Skoool.Ie Wins World Award – 2

skoool.ie is an e-learning website developed by Intel®Ireland, AIB and The Irish Times. The World Summit award involved a review of over 800 e-products from 130 countries. From these 40 exemplars across 8 categories were chosen by experts from 36 countries. The categories were: e-learning, e-culture, e-science, e-government, e-health, e-business, e-entertainment and a special category: e-inclusion.

Interestingly the World Summit Award is a three year global project, held in cooperation with the World Summit on the Information Society 2003-2005 (WSIS). The WSIS is a global platform which brings together Heads of State and Government, Executive Heads of United Nations agencies, national delegates and leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry leaders, media representatives and civil society.

The purpose of the Summit is to develop a common vision and understanding of the information society and the adoption of a declaration and plan of action to reduce the digital divide.

gamedevelopers.ie people might be interested to know that Idora, active on the forums on this site, has been very involved in this project.

More info:http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.htmlhere

and

Send Gamedev.Ie E-Cards – 2

If you go to cards/cards/

you can choose from two different designs created by Jab and put together by John Lynch here in DCU.

Let us know if there are any bugs….!

Thanks to everyone for their support during the year and a Merry Christmas to you all from gamedevelopers.ie

Send Gamedev.Ie E-Cards

If you go to cards/cards/

you can choose from two different designs created by Jab and put together by John Lynch here in DCU.

Let us know if there are any bugs….!

Thanks to everyone for their support during the year and a Merry Christmas to you all from gamedevelopers.ie

Skoool.Ie Wins World Award

skoool.ie is an e-learning website developed by Intel®Ireland, AIB and The Irish Times. The World Summit award involved a review of over 800 e-products from 130 countries. From these 40 exemplars across 8 categories were chosen by experts from 36 countries. The categories were: e-learning, e-culture, e-science, e-government, e-health, e-business, e-entertainment and a special category: e-inclusion.

Interestingly the World Summit Award is a three year global project, held in cooperation with the World Summit on the Information Society 2003-2005 (WSIS). The WSIS is a global platform which brings together Heads of State and Government, Executive Heads of United Nations agencies, national delegates and leaders from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry leaders, media representatives and civil society.

The purpose of the Summit is to develop a common vision and understanding of the information society and the adoption of a declaration and plan of action to reduce the digital divide.

gamedevelopers.ie people might be interested to know that Idora, active on the forums on this site, has been very involved in this project.

More info:http://www.itu.int/wsis/basic/about.htmlhere

and

Game Design Workshop With Ernest Adams

Date: Friday January 9th 2004

Venue: Merrion Hall, Strand Road, Dublin 4.

Focus of day: Ernest will give a lecture on the ‘Fundamental Principals of Game Design’ and this will be followed by people breaking into teams of five to work on game ideas and concepts.

Time: 9.30-17.00

Registration is free but priority will be given to people currently working in the game design business and academics teaching game and 3D design. You can obtain a booking form by contacting gamedevelopers.ie through the contact us section of the website or mailing Michael Kenna in EI mailto: michael.kenna@enterprise-ireland.comhere by Friday the 18th of Dec.

Game Design Workshop 9Th Jan

This games design workshop will focus on conceptual issues surrounding game design in general across all platforms. The workshop will be run by Ernest Adams, design consultant and founding member of the IGDA and the Game Developers Conference. For more information on Ernest Adams see index.htmindex.htm

The workshop will run from 9.30-17.00 and involve Ernest giving a lecture on the ‘Fundamental Principals of Game Design’ and then participants will break into teams of five to work on game ideas and concepts.

Registration for the event is free but numbers are strictly limited. Priority will be given to people working in the media industries on game design and academics who are teaching game and 3D design.

Please note that registration is required by this Friday the 19th of Dec.

The booking form can be obtained by mailing gamedevelopers.ie through the contact us section of the website (see top nav. bar) or contacting Michael Kenna in EI mailto:michael.kenna@enterprise-ireland.com here

The event will take place in EI’s building: Merrion Hall, Strand Road, Dublin 4.

Game Design Workshop 9Th Jan – 2

This games design workshop will focus on conceptual issues surrounding game design in general across all platforms. The workshop will be run by Ernest Adams, design consultant and founding member of the IGDA and the Game Developers Conference. For more information on Ernest Adams see index.htmindex.htm

The workshop will run from 9.30-17.00 and involve Ernest giving a lecture on the ‘Fundamental Principals of Game Design’ and then participants will break into teams of five to work on game ideas and concepts.

Registration for the event is free but numbers are strictly limited. Priority will be given to people working in the media industries on game design and academics who are teaching game and 3D design.

Please note that registration is required by this Friday the 19th of Dec.

The booking form can be obtained by mailing gamedevelopers.ie through the contact us section of the website (see top nav. bar) or contacting Michael Kenna in EI mailto:michael.kenna@enterprise-ireland.com here

The event will take place in EI’s building: Merrion Hall, Strand Road, Dublin 4.

Igda Ireland Chapter Launch Event

Venue: The Digital Hub, Thomas Street, Dublin 2.

Just before the turn for the Guinness Storehouse and opposite the Digital Depot.

Time: 7pm

Event: Launch of IGDA Ireland with special guest speaker Ernest Adams.

Attendance free and open to all.

more details to follow…but put the date in your diary…

Deadline For Gdc 2004 Scholarships

The International Games Development Association is hosting the 4th Games Development Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California on March 22-26, 2004. In a programme aimed to help games development students worldwide to network with other experienced developers, the IGDA are offering 25 scholarships, which effectively gives recipients full access to conference seminars, panel discussions and exhibits. Applications for the scholarships are available at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

The deadline for scholarship applications is January 28, 2004.

Recipients will be judged by the IGDA Education Committee and board members and announced in early February.

For more information on GDC 2004, go to:
./www.gdconf.com
Reports from past conferences can be found at:
http://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.phphttp://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.php

Scholarships To Gdc 2004 – 2

The International Games Development Association is hosting the 4th Games Development Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California on March 22-26, 2004. In a programme aimed to help games development students worldwide to network with other experienced developers, the IGDA are offering 25 scholarships, which effectively gives recipients full access to conference seminars, panel discussions and exhibits. Applications for the scholarships are available at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

The deadline for scholarship applications is January 28, 2004.

Recipients will be judged by the IGDA Education Committee and board members and announced in early February.
Complete information on the scholarship program and requirements can be found at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

For more information on GDC 2004, go to:./www.gdconf.com
Reports from past conferences can be found at:
http://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.phphttp://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.php

Dare Info. Day 10Th Dec. 03 – 2

I was really impressed with the turnout on the day, nearly 200 people took seats to hear Dr. Jim Terkeurst, from the University of Abertay, give an overview of the digital games industry, key trends and what it is really like to work in the industry. What I took from this talk was the PS2 is the king of consoles, the European market is expanding fast and this year is the peak of the current console cycle. Jim noted that digital games were not yet mass market, like DVDs, and while bigger than the cinema box office, was not bigger than Hollywood.

As aspiring developers he warned us to be aware that budgets for a console game were between $5 and $30 million and that there were two types of developers: game factories, or ‘time to market’ developers, who delivered on time and within budget and game mavericks who had great ideas but came in late and over budget. The latter were the source of innovation but then these ideas often get moved to time to market developers.

Key issues he discussed were the importance of domestic and global markets, diversity (of sex and culture) within game companies, the detailed and long recruitment process and continuous training while on the job and the rewards (financial). He advised that would be developers need vision, focus, leadership, and excellence. He also noted that there are more than just developers in the industry – a key role in the industry is that of the producer/project manager. Other opportunities lay in outsourcing key functions, like animation and audio and localisation.

Today he noted that companies are getting larger, over 100 people, and this size was needed to support key functions like advanced technology teams; a necessity in the changing industrial environment. Finally, a game development company’s value lies in intellectual property and ideas – this is key to survival and this message was repeated throughout the morning.

Jim was followed by Jackie McKenzie from the University of Abertay who gave us a real bread and butter description of the Dare competition. While some issues have still to be finalised in relation to the Irish version of the competition, Jackie gave us a great insight into how the competition works in the Scottish Context.

To enter the Dare competition people must form teams of five people with a balance of skills between programming and animation and appoint a team lead. It would appear that the balance between animation and programming should be about half and half on the team with one person responsible for team management and reporting. The first stage in the competition is called a ‘paper sift’ and at this stage you don’t need a demo, you need to be able to describe your team, it cohesiveness and its skills, your concept and its market potential and have a planned ten week schedule of work that is realistic.

From these paper applications a number of teams will be chosen for interview and at this stage it would be good to have some conceptual art (not necessarily original) to illustrate your game concept. This is a ‘pitch’ essentially to an industry panel so you put your best sales person forward for this. In the Irish context if you get selected for the competition, the team will be housed in the digital depot, given computers and software, participate in regular video conferencing sessions with Abertay and work damn hard for ten weeks to get a playable version of their game concept ready for final judging. The final week for the Irish team will be spent in Abertay interacting with the other teams and adding the finishing touches. And what are the final game concepts judged on? Creativity, innovation and what the team achieved in the ten weeks.

A further incentive of the competition is that you get paid during the 10 week development period and there are cash prizes for the wining game concepts. Damian Furlong also added that competing in the competition seems to add an extra brownie point to your CV, while being a winner added two. Two of his team mates from last year’s competition are now working with EA.

Damian Furlong gave us an interesting insight into what can be achieved in just 10 weeks when he demonstrated the project he was involved in Demon Lore. Readers of gamedevelopers.ie will remember that we followed this competition closely back in September, and the fact that Damian, a graduate of DCU, was involved in one of the winning teams added an extra dimension. Yesterday he demonstrated just what their team achieved in terms of both tool development and content. Most of the audience were bog-smacked!

