIke+ plus GPS plus connectivity to enable this game to go to next level.

Audience Questions

Q: when is Dodgeball coming to SaltLake City
Dennis: don;t know but looking to expand all the time!

Q: How much does it cost and what traffic. are they happy with ROI? (Sopranos)
Kevin: yes, rest take offline
Q: what were the measures?
A: a new way if talking about it etc..take offline

Q: there are blurring of lines between these and ARGs?
Aaron: our games have tighter link to digital games; response to your actions. ARGS typically don;t have this dynmic, physical to digital
Kevin: 2 things that are different – a lot of args focus on puzzle solving, collective intelligence, not ness the types of things that we focus on, we look at systems that people use to play instead of constructing distributed narrative.

Q: How do you solve the discovery, how do you let people know it is OK to play?
Kevin: one is event based and one is pervasive in on all the time. and there is something all the middle, ie an infrastructure for ad hoc events, always available for people to take part. so how do you discover you have tetris on phone? it;s business problems; another is to have a physical aspect.
Dennis – it;s difficult to do as pick up games at moment as equipment is niche, as they tech becomes more ubiquitous its gets easy
Aaron: not sure if mobZombies can be pickup. one of our motivations was to make people look silly and not sure where to go now.
Kevin: with Plunder, the resolution of real world is large and the likelihood of people being together is low; so proximity foes not have to synchronous, it can have what happened here at some time.

Q: where do you see this going?
Dennis: I see NYC as a whole bunch of magic squares, geographic triggers, when you go by something will happen. van get more people to interact with the world, with people in same areas. it;s all about location, all the work I’ve being doing is on this. We are still closer to this, but soon devices will be location enabled.
Kevin: the phone is location aware, but we cannot access. it is not tech problem but a business problem. I want to see the business problems solved.

Q: any general principles to bring people between real and virtual?
Dennis: nned to get dots on map and then you can start things happening.

Q: will location based devices stop you from exaggerating and lying about where you are. any thoughts about this?
Kevin: the goal is to misrepresent yourself, not to lie to others. the question is about how to harness for imagination, not flase information.

Q: In Perplex City we started looking at location etc, in the UK we can get access to data but in the US there is a major business problem that means we could not do it here. we started looking at making it ourselves.
Kevin: you have to understand how retarded we are in the US with all this stuff. there are very few reasons to be optimistic in the short term. the handsets have gps, but a problem in city. we like wifi positioning its free and you can get pretty accurate.

Q: a lot of these games are multiplayer, looking at engaging communities. what about multiplayer for mobZombies and how can running across a mushroom augment your running
Aaron: single player etc, tech reasons affect multiplayer.
Dennis: for a single player it can be power up…but still applicable as compete against yourself. Potentially looking at interactive, letting location elements give me a different experience.

Mar 13

SXSW – Convergence Culture an conversation with Henry Jenkins

Whole new cultures are emerging around convergent media, an example of which is The Matrix Trilogy, the narrativeis which is contained, not just in the films, but also in comics, animé, games, and web sites all serving acommunity of participants – they’re actually more than “fans.” Henry Jenkins’ latest book, Convergence Culture, isan in-depth review and critique of several evolving transmedia cultures, their quirks, and their impact on ourperceptions.

danah boyd USC Annenberg Center
Henry Jenkins Dir, Comparative Media Studies – MIT

what henry has being doing is looking at fan fiction, wwf, remix, media production, collapse of production and consumption, has produced 3 books, writes full posts everyday. my goal is to interview and provide insight into what he does and how it relates to you.

Q: your early work about fandom you approached as a fan

Q: can’t remember when I was not a fan. at college i was in the culture and active as a fanboy. My wife and I were both star trek fans. In Menagerie, spick got very emotional. I looked the behind the scenes, Cynthia looked a the psychology. we approached it in different things. when in grad school i was an active fan. but fans were not held in high esteem by academics, we were held as dupes. I’m tired of being to get a life and wanted to write a book about the passion that drives the fan world. 20 years ago fans were marginal to the cultural I call them rogue readers, describing how they see things.

Now the fans are central to the ways of culture. web2.0 is fandom without the stigma. it’s social community, that shares knowledge, that remixes, that appropriates culture. we were doing it in our basement 20 years ago and now businesses are making money. participatory culture that was so exotic then is central to what we do today

Ql so what role has the net played?

A: more people can find a way into the fandom; it was not highly visible before and now more people are finding their way in. expansion is step 1. now you can talk and watch in real time, a world of collective intelligence . within 2 mins of a show starting you can follow a conversation online. For Twin Peaks, the papers were saying it was too complex, the online fandom wanted more complex. sharing and collaborate means that we need more complexity. the biggest change is the collective viewing pattern leads to greater demand to complexity. convergence culture is trying to describe the moment of time when the audience becomes central, power from the collective power and they demand more, more opps to participate, more back story

Q: as remix etc, it becomes available to the creators themselves, but many are not happy. they get sued for copyright

A: start with the premise that the media producers have lost control. and my friends can do what we want and the likelihood of you stopping me is zero. have to get over this and moving to where you take advantage. let fans appreciate the properties, increase their value. look at the browncoats, the studio billed them for use of images on tshirts..the community then sent the studio a bill for their time for marketing. it was more value to empower them. we are seeing whole spectrum o attitudes, from C&D to enfranchisement, use them as vanguard for publicity. control over IP is a battleground that will determine if our culture will become participatpry and what the terms are. it;s been under corporate control, etc, we need to find rationale for it…in many of the free speach groups advocating for electronic freedom have not embraced fan fictions not tech. put as much effort into defining bittorrent as to fan fiction. no one is standing up for fiction writer etc. we need more participatory vulture and we need to get behind it

Q: this bullying is part of an larger issue about asserting power. you have written a lot about young people and how they are participating

A: fan culture is part of a larger culture of online production. people share product, we shift from spectators to producers. so what does it mean to turn these kids lose in a world with a large power and reach where they have little knowledge or guidance. the DOPA act would strip schools of ability to provide access. we fought to close digital divide, about access. now we are there, but is it unequal access. they can;t store, low bandwidth, filtering, restriction s on networks etc. the participation gap. you cannot acquire skills that you need in this culture. its been reintroduced as part of protecting children in 21st century. it will have an enormous impact if it passes. even if you believe that myspace is crawling with predators..but are kids more safe if parents and teachers can guide them or if we turn them lose outside of adult supervision and locks out the 43% that want to get into he space at schools. it is a bad piece of legislation. this is the example of gov going after youth participation. they are being hit by studios and by gov. when we think of social networking as engine driving wealth production t is also the thing under fire for fans and young americas. so ‘you’ and your right to participate is under siege

Q: DOPA is not the only legislation that is an issue. in CN all social tech will need to put in age verification..anyone under 18 will need to get parental permission for any tech that allows them to connect to people. so what role do parents have in this conversation…so you see a scenario that allows for protection that would be frustrating

A: fear sells, the politics of fear is the one issue that both parties agree on..that our kids would be muzzled. politics of fear has a gender dimension..we are afraid of our sons and for our daughters. as a society we need to say were tired of being led by fear. macather institute is looking systematically how young are using the tools, looking at the culture. 50m$ we need to get the info out and use it to challenge the fear-mongering and call attention to the mechanisms that fear is being propagated, we have to pull together across the partisan blogs, it is not a right left issue. this is preserving the instruments of democracy we all need to protect this.

Q: role tech can and should play in civic engagement. where do you see online democracy going?

A: we are seeing line between part culture and part democracy blurring. the language of politics is not eternal, it shifts over time. we are in a world where a particular culture gives people a new language and politic become remixed. democ is a special every 4 years. we need democ to be a lifestyle and something we love day in and day out. find how we integrate into every day life means we need to talk as different we feel more confident as producers rather than citizens. as American Idol caused us to think about musics, maybe we need democratic entertainment to see it through this world. so photoshop for democracy, people respond in real time in ps, the peoples editorial cartoon, they do not follow the norms…we see vicious use of imagery

knowledge as product or knowledge as profit? wikipedia is a monument to participatory culture. but you need to understand process of how knowledge is produced..can teach people about the the process. the power of collective intelligence is better than one. the ethics of being part of wiki, working through the issues and trying to create space for participation. we were talking to wales about history, globally history, and different perspectives. english lang history had to arrive a shared perspective, there was an multiple perspectives, there is more multiple viewpoints on wiki then many traditional national books. if we can figure out he ethic that allow it to work then we can begin to put together how to create shared info space to deliberate n national issues. put people to gether you get different options. need to tap how wiki doe sit to get at a cohernent national policy instead of name calling.

Q: critique to wiki is challenge to what is real and not, UGC etc, UNC break up on website. (see the stuff). was it real or not? awkward video. it was ahoax. it was atest to see how far things reached on web. a lot of people were used- they want this to be real.

A: my 25yo son does not use youtube, no idea why…look through lens of 19th c ..look at humbug…presented to public where there was dispute about status…he promoted things as being under dispute, come and see for yourself. put barnums mermaid in context to the platypus being discovered which was real? with YT it is a mixed media economy, amateur profession, legal , illegal etc we are trying to sort out the status, it comes to us without context. but it is produced a grassroots media literacy effort. something really exciting may come of it if we can stop being angry about being faked out. how do we decide what is fake, teach people how to think about evidence, construct arguments, interpret reality. what skills do we need to teach to people to do that that is a challenge.

Q: with rise of MMORPGs, emmersive environs etc so what is important to consider there.

A: fascinated by SL. my avatar takes about 20lbs off me..i;m working towards it through exercise. it is a new centre, plenty of opportunities. it;s like a medieval carnival where people stepped out of their normal life. think about SL as carnival we step into all year round, so what kinds of transformation can take place. we can do thought experiments. we can try out new ideas, economic, identity, we try them out, see what they feel like. e carry that energy back into the RL. we can create experiment, try social relationship. if simple escapism, its less interesting over a place for social experimentation.

Mar 13

SXSW – Web2.0 to Web3D

Wagner James Au Online world Journalist/Blogger, New World Notes/
Robin Hunicke Lead Designer, Electronic Arts
Robert Scoble Evangelist,
Susan Wu Charles River Ventures

Is Neal Stephenson’s “metaverse” here, and is it the Net’s next generation — or just a glorified game? Once gamer-only turf, 3D virtual worlds like Second Life and World of Warcraft are now attracting millions of players– and millions of dollars from corporations, academia/non-profits, and government agencies, interested in the marketing, research, and prototyping possibilities. Is this the future of the Internet, and if so, where do we go from here?