These presentations were followed after coffee by a panel discussion on the Irish games industry with Michael Kenna from Enterprise Ireland, Michael Griffen from our own Kapooki Games, Gerry Carty from Vivendi Universal Games Ltd. and Michael Hallissy from the Digital Hub.

Chaired by my good self, the discussion focussed on where we are at currently in the industry in Ireland and how we could grow the industry in the medium term to compete globally. Key discussion points from the panel were costs of entry, skills/competencies and emerging markets like wireless and massively multiplayer games. IDA are actively trying to attract international developers and publishers to Ireland while EI offers various supports including finance, mentoring and management support to start-up companies. Questions from the floor examined key functions that Ireland might be able to offer to international companies including animation and QA, how one can gain access to the industry and gain the required ‘experience’, the need to break the ‘boys club’ aspect of the industry and design games for women and piracy. Members of the panel noted that some large companies like EA offer placement programmes while localisation and QA are good entry points into the industry also.

The morning event finished just after 1 with teas, coffees, sandwiches and animated discussions. A further information event on the Dare to be Digital Ireland competition will be held in the New Year and a Irish version of the website is forthcoming.

Back in September we did a feature on Abertay university and the Dare to be Digital Competition. Seefeatures/index.php?article=8features/index.php?article=8

Other info: index.asp?i=259

Gdc ’04 22-26 March, 2004

The International Games Development Association is hosting the 4th Games Development Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California on March 22-26, 2004. In a programme aimed to help games development students worldwide to network with other experienced developers, the IGDA have offered 25 scholarships, which effectively gives recipients full access to conference seminars, panel discussions and exhibits. Applications for the scholarships are available at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

The deadline for scholarship applications is January 28, 2004.

For more information on GDC 2004, go to:
www.gdconf.com
Reports from past conferences can be found at:
http://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.phphttp://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.php

Scholarships To Gdc 2004

The International Games Development Association is hosting the 4th Games Development Conference (GDC) in San Jose, California on March 22-26, 2004. In a programme aimed to help games development students worldwide to network with other experienced developers, the IGDA are offering 25 scholarships, which effectively gives recipients full access to conference seminars, panel discussions and exhibits. Applications for the scholarships are available at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

The deadline for scholarship applications is January 28, 2004.

Recipients will be judged by the IGDA Education Committee and board members and announced in early February.
Complete information on the scholarship program and requirements can be found at:http://www.igda.org/students/scholarships.phpwww.igda.org/scholarships

For more information on GDC 2004, go to:./www.gdconf.com
Reports from past conferences can be found at:
http://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.phphttp://www.igda.org/students/scholarship_reports.php

Dare Info. Day 10Th Dec. 03

I was really impressed with the turnout on the day, nearly 200 people took seats to hear Dr. Jim Terkeurst, from the University of Abertay, give an overview of the digital games industry, key trends and what it is really like to work in the industry. What I took from this talk was the PS2 is the king of consoles, the European market is expanding fast and this year is the peak of the current console cycle. Jim noted that digital games were not yet mass market, like DVDs, and while bigger than the cinema box office, was not bigger than Hollywood.

As aspiring developers he warned us to be aware that budgets for a console game were between $5 and $30 million and that there were two types of developers: game factories, or ‘time to market’ developers, who delivered on time and within budget and game mavericks who had great ideas but came in late and over budget. The latter were the source of innovation but then these ideas often get moved to time to market developers.

Key issues he discussed were the importance of domestic and global markets, diversity (of sex and culture) within game companies, the detailed and long recruitment process and continuous training while on the job and the rewards (financial). He advised that would be developers need vision, focus, leadership, and excellence. He also noted that there are more than just developers in the industry – a key role in the industry is that of the producer/project manager. Other opportunities lay in outsourcing key functions, like animation and audio and localisation.

Today he noted that companies are getting larger, over 100 people, and this size was needed to support key functions like advanced technology teams; a necessity in the changing industrial environment. Finally, a game development company’s value lies in intellectual property and ideas – this is key to survival and this message was repeated throughout the morning.

Jim was followed by Jackie McKenzie from the University of Abertay who gave us a real bread and butter description of the Dare competition. While some issues have still to be finalised in relation to the Irish version of the competition, Jackie gave us a great insight into how the competition works in the Scottish Context.

To enter the Dare competition people must form teams of five people with a balance of skills between programming and animation and appoint a team lead. It would appear that the balance between animation and programming should be about half and half on the team with one person responsible for team management and reporting. The first stage in the competition is called a ‘paper sift’ and at this stage you don’t need a demo, you need to be able to describe your team, it cohesiveness and its skills, your concept and its market potential and have a planned ten week schedule of work that is realistic.

From these paper applications a number of teams will be chosen for interview and at this stage it would be good to have some conceptual art (not necessarily original) to illustrate your game concept. This is a ‘pitch’ essentially to an industry panel so you put your best sales person forward for this. In the Irish context if you get selected for the competition, the team will be housed in the digital depot, given computers and software, participate in regular video conferencing sessions with Abertay and work damn hard for ten weeks to get a playable version of their game concept ready for final judging. The final week for the Irish team will be spent in Abertay interacting with the other teams and adding the finishing touches. And what are the final game concepts judged on? Creativity, innovation and what the team achieved in the ten weeks.

A further incentive of the competition is that you get paid during the 10 week development period and there are cash prizes for the wining game concepts. Damian Furlong also added that competing in the competition seems to add an extra brownie point to your CV, while being a winner added two. Two of his team mates from last year’s competition are now working with EA.

Damian Furlong gave us an interesting insight into what can be achieved in just 10 weeks when he demonstrated the project he was involved in Demon Lore. Readers of gamedevelopers.ie will remember that we followed this competition closely back in September, and the fact that Damian, a graduate of DCU, was involved in one of the winning teams added an extra dimension. Yesterday he demonstrated just what their team achieved in terms of both tool development and content. Most of the audience were bog-smacked!

These presentations were followed after coffee by a panel discussion on the Irish games industry with Michael Kenna from Enterprise Ireland, Michael Griffen from our own Kapooki Games, Gerry Carty from Vivendi Universal Games Ltd. and Michael Hallissy from the Digital Hub.

Chaired by my good self, the discussion focussed on where we are at currently in the industry in Ireland and how we could grow the industry in the medium term to compete globally. Key discussion points from the panel were costs of entry, skills/competencies and emerging markets like wireless and massively multiplayer games. IDA are actively trying to attract international developers and publishers to Ireland while EI offers various supports including finance, mentoring and management support to start-up companies. Questions from the floor examined key functions that Ireland might be able to offer to international companies including animation and QA, how one can gain access to the industry and gain the required ‘experience’, the need to break the ‘boys club’ aspect of the industry and design games for women and piracy. Members of the panel noted that some large companies like EA offer placement programmes while localisation and QA are good entry points into the industry also.

The morning event finished just after 1 with teas, coffees, sandwiches and animated discussions. A further information event on the Dare to be Digital Ireland competition will be held in the New Year and a Irish version of the website is forthcoming.

Back in September we did a feature on Abertay university and the Dare to be Digital Competition. Seefeatures/index.php?article=8features/index.php?article=8

Other info: index.asp?i=259

O2 Digital Media Awards

Location:The Burlington Hotel, Dublin

The second O2 Digital Media Awards will take place on January 2004 hosted by Digital Media Intelligence. The last event attracted nearly 300 entries and almost 600 people attended the event.

Deadline for promotional branding opportunities: 5th December 2003
Deadline for entries: 5th December 2003
Deadline for table bookings: 23rd December 2003
Deadline for advertising in awards review catalogue:February 15th 2004

For further details:
dma2004.htmwww.digitalmediaintelligence.com/dma2004.htm

Contact:
Digital Media Intelligence,
Digital Media House,9
Baggot Court,
Dublin 2
email: mailto:info@digitalmedia.ieinfo@digitalmedia.ie

Hanging On The Telephone – 2

Like most 21st Century cultural phenomena, mobile gaming was kick-started by a celebrity endorsement. Ever since football’s squeaky-voiced fashion icon David Beckham stood in a supermarket queue playing PacMan on his Vodafone, mobile games have become a major revenue spinner in Ireland. After this advertisement was broadcast, hoards of teens and 20-somethings poured into retail outlets asking for “one of those Beckham phones”.

Last year a report from Analysys (a telecoms and new media analyst) predicted that by 2007, Western European consumers will spend €23bn on mobile content and entertainment services –17% of their total mobile service expenditure. Played less by dedicated gamers, more by regular Joes and Jills with a few minutes to spare on the bus, mobile games are proving a popular mass-market accessory. The console-to-wireless port – from primeval classics like Space Invaders to more recent blockbusters like Splinter Cell – is bringing plenty of tried and tested games to the small screen.

Meanwhile, an increase in technology and production values has led to the emergence of Irish development studios who are creating original mobile content. Eirplay, based in Dublin, was founded by experienced pros from the mainstream games and finance industries who first decided to dip their toes into the mobile market with the advent of Java games. Titles like Crazy Creche, Monster Madness and Toxic Terrors, have all sold well overseas – in fact, Eirplay has avoided Irish telecos altogether, and distributes its wares on the continent. Eirplay’s latest product, Curse of Khofu (which features ten animated characters), is evidence of skilled technical brushstrokes on the limited canvas of mobile phones.

Despite their quality of product, there is a consensus amongst developers in Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, that operators must improve financial and working relationships with content providers. Are carriers striving to deliver services through their technology, or are celebrity endorsements simply slick (but vacuous) marketing tricks to sell platforms? Is consolidation amongst developers, aggregators and carriers necessary for the needs of mobile developers to be fully understood? After all, in order to harness the highly lucrative market of mobile gaming, it is in operators’ interests that they nurture developers.

One of the biggest hitches continues to be interoperability, explains Eirplay’s Peter Lynch. “A multitude of handsets with different screen sizes, combined with conflicting technology standards, makes it quite time consuming to port games to all the different handsets. We support the main handsets – Nokia, Siemens, Motorola and Ericsson – but even that can means dozens of different formats for a single game.”

Peter draws a contrast with Japan, a paradise for developers where mobile operators actively encourage content. NTT DoCoMo’s successful i-mode network allows content providers to deliver games to handsets custom built to NTT’s specifications. No faffing around there: the finished game plays across mobile devices. Under NTT Docomo’s i-mode model, 91% of revenue from applications goes to application developers – an enviable contrast to Europe where there remains no i-mode model for Java games and network providers will only assist developers in exchange for a large revenue share (ranging from 40% to 60%). In the United States, meanwhile, networks are emulating the DoCoMo model, offering J2ME game developers 80% of revenues.

Irish betting company Betdaq, owned by entrepreneur Dermot Desmond, decided to bypass telecos altogether and deliver its own mobile application. This remote gambling service is only available to Betdaq customers and does not fall under the auspices of any operator. The service runs on the XDA – a combined PDA and mobile phone,which Betdaq has customised and sells to customers – and is delivered via General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks. Might this betting tool provide a model that large game development studios might emulate?

“Our mobile application has been selectively distributed to higher volume users,” explains Betdaq’s Rob Hartnett. “The biggest stumbling block with the device specific solution is that you are asking your customers to use a mobile device they may not be familiar with, possibly at the expense of one they are. [With games] it would depend on whether the quality of the proposition, and the value you can derive from it, is high enough to overcome the reticence of the public towards device specific solutions.” The muted consumer reaction to Nokia’s N-Gage suggests that going it alone might be a tough route.

International steps have been taken to define mobile games interoperability specifications and application programming interfaces. The Mobile Games Interoperability Forum (MGIF), founded in July 2001 by Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Siemens, was founded with the purpose of creating a global standard whereby game developers produce and deploy mobile games that can be distributed across multiple game servers and wireless networks. Steps are being taken to break down technical barriers although it is clear that the entertainment and gaming industry has not yet been fully able to exploit the great potential of mobile phones.

Distribution is often another sticky point in the relationship between content provider and network operator, although Irish middlemen like Trust5 are trying to make the process a little less stressful for developers.

“Trust5 have direct connections to mobile operators worldwide,” explains CEO Paul O’Grady. “It also provides its own IVR (interactive voice recognition) and internet services so we are a one-stop-shop for developers to sell their games in a country. We have partnerships with mobile operators, media companies (TV, magazines and newspapers) and retail chains. When you combine this with the fact that we produce millions of catalogues of mobile content each year, Trust5 is the ideal company for developers as we are much more than aggregators.”

Paul firmly believes that the future of mobile games lies in retail. A consumer currently orders a game by sending a text message and around €5 is then added to his or her account, but there will soon come a time when content will be packaged and sold from the shelf. “Retailing games will become more and more of a factor as phones get better and the quality of handsets improve,” adds Eirplay’s Peter Lynch.

As it stands, aggregators and developers require higher revenue shares from sales in order to develop better games and mobile gaming innovations, but Irish operators are not going to comply until technology standards behind mobile games improve. This Catch-22 is likely to remain until network providers are removed from the equation entirely and retail steps in.

“Right now Irish operators are not looking into the true demographics of the market and are just throwing games out there to see what sells,” concludes Peter. “PC and console developers receive their money upfront from the publisher. Mobile operators need to do the same thing.”

In order to increase consumer interest in mobile gaming, Irish telecos need to scale back their current business model and accept a type of revenue sharing along the lines of NTT DoCoMo. There are many ways to make money in a wireless world, but until operators and application developers cease to be at odds with one another then the mobile games market will inevitably stagnate.

Useful links:
Eirplay Games, an Irish mobile content developer
Trust 5, an Irish aggregator
BetDaq, an Irish betting company betdaqbetdaq
The Mobile Games Interoperability Forum http://www.openmobilealliance.org/mgif/http://www.openmobilealliance.org/mgif/
NTT’s DoCoMo USA with links to other offices worldwide http://www.docomo-usa.com/link/http://www.docomo-usa.com/link/

Author bio: Pavel Barter is a freelance journalist and member of Dublin-based guitar band the West Seventies(www.thewestseventies.com). Both activities, he admits, beat working for a living.

Thanks also to Nicky Gogan in the Digital Hub for the montage of images from Eirplay Games which accompanies this feature.

Talk Digital

Venue: The Digital Hub Project Office, 10 -13 Thomas Street, Dublin 8
Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm

Talk Digital is a series of informal discussions for the digital media and creative sectors. These seminars are held in conjunction with a series of exhibitions which are interested in creating a cultural and educational environment encouraging dialogue in technological and art practices.

Speakers:

John Buckley: (In)Security
Dublin-based Artist and Designer and recent graduate from NCAD, Masters in Virtual Realities, John Buckley will talk about his latest project(In)Security. (In)Security is an exploration of the increasing politicisation of videogaming. It is a virtual environment that engages with the presence of current political scenarios in 3D FPS (first person shooter)gaming
systems.

Dennis McNulty: Gameboy Music
Dennis McNulty works with sound in a variety of contexts. In the early
nineties he co-founded the ultramack/u:mack label and studios and as one half of Decal, released three albums and many other tracks on a number of international and Irish labels, among them Planet-Mu, Warp and Rotters Golf Club.

Since graduating from the Music and Media Technology Course (Trinity
College) in 2000, his interests have focused on generative sonic
systems and electronic improvisation. His project Gameboy Music looks at how the Nanoloop cartridge turns a Gameboy console into a combined
synthesiser and sequencer.

Paul Murnaghan: Snow

Paul Murnaghan’s work has always strived to express human emotion
through a mixture of familiar tactile objects and digital manipulation.
With this new work ‘snow’ he plays with the idea of comfort via our
"third parent" – television, focusing on a broken-down TV as both
catalyst and source material. ‘snow’ is built around human interaction
and is a further development of the natural tactile interfaces that are
present within Paul Murnaghan’s work.

Philip O’Dwyer: State Design
Philip O’Dwyer was born in Dublin in 1974 and grew up in County
Tipperary. He studied Graphic Design at Limerick School of Art and
Design and Central Saint Martins in London. After college he worked as
part of a collective of designers and writers, out of which grew State
Design. Onedotzero Film Festival is one of State Design’s earliest
clients. A cross-disciplinary design company, Philip and partner Mark
Hough work in motion graphics, interactive design and book design.
Game On is a touring exhibition exploring the history, culture and
future of video- games, originally shown at the Barbican Gallery, London
in 2002.

http://www.statedesign.co.uk/gameon/http://www.statedesign.co.uk/gameon/

For more information visit:
www.thedigitalhub.com

Dec. Shindig

Well the date has been settled and it looks like it will be in Mahaffeys again but they are likely to be fairly packed…unless we get there about mid day they can’t keep us seats. Now there is a challenge for us!

Mahaffeys pub is on the corner of Pearse st/westland row, at the back of Trinity College and near Pearse Street Dart station in Dublin.

Time: from 7.30 pm

Mms Breakfast Briefing

Title: Driving MMS deployments to mass market success

This is an MMS Breakfast Briefing sponsored by Wireless Wednesday in association with Meteor, Nokia and Acotel.

Time: 8am-10am.
Location: The Shelbourne Hotel, Stephens Green, Dublin 2
Registration: 35 euro per person; group discounts available. Registration will take place between 7.30am-8am and a light breakfast will be served. Presentations followed by Q&A panel discussion with representatives from Meteor, Nokia and Acotel.

Programme:

Gavin Barrett, Business Development Manager, Nokia
‘MMS – Success cases from World markets’
nokia/0,8764,28418,00.html

Warren Harding, Project Manager GPRS, Meteor
‘Launching MMS in a sophisticated market as the third operator’

Lorraine Fahy, Business Development, Acotel Group S.p.A
‘Launching MMS VAS (Value added services) – An International viewpoint’

For further information on this event click here:
events/eventsb.htmlevents/eventsb.html

Upcoming Event:
‘Developing Irelands Medical Device sector – Innovation through Knowledge’ Sharing ‘events/eventsa.htmlevents/eventsa.html

Hanging On The Telephone

Like most 21st Century cultural phenomena, mobile gaming was kick-started by a celebrity endorsement. Ever since football’s squeaky-voiced fashion icon David Beckham stood in a supermarket queue playing PacMan on his Vodafone, mobile games have become a major revenue spinner in Ireland. After this advertisement was broadcast, hoards of teens and 20-somethings poured into retail outlets asking for “one of those Beckham phones”.

Last year a report from Analysys (a telecoms and new media analyst) predicted that by 2007, Western European consumers will spend €23bn on mobile content and entertainment services –17% of their total mobile service expenditure. Played less by dedicated gamers, more by regular Joes and Jills with a few minutes to spare on the bus, mobile games are proving a popular mass-market accessory. The console-to-wireless port – from primeval classics like Space Invaders to more recent blockbusters like Splinter Cell – is bringing plenty of tried and tested games to the small screen.

Meanwhile, an increase in technology and production values has led to the emergence of Irish development studios who are creating original mobile content. Eirplay, based in Dublin, was founded by experienced pros from the mainstream games and finance industries who first decided to dip their toes into the mobile market with the advent of Java games. Titles like Crazy Creche, Monster Madness and Toxic Terrors, have all sold well overseas – in fact, Eirplay has avoided Irish telecos altogether, and distributes its wares on the continent. Eirplay’s latest product, Curse of Khofu (which features ten animated characters), is evidence of skilled technical brushstrokes on the limited canvas of mobile phones.