Wagner: some examples – Rupture=WoW plus MySpace. create a social world that sits on top of the MMO, could be an identity placeholder. CyWorld, 18m accounts, 90% of South Koreans under 30 have an account and log in daily. have an identity and an avatar. SL – lots of mashups with HUD and web data. eg a digg ratings tool for objects, can track what people like, there are others with places. Twitter is in SL as well, with twitter huds.

Robert: Twitter is like the doubling penny; twitter was doubling in size every month.there’s a lot of things that are doubling. SL does not have a large audience but it is the doubling effect that is interesting. There are some principles that I look for, that I am attracted too. The audience knows a lot, there;s more SL knowledge in audience than in the panel. when the audience is smarter, things get better. on the book, we sent it to the audience before the editors and we got it grammar checked and fact checked. and we got better product than if we had sent it straight to the editors. and it makes people own it and they start being an evangelists. that attracted me and my some to SL, he was building things very quickly getting adept. Families want to work together with their kids, they want t build together, my some took to it faster than I ever could so, one principle can your audience can get involved and extend the world. And encouraging that game companies getting into it, letting users build stuff, ie Sony Home world. Different to WOW where you cannot build. the other interesting thing was the physical architecture..each island was a linux blade user, which could hold around 50 or so. compared to the centralised worlds, the would can grow out. the early behaviour was interesting, people would try for a small , but it was boring. but the business model is dragging people back, I can sell things and monetise it. I can get people to come back in the system and there is a profit motive for me as a content producer to get people there. OUtback, an australian world, is coming out later this year. one problem is that people think it is just software and they can cone it. but it is not, what makes propel interesting is the people that are involved. Twitter was seen as lame as there was no one to talk to, once you have the the people it becomes interesting. it is a way to interact with friends. it is the audience with the technology..and thats what is interesting. I hang out and build stuff with Eric Rice, we can share together even if not in same place. So outback is attractive as they may be able to fit more people in, but need the people. Outback could 10000 people on one world.

Susan: on P2P you are not going to have an item based business model?

Wagner: Robins works on EA, SIMS.

Robin: in approaching MySIm i thought a lot about user interaction, and what people could bring into the game. it;s a user created experience, we have designers that will be in the world but you can customise. games are strongest when you can be the designer. Thinking about the panel, I wonder if web2 to 3d would be a good thing and I’m not sure. I wanted to think about my user experience. I like being able to find things differently, so not sure. If you had unlimited bandwidth what would you do? Combining all the worlds; as a content provider it would be awesome if they could deliver the focused experiences and open it up to creativity. it would be a lot of realities, 3d could be awesome to share everything. but the constraints are the aesthetics, constraints are not obvious, so what kinds of constraints should we be thinking. in WOW there is a lot of UI, In RL, we do not see everything, so would a 3d would be more real if you could not see anything. Look at the wii, it is simple people think things will work that the right thing will happen and that is about removing all the clutter. in this reality, every user is a designer. think about the time streams – can a user parse all of this. look at the costs…look at how many servers run to run the worlds – think about the energy costs. i like that we are always in augmented reality. 3d is possible but is it right. why would we go 3d, why are we not thinking about small lightweight techs that allow presence and not just want to create everything again in RL.

Robin – looking at gender difference, it could be culture whether girls go to consoles or creative stuff. do we want to solve the current problems, or do we think about the experience our kids will have. I have a lot of benefits from this world, but not a lot of other people do.

Susan; we as a tech society see tech as the solution.

Robert: eric talks about story creation, about an online story experience with the 3d tools.

Susan: yesterday we talked about avatars, it changes the experience to being an interactive narrative. it changes the perception, the skills about game design and relevant to product design

Susan: lets not male assumptions about 3d; in next 3-5 years every media is going to be building a 3d world. looking at SL and deciding that that is the model. it;s a misinformed model. studying how people are evolving online. 1st. information sharing to interaction (2.0) so to me 3.0 is immersion. the cognitive barriers between peoples online and offline lives are dissipating. everything we do onine is real. we need ot create products that create better online engagement. 10 years ago, a text MUD was really real to me, i had an immersive time there. what is hitting our brains is the content and the stuff we add on top help with engagement or detract from them..the text based MUD is when I had the most immersive environment. Nw. MySpace is an MMO, same kind of interactions. Gaia is web2.1 – interaction with avatars, text that evolved into a rich community then with a graphical layer on top. Telp, Flixter, we make transition from web page to web place. we will demand more emotional engaging, more immersive, more emotional experiences. so is 3d the;s just a tool, not appropriate for all situations, there are different ways t think about presence, such as social or collaborative presence. my BlogLog is 3d social presence. Twitter is 3d social presence, you can feel you are part of some greater environment. do all virtual worlds look fully 3d. things can be simpler,. webkinnz etc. A recent study looks at factors in immersion – 1 was role engagement, its about storyline and engagement. last on the list was physical presence. average player is 22 hrs a week in environment. But now, kids are far more comfortable living online than we are different understanding of time, identify and place. brain plasticity makes it impossible to predict the future.

Wagner: about environ friendly…having virtual worlds may reduce travel. IBM use the world for meetings. Avatars help with the meeting dynamics.

Robin – getting avatars to emote is extremely difficult

Robert – there is an architect teaching in SL, can build models.

Robin – when you can build a structure, you have an analogy, Matt brown, a designer, says be aware of the obvious example, so architecture in 3d is easy, IBM meetings may not be right. I hear a lot of ‘that will never work’ so what works for our kids what makes them more whole?

Susan: twitter demonstrates that texting allows connections.

Audience Questions:

Q: can transportation be reduced from virtual worlds.

Robert: hearing it for 20 years that computers will reduce travel.
Robin: I have to do some travels..I travel way more because of games etc.

Q: immersion in the narrative; I fascinated about how you understand what people do with sport; it connects people on one level. what is you advice on building a NFL community online.

Robin: you need to understand the relationships; what role does team play in your daily lives. need to understand that relationship before can give advice
Robert: i like hanging in tailgate parties, so help with that?
Robin: let people share their expressions.

Q: meetings conferences etc has drawn me to virtual worlds. where do you see SL going, eg with voice. companies etc.

Wagner: numbers of SL predicted around 3m next year (assume can scale). companies are having to struggle for relevance, most people are ignoring this. Electric sheep L Word island, where people can watch it is doing well, one of the few. we will see more small communities emerge.

Q: interesting in conversion between desktop and console based worlds. open vs closed worlds. can’t take characters worlds.

Robert: xbox team did not see a market, console is not a precision experience, consoles are distant.
Robin: console is about relaxing, hanging out, far more social less precise and tweaky than pc experience. control is different between the 2. we are going to have problems as designers and users. we need to look at what aesthetics are and do as much as possible without all the clutter.

Mar 11

SXSW – Building a Community Ecology

Moderator: Jake McKee Lead Samurai, Big in Japan
Virginia Miracle Dir Word of Mouth Mktg, Brains on Fire
Rebecca Newton Global Safety & Moderation Mgr,
Terrence Ryan Moderator,
Betsy Whalen Dir Mktg, Discovery Education

Jake: why did i use the term ecology? working with communities, they are mini ecosystems, they require a certain amount of balance to survive. btw what community needs and what company needs.

Rebecca Newton: Habbo Hotel. Have 24 habbo sites and 15 million teenagers. social/virtual world for 13-17yo.
Virginia Mircel. works for brians on fire. a naming, identity and WOM marketing firm. create identities and personalities for community movements. Works with the fisketeers, a scrapbooking community. wanted to find a way to emotionally connect with customers. 60% of posts coming from GenY, although full range is 20-70
Betsy Whalen, works with Discovery. works on educator network, helps educators to integrate Discovery products into the classroom.
Terrence Ryan – moderate suicide girls community. started as a punk site and morphed into a alt-porn site 😉 Public userbase is 50/50 male/female, although the anon demo is mainly male.

Q: What would you do if a marketing team said they want fans to come to an offline event and help out….as they have no budget for ‘offical’ help.

Virginia: so whats in it for them. they want to feel like they are included. The PR team wante some public acts of crafting..they were good ideas but not generated by community. we spoke to some of the leaders int he community and told then waht the goals were and posed it to them; the project was changed and they still achieved the saem goal. at the end they thoguht it was a co-creation but it was a difficult balance. we included out advacate int he brand as she understood the brand.

Betsy: we have this issue coming up alot. we are the education devision…we wrre giving them products. we foudn that the teachers were turning up at the stores and talkign about it, they were telling people to watch the shows. once the network picked up onthis, we started workign witht he teachers who did want to do this. we ask them to particiapte and it makes them more connected,

Terrence – we have a very rabid community. when we got the first anniersay, it was supposed to be small. but peopel were coming from allover the countr. w e adtated and set iup local groups, meet weekly. we have to conintually adpat to user demands.

rebecca – we don;t advocate meeting offline (even f marketing group has occasionally thought about it). you have to be careful of the liabilities etc. meeting offlien could also break the magic.

Jake the recurring theme is the constant adjustment.

Q: if you canlt create own hub, how do you coinect it all together.

Jake: I worked with lego, adult community. we did nothing on the official site as there was enough happening. you don;t keep the standard voice, you share what is haoppening with you compnay. get them to indersntad the reality. constant mantra is everyione goes home happy. and that invludes the compnay.

Virginia: ex Dell. fokes who are trinaiend on how to reach out, answer questions. reach out and share. but if you are delaing with fear about having own community, byt fear not having a voice, then you have to create a community space.

Rebecca – what is happening, is that communities are driving a product and corps cannot control it. if they are afraid they are going to be in trouble as it is the buyer that is in control and have a big say. they need to be paying attention to the feedback

Terrence: we give people myspace templates, we keep an eye out.

Jake: you build a relationship…and its something you do anyway. so think about how you would approach a normal relationship. share your ideas and thinking and they get to know you. you have to make clear that you are willing to listen.

Q: microcommunities…how do you leverage them.

Betsy – we started with 5 members. we did a lot of stuff the that they would not ness be able to do that know. they focus on tech, not actions. we stay focus on customers with common interests.
Virginia – size does not matter – its whether you have a niche to feel, we created it to fill the need. only have about 1200 members, incredible active and a thriving part of the business
Terrence – we have timebound groups, associated with festivals. we combined them. and help during dead points.
Virginia – some are only timebound and that is OK
Jake – you have to define your success. you get caught up in discussion about numbers and cool techs, not the community

Q: how do you get them in and make them stay. (targeting 8-12, games.

Rebecca. we run a disney space, 8-10 yo. you wont get too many under 8. they’ll come there, they will need to do some drive to web, but they are online. you may have safety issues, not just getting people.
Jake: I’m always surprised about how much I don;t understand. they have multiple accounts. parental involvement is key, to connect together. make it easy to share. al prices of content can be passed around. an easy tag line to let people share.
Rebecca – let them create their own games look at club penguin, keep it simple. allow them to create own stuff.

Q: education component of community. for fundraising and advocacy. any experience of online fundraising and setting experience. what happens when things go wrong. (off-limits or things you did not envision)

Betsy: we did a couple. one that is complete disaster and one if ok. be very clear on what you site is and what is done. the community will start to develop their own vision and decide for you and usually its 10x better than you imagined. we tried to raise money for an effort and we basically did a call out to donate. [people did not invest. the second one we did making change for katrina. we went to community, told them their goal, tell us the best way to do it. it was about teachers and kids thinking about ways to get community involved, it became a classroom project. lesson learned – give clear vision, basic rues and let community discuss to, they will come p with stuff.
Virginia: develop leaders in community, design community. people join by making a relationship with leaders and then get sent a joining link. they work to keep personal connection.
Betsy – don;t be scared to have your members make a commitment to do things. we give people training materials and our teachers go out and do face to face training with other communities. don’t be scared to ask
Jake: give some context, then it makes it easy for people to work with. everyone likes some boundaries,.

Q: how do you deal with offensiveness

Terrence – we have flags, with have rules, we can warn and ban. you are in someone elses place of business and there are limits to what you can say. people do get upset and thing it is being restricted or it is not air. sometimes you have to put your foot down
Betsy – you have to set what abuse mans. some companies do not want people saying bad things about the company on their website. we had situation where people were removed, the community rose up and began saying things back but we rode it advised and it slowly came round
Jake – you can get n flags on some things and flags on things you would not even think about. helps you set policies

Q: Member conflicts – can you share some occasions about a feud?
Terrence – a lot of time like dealing with children. you have to separate and put them in corners. i have to go and talk to the people and get them to leave them alone. we have real world interaction.
Rebecca – worked with israel interactive…it was the worst year of my life. had to deal with lots. habbo has an ignore button. nationality, there as gangs etc. the kids all wanted ban tools, so changed name from ignore to ban chat.
Jake: one of my examples at lego, we did not do a lot of communities on the site, i published contact details etc. had open door policy. I was the trusted third party and got all the middle bit. I had to get out of the process, like standing between your wife and sister,,not a good idea
Terrence i had public breakup with model and people now come to me about relationships

Q: so how about people inside the company, how do I build micro-band within a company and you compete with paid work.

BEtsy – we’ve just started this. start small in manageable chunks. we wrote the first post and showed propel how easy to was to get responses. get the key influencers involved.
Rebeccas – if they know the bosses are looking, then that can work.
Virginia. try and pin down how participating can help in their other work. once people saw hoe much feedback they got not everyone wants to help
Jake: never seen one that started big go well.. have to start small.

Mar 11

SXSW – Digital Distribution of games

Alexander Fernandez CEO, Streamline Studios
David Burks Mktg Mgr, Seagate Technology
Dan Connors CEO, Telltale Productions
Craig Allen CEO, Spark Unlimited

Q: Does p2p count as distribution? what is it?

Craig: yes. in it’s purest sense its about creating commerce. To get the big companies you have to go to the publishers. there are a lot of people in the chain who may not care about your product. if you want to innovate there is not a lot to point to, you can;t get people to take risks. they want to do things that are proven. It;s not that you can’t do it, its a tough sell. so digital distribution removes some of these middle men, it;s a chance for rebalance; you can diversify the content.

Dan: more a logistical plan – stored on web and delivered direct to consumers. what the hosts and to what devices are going to establish what digital distribution is going. it’s all in play at moment. a sysmbiotic relationship now.

David: we see the clearest defintion is moving away form a physical form. that the direction the game consoles are going with otehr content etc, it’s a matter of time before the game content goes inthe saem irectiona nd it is a matter of figuring out the business models.

Q: what are you doing:

Dan: we have launches recent latest episode. first it is broadcast as part of subscription model, then sold on the website and then at the send of the season we will package it up into a single product. w e are spending and making money at the saem time. we have top of mind presence from releasing things on the web.

Q: you will sell at stores?

Dan: yes, we have a relationship with a publisher.

Craig: we are not doing anything yet but it is in future. we are excited about it, but we are doing big games for next gen consoles and we throw it over the wall and hope they like it. a lot like movie making, but may go like magazine etc and we get multiple channels for distribution, to be able to build relationship and have a strong dialogue with the digital consumer. they are vocal. you can taylor it, you can change and down the line you have a strong product. you can find out early if it will not work and better manage investments. have to wait til console base matures to the point where this is a strategy – 2-3 years.

Q: we have open and closed distribution platforms. what are your pros and cons. start off with closed ones.

Dan: on open platform, conversion costs are low. but it competes a lot. On the closed sites, then you have a high conversion user. On a PC, average everything on, including casual, then 1-2% and xbox live is about 20%. On causal, its found more randomly. on xbox they are looking for something particular so higher conversion. but you can;t set up how you get presented etc. there’s not a lot of products on closed system yet and it will change – so how do you get noticed in the future. there’s not as much freedom to advertise yourself.

David: people need to store things; we get asked for larger and larger drives for consoles. there are convenience opportunities. you can try before you buy with downloads etc. the online is good news for consumer. so how can we get there sooner. MS and Sony are not ness motivated to make it happen sooner.

Craig: you need to know your audience, who the core are. look what happened with mix tapes. now we have 50$ games…less than 10% of people who buy finish games. you have to give people value. where I think it will evolve o is like the seasonal TV market; people will talk about the good levels on a game. you spend money on what you want. you can’t subsidise crap. you have to build good stuff to get people to buy in this model. It’s an exciting place as we are on the cusp of having an open market.

Q: dan talked about customer ownership and value creation. you have more touchpoints with your consumer. how important is it for developers and content creators to be with the customer.

Dan: you can be topical, we are in a tight feedback loop, we encourage them to feedback, give them content for UGC to mic, building a community is what it is about. the shared interest is our target. we use a lot of the techniques to keep them coming back and interested, plus giving them something they can buy every month.

Q: are you using tips from other communities. can we learn stuff from music industry?

Dan: itunes is doing interesting things. but people are using this now to sell retail product. we are focused on doing things…digital distribution and episodic. itunes and single songs is good. they bought singles back works in the web… user reviews works. they have linked experiences together. the other key thing is the hard ware piece as well and has been adopted at a huge rate and is not there on the games side fully yet.

Q: who will win – MS or Sony ? or is it someone else

Dan: Nintendo has a shot. xbox is all over it now. Nintendo has momentum at the moment. Sony are doing stuff. so we will see!

Q: Dave, is there an opportunity to get involved in a different way beyond storage.

Dave: like a gaming harddrive at a vendor, loaded up with games. we launched DAVE that stores and communicates. can be used for viral and p2p distribution, demos etc. Everything that was analogue is going digital. pipes and tanks are all over.

Craig: piracy is another issue for us as an industry. physical copying has been one challenge. and digital makes it worse, how can producers protect their model. the gaming social community can create a protection to the revenue model. if you can disconnect and go I can steal. but if have to be connected and participate there is an opportunity to protect and have a revenue model. you can use media virally to create interest and convert to revenue model when they want to participate. you’ll see more of this cross pollination. the games industry and social connection groups will become new drivers of media as will be able to own consumer. PS Home becomes an expression of you digital lifestyle. you can reward people for participation this will be the big shift with media companies becoming tech companies.

Q: in Asia there is a tendency to give game away for free and then the add-ons are paid for.

Dan: xbox does, I think micropayments are coming. a cheap initial purchase, create relationship, it’s a smart way to go. a lot of software products were given away for free at the start. You have a base…and your marketing spend can reduce.

Q: can you launch a multimillion game via digital distribution now?

Craig: it;s possible but not advisable. you need the hardwear install base is maximised and the right number of connected users who would download. we are heading into the age of access, but need to wait. once there, a subset for game is them viable. At the moment the inventory is a risk, we have to pay for hardwear.disks etc. that is a huge burden on the capital. digital distribution i need the money to make the game not the disks. I have a predictor for growth. I can get loans on game success.

Audience Questions

Q: there’s a lot of PC digital distribution there. and they are locking in, there’s incompatibility. everyone wants to own. and there;s conflict and multiple accounts etc

Alex: remember they are fighting for you
Craig- they put up barriers to keep you. but if it gets too confusing then people go away. look at’s too confusing. i it becomes like that then we have done somethings wrong. we need a simple turnkey approach for media.. barriers to commerce gets in the way of revenue.
Dave: the open architecture lends itself to the clutter, the closed systems make it more streamlined but little choice.

Q: Piracy…can you explain what you meant.

Craig – they pirate cos there is a lack of understanding or their is a significant barrier or inequity. a lot of piracy came form not being able to serve consumer needs. the commerce system did not meet needs. we have a blockbuster model cos that is vs walmart wants to hear. try something experimental, you need to be a big publisher.

Q: is there a lower resistance if in a episodic structure.

Dan: it’s a low price point, very web friendly. as they come back regularly, you can tell if they are pirating as well.
Craig: you have a personal relationship and easier to want to pay. on the big stuff, it;s difficult to get people to try, the barrier to sampling is 50$. Game sampling allows you try things and see if you like it.

Alex: you buy something and it sucks you cannot do anything about it.

Q: at GDC last week, the developers were excited about digital distribution, enables new innovation, new developers.

Craig: you can balance financing, creative etc. the layers of publishing puts difficulties in getting games up. there are different models growing up, people wanting to fund development.

Alex: dan, you jumped right in. why did you do this

Dan: it does look like we thought it would people were investing; we needed to build company from ground up and we built for it. the most exciting things have happened online and started with the independents online.

Q: Dan Dig dist has been around for a while. a lot of stuff has been worked through. biggest question is about user experience, how do they manage the full stuff. most are user side, the hardware stuff has been answered a lot.

Craig: the safety, monitoring etc will become an issue. for connected worlds. UGC and co-creation is going to create a lot of policy issues for a lot of people. minors, etc. people will create inappropriate content. so how do you govern, what are the risk and liabilities. the legislation will not catch up.