Despite their quality of product, there is a consensus amongst developers in Ireland, the UK, and elsewhere in Europe, that operators must improve financial and working relationships with content providers. Are carriers striving to deliver services through their technology, or are celebrity endorsements simply slick (but vacuous) marketing tricks to sell platforms? Is consolidation amongst developers, aggregators and carriers necessary for the needs of mobile developers to be fully understood? After all, in order to harness the highly lucrative market of mobile gaming, it is in operators’ interests that they nurture developers.

One of the biggest hitches continues to be interoperability, explains Eirplay’s Peter Lynch. “A multitude of handsets with different screen sizes, combined with conflicting technology standards, makes it quite time consuming to port games to all the different handsets. We support the main handsets – Nokia, Siemens, Motorola and Ericsson – but even that can means dozens of different formats for a single game.”

Peter draws a contrast with Japan, a paradise for developers where mobile operators actively encourage content. NTT DoCoMo’s successful i-mode network allows content providers to deliver games to handsets custom built to NTT’s specifications. No faffing around there: the finished game plays across mobile devices. Under NTT Docomo’s i-mode model, 91% of revenue from applications goes to application developers – an enviable contrast to Europe where there remains no i-mode model for Java games and network providers will only assist developers in exchange for a large revenue share (ranging from 40% to 60%). In the United States, meanwhile, networks are emulating the DoCoMo model, offering J2ME game developers 80% of revenues.

Irish betting company Betdaq, owned by entrepreneur Dermot Desmond, decided to bypass telecos altogether and deliver its own mobile application. This remote gambling service is only available to Betdaq customers and does not fall under the auspices of any operator. The service runs on the XDA – a combined PDA and mobile phone,which Betdaq has customised and sells to customers – and is delivered via General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) networks. Might this betting tool provide a model that large game development studios might emulate?

“Our mobile application has been selectively distributed to higher volume users,” explains Betdaq’s Rob Hartnett. “The biggest stumbling block with the device specific solution is that you are asking your customers to use a mobile device they may not be familiar with, possibly at the expense of one they are. [With games] it would depend on whether the quality of the proposition, and the value you can derive from it, is high enough to overcome the reticence of the public towards device specific solutions.” The muted consumer reaction to Nokia’s N-Gage suggests that going it alone might be a tough route.

International steps have been taken to define mobile games interoperability specifications and application programming interfaces. The Mobile Games Interoperability Forum (MGIF), founded in July 2001 by Ericsson, Motorola, Nokia and Siemens, was founded with the purpose of creating a global standard whereby game developers produce and deploy mobile games that can be distributed across multiple game servers and wireless networks. Steps are being taken to break down technical barriers although it is clear that the entertainment and gaming industry has not yet been fully able to exploit the great potential of mobile phones.

Distribution is often another sticky point in the relationship between content provider and network operator, although Irish middlemen like Trust5 are trying to make the process a little less stressful for developers.

“Trust5 have direct connections to mobile operators worldwide,” explains CEO Paul O’Grady. “It also provides its own IVR (interactive voice recognition) and internet services so we are a one-stop-shop for developers to sell their games in a country. We have partnerships with mobile operators, media companies (TV, magazines and newspapers) and retail chains. When you combine this with the fact that we produce millions of catalogues of mobile content each year, Trust5 is the ideal company for developers as we are much more than aggregators.”

Paul firmly believes that the future of mobile games lies in retail. A consumer currently orders a game by sending a text message and around €5 is then added to his or her account, but there will soon come a time when content will be packaged and sold from the shelf. “Retailing games will become more and more of a factor as phones get better and the quality of handsets improve,” adds Eirplay’s Peter Lynch.

As it stands, aggregators and developers require higher revenue shares from sales in order to develop better games and mobile gaming innovations, but Irish operators are not going to comply until technology standards behind mobile games improve. This Catch-22 is likely to remain until network providers are removed from the equation entirely and retail steps in.

“Right now Irish operators are not looking into the true demographics of the market and are just throwing games out there to see what sells,” concludes Peter. “PC and console developers receive their money upfront from the publisher. Mobile operators need to do the same thing.”

In order to increase consumer interest in mobile gaming, Irish telecos need to scale back their current business model and accept a type of revenue sharing along the lines of NTT DoCoMo. There are many ways to make money in a wireless world, but until operators and application developers cease to be at odds with one another then the mobile games market will inevitably stagnate.

Useful links:
Eirplay Games, an Irish mobile content developer
Trust 5, an Irish aggregator
BetDaq, an Irish betting company betdaqbetdaq
The Mobile Games Interoperability Forum http://www.openmobilealliance.org/mgif/http://www.openmobilealliance.org/mgif/
NTT’s DoCoMo USA with links to other offices worldwide http://www.docomo-usa.com/link/http://www.docomo-usa.com/link/

Author bio: Pavel Barter is a freelance journalist and member of Dublin-based guitar band the West Seventies(www.thewestseventies.com). Both activities, he admits, beat working for a living.

Thanks also to Nicky Gogan in the Digital Hub for the montage of images from Eirplay Games which accompanies this feature.

New Support Program For Startups

The Creative Media Enterprise Support Programme will be launched in January 2004 to offer support to startups in the creative/digital media sectors around the border county region and Northern Ireland. This is a scheme developed by the Dundalk Institute of Technology in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast and Co-operation Ireland.

The programme will offer training, mentoring and networking opportunities for up to 20 businesses as well as a participant grant and office space.

For more information please see www.creativemediaenterprise.com/ or contact the Regional Development Centre at 042 9370453

Draft Programme For Dare To Be Digital Information Day

Time: 9.30-14.00 (incl. light lunch)

Location: The Digital Depot, behind 157 Thomas St. Dublin 8.

To attend one has to register. Registration is free. To register mailto:daretobedigital@thedigitalhub.come-mail here.. For general details on the Scottish competition see www.daretobedigital.com

The draft programme for the Irish information day is as follows.

9:30-10:00 Registration

10:00-10:15
Welcome Address – Philip Flynn, CEO Digital Hub Development Agency

10:15-10:45
Keynote Address – Dr. Jim Terkurst, University of Abertay
Jim will provide an overview of the Scottish games sector and where the games sector is going in the future.

10:45-11:45
Dare to be Digital Overview
Jackie McKenzie, University of Abertay and Damian Furlong (Irish student and leader of a team in this year’s competition)

·Background to Dare to be Digital
·Dare to be Digital Format – and Ireland’s participation
·Damian Furlong, A student perspective on participating in the project

11:45-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-1:00
Panel discussion to be chaired by Dr. Aphra Kerr and will address the following themes:

·Overview of the Irish Games Sector
·Opportunities in the Gaming Sector
·Skill requirements of the Gaming industry

Michael Kenna, EI Representative
Irish Company, TBC
Deirdre Lyons, IDA Representative
International Company: TBC
Michael Hallissy, The Digital Hub

1:00-14:00
Light lunch provided

New Support Program For Startups – 2

The Creative Media Enterprise Support Programme will be launched in January 2004 to offer support to startups in the creative/digital media sectors around the border county region and Northern Ireland. This is a scheme developed by the Dundalk Institute of Technology in conjunction with Queen’s University Belfast and Co-operation Ireland.

The programme will offer training, mentoring and networking opportunities for up to 20 businesses as well as a participant grant and office space.

For more information please see www.creativemediaenterprise.com/ or contact the Regional Development Centre at 042 9370453

Draft Programme For Dare To Be Digital Information Day – 2

Time: 9.30-14.00 (incl. light lunch)

Location: The Digital Depot, behind 157 Thomas St. Dublin 8.

To attend one has to register. Registration is free. To register mailto:daretobedigital@thedigitalhub.come-mail here.. For general details on the Scottish competition see www.daretobedigital.com

The draft programme for the Irish information day is as follows.

9:30-10:00 Registration

10:00-10:15
Welcome Address – Philip Flynn, CEO Digital Hub Development Agency

10:15-10:45
Keynote Address – Dr. Jim Terkurst, University of Abertay
Jim will provide an overview of the Scottish games sector and where the games sector is going in the future.

10:45-11:45
Dare to be Digital Overview
Jackie McKenzie, University of Abertay and Damian Furlong (Irish student and leader of a team in this year’s competition)

·Background to Dare to be Digital
·Dare to be Digital Format – and Ireland’s participation
·Damian Furlong, A student perspective on participating in the project

11:45-12:00 Coffee Break

12:00-1:00
Panel discussion to be chaired by Dr. Aphra Kerr and will address the following themes:

·Overview of the Irish Games Sector
·Opportunities in the Gaming Sector
·Skill requirements of the Gaming industry

Michael Kenna, EI Representative
Irish Company, TBC
Deirdre Lyons, IDA Representative
International Company: TBC
Michael Hallissy, The Digital Hub

1:00-14:00
Light lunch provided

Dare To Be Digital

Time: 9.30-13.30 (incl. light lunch)

Location: The Digital Depot, behind 157 Thomas St. Dublin 8.

If you’re a third level student and are part of an entrepeneurial group with a great idea for a game then this competition might be for you. The Digital Hub Development Agency together with Enterprise Ireland and the University of Abertay in Dundee, Scotland are launching Dare to be Digital Ireland, a competition to develop a new innovative product in the games sector suitable for any platform. The challenge is open to under-grads, post-grads, recent graduates and further education students. Projects must be submitted in teams, with at least one technical expert, one creative expert and one management representative.

The winning project will be developed with financial support from Enterprise Ireland and The Digital Hub over a 10-week period during the 2004 summer break and will contribute to a larger event in Scotland. This is the Irish phase of a scheme run successfully in Scotland by the University of Abertay.

The December 10 event will be hosted by the Digital Hub is an information launch, where you can find out the project details from the organisers.

For more information and registration details:

Upstart Games And Konami Online Enter Into Development And Distribution Agreement. – 2

What this means is that Upstart Games will work with Konami Online to bring its catalogue of mobile game titles to over 250 million mobile users in North American and other world markets. Konami Online’s portfolio includes classics such as Frogger, Gradius and Castlevania.