Q: What are your thoughts of selling the other stuff?

Dan: we give them added bonuses for the other stuff, tshirts etc

Q: how viable is the shareware model?

Craig – it depends on what your goals are. keep resource and cost down and it works well.

Q: PC games and older games. there is a lot of push back with invasive things on computers (steam) is the industry listening to their pushback.

Dan: understanding what users wants is key. the older audience is our core target. People also need to understand what steam is trying to do, with hardware fingerprinting etc, to balance security needs with user comfort.

Craig: we see a huge amount of people not being served. need to get beyond core gamers.

Mar 10

SXSW – Production 2.0

Production 2.0

looking at how to make money from video blogging. I was 15minutes late to this..again and did not catch all the names. Some are in parentheses when I grabbed them)

Q: there a re growing pains, and you need to take time to focus on things.

A: it is worth it to pay a lawyer to stop being screwed. you don’t want to lose your brand have someone to own your content.

A; when they are trying to define new media is so tricky….’anything transmitted electronically’ needs to have a good eye.

Q: david, what have you come across to look out for?

A: David. it depends on where you start from? there are certain things you can do when you don’t need an extensive amount of help. once you reach a certain level of success you do need to start taking care, trademarks etc. companies will do ad sales networks that can turn your productions into profit. there;s a lot of competition out there, we made the decision to build own network sales early. we sat down and did the take a break and look at everything, to see if really viable.

Q: when do have a good level of viewership?

A: diggnation is most popular – 2 guys sitting in a couch drinking beer.cost is low. time and beer cost money. it comes down to keeping it simple. have enough to have a property with enough viewers that people want to reach your audience.

Q: you don’t need an need a promised audience.

A: if you have an blog or own notoriety you can use that to break the deal….

A: (baron) by having an individual sponsor to fund show, it’s compared to advertising. that is the most advantageous for the content producer, the audience and the sponsor. you can split it to being happy with what you have, or seeing the potential of where you want to be. but as it starts, it gives scoble and his audience a chance to be effective for seagate. the amount of time with one sponsor allows you to be close to them and get ot know them and also pick one that suits your audience. it;s a really good model for people. le;s say you don;t have a production company and are ready to make the step. so instead of going to do vs etc, if you can start a relationship with a single sponsor then you can focus.

Q: are we taking about personality as scoble is well known,

A: there’s a blog about raw food, sustainability..they got real big, real quick cos they were doing something that other were not.

Q: did you guys think of your audience first or the idea first.

A: (Ninja) we thought of ourselves first; we were frustrated,wanted to have control. there is a scaleability in terms of sponsorship; each instant needs a little exploration. need to see what is out there before making the decision. you can explore models. Keep the dialogue open with peers and audience

Q: what format do you think will break out?

A: if you create a show and there is enough people who want to watch your video on their device – you’ll make it in the format. People have their favourites.

Q: how many views does your blog get and when does a advertiser starts paying attention. what numbers do you need to do?

A: depends on what you are making and who the sponsor is? and what the subject is.
A: if you have niche topic, then you can go after the companies. depends on your target.
Q: do sponsors care about length?
A: convergence continues, length increases beyond the current favourite 5 mins etc.
A: (Baron) best way to make it a success is to focus on the show and make it as best you can be. it will stick out in the audience. most conversations are about how to make it better. even with all the business we are doing, still thinking about how to make rocketboom better, my number 1 thought.

Q: anyone tried a subscription model?
A: Baron – another thing we are going to try. Kotke tried last year. this hots one where I think this is going. no one has yet demonstrated how to leverage it in micropayments. About to try for donations. and to channel them into areas when they pay want to pay monthly fees.
A: I think Ze is doing it successfully. It;s pretty non-offensive.
A: on diggnation, we asked for donations. for rev3, we offer shows early to those who subscribe. there is revenue but not sustainable.
A: Baron – its takes testing and experimentation.
A: it;s incentives – not preventing people watching show entirely, but about giving back if they give to you.

Q: starting a tv network, for college cause audience. so how do you reconcile creating art for yourself and something for an audience.

A: art is for yourself, for an audience, you have to do some compromise.
A: none of us is doing something we are not passionate about.
A: a lot of people come into this as they want to produce stuff; if it is just for the money, may not be interesting for long.
A: but don’t be afraid tyo try things and fail.

Q: you all produce hi qual lo cost. do you want to become the jerry bruckheimer?
A: secretly, yes.
Q: was this an ambition before you got to videoblogging.
A: most on panel were yes and yes – want to increase production values, and be the jb.
A: i slowly increase quality through getting better equipment. but still looks to do things cheap as well. I’m getting to point when i start seeing what I need.

Q: when creating content, and had to bring people in, how did you handle the business side of it.
A: (barron) still not got into visit where had to give up equity. you can look at value in different ways, eg licence for many years; there are many ways to structure it and that is all about being creative etc. answers are there, you have to discover them

Mar 10

SXSW – Attack of the ARG

Update: This panel was one of the ones I most wanted to see whilst I was here. I’m starting to get my head round the space that is alternate reality, but only dipped my toes in the water in the more ‘amateur’ games. The commercial side is not one I’ve had too much experience of, the ones that are tied into a brand. But thise are the ones that most people start with. I played the Prague files and am looking at Perplex City 2; I’m also working with a friend to see if their story can be turned into a game.

I really enjoyed hearing from the professionals, who turn out these games for big corporates. One of the brands I used to work for was in the consideration process for a 3 month ARG, but we never got full commitment. Everyone loved it, in the abstract, but putting money against it was a problem It was a bit more than 1% of the marketing budget mentioned in the talk though. It was also driven from the agency, not the client, so in hindsight that was a major issue. Many of the clients discussed below seem to drive the need themselves, so have the motivation.

When you look at the demo, with a high percentage of females, and the time spent with the brand, this model of marketing could be useful in so many ways, working to cut through the clutter of ads today.

Dan Hon (Mindcandy) Perplex city
Brian Clark (GMD Studios) Known for art of the heist for Audi.
Evan Jones (Stitch media) Known for regenesis
Brooke Thompson (Giant Mice) Known in community
Alice Taylor (BBC) (Chair)

About 25% in audience are story tellers. More were bloggers and journalists. A few even admitted to not knowing what an ARG was.

Brian – a lot of ARg have been in advertising, for big sponsors. treat as opportunity online. you have a different relationship online. it’s an opportunity to use feedback and change story of product in real time based on audience feedback.

Evan – working with TV production companies enhancing their stories into interactivity.

Brooke – came into ARG from a social degree, looking at the online communities. Working with unfiction, argn, and now taking it into more serious games. games that do something other than just entertainment.

Dan: main product is perplex city. in first city was about treasure hunt and story. into puzzles, codes, social engineering (against actors). Big on story and narrative. Audience is 50/50 male female.

Alice: ARGS about 5 or so years, came out of a number of gaming communities, a tthe same time. an emergent development. they can last for for variety of times, PC ran 2 years, others are shorter etc. started in marketing and gaming.

Q: are they promotional, games or what

Dan: so what are books for, websites for. we are experimenting at using a lot of media and using a new platform to tell stories. weaving it together to create a coherent experience

Alice: why have marketers picked up on it. it;s far more work than sticking an ad up?

Brian: budget shifts away from broadcast to interactive. quality of interaction has more impact than sheer number of reach in a tv ad. an arg can produce session lengths of 30mins or longer, high repeat visits. it;s still measurable. In the way you would measure PR and the web. look at community discussions. More immediately provable from an ROI, but not ness from a revenue generating for story telling.

Dan: continuous partial attention…Linda stone talks about how everyone in the room is acting..we are doing multiple things at same time.. you see this with tv and online etc. what arg offers is the potential to reach people across a number of different media.

Evan; arg take advantage of natural state of web- hunting for bits of data and assembling knowledge.

Alice: 50% of tv watching is about tv on in background (BBC research in UK), change from 10% in 50’s
So far, it sounds like we are talking about always connected people

Brooke :you have to computer literate for most ARGs. you have to have a functional understanding of how to find and assemble info from online (hence can make a good training tool). companies love it as have a huge number of women involved, in both playing and development. different games attract different demo

Dan: PC peaks at 26; people following the story were different form those doing the puzzle cards. Higher proportion of women following story. puzzles were from 10-80yo, huge range of ages.

Brooke: you can customise to audience by writing different story

Brian: it’s like asking who is watching tv

Evan: the interaction, the felling of being in the story is an empowerment thing that hits a certain need.

Alice: where do you see ARGS going?

Brian: last weekend there was an AGR festival in SanFran. the people behind lonelygirl were there..the people in the arg community thought it was an ARG, when they found it was not they launched one..which was asked to be the official one.

Evan: different levels. certain games at mainstream etc. different models,

Brooke: we are going to see them spread more into TV. they are going to spread into education, to help people learn how things work. it will spread out.

Brian: academia are interesting. in the infancy stage, just developing

Dan: it;s hard to get into games in the middle. been looking at tv etc and trying to learn how people get into the things, help you catch up. it may happen in more bitesize chunks to make it more accessible, to make it manageable, has a start and end date. you know you can play the episode etc

Evan: it’s too easy to get into a rabbit how and not knowing what signing uo for, this gives more control

Alice: size/money etc

Brooke: worked on matrix game. 125k players, had high production values. under 10k budget, 7 people, 4 of them fulltime.

Dan: everyone has a content problem. you create a passionate audience. the audience sucks up content. just in time content creation. keeping up with everything. this is really user centered design – watch what players are doing and constantly adapt.

Brian: have rewritten almost everything halfway through, in response to audience and their better ideas. so can change stories in the middle.

Evan: it’s about working with partners, bringing them along.

Alice: when does this go horribly wrong?

Brian – every time. because of the chaos of the real world, you have to adjust. you always have to figure out how to recover – quickly. take it as reality and adapt it.

Evan: exposing yourself to a committed audience…you have to stay in game sometimes it works, but it is a dangerous territory to walk through. but it can be used for entertainment but worse

Brooke: one of the biggest fears 5years ago…lessened now. you have to make sure people know it is a game and that they can trust you

Brian – people should not listen to people on the web telling them what to do!

Dan; you can get bad pr very quickly. these are very connected very passionate people. put one foot wrong it;s bad. when it goes well, you get all the passion, all the creativity. it’s great. the treasure hunt was hard for the PR company to get around..they lined up interviews before it was found..and could not understand that it was not done to order. we try and be safe but we do real world things. to work well you have to give up an element of control. it can get risky, the bad things can happen but this is where the fun stuff happens.