Upstart Games will provide development and distribution services, as well as support for the marketing and business development processes.

The first results from this relationship will be the availability of Konami’s classic arcade hit “Frogger” to subscribers of AT&T Wireless’ mModeTM service with compatible handsets.

Note 1: Konami Online, Inc. is a 100% subsidiary of KONAMI CORPORATION of Japan and will focus on the production and distribution of mobile games.

Note 2: Upstart Games Ltd. is headquartered in Dublin, with offices in Tokyo and New York. Upstart Games provides mobile games content and services to operators in European and North American markets.

Upstart Games And Konami Online Enter Into Development And Distribution Agreement.

What this means is that Upstart Games will work with Konami Online to bring its catalogue of mobile game titles to over 250 million mobile users in North American and other world markets. Konami Online’s portfolio includes classics such as Frogger, Gradius and Castlevania.

Upstart Games will provide development and distribution services, as well as support for the marketing and business development processes.

The first results from this relationship will be the availability of Konami’s classic arcade hit “Frogger” to subscribers of AT&T Wireless’ mModeTM service with compatible handsets.

Note 1: Konami Online, Inc. is a 100% subsidiary of KONAMI CORPORATION of Japan and will focus on the production and distribution of mobile games.

Note 2: Upstart Games Ltd. is headquartered in Dublin, with offices in Tokyo and New York. Upstart Games provides mobile games content and services to operators in European and North American markets.

Designers Meet Academics At Level Up – 2

While the mingling of producers and theorists is unheard of in other academic disciplines such as film or literary studies, the young discipline of game studies takes pride in bridging the culture gap. After all, the question “What is a game?” is notoriously tricky to answer, and all help in answering it is welcome.

Accordingly, there was a wealth of sessions focusing on subjects such as “What games are made of”, “Time, repetition and immersion”, “Game environments” and “Game Analysis and Creation”. Due to the number of participants many of the sessions took place at the same time, so there were some tough choices to be made.

But the designer’s side is only one side of the story, of course. As the voluminous Level Up proceedings show, more and more academics focus on the players of games as worthy objects of study. This kind of research could produce insights into the minds of consumers, helping designers to reach new audiences, such as elderly or disabled gamers.
It would not have been a real games conference, had it been all work and no play. On the evening of the second day, researchers and designers alike gathered at a Utrecht club to celebrate and play some games. And while some were content to play the newest PlayStation2 and Nokia NGage titles, others were drawn to the award-winning PainStation by artists Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff, or the “interactive drama” Façade by GeorgiaTech’s Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.

The newly formed Digital Games Research Association (www.digra.org) held its first full assembly on the last day of the conference. With Jason Della Rocca of IGDA as one of its members, the association will strive to strengthen the ties between developers and academics further, while at the same time deepening and broadening the field of digital game research.

More information can be found at http://www.gamesconference.orghttp://www.gamesconference.org

The proceedings can be ordered at http://www.gamesconference.org/2003/index.php?Proceedingshttp://www.gamesconference.org/2003/index.php?Proceedings

Another summary can be found at http://www.igda.orgthe igda website.

Nov. Shindig

Where: Mahaffeys pub, on the corner of Pearse st/westland row, about half a minutes walk from Pearse Street Dart station. It currently has scaffolding up around it. There is a little snug over on the left of the pub – look for us there.

Time: from 7.30 pm

The inaugeral IGDA Ireland committee meeting will take place before hand. For more info see http://www.igda.org/dublin/http://www.igda.org/dublin/

Belfast Shindig

Where: Renshaws, University Street at the top of Botanic Avenue.

Time: from 6 pm

Organiser: Malachy Duffin from CanDo

More details on the forums: community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=123community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=123

Designers Meet Academics At Level Up

While the mingling of producers and theorists is unheard of in other academic disciplines such as film or literary studies, the young discipline of game studies takes pride in bridging the culture gap. After all, the question "What is a game?" is notoriously tricky to answer, and all help in answering it is welcome.

Accordingly, there was a wealth of sessions focusing on subjects such as "What games are made of", "Time, repetition and immersion", "Game environments" and "Game Analysis and Creation". Due to the number of participants many of the sessions took place at the same time, so there were some tough choices to be made.

But the designer’s side is only one side of the story, of course. As the voluminous Level Up proceedings show, more and more academics focus on the players of games as worthy objects of study. This kind of research could produce insights into the minds of consumers, helping designers to reach new audiences, such as elderly or disabled gamers.
It would not have been a real games conference, had it been all work and no play. On the evening of the second day, researchers and designers alike gathered at a Utrecht club to celebrate and play some games. And while some were content to play the newest PlayStation2 and Nokia NGage titles, others were drawn to the award-winning PainStation by artists Volker Morawe and Tilman Reiff, or the "interactive drama" Façade by GeorgiaTech’s Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern.

The newly formed Digital Games Research Association (www.digra.org) held its first full assembly on the last day of the conference. With Jason Della Rocca of IGDA as one of its members, the association will strive to strengthen the ties between developers and academics further, while at the same time deepening and broadening the field of digital game research.

More information can be found at http://www.gamesconference.orghttp://www.gamesconference.org

The proceedings can be ordered at http://www.gamesconference.org/2003/index.php?Proceedingshttp://www.gamesconference.org/2003/index.php?Proceedings

Another summary can be found at http://www.igda.orgthe igda website.

N-Gage Finalists

Nokia received registrations from 500 users with over 100 high-quality games submitted during their N-Gage Challenge. This has been shortlisted to five games which are available for you to play so you can vote for your favourite one.

The prototype demos for the N-Gage Challenge can be downloaded at:http://upstartgames.com/challenge/finalists/ngage.htmlhttp://upstartgames.com/challenge/finalists/ngage.html

2D/3D Differential Optical Flow

Title: Applications of 2D and 3D Differential Optical Flow

Speaker: Prof. John Barron, Dept. of Computer Science,
Univ. of Western Ontario, London, Ontario,
Canada (Currently on sabbatical with the
Vision Systems Group, DCU)

Time: 3pm

Venue: Room S209, Research and Engineering Building,
Dublin City University

About the Speaker

John Barron was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada. He graduated with Physics and Computer Science degrees from Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland and obtained his MSc and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto in 1988.

He is current a professor in the Computer Science department at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. His research interests
are in Image Processing and Computer Vision, in particular, in the
measurement and interpretation of 2D/3D optical flow.

About 2D/3D Optical Flow

2D optical flow is an approximation to the local image motion in a
sequence of images. When 2D optical flow is introduced, the 2D
Motion Constraint Equation results in what is called the 2D aperture problem. Two common optical flow algorithms are then described to overcome this problem using optical flow computations. Then two applications of 2D optical flow are shown: the recovery of camera motion and scene depth from time-varying optical flow and the measurement of 2D/3D corn seedling motion and growth via optical flow.

3D optical flow is an approximation to the local volumetric motion is a
sequence of volume images. Closely related to it is 3D range flow, which
is an approximation to the local surface motion in a sequence of depth
images. 3D optical flow is first introduced, then there is a demonstration of how 3D Motion Constraint Equation results in the 3D aperture problem. 3D extensions of the 2 algorithms described above overcome this problem. Finally, 3 applications of 3D optical flow are desribed: the use of 3D range flow to measure the motion and growth of plant leaves, the use of 3D optical flow to measure/predict Doppler Radar storm motion and the use of 3D optical flow to measure the motion of a beating heart in gated MRI datasets. The last project is ongoing research with Prof. Paul Whelan at DCU.

This talk is non-technical and equations have been kept to a minimum.

Agdc 2003 Conference

Date: 20-23 November 2003

Venue: Melbourne Convention Centre, Cnr Siddeley and Flinders Streets,
Melbourne VIC 8005

Sponsorship Prospectus available at:

.au/sponsors/sponsors_form.php.au/sponsors

Exhibition Prospectus available at:

.au/expo/expo_form.phpttp://www.agdc.com.au/expo

For more information visit:
.au/conference/conf_overview.php.au/conference/conf_overview.php

N-Gage Finalists – 2

Nokia received registrations from 500 users with over 100 high-quality games submitted during their N-Gage Challenge. This has been shortlisted to five games which are available for you to play so you can vote for your favourite one.

The prototype demos for the N-Gage Challenge can be downloaded at:http://upstartgames.com/challenge/finalists/ngage.htmlhttp://upstartgames.com/challenge/finalists/ngage.html

Exhibition And Conference:Storytelling And Games – 2

Computer games are among the newest vehicles for telling stories and creating virtual worlds. This is the focus of an exhibition at Standford CA which looks at computer games and the narrative that propels them. It will be on view in three galleries through March 28, 2004 and is scheduled to coincide with two related exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco that open in late January 2004.

‘Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences: Storytelling and Computer Games’ lays out the history and cultural importance of interactive simulations, computer games, and video games, proposing that they represent the emerging narrative form and communication medium of the early 21st century. Physical artifacts, a timeline, and video clips will demonstrate how text, graphics, and interactivity have established a narrative framework in computer games. The exhibition will feature the projection of a networked, “massively multiplayer” virtual world, and interactive game stations will immerse visitors in the storytelling aspects of games, while challenging them to contemplate the history and the future of virtual gaming.

The event is sponsored by the Lynn Krywick Gibbons Gallery Exhibition Fund and the Cantor Arts Center members and derives from ‘How They Got Game Project’ at the Stanford Humanities Laboratory, a project establishing a path-finding narrative for the historical and critical appreciation of computer and video games. The guest speakers will be Dr. Henry Lowood, and Casey Alt, respectively Curator for History of Science and Technology Collections, Stanford University Libraries, and graduate student in the Program for History and Philosophy of Science.

A free conference on Friday, February 6, entitled ‘Story Engines: A Public Program on Storytelling and Computer Games,’ presents speakers from the industry and academia, addressing aspects of the role of narrative in computer games. The conference will take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. Space is limited, with open seating and no reservations. Call 650-725-6788 for details.

The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the web site

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//

Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences

November 12, 2003-March 28, 2004, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, California

This exhibition looks at computer games and the narrative that propels them. Physical artifacts, a timeline, and video clips will demonstrate how text, graphics, and interactivity have established a narrative framework in computer games. The exhibition will feature the projection of a networked, “massively multiplayer” virtual world, and interactive game stations will immerse visitors in the storytelling aspects of games, while challenging them to contemplate the history and the future of virtual gaming.

A free conference on Friday, February 6, entitled ‘Story Engines: A Public Program on Storytelling and Computer Games,’ presents speakers from the industry and academia, addressing aspects of the role of narrative in computer games. The conference will take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. Space is limited, with open seating and no reservations. Call 650-725-6788 for details.

The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the web site
http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//http://www.stanford.edu/dept

Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences: St

November 12, 2003-March 28, 2004, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, California

This exhibition looks at computer games and the narrative that propels them. Physical artifacts, a timeline, and video clips will demonstrate how text, graphics, and interactivity have established a narrative framework in computer games. The exhibition will feature the projection of a networked, “massively multiplayer” virtual world, and interactive game stations will immerse visitors in the storytelling aspects of games, while challenging them to contemplate the history and the future of virtual gaming.

A free conference on Friday, February 6, entitled ‘Story Engines: A Public Program on Storytelling and Computer Games,’ presents speakers from the industry and academia, addressing aspects of the role of narrative in computer games. The conference will take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. Space is limited, with open seating and no reservations. Call 650-725-6788 for details.

The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the web site

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//

Digital Media Technologies In Focus

Emerging Opportunities and Content Convergence
8.15am – 12.30pm
Breakfast at 7.30am

Media Lab Europe, Crane St, Dublin 8

Themes

Role of Technology in Entertainment
Emerging platforms in Digital Media
Commericalising Technology R&D
Indigenous Irish Development in
Entertainment Software and Services

KEY NOTE SPEAKER
Colum Slevin
Director of Computer Graphics
Industrial Light & Magic

Colum Slevin joined Industrial Light & Magic in 1999 as Project Manager for the Digital Technology Department. He was responsible for managing the software R&D teams and acting as a liaison between R&D and the visual effects production departments. Colum now heads the Computer Graphics Department, which is comprised of artists who create and develop the digital creatures, effects and environments featured in motion pictures such as Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Hulk, Pirates of the Caribbean among others.

For full details:

http://www.enterprise-ireland.com/contentforum/event3.asphttp://www.enterprise-ireland.com/contentforum/event3.asp

Exhibition And Conference:Storytelling And Games

Computer games are among the newest vehicles for telling stories and creating virtual worlds. This is the focus of an exhibition at Standford CA which looks at computer games and the narrative that propels them. It will be on view in three galleries through March 28, 2004 and is scheduled to coincide with two related exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco that open in late January 2004.

‘Fictional Worlds, Virtual Experiences: Storytelling and Computer Games’ lays out the history and cultural importance of interactive simulations, computer games, and video games, proposing that they represent the emerging narrative form and communication medium of the early 21st century. Physical artifacts, a timeline, and video clips will demonstrate how text, graphics, and interactivity have established a narrative framework in computer games. The exhibition will feature the projection of a networked, “massively multiplayer” virtual world, and interactive game stations will immerse visitors in the storytelling aspects of games, while challenging them to contemplate the history and the future of virtual gaming.

The event is sponsored by the Lynn Krywick Gibbons Gallery Exhibition Fund and the Cantor Arts Center members and derives from ‘How They Got Game Project’ at the Stanford Humanities Laboratory, a project establishing a path-finding narrative for the historical and critical appreciation of computer and video games. The guest speakers will be Dr. Henry Lowood, and Casey Alt, respectively Curator for History of Science and Technology Collections, Stanford University Libraries, and graduate student in the Program for History and Philosophy of Science.

A free conference on Friday, February 6, entitled ‘Story Engines: A Public Program on Storytelling and Computer Games,’ presents speakers from the industry and academia, addressing aspects of the role of narrative in computer games. The conference will take place 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Cantor Arts Center auditorium. Space is limited, with open seating and no reservations. Call 650-725-6788 for details.

The Cantor Arts Center is open Wednesday Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m. Admission is free. The Center is located on the Stanford University campus off Palm Drive, at Museum Way. Call 650-723-4177 or visit the web site

http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//http://www.stanford.edu/dept/SUMA//

Playstation New Media Art Competition Dead

Sony are looking for new digital art!

You just need to upload an image and link of your latest work to www.thirdplacegallery.org to be part of the latest exhibitioned Net Art Show.

You will automatically be put on the short list for a prize of 2000 euro and submitted to their Museum of Modern Art.

DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 15th

Full details:

http://www.thirdplacegallery.org/http://www.thirdplacegallery.org/

Xbox Live Launches

Xbox has announced that Live gaming has hit Ireland, with Xbox Live Starter Kits available at retail from October 30th. The Starter Kits contain an Xbox Voice Communicator headset that allows voice chat during play and from the Xbox Live Dashboard, a one-year subscription to the Xbox Live service, and Live-enabled demoversions of MotoGP and MechAssault.

Xbox Live is a broadband gaming service where gamers can simultaneously play, talk and build their legend across games and around the world. Competitors can connect, play and talk with each other during their game sessions – and with a growing Live community of over 500,000 gamers around the world, there’s a lot of
competition available.

There will be a total of 50 Live-enabled games available by the end of December, including:

Amped 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 (Ubi Soft)
Top Spin (Microsoft Game Studios)
XIII (Ubi Soft)
CounterStrike (Microsoft Game Studios)
Crimson Skies (Microsoft Game Studios)
Links (Microsoft Games Studio)
Magic: The Gathering (Atari)
Project Gotham Racing 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)
TOCA Race Driver (Codemasters)
Sega GT Online (Sega).
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (Activision)

Xbox Live is now available in 14 European countries. Ireland joins Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The Official Xbox Live Launch will take place today at 3.30pm in Microsoft, The Atrium, Block B, Carmenhall Road Sandyford, Dublin 18.

Visit:
default.aspwww.xboxemea.com

User name: partner
Password: xb0xr0ck$

Xbox Live Launches – 2

Xbox has announced that Live gaming has hit Ireland, with Xbox Live Starter Kits available at retail from October 30th. The Starter Kits contain an Xbox Voice Communicator headset that allows voice chat during play and from the Xbox Live Dashboard, a one-year subscription to the Xbox Live service, and Live-enabled demoversions of MotoGP and MechAssault.

Xbox Live is a broadband gaming service where gamers can simultaneously play, talk and build their legend across games and around the world. Competitors can connect, play and talk with each other during their game sessions – and with a growing Live community of over 500,000 gamers around the world, there’s a lot of
competition available.

There will be a total of 50 Live-enabled games available by the end of December, including:

Amped 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six 3 (Ubi Soft)
Top Spin (Microsoft Game Studios)
XIII (Ubi Soft)
CounterStrike (Microsoft Game Studios)
Crimson Skies (Microsoft Game Studios)
Links (Microsoft Games Studio)
Magic: The Gathering (Atari)
Project Gotham Racing 2 (Microsoft Game Studios)
TOCA Race Driver (Codemasters)
Sega GT Online (Sega).
Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy (Activision)

Xbox Live is now available in 14 European countries. Ireland joins Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The Official Xbox Live Launch will take place today at 3.30pm in Microsoft, The Atrium, Block B, Carmenhall Road Sandyford, Dublin 18.

Visit:
default.aspwww.xboxemea.com

User name: partner
Password: xb0xr0ck$

Art Spiegelman

Critical Voices in association with Dunlaoghaire College of Art, Design

Art Spiegelman was born in 1948 and has been a cartoonist since he was ateenager. In 1992 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his creation of the two-volume classic comic book Maus published in 1986 and 1991. Maus has since been published in twenty different languages. In November of1992, Spiegelman became a contributing editor and artist for the New Yorker magazine and his work has appeared on many of the covers since then. Since the bombing of the World Trade Towers, Spiegelman has been working on a new project about the atrocity. Two months ago he resigned from the New Yorker in protest at the US media’s coverage of the war on terror.

Venue: Multimedia Centre, Curved St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Date: Thursday 30th October, 7p.m.

This event is free of charge, however seating is limited – to reserve a
place please email: mailto:criticalvoices@artscouncil.iecriticalvoices@artscouncil.ie

Gamedev.Ie Shindig

Event Date: 31st September 2003.

Title: Gamedev Oct. shindig

Time: 7pm til late

Location: We are moving location again this month because last month we outgrew our space which was great.

So this month we are meeting in Mahaffeys pub, which is at the junction of Pearse Street and Westland Row and has a lot of scaffolding up outside at the moment. Not far from Pearse Street Dart Station which is at the back of Trinity College, Dublin.

We are going to have one side all to ourselves and I will bring posters so new people should be able to find us. Look for our logo and name as it appears on the top of this website..

Feel free to drop in and say hello!

Reaching First Place – Sony In Ireland – 2

JMC: Sony made PlayStation a mainstream brand recognised across the world. How did Sony achieve this in Ireland since 1995?

NOH: Well it’s probably through a number of factors. .. we opened up an office in Ireland, which I think was one of the key factors in establishing Playstation in Ireland. To run a sales and marketing operation in Ireland, you have to have a presence. One of the things stemming from that (was) we were able to take our central European marketing plans and localise them and make them relevant to consumers within the Irish marketplace. So most importantly was the establishment of an (Irish) office and secondly the bringing of the whole marketing plans to a local level and changing them completely where it was relevant to do so.