Audience Questions:

Q: user engagement and passionate user experiences etc; commercially applied – awesome, can see why a corporate client would want this. but when things go wrong, its bad. so how do you sell the high production values etc, don’t know how many people get involved.

Brian – you can plan, the amount into media can help predict audience. if you can’t afford to experiment with 1% of marketing budget you will fall behind. it’s the ones that are potentially behind who are willing to experiment.

Dan: on PC that is not a problem. the beast was skunkworks – not known about it. at MC the phone is ringing, everyone wants one. but there is a different set of people being approached who need to think about it.

Q: ARGS and public safety. are they the bridge btw the living and the street?

Evan: we always found it most useful to add an extra layer; before going into real fiction they need to take a moment and remind people that is is a game. have always pointed people that way. getting people to acknowledge that it is fiction.

Brian: we know the ARG genre has matured when the legal defense is an arg..people are looking for the influences, they say it for books, video games etc.

Q: games that matter and interact in a real way. for education etc. what is the budget…how can we do it

Brooke: keep your eye out in the next few weeks for something on climate change. See jane mcGonagle keynote last week. There is a game being developed called world without oil. get people to talk about things and explore it.

Dan: the things you can get people to do when they are in the story is amazing. characters put in peril…people try all sorts. gets people to do things they would not always do.

Brian: have to avoid edutainment trap. perception that serious games aren’t fun

Q: lg15 was interesting; a fundamental principle is about being in the know? how do you see it co-exisitng as more commercial

Brooke: the secret knowledge is one motivation
Brian; we are trying to give the audience something to do. the simplest is to take the narrative and break it into a 100 pieces and hide it. the audience has to assemble it. so it;s about sharing and collaboration etc, ie finding something out and bringing it to the rest of the community.

Dan: with PC there was a lot of sharing, even though a lot of money for grabs. it;s also about the discovery process, is it real’s at the start and we will start to evolve into entertainment more, it is fiction, it;s about the narrative.

Brian: for big games, they expect a sponsor. and people look to find out who it is.

Dan: the audience expects them to be tied into a brand. PC and Cathys book are the only ones that are not tied into the brand.

Q: work for major media community and we have problem of the opposite..people wanting them for their shows (ie lost experience). what costs and time do you take to build them. do you do it for new shows?

Brian: have done new stuff. took pilot money and turned into website. (freaky links). it was heavily trafficked before it was cancelled.

Q: so how do you get people to it?

A: have an interesting, episodic content. a year before hand.

Alice: is it difficult to set up quickly?

Evan: one game had a turn around of 2 months. but the caveat, it’s more successful from how early it gets into the creative team.

Dan: an example of how things can go wrong. things are separate. things are not linked. you have to have everything together at the early stages or a very disjointed experience.

Brian – costs depend on budget. you design the games around the budget. most is millions….

Q: how do you measure organic growth, WOM.

Brian: that is what happens

Brooke: there is a core group of people at unfiction that do get tagged.

Brian: recruting more players is one of the subgames

Dan: 2 elements – fun games want my friends to you need to get people on board to do things.

Q: how do you build games to suit products etc, how do design the games

Evan: it can be more of branded entertainment. the story may not be directly related to a brand.

Dan: there are stories which are retrofitted, or a complete new experience where creatives are part of it.

Q: are the players of the games the direct target?

Brian – it’s broader than that. see American idol and the difference betw the audition peiple, those who vote and those who know it exists.

Mar 10

SXSW – Emerging Social and Technological trends

As usual, I will be transcribing the talks and posting the notes. Analysis may follow later.

Unfortunately I did not make this panel in time for the introductions, so did not capture names of those speaking, and I was not close enough to read the name cards so quotes are not attributed, unless someone was called out by name.

Three points called out to me:

  • in a backlash to the current, open, anything goes on the web teens, one part of the next generation may be hyper private and wonder why we were all doing it.
  • Opening up of hardware will increase, mods will increase. even if it is only the early adopters, the fact that it can be done is likely to make the producer seen more user friendly
  • across the world, the mobile device is growing and this will be the main access point to the web. What are we doing about it.

Moderator: Laura Moorhead Sr Editor Culture, Wired
Laura Moorhead Sr Editor Culture, Wired
Andrew Blum Contributing Editor, Wired
Robert Fabricant Exec Creative Dir, Frog Design
Eliot Van Buskirk Columnist/Blogger, Wired News
Peter Rojas Engadget
Daniel Raffel Product Mgr, Yahoo!

Q: can you give an overview of where social and tech trends are going?

A: tech is driving culture. the intersection is having multiple effects, in how we live out lives and how we think about ourselves. always being connected, through a device n the pocket, changes thinking, tech is driving change and the people/culture are driving tech.

A: the extensions that are happening, the customisations, not in the original plan, make a more interesting place where people can find and make tools, relate to what interesting them

A: technologies don’t propagate until there is a social need for them peoples social identity is bound up more with the tech they use and people are trying harder to understand their place and it is harder to separate the two. their position in society is what people are checking on blackberry and email etc.

Q: what were the trends and disruptions over last 18 months that may have a ripple effect for us now.

A: widgets, that go across net. they are doing to the internet what the net dod to the world, taking away the sense of place. they connect people, wherever they are.

Q: subject of is place changing

A: look at plazes, connects online identity based on where you are. you are starting to position yourself, through IM, blog etc and on neighbourhood sites. not clear how shaping up, but are powerful in how they connect online

A: ties into larger macro trend of people having a sense of privacy. NY magazine did a piece a few weeks ago, how younger people are comfortable with it all on the we. tech have driven a transformation of how we understand ourselves and people feel comfortable in having on online persona, put everything on their, but negotiate the public and private selfs. the public self is more amplified.

A: (Robert) there is the same trend in business, it;s the same changes, how they IM at work etc. when doing research, they see that clients think these changes are only affecting a certain small demo, but talking it is a larger effect and not just isolated to people like us

Q: Eliot, what are you seeing with the music people you are dealing with

A: (Eliot) when we are acquiring all this data/info from major companies, we are giving out more of ourselves..there is an interesting flow,

Q: Daniel, talking about pipes, how do you think about what is out there for grabs, what is there for consumption

A: (Daniel) we wanted to be on the yahoo domain, we needed to extend profiles etc. we need to be careful with data; innovation happens in all spheres, business, legal etc. We let people clone api links etc, we need to work across companies to come up with standards etc, with projects that are thinking differently about how we use this information

Q: do you think we are getting to the point of a backlash with transparency

A: (Daniel) freebase launched yesterday looks like google base. so interesting to watch these copies…and you don’t have a perception of how they will handle this data, think how google handles mail and search, you may go somewhere that does not have a conflict. may be going back to a niche service

Q: peter, what do you think about those whose whole life is online..will people go the opposite direction.

A: (Peter) so the next gen may think about how people blogging everything was so square. there is a chance, as youth culture often defines itself as the opposite of the one before, so would not be surprised if there was a rebellion against it. we won’t see a mass rejection, it will see something.

A: we could end up with more of a clicky type thing. we may reach a point where you see more private networks, you may have to have met someone in real life to get onto the network. there could be a segmentation of the all for one approach

A: lexicographers have a google test – if the word is not on google, it does not exist. is there a blur between what is real and unreal, if no online then not real.

Q: you can have a niche interest and then be in a community of 1000s. so how can you get people to break out of silos, see another influence?

A: (Robert)from a design, there is an amplification of influence. there’s a lot of companies trying to sift through this and working out what is going to have an impact. we try and sift through the trends; how to interpret the trends and put into a product strategy is a growing industry.

A: that used to be part of newspaper roles. we may be going back to this type of aggregators…so blogs can take this role, still having people in the mix

A: (Robert) we have a lot of people believing that the voice of the customer are going to show them the way; it changes the way they think; we can amp[lify a single voice and change the direction a company goes through. but a single voice is a great point of leverage but not just what you want to design to.

Q: collection and aggregation…so does this lead to customisation. What examples are there, from a design perspective how do you cope with this.

A: when it cones to hardware, manufactures tend to freak out a little to much. it’s not usually something that a huge number of consumers will adopt, just the early ones. but by allowing it you give the appearance of being more consumer friendly and gives better perceptions

A: still waiting for modification to lead to a better commitment to upgradeability. with many early adopters, this is not a strong belief. a lot of businesses are interested in the secondary economies…but others still look at making the stuff disposable and consumer needs to push back on.

A; the iphone was perfect as it was not perfect yet, it was an empty vessel for what you could put into it. raises questions about how it could be upgrading.

A: but the iphone is closed and is resistent. I think this is a mistake as the trend is for people to have more control about what they can do.

A: it may have been closed cos of carriers…offering hardware hackable devices onto the networks is an opportunities..t he carriers may be in the best position to monetise this.

A: but they are so resistant to this. cells need to more computers..but only hardware/carriers can change (RC – i think this is a US focused statement, given soem EU trends)

Q: we can drive innovations. what would you say are some of the demo/population trends that will influence

A; the babyboomers having grandchildren, the children having large screens and large pipes/ surprised that there is not more video conferencing in living room. the infrastructure is there but no one is doing it.

A: you have the combination of aging population and babyboomers thinking they had control and were steering country, combined with insecurity and financial issues, and this will drive, with their need for a sense of control. there’s premium security services, eg to speed your way through airports. this will drive political and technical trends, how they can control their home and life environment. there;s going to be a fortress built.

Open Questions:

Q: how do international trends affect the US? how long from UK/japan to here

A: one example would be europe’s focus on carbon emissions and how long until here. look at airline industry, talking about being carbon offset. in the next 6 months we may be talking about his

A: we are getting strange laws about webcasting etc, companies that are based in other companies are not beholden. we try and it does not always work. as they realise they can make money and innovate more than us than that can be a huge driver.

A: Who on your team impacts this; one person can only see so far out. the teams need to reflect the international look. we need to think bigger about who we use and how we apply the products.

A: I’m seeing a convergence of futurism and environmentalism. Being a futurist is becoming the same thing as being an environmentalist.

Q: so how about the global south (RC – a term, nor the panel, had heard before. Primarily Latam and Africa)

A: seeing in africa about building out networks, china investment is helping there, not fully there yet but getting there.

A: outside of NA and EU, most people access through a mobile device; we need to factor that in. what is the mobile experience?