In terms of building a brand, it was always going to be a huge challenge, coming into a market that was in huge decline with the decline of the SNES from Nintendo and the Mega Drive and Sega. Between that and the launch of Playstation there were a few other console launches such as the Atari Jaguar, 3Do from Panasonic, CD-i from Phillips. It was a difficult period to come into the marketplace.

JMC: In the early days when Sony was attempting to challenge the mighty Nintendo and Sega, what hardships did you come up against in opening up the marketplace?

NOH: If you look at various different consumer electronic companies, like Phillips and Panasonic, it was always going to be a difficult task to get the retail support, because ultimately building a big brand depends hugely on the retailer distribution to bring it to the consumers so the consumer has the ability to purchase it. So basically when we started in 1995 we started with a team of one, me.

So I pretty much had to do everything; from setting up the operation to setting up the physical warehousing and distribution, transport companies, physically keying in the product into the system, down to selling the product to the retailers and getting retailer support backed throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, putting the marketing plans together, appointing an agency, working with the agency, localising the plan. It was a huge task and a huge challenge, and I would have to say it was a risk as well coming into the business. I had to make the decision of do I go for this or do I stick with the company I was employed with at the time, but I think a lot of hard work and effort worked and I’ve no regrets about the decision.

Basically through time the team built up. By the time of the launch there was Sinead Lynch, who’s still with the company, and it was hard work basically six months on the road going to the retailers trying (to) win backup and support for them to stock the product at launch, and after. I think that one of the key factors for getting them on board was the fact that it was Sony; albeit Panasonic and Philips had failed, well certainly CD-I had failed and Panasonic was launching in around the same time, so it hadn’t really been a failure as such, but it was certainly encouraging to see the level of support from the electrical retailers knowing Sony, and the products that Sony produced, certainly helped gain the support at the retail level. Then it was really down to getting the support of the likes of the traditional video game outlets like Smyths toys and FutureZone, as it was then, which was to become EB and now Game. So even the retail environment has gone through a lot of change in the timeframe.

JMC: How did you get involved in Sony Ireland?

NOH: It’s interesting the way Sony Computer Entertainment approached the Irish market initially. They weren’t sure about opening up an operation in Ireland, (but there) were existing Sony companies already operating (here): Sony Electronics, Sony Music and Columbia Tristar. So basically what they decided to do was to appoint Columbia Tristar as the SCEE representative company in Ireland- it was a safe bet really because rather than physically establishing an entity it was an easy option to go into an existing operation.

The sales manager of Columbia Tristar at the time was an ex-colleague of mine who had worked in the same industry as me, the capital equipment industry. He rang me to say there was a position coming up so I went along to meet the relevant people both from SCE and Columbia Tristar, Andre Graham was the MD at the time. I had several meetings, they had several interviews, and they offered me a position. I had a think about it. I had a conversation with my wife. I was working in a completely different industry at the time, I’d never worked in the industry, didn’t really know an awful lot about it. So I did a bit of research about an industry that was in massive decline but ultimately I made the decision that I’d go for it.

JMC: What was Sony’s initial marketing plan for the Playstation when it launched, and how did this change as the console gained a foothold in the country?

NOH: It changed hugely. I’ll never forget our first campaign, which was SAPS – Society Against PlayStation. (We) basically ran an anti-Playstation campaign with some really good TV commercials using a bit of a geeky character who was the president of SAPS. It lent itself to a campaign because it was very campaignable. So we had this guy with the glasses and all the rest who had a strange salute sign-off and the tagline ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Playstation’ and it was great.

The Christmas one was also great because he had this great song – it basically said parents don’t buy this for your kids, it’s a bagel toaster and called it all these things. This is not what they want, buy them a stick and he had this little song which went ‘its not too thin, its not too thick, its stick, stick, stick. It’s got some bark, it’s good for a lark, its stick, stick, stick.’ It was totally different and it stood out hugely and that was the initial launch period and after six months of that Playstation had really established itself. The TV creative was memorable, was discussed everywhere in marketing magazines, the main press, the business press, it was all over the place. We got a couple of actors and actresses who were the evangelists of SAPS and we put them on the streets and they were the real Holy Mary’s saying your kids will be demonised and corrupted by this device and we had a lot of fun with that in the early stages and it certainly was fresh at the time, but obviously that was a campaign that was purely to establish (the brand) and we had to move on from there.

So central marketing for Europe came up with a campaign that we felt was too advanced for our consumer at that time, so we embarked upon creating our own TV creative which is unusual for Ireland because of the cost of production. We used a young guy who is still on TV, Kevin O’Connell, in our commercial and at the time it was the right thing to do for the Irish marketplace. We developed a campaign which was culturally on top of the Irish market .. and that was the turning point where people stood up and took notice, appreciative of the face that SCE and PlayStation (were) very much a global brand but at the same time were very local.

In year 3 we then moved back to the central creative which was very strong and very different again and each year after that too, but all along the tagline for PlayStation was ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of PlayStation’ and I think that was a very strong line and worked really well.

image2

JMC: How long did it take SCEI to ‘make it’ in the Republic?

NOH: Well that depends on how you define ‘make it’. To establish itself, year 3 was probably the big year, and that was through a combination of marketing campaigns that we initiated on the ground.. ..We had a lot of work to do basically to educate the Irish public as to what video gaming was and what it was about and that it wasn’t just for teenage kids in their bedroom. So that was a challenge and .. in the first three years we did a lot of educating of the public with a lot of on the ground stuff like road shows and work in-store and I think that all paid off and the third and fourth years really were big years for Playstation in Ireland. In year four we sold 182,000 consoles which was quite phenomenal.

JMC: The Playstation has become a cultural icon for the under twenties. How has Sony achieved this?

NOH: Again I think its in the brand’s presentation, PlayStation was always targeted from day one at the 18-24 year old marketplace, and through various different research and our understanding of that youth market we positioned ourselves as being one of these ‘must have’ brands of the 90’s like Nike. That was always core to us, with lots of underground guerrilla marketing techniques focused around students, nightclubs, pubs. I think they grew up with PlayStation, going from school to third level with this brand as part and parcel of their whole existence and we worked very hard at that. Having established ourselves as being that cool, edgy new brand, (we) had that aspiration factor, and once you have that the early and mid teens and even younger will always aspire to be part of that. So it really is getting the opinion formers, the hardcore gamers and the influencers on board and then they’ll bring everyone else with them.

JMC: When the PlayStation 2 was released what changed in your marketing strategy?

NOH: Well I suppose when we looked at PS2 we had to look at what differentiates it from PlayStation. Basically we decided that it was a completely different device offering so much more. PlayStation was for gaming and for gamers. PS2 we believe was much more so we were looking at a much broader market. It has DVD playback, (was) future ready for Internet connectivity, online gaming etc. Having looked at that we basically came up with an essence of the brand, which was that PS2 was in marketing terms an open gateway to a living future and out of that marketing speak came ‘The Third Place’.

JMC: Can you explain to me exactly where ‘The Third Place’ is?

NOH: A lot of people say what is ‘The Third Place’, where is ‘The Third Place’e, how do you get to ‘The Third Place’. It’s interesting because everyone has a different take on it, which is brilliant because that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s individual, it doesn’t exist, there is no place per se, it’s somewhere that exists within a person’s mind and different experiences will bring people to their own Third Place. It exists individually and different games and different PlayStation experiences will bring people to different places. So it’s a fun kind of nirvana between your work place and your home place you’ve got this space that you live in.

JMC: On to the games, how do you decide on what strategy to use when a new game from the Sony stable is released?

NOH: It’s something that’s constantly evolving but a lot of it stems from the development studio, which would have its idea for the game, which it’s passionate about so they’re the best people to speak to when deciding how to bring this game to market. We have a central product manager who manages the whole transition from the studio and the development cycle into developing all the various materials to bring the title to market.

Then on the ground you have local product managers who work alongside the central product manager and develop a marketing strategy for that particular title. It’s a combination of individuals who bring the title to market. Different games will have different things that you can do with them. We would have a look at the game and the type of content in the game and see where the core market is. If it’s the 18-24 year olds, if it is older, such as (for) a golf game, while a Disney game would be targeted a younger age group. Then you might have a Disney type game that would have gameplay that would be relevant for a much older age group even though it’s Disney, such as Kingdom Hearts which was a Squaresoft & Disney collaboration which was very much a Disney meets Final Fantasy even though it’s not a Disney Final Fantasy game. That’s bringing kids and late teens together in one environment and it worked very well. It really depends on the gameplay and the content, and if it’s a licence it depends on the licence. You can’t say there’s a directory of instructions to follow, it really is title to title.

JMC: Your most recent football title, This Is Football 2003 used an extensive beer mat campaign across the country to generate awareness. What made you decide to use this sort of advertising?

NOH: Well one of the things we constantly look at is alternative media. TV hits a lot of people in a short space of time but it’s expensive and we have limits to our budgets. So we constantly challenge our media agency, we have a separate agency specifically who looks after our media and media buying, to look for new opportunities and different opportunities to market our products. One of the things they came up with was beer-mats. However it wasn’t the first time we used beer mats.

We had a brand campaign using a computer distorted female, the strange headed woman called Fifi, and we had a lot of fun with that as well. We did the voiceover with an Irish accent, we also did the voiceover with a male voice, which was really weird, and we did one as Gaeilge which we ran on TG4. And we used beer mats for that. We are very much targeting an older age group, we’re not going after children and teens, like our competitiors, and beer mats are ideal for targeting people in pubs. We also use a lot of washroom advertising: behind toilet doors, urinals and cubicles.

JMC: The Playstation.ie website carries an extensive range of information for any PlayStation enthusiast. How effective have you found this, or do you put most of your focus on the micro-sites contained within it?