A: we are seeing an explosion in client interest and expectation about how services can be adapted across markets, but they are focused on developed markets. the interest has increased dramatically over the last year but still at early stage. India is an interesting flash point, eg the letter and email convergence with the post office working across

A: seen a lot of subversive developments, to work round state controls.

Q: what are your opinions on education and how that may change with these trends.

A: increased in metrics, getting everyones grades centralised to access from state and parents. pushing education towards more testing base.

A: there is a growing need to connect together how people learn, such as games. Frog is looking at creating tools with a client that can help this.

A: there have been some interesting schools that have leveraged technology; every student is getting laptops, rooms have digital whiteboards. teaching digital musics etc.

Q: what’s the future for email? will it be replaced by im and sms?

A: not going anywhere. it’s asynch, no one needs to be on the other end
A; video conference will increase; able ‘facetoface’ in a single virtual place.
A: telepresence has potential to change and amplify social interaction..

Jan 24

SXSW NYC drinks and Social Media Club

In between work, I managed to get out to two interesting gatherings this week. The first was a pre-SXSW reception for people who have been to SXSW or are planning to go. For a couple of hours we got to gather and socialise, making new acquaintances to chat to when to get to Austin. The first person I chatted to actually worked in the next building to me; I subsequently bumped into him at the lunch place the following day 😉

Last night was a get together of the NYC Social Media Club. Unfortunately I missed the networking part of the evening, only getting there when it reached a more formalised discussion stage and had to run away again beofre the dinner. From what I could tell, there were a number of experts in the audience but the majority were marketing and PR professionals who were looking to understand the space, as evidenced from the agenda. I think this group is going to be a good resource to help people understand what they can and can’t do. Next time, I have to get there for the full time and stay for dinner!

Mar 20

Austin to Vegas – last day and Snow Patrol


Originally uploaded by RachelC.

I’m now leaving Austin to travel to Las Vegas. Austin was great..and weird. Apparently an island of sanity in the state of Texas. Not having chance to visit the rest of the state, I’ll stay happy in my ignorance of what the rest of it is like.

Austin was laid back and pretty welcoming to the 10000 visitors that appeared to descend on it over the last week. Everything seemed to run well. i’d recommend the buses – 50c to anywhere, even on the one I caught tonight to the airport.

I caught my final gig yesterday afternoon; The Subways, Nine Black Alps and the best one I say all week – a ‘surprise’ acoustic set by Snowpatrol, who were just brilliant.

Now I’m off to Vegas for Mix06, the Microsft ’72 hour conversation’. Again, I have a complimentary ticket, through the kindness of Tara Hunt who passed her complimentary ticket onto me. So there will be a fiar bit of blogging from that conference as well as my planned trip to the Grand Canyon.

Mar 19

SXSW – Billy Bragg Interview: don’t form a band, get a blog!

The Blurb: “Billy Bragg comes to Austin on the occasion of the reissue of four albums: Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy, Brewing Up with Billy Bragg, Talking with the Taxman about Poetry, and The Internationale, on Yep Roc Records. Always fighting the good fight, Bragg has addressed political and personal themes in his music with an unblinking honesty.

Billy Bragg
Rick Karr neuUNIT(US) Inc”

Q: I;ve been just been talking to Chrissie back stage and she said to say hi.
A: I’ve been a fan of Bob Dylan for years…and did not go to see him live…and Chrissie dragged me there…and beforehand went backstage, to arrange a meeting..but I could not do it..could not meet him and say I love your I ran away. I got my first Dylan record by swapping the Jackson 5 greatest hits..a hightly produced record for something so shocking and raw..I could probably bang out all the songs out now..then I spent a lot of time listening to singer-songwriters..up to punk I was listening to not much else. When singing, I was trying to marry the urgency of punk with the single intensity…that focus of the entire audience on a single figure.

Q: But that can’t have been an easy marriage?
A: no, it was not..and if you listen to my first album..(re-released) with the new one with un-released songs…which were mostly tracks from after the band and trying to be solo…they did not have that edge…I was trying to do this at a time the New Romantics were coming to the fore..I needed to do something that cut through the lacquered singing acoustic songs did not work..they needed I wrote New England..that got audiences attention..(both of them!) I thought that it may be worth exploring.

Q: Your guitar technique is really interesting…you are almost trying to be the drummer and guitarist.
A: In the punk band I was in..the rhythm guitar was only noticed if I stopped…you would hear the gap…I was a big fan of Wilco Johnson..he played a rythmic lead guitar…I think of guitar as a percussive instrument..when I play live I provide melody from my voice, the percussion from the guitar. Yesterday, I tried to play the first album in 15 mins…not quite but I got through it in 17 mins..I could play my complete box set in 2 hours..I’m sure i could do it.

Q: How do you relate to material a couple of decades after – have you listened to it?
A: Not really..if I’m going to a gig at which I may want to play a particular song I will. But context is everything in a topical song. When I do use a band..I need to listen and deconstruct..but when playing solo not hugely different to recording the record. The difference is about 30lb and grey hairs, but I still play it the same way. What was nice that I felt listening is that they would sound as out of place now as they did in 1983..not really any scene just the outgoings of this mad guy who would not let go of punk rock.

Q: I was listening to these records at university. With my peers there was an a-ha momen…you can make a political record that does not beat you over the head..that was not boring. How did you think people in US would take those records?
A: They are very english. I was opening for Echo and the Bunnymen…I was vaguely hip..and cheap…no fuss…no gear to take down…they gave me this incredible intro to America… I went to places I’ve never been back to…I went out on stage and played…the shock of one guy with an electidc guitar and a london accent repulsed 85% but really attracted the 15%, who then went out and bought the record. The second tour I opened for the Smiths..which was good..the English press had a better impression in the US by then..those who were reading the Uk papers…i fitted into that..but I had little in common with Smiths or Bunnymen. But if you are in the US and you wanted to be a bit strange to your parents..I was high ‘turn that shit off value’ to the parents.

Q: may parents rebelled when you recorded the International
A: I recorded it ‘cos Pete told me to…I went to Canada in 1989..Pete said I want you to come on and sing the English lyrics..but they are just shit, I didn’t know what thay meany. So Pete said just write a new verse; he translated the French version and gave me that to work on. And you can’t say no to Pete, so I went and wrote one verse..and tried a few more..and tried it out on a few people…they all said go for it. Now left wing choirs in England sing my lyrics..they want me to go and sing but I can’t remember the words.

Q: Did the audiences in US understand the politics
A: They did; the US politics were less idealological than in UK. We had gone through the miners’ strike and I was fired up by that. The gay campaigns, Nicuaragua..these single issue movements, these people just found me out. I’d go to a town and local activists would find me. So when I come out on stage and talk they think I’m so clued in..but people have briefed me. In the US it is a different kind of activist; so I plugged into all that kind of stuff. One thing was being able to buy records of groups I did not hear in UK; the political stuff..I kind of found that political America that was there…that it is there. I played at the soup kitchen this morning and met this guy; he played some passionate union songs…there’s a lot of people out there doing that.

Q: We were talking about UK politics..and how they shook out in the 80s…there was a political edge to pop in different levels that seemed to go away in 90s.
A: when Thatcher went in 1990, the way of going, assassinated by her own party, it robbed those who opposed her of a was a pyhrric victory. I was in Belfast and I walked onto stage and said Thatcher had resigned and the place went bonkers. We thought we would win the next election but it was an anticlimax. For a lot of people Major was the final straw. We were so exhausted both emotionally, physically and mentally; Thatcher was gone and we were not in…people went to find another way to find a compassionate society. Me and my partner went to start a family; it had been a very heavy time. For someone like some ways he was a placebo politician..nobody knew much about him…then he was followed by Blair..another placebo…he was pretty. We are in same situation now..what does the Labour party stand for. All these things have been privatised; Labour has not pushed it back and connected with their collective ideals. Now the conservative party are moving to the centre..the liberals are in the centre…we are in danger of moving to what you have here..politics as a matter of bumbling along..,not a huge difference. Voter participation was less than 50%…from post war to ’97 we averaged 75%..never below 70%; in 2001 it went to 59%. That was shocking..the Labour party said everyone knew we would win..but people are switching off;they have lost the belief that politics can change things and I find that troubling.

Q: Why do you think your peers (clash, Paul Weller etc)…why is there a tradition of political activisim and it is so stunted here?
A: See the differece between the Ramones and the Clash..they stood for something, world-class posers. It seemed to me that the Ramones were a product of a back-to-basics movement; rejected mainstream in ’70s..they decided it was anathema..they went back to the garage…back to ’60’s and they were impersonating the British; the way they looked was important. The Ramones went back to that and tightened it..they were incredibly disciplined. The Clash were also a product of back-to-basics..a rejection..but London in 1970s was different to New York in ’70s. The UK had the National Front..they were picking up votes in council elections, in my area they picked up 100000 votes. Punk when it first started had a kind of ambiguously fascist vibe to outrage people. In the August Bank Holiday (77?), things came to a head. On the Friday, at the Reading Rock Festival a white English audience bottled off two reggae acts. The audience had taken sides. Then on Saturday night the Sex Pistols played in London; the fans danced on stage wearing swastika armbands and brown shirts. I saw a burgeoning fascist movement. The next day was the Notting Hill Carnival. That night they had 200 police to deal with it (the year before there had been a lot of drunkeness). They were in the black area..there was a standoff between black youths and police; the first time, black youth born and bred…they were standing up and saying you are not going to push it.

Strummer had gone down to the the melee they joined in and threw stuff at the police. They found themselves cornered by a group of black youth who then tried to mug them. But in their pockets they had bottles and rocks,; the youths realised they were there for the same reasons. Joe and Paul realised whose side they were on..they came away convinced they had more in common with black youth than the police. They wrote White Riot; it was saying that white youth should fight alongside the black one. They connected politics and punk in an important way and the main outcome was Rock against Racism. The first one in ’78, I went to see the Clash play..there were 100000 people – one for each NF vote. And I realised that despite the racism I saw everyday, I realised that I was not alone and there were a lot of people against racism. That is when my generation took favour of multiculturism..of a mixed society…when Thatcher came in we had already been politicised. There were other factors.,..but that one weekend..thanks to the Clash it did not go that way, that was a crucial time for my country and for punk rock..that connection with reggae stopped it being a narrow white urban thing.

Q: But bands in NYC were listening to hip hop etc, they knew that scene
A: The black and asian groups had not made their claim to be part of the society. We had not had a Civil Rights Movement. It took that first black generation to stand up, and punk went along with this. It was the time..a lot of us were pissed off with the hippies who promised to change the world and they did not. They left us with long hair and trenchcoats. The ’50s etc were the last generation to grow up without rock in the mainstream; when the image of Bowie could outrage our’s harder to upset people and make a difference and stand out now. ‘Cos we had that difference..we remember our fight..why we had to fight to get it heard…we feel…people play be alternative music..and I’m like, I remember what this is supposed to be alternative to..don’t play me this shit…that’s just metal speeded up.

Q: You’re working on a book?
A: I’ve been writing it for the last year and a half. Inspired by what we were talking about. It touches on the Anglo-Saxons..the Celts and the touches on belonging..the debate about Britishness or Englishness. Multi-culturism is now mainstream. London is the main multi-cultural city and we are proud of that, but everyone has a different definition but no one defines Britishness. So how can you have a debate when no one defines things. It’s a big issue to us. When something happens like the July bommbers, the right wing press say these Muslim bombers with British is the multi-culturism, it’s your fault. This is happening at teh same time as a rise in fascism in europe..Netherlands. In the UK, the British National Party, they are winning seats again, they won a seat in my home town; no-one saw it comong, they won 52%. This really shocked me..made me think who am I, where do I come mother/sister still live there. I’m proud of where I come from…it’s an industrial town..high housing..unemployment high..the forces of globalisation have rent havoc in my home time invisibly..(Barking). These new comers..unfortunately become a manifestation of these forces of change and the British National Party is stirring it up. I thought thought I could do another album…or try and define it and write a book. It’s been a challenge and I’ve never done this before, hopefully it will be done by Easter. When I get to the summit and see what I’ve written and I will think back to that day in ’78…and how hard and high I have climbed. And think that flame that Strummer lit still burns and I’ve stopped writing those little songs and I’ve written a fucking big book..after 80000 words I’m sure I feel that way.

Q: I’ve always got the sense that there is a kind of patriotism
A: Well the book is called The Progressive Patriot.
Q: Take back that word.
A: Nothing wrong with patriotism..but it’s too narrow a definition for many people. Both our country’s have benefited from diversity. That’s what kept our culture bad would have the Beetles been if they only listened to English bands. Our great skil is taking influences from everywhere, repackaging and selling it to the Americans. You have to reposess these words and these symbols. I come to austin, and everyone’s view of the US and Texas gets turned upside down. All the worst things in the US seem to manifest itself in Texas and to know that Austin is here, a beacon for weirdness, is in my heart. When I think about America, I think about places like this; a community..collectivity and compassionate and caring – there is another America out there. The difference between the 2 parties at the last election is so close. It’s all still to play for. America has not yet worked out what it is going to be like in the 21st century. You need to reconnect with radical convention. And that is what the book is about. We chopped our king’s head off long before Europe and the US got there. We were seeking to hold our kings to account. The Magna Carta, George Orwell, Tom Payne. You need to reconnect. It explains what we do today, that what we are doing is not in isolation. In the miners’ strike I was going out and singing. And there were all these old guys who were more radical than I was. It is a 200 year old tradiiton, the tradition carries on. It’s great to know that you are not working in isolation.

Q: How do you get more…mainstrean artists involved. Is there ever going to be another Clash? a British pop band being political?
A: You can’t make great political music in a vaccumm. The Pistols to bring out God Save the Queen in a Jubilee year. When you live in that, so clearly defined you can push back. It was them and us..there is still a them but the are many us’s. If I was a kid today. and wanted to change the world..I would not go all to the touble of a song and a band can get a blog easliy..get on the web..make a community..nurture your ideas. You don’t need to form a band for activitism today. There are other ways of doing the activism. But there are people; Pete Docherty in his more lucid moments, Hard-fi, Kaiser Chiefs…we live in a different age. Politics moves in different ways; punk was not as organised as Live Aid. Punk was a brawl rather than a debate..I’d like to think rock music could start that brawl again, but probably not by using the Clash template. You can’t go round kicking 19 year olds and asking them to go change the world.

Q: What about in the US? Is the political situation in US worse now than when Thatcher was at her darkest? Which is worst?
A: Not been here in 18 months and I live in a kind of bubble; but appears worse than in ’80s; Society is more polarised. In ’80s there was resistance to Reagan but he was not embarassing. The war has disfigured the politics; even Republicans are being embarrased by Bush. I think the opposition to Iraq is starting to build up..and what happened in Katrina is starting to open people’s eyes. In the UK it was the Second World war, when urban kids were sent to the country to stay in houses that people realised how poor the poor were. As a result we got education, heath care.

The welfare state had its roots in a meeting Churchill had with Roosevelt. Roosevelt was having trouble getting the Senate to support the war; he wanted to know the War Aims, why was Churchill fighting; what was he fighting for. He had to put something together; the aims included social security, we could not go back to the ’30s. There was a vision of access to healthcare/security and education. And it was widely reported – the Atlantic Charter. The countries all signed up to this charter and people in Britain started to work out how to do this; not Churchill,as he, undertandably, wanted to win the war. But the Beveridge Report set out how to do it. They produced a little summary report for 3d..and my grandfather collected all this stuff for my father. There are still in his house..I have the 3d copy of the Beveridge Report. As far as my father thought, this is what they were fighting for. That was what made a difference to my life, I benefitted from that. The case in the book is a case for that collective provision, a compassionate society ‘cos of the sacrifices in the war. And we are betraying that promise, that generation, they fought the war for democracy and that delivered that compassionate society. It is a great irony that it was Roosevelt that made Churchill do it, even if the US did not benefit from it. You can’t get to Britishness without going to the Second World War. If I could do this in a song I would!

AudQ: The song Sexuality? Can you give us more information?
A: It was written with Jonny Marr from The Smiths; he bought a completely different sensibility to it. He went off to other places..his pop sensibilities made it playable on the radio. It is based on experiences with working with the Gay and lesbian community. They played an important part in Hackeny and Rock against Rascism. Tom Robinson was top of one bill; he had a song Glad to be Gay; and during the set all the blokes started kissing. And I’d never met an out gay man It did not take long to realise that fascists were opposed to anyone who is different. So that was why there were gays there even though I thought it was for the blacks. I did it as I realised that anyone could have their world changed as I was. They, by their example , changed my perspective. That is the highest thing you can do, challenge the perspective of the audience. The truth is if you want to change the world only the audience can do it, not the performer…together, collectively, we can change the world.. I’d always wanted to write a song about this political issue. I needed to step out of the blokey space to where we were in the same struggle and the song was an attemopt to do that. It was at the height of homophobia and I wanted to write a song that was a marker like that and wanted it to be a celebratory song. Sometimes people sing it to me in supermarkets and it can be embarassing.

Mar 18

SXSW: Pretenders Interview

The Blurb: Pirate Radio,” a unique box set from Rock and Roll Hall of Famers the Pretenders, is out on March 14. Three days later, the band speaks in a very special SXSW Interview. Chrissie Hynde, Martin Chambers, Adam Seymour, and Nick Wilkinson discuss the retrospective, and look forward to their 2006 tour and future projects.

That was the reality only Chrissie is on stage. This was not the easiest of interviews, unlike the Beastie boys who set out to entertain as a way of not answering, Chrissue was very clear when she did not want to talk about something.

Again, Q: Interviewer and A: Chrissie Hynde. As much as posible is verbatim..with paraphrsing in areas where the talk was too fast.

Q: Have you listened to the whole lot on Pirate radio?
A: no…not all together
Q: do you listen to songs and think that this could be a pretenders?
A: there’s’s rock. the rule is it needs to not suck

Q: did you ever think this is demanding too much?
A: I do have a normal life…on stage it’s’s a fantasy of other people that it is different. I was the same person when i was waiting on tables..I don’t know how to answer that…it’s not that special

Q: when you were a reporter, did you think you could do it better
A: no not really. i was interviewing….all these people..who were great

(From audience)
Q: where do you get your haircut
A: a guy called kevin in a shop called Reubens in London
Q (aud) are you going to write your own memoirs
A: I have made some attempts…some little stories and things..I’m really not a writer..I can just about eek something out..feel writing not really up to it
Q: were you studying art
A: supposed to be
Q: you went to london and made a living as a writer and then there a transferable gene/talent
A: it seems some people can…

Q: to do what you do you need 2 different need to go off by yourself to create and then join the circus and perform
A: it’s pretty fun and not like a hardship…the thing not comfortable with is that it’s a big deal made of it…it’s a into a band so would not have to have a career..did not think it was going to be a celebrity..when I got a band it was not like people in bands were a celebrity..the rock and roll hall of fame…uncomfortable with it…it’s a big industry thing…I was told it was an honour..everyone thinks that they know how you should feel
Q: the Neil Young thing..he inducted you and you performed with him
A: that was the fun part..although I cut him off in a solo, don’t think he liked that..I just wanted to get out of there but he could go all night

Q: Why did Neil Young do the induction?
A: i had toured with him..but did not know how it happened

Q: you were at Penn Kent the demo when the shooting were done
A: I knew Miller..he was in my crowd..he would have been pleased that Neil had written that song..
Q: Was that a life changing moment for you, or just an historical moment that you intersected?
A: life changing? dunno
Q: it did not drive you to go to england?
A: no..i just wanted to see the world..I was not doing too well at axhool..i looked at NationL Guard..all young..all our age,..guarding a shell that we had burnt down…they should not have been there..the atmostphere on campus was anti war..and they had guns..and they shot into the crowd and they looked like us..just thought did not want to be involved in this on either side

Q: as an american living in England over the years… do you have to defend the US?
A: what’s their to defend?
Q: don’t people lecture you on the evils of the US?
A: no, that does not happen..I’m probably in their’s not the evils of an’s the evils of individuals…who condone intollerance, bigotry…who lack compassion or understanding…no ones gets into an administration and thinks we are going to be really corruyp and fuck them up..unless organised crime..and then they are being honest…it’s too easy to rail into the government…it’s inevitable as a consequence of previous actions….so when I come back to the US and see cities razed by malls and cars…I’m crying over this…but realise they were not built to last…the gay community has really saved america with the pink dollar..moving into areas…after being away for 30 years can see this happening…the heart of cities were being left…but then being rennovated…thank you my gay brothers and sisters for saving my neighbourhood and now it is being restored and families are moving back in….in the US there now appears to be a real trend against suburbia and they are trying to get people to move back into downtown..people my age were too busy having their householder years..but no people are coming back..the youth culture is not really a culture anymore…hypnotised by the technological malaise that is going on..only the old guard who reads books etc are trying to do something after we fucked up

Q: let’s go back to rock…you moved to london..and hanging out…the buddies you hang out with turn into the clash..and people in the store turn into the Sex Pistols..was there not a moment when you thought what about me..I’m good at this
A: not quite like that..I was just trying to get my band together…I did not quite fit in so worked out in the end ok..
Q: incredible that you were all hanging out in the same social group..Joe Strummer said…’was looking at it as a very male centred group..and here was Chrissie doing these songs…’
A: some of my songs/lines are on the first Clash album…but we were going in different directions..I was way too musical for the punk scene..after 6 months when they all started to learn to play…it was not punk anymore…that scene was …well…

Q: you were in a band in Paris?
A: yes..and a few others…a few false starts..but important

Q: then you meet 3 guys from the sticks.
A: hereford. known for cattle..and the SAS.
Q: these 3 guys come into town
A: not quite like that..Lemmy told me about a drummer..and I went and found him.,and he introduced me…I’ve talked about this.
Q: but not to this team
A: go on the internet…something I’ve never done (gone on the internet)

Q: the sound you made was not like any sound..
A: I lucked out..good things take a long time (bad things happen fast)
Q: Jimmy did not like punk…
A: only when we played together did I know he was the one..did not take a lot for him either as he listened to the songs

Q: when you did Brass in Pocket did you think it was going to move your life forward
A: I never thought..I only thought about not working tables, my band…making songs…but it was never meant to get bigger and bigger…never like it I was going to be the best band in the it’s a sport…but in my days sports and music did not co-exist
Q: but you were taking off..on covers etc
A: but you can’t take this thing personally…but you have to pull back…if I walked down the street I would love it if only 2 guys just say ‘hey nice one’ and recognise me..don’t want everyone on street to know who I am…why would I want to leave my house with a don’t have to take an intelligence test to be a celebrity..why put yourself in jail..why want that…so you have to pull back
Q: you had an advantage of being able to observe from the the a journalist
A: yes…but it ws not that, you have to go by your instincts…you can’t control things., can’t control press and if you think you can you will get a big surprise…you can try not to court the press want your life with people you why talk about private life in public and destroy it…there’s a lot of things that should be kept in the should keep the lid on stuff..and that’s not being smart that’s my survival instinct
Q: you have a better survival instinct than most
A: well fuck them..this is just me
Q: bands thinks that if they get famouns than everyone likes you..but it is the same percentage as the rest of the can’t turn fame off though.
A: lucky enough to have worked all my life..did not have welfare…handouts from government were really looked down on…I worked at jobs..not what I wanted to do..but what I really did not want to have was a career..avoided being trapped…when I got into a band I thought that this was cool..and was not going to throw it away…too many young people go onto a tour..and miss it later…had advantage of having to work first before I got the band

Q: do you find yourself getting more american here?
A: yes..and when come to places like this..yesterday I was speaking like madonna and today I’m american again..never lost accent, I can sing the star spangeld banner..on last tour I went round bars and offered 100 dollars to people to sing the song and nobody did it!

Q: 2 of the 4 pretenders died in a very short time..chemical accidents and personalities etc..was it related to you being famous?
A: it was not unrelated to the fact they were doing drugs…
Q: but was that easier because you were famous?
A: it can be calling card..drugs to get backstage
Q: the death of 2 friends..the personal drama and trauma of it…there must have been a point when you thought about solo..or get out of biz
A: it’ll never happen..thought about getting out of a rocker it is my duty to goof off a lot..solo?..I prey to god that will never happen..I like bands..not that interesting on my role on the stage is to make my guitar player look’s a’s a marriage, I like works..only time i joined a club or be part of’s sacred..the 4 piece rock band is sacred to me

Q: there was that period of the black pretenders..
A: music lovers don’t hear music based on here music and know when it is right for you… when I had TM and did not sound like an english pop group..and I did not know it was going that way. If I ever make an album again ..I hope it is a real band album…if you keep doing same thing all the time you feel a little try stuff in studio,..too many overdubs…if I listen to box set (the fish I’m here to sell) I listen and ask what the hell I was thinking..I was all over the place…but for my money I prefer the rock stuff that sounds like a band

Q: Adam joined the band..permanament guitar..and Martin coming back,,and you went back on the road..the sound has changed again
A: my kids were little can’t always be on the road
Q: 8 years..
A: a lot of people do it..especially when kids…and more men should do it. it’s not a long time…
Q: I was curious…
A: When I was touring with Neil Young and I say all that tie-die and white pony flashbacks keep coming
Q: During the time at home, raising kids..did you see the tour as something you used to do?
A: I made records during this time…I don’t want this to be a career..this box set would have comeout with or without me..and if they were going to do it. I’d rather it was with me..and it’s not accurate..I’ve tried to make it rock..i pulled it back..removed the dregs..grateful to rhino for initiating it..can take a look and think..the poster is great…S K Wilson (esclay?)

Q: you said if I did another that true, you may not?
A: not planning on it..I dunno…I might do…this icon and legend stuff…you know it’s bullshit
Q: people who say that are usually icons and legends. Do you not have some tunes going?
A: I never pick up a guitar if not making albums..not really, no..I have things to do..if I have a boyfriend etc
Q: is there the thought that you have to go back and make an album
A: i don’t need the money..would do if want to make an album
Q: so what are martin and adam doing?
A: I dunno..what’s it to me..I’m not responsible for other people…they can do what they like
Q: you fired martin from the band for a long time..that must have ruffled feathers
A: it’s not a nice thing to tell someone..i don’t think he was ever angry with me…he was not playing very well,,and when then when I went to see (did not catch)..I thought that was good..and I was missing him..he can do things that other people can’t (like wind me up like fuck for a start) but he was not playing well and my allegiance was to the music not personal…he had gone out and got his stuff together..he was too much Martin from the pretenders..I don’t have to tell you! If I want to sack someone I will…I had my reasons..I was careful with what I did…even Bernie and TM they didn’t care..they had better things to do anyway

Q: From Him to Her..i thought that could have been a single
A: Maggie. (from High school) .i heard some of her songs from her friend..there was a couple of songs I wanted to do…she was not bothered if I did them or not..was not trying to tout her thing…but I did From Him to Her
Q: do other high school friends send you songs?
A: no..I still go back..I rent a place

Q: “I’m a mother” is not on the box set…some of them really dealt with being a women and a mother..’Money talks’ the lyrics there..
A: “you can buy a squidgey silicon pack but it won’t feed the world like the ones I pack”
Q: it’s not material that has been used in rock
A: but breast feeding and rock..they don’t really mix…
Q: what was different to being on the road
A: it was better..and I realised I missed it..if I’m not doing something I don’t think about it, only when back..
Q: when to get off?
A: you know..when starting to hate audience, hate band, hate yourself
Q: yehh..that would be a clue.

Q: Those foolish people who do think of you as an icon/legend…is the iconic story about you marring Sid Vicious so you would not have to be deported true?
A: John was going to do it…we met in a pub and discussed it but he was like ‘what’…the Sid said he would do it if he got something out of if…well I said 2 quid..and he said OK…I got his birth certificate (he was under-age)..and he stayed in my room the night before so I could keep an eye on him…and he had this girl with him…and I had to ask him to knowck it off…but in the end the registry office was closed due to some weird holoiday and then he could not make it the following day as he had to go to court for putting someones eye out with glass.

Q: Ray Davies? You got to the registry office and it never happened?
A: I guess the registrar thought it was not a good idea…I don’t want to talk about it…I know your thinking about how I was special etc and had all these rockstars..but someone had to fuck me! That’s why I was called box set 😉

Q: another legend..the Joni Mitchell club gig when you strangled…
A: no i didn’t it
A: I would never do it…unless I was really drunk (see this from Carly Simon
A: however when I kicked the windows out of a police car they droped the drunk/disorder… so everyone thought I was sober…but I don’t remember…sorry if I did but I don’t think I tried to stangle Carly Simon

Q: a good you got your first kiss
A: I went to see Jackie wilson with my best friend Gloria Maise(sp?)…me and Gloria were the only 2 white girls…sat right a the front…Jackie was in a real state..lying down on the stage..then someone from his crew came out and picked a girl out..and took her to front and he kissed her…and all the girsls went crazy..and I can still remember this red/white polyester thing i was wearing…and I had a horrible premonition…and then Jackie wilson bought me up on stage and kisses front of the whole audience and it went completely fucking quiet..and I was freaking out..and everyone fucking hated me…(see also here

Q: it is an amazing ride…rock and roll has been pushed to one side now
A: not the centre of the universe anymore
Q: so what do you tell them (young bands)
A: what’s it to me…
Q: but you’re invested in the forum aren’t you?
A: I’m invested in my’s not for me to advise someone..I’d say be yourself
Q: often people are doing a version of something
A: it’s inevitable..there’s a whole library to copy…it was a young mans thing back in the 60s…there had been rockabilly and then rock…there’s been another 35-40 years…there’s always the original voice…in my opinion if I gave you all a guitar and show you louis louis…then half of you would sound better than Eric Clapton in 2 weeks ‘cos he’s too good to play it. even Jeff Beck said how he could not play rhythm guitar all through a song…he could not contain himself..he’s too good…anyone who puts the little 4 piece’s always new to them.

Q: one thing you’ve always been old fashioned about is that you’ve always wanted hits and to be on the radio..
A: I’ve wanted my songs in 20 and 30s..not too much fuss..want people to come up to me and say that last song..should have done better..

Q: I saw you in Atlantic city 2 tours ago..the crowd was a lot of Pretenders fans..then behind them were the people who were staying in the hotel…those people looked befuddled and out of place..and the guys at the front were all jumping up and down..and you asked the guys at the front to sit down as the guys at the back could not see…
A: i was probably been canterkerorus
Q: so you were not being nice to the people at the were been bad to people at the front!

AudienceQ: why taken 6.5 years to come back to Austin?
A: we were hear before?
AudQ: do you get better response here or in Japan
A: better here..
AudQ: I saw the band in japan…I badgered them in osaka 2 years ago
A: we were in osaka..2 years ago? no..we were?
AudQ: what advice in froning all-male bands..I like to you have advice in how to be seen not to be a total bitch?
A: don’t be a total bitch! I know what sounds good…my forte is to be band leader…if I ask people not to do things..I’m totally blagging it..but they know I can find the better performances..