NOH: A combination of the two. We are one of the few countries where we have a dedicated web content manager whose sole purpose in life is to look after the website. We put a lot of emphasis on the website, update (it) daily and it’s got pretty high traffic. A lot of effort goes into the mini sites however we mightn’t necessary do all the work on them, relying on the central web team to do a lot of the editorial work for us. Certainly on the Irish specific content we do a lot of work. We build a lot of games and and we use a local agency to do that. In fact to promote the launch of the music game Frequency, our agency locally produced a game called Sequency which was a music based game. It’s still on the website and it’s good fun for instant gratification spending five or ten minutes creating your own tracks. Our central web team thought it was so good that they actually bought the rights to use it in Europe on all the individual European websites.

JMC: What is Sony’s outlook towards online gaming, and how will this be dealt with in Ireland?

NOH: In Ireland at the moment it’s non existent, and our approach to online gaming is wait and see. We’re in contact with the main operators about it, but until broadband penetration reaches a point, our hands are tied. We’ve launched elsewhere already but we’ll launch when it’s available. As for our outlook, it’s open. If a 3rd party publisher wants to launch a game on its own servers that’s fine. Our competitors insist on ownership of the servers and this has led to Electronic Arts signing all their online offerings exclusively to PS2.

JMC: Sony has had two great successes with peripherals: the boom microphone for SOCOM and more recently Eye Toy. Historically peripherals attached to games have been met with a lukewarm response, how has this changed with these two titles?

NOH: SOCOM can be played without the headset, but using it has opened up a new gaming experience for consumers (and) we’ve launched it at a competitive price point. We’ve had successes in the past with both the light gun and even the dance mat, and Time Crisis and The Jungle Book show this. The main thing about peripherals is that once they are priced competitively there will be take up, but if you price it out of the market it just won’t well. On the other hand, Eye Toy can’t be played without the peripheral but we’ve priced it as the same price as a normal software title so it’s reasonably priced as well as being great fun and I think our chart position shows this.

image3

JMC: Many of our readers on gamedevelopers.ie would like to know if Sony will take the lead in picking up Irish development teams?

NOH: If there are any Irish companies interested in developing for our range of consoles, we can be approached. We have been approached in the past, and have given funding, but also work on the basis of upfront payment and royalties. We do have a 3rd Party Liaison Group within the company for dealing with these companies. We can and have done publishing deals with Irish companies to sell, market and publish with these companies. If any companies are seriously interested in developing for a PlayStation console, I can be contacted directly about it.

JMC: Finally, what do you think needs to happen in Ireland to get the our development industry going?

NOH: It’s a difficult enough question as there are a huge number of Irish people working in various different development studios across the globe. Most of these people learned their trade outside of Ireland and stay out of Ireland. The economic environment in the country will simply dissuade people from coming back because it’s just too expensive. Enterprise Ireland needs to put more emphasis on the fact that the games industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They need to put a cohesive plan together to draw in investment from both the publishing and development community.

A little more emphasis also needs to be put on games design in the education system in the IT’s and even at second level. It’s a large business like the movie business and needs to be recognised as such. Importantly it needs to be recognised as a viable career.

The chief of the IDA recently said the future of investment will go to traditional ‘old economy’ companies instead of new economy companies, which includes games companies, and statements like this are not very encouraging.

Author Bio: Jamie McCormick is the former editor of the Irish Games website IrishPlayer.com, as well as a freelance writer for a number of magazines and sites around the country. He is currently studying Marketing in Dublin Institute of Technology.

community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=121Discuss this article in our forum

Reaching First Place – Sony In Ireland

JMC: Sony made PlayStation a mainstream brand recognised across the world. How did Sony achieve this in Ireland since 1995?

NOH: Well it’s probably through a number of factors. .. we opened up an office in Ireland, which I think was one of the key factors in establishing Playstation in Ireland. To run a sales and marketing operation in Ireland, you have to have a presence. One of the things stemming from that (was) we were able to take our central European marketing plans and localise them and make them relevant to consumers within the Irish marketplace. So most importantly was the establishment of an (Irish) office and secondly the bringing of the whole marketing plans to a local level and changing them completely where it was relevant to do so.

In terms of building a brand, it was always going to be a huge challenge, coming into a market that was in huge decline with the decline of the SNES from Nintendo and the Mega Drive and Sega. Between that and the launch of Playstation there were a few other console launches such as the Atari Jaguar, 3Do from Panasonic, CD-i from Phillips. It was a difficult period to come into the marketplace.

JMC: In the early days when Sony was attempting to challenge the mighty Nintendo and Sega, what hardships did you come up against in opening up the marketplace?

NOH: If you look at various different consumer electronic companies, like Phillips and Panasonic, it was always going to be a difficult task to get the retail support, because ultimately building a big brand depends hugely on the retailer distribution to bring it to the consumers so the consumer has the ability to purchase it. So basically when we started in 1995 we started with a team of one, me.

So I pretty much had to do everything; from setting up the operation to setting up the physical warehousing and distribution, transport companies, physically keying in the product into the system, down to selling the product to the retailers and getting retailer support backed throughout the 32 counties of Ireland, putting the marketing plans together, appointing an agency, working with the agency, localising the plan. It was a huge task and a huge challenge, and I would have to say it was a risk as well coming into the business. I had to make the decision of do I go for this or do I stick with the company I was employed with at the time, but I think a lot of hard work and effort worked and I’ve no regrets about the decision.

Basically through time the team built up. By the time of the launch there was Sinead Lynch, who’s still with the company, and it was hard work basically six months on the road going to the retailers trying (to) win backup and support for them to stock the product at launch, and after. I think that one of the key factors for getting them on board was the fact that it was Sony; albeit Panasonic and Philips had failed, well certainly CD-I had failed and Panasonic was launching in around the same time, so it hadn’t really been a failure as such, but it was certainly encouraging to see the level of support from the electrical retailers knowing Sony, and the products that Sony produced, certainly helped gain the support at the retail level. Then it was really down to getting the support of the likes of the traditional video game outlets like Smyths toys and FutureZone, as it was then, which was to become EB and now Game. So even the retail environment has gone through a lot of change in the timeframe.

JMC: How did you get involved in Sony Ireland?

NOH: It’s interesting the way Sony Computer Entertainment approached the Irish market initially. They weren’t sure about opening up an operation in Ireland, (but there) were existing Sony companies already operating (here): Sony Electronics, Sony Music and Columbia Tristar. So basically what they decided to do was to appoint Columbia Tristar as the SCEE representative company in Ireland- it was a safe bet really because rather than physically establishing an entity it was an easy option to go into an existing operation.

The sales manager of Columbia Tristar at the time was an ex-colleague of mine who had worked in the same industry as me, the capital equipment industry. He rang me to say there was a position coming up so I went along to meet the relevant people both from SCE and Columbia Tristar, Andre Graham was the MD at the time. I had several meetings, they had several interviews, and they offered me a position. I had a think about it. I had a conversation with my wife. I was working in a completely different industry at the time, I’d never worked in the industry, didn’t really know an awful lot about it. So I did a bit of research about an industry that was in massive decline but ultimately I made the decision that I’d go for it.

JMC: What was Sony’s initial marketing plan for the Playstation when it launched, and how did this change as the console gained a foothold in the country?

NOH: It changed hugely. I’ll never forget our first campaign, which was SAPS – Society Against PlayStation. (We) basically ran an anti-Playstation campaign with some really good TV commercials using a bit of a geeky character who was the president of SAPS. It lent itself to a campaign because it was very campaignable. So we had this guy with the glasses and all the rest who had a strange salute sign-off and the tagline ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of Playstation’ and it was great.

The Christmas one was also great because he had this great song – it basically said parents don’t buy this for your kids, it’s a bagel toaster and called it all these things. This is not what they want, buy them a stick and he had this little song which went ‘its not too thin, its not too thick, its stick, stick, stick. It’s got some bark, it’s good for a lark, its stick, stick, stick.’ It was totally different and it stood out hugely and that was the initial launch period and after six months of that Playstation had really established itself. The TV creative was memorable, was discussed everywhere in marketing magazines, the main press, the business press, it was all over the place. We got a couple of actors and actresses who were the evangelists of SAPS and we put them on the streets and they were the real Holy Mary’s saying your kids will be demonised and corrupted by this device and we had a lot of fun with that in the early stages and it certainly was fresh at the time, but obviously that was a campaign that was purely to establish (the brand) and we had to move on from there.

So central marketing for Europe came up with a campaign that we felt was too advanced for our consumer at that time, so we embarked upon creating our own TV creative which is unusual for Ireland because of the cost of production. We used a young guy who is still on TV, Kevin O’Connell, in our commercial and at the time it was the right thing to do for the Irish marketplace. We developed a campaign which was culturally on top of the Irish market .. and that was the turning point where people stood up and took notice, appreciative of the face that SCE and PlayStation (were) very much a global brand but at the same time were very local.

In year 3 we then moved back to the central creative which was very strong and very different again and each year after that too, but all along the tagline for PlayStation was ‘Do Not Underestimate The Power Of PlayStation’ and I think that was a very strong line and worked really well.

image2

JMC: How long did it take SCEI to ‘make it’ in the Republic?

NOH: Well that depends on how you define ‘make it’. To establish itself, year 3 was probably the big year, and that was through a combination of marketing campaigns that we initiated on the ground.. ..We had a lot of work to do basically to educate the Irish public as to what video gaming was and what it was about and that it wasn’t just for teenage kids in their bedroom. So that was a challenge and .. in the first three years we did a lot of educating of the public with a lot of on the ground stuff like road shows and work in-store and I think that all paid off and the third and fourth years really were big years for Playstation in Ireland. In year four we sold 182,000 consoles which was quite phenomenal.

JMC: The Playstation has become a cultural icon for the under twenties. How has Sony achieved this?

NOH: Again I think its in the brand’s presentation, PlayStation was always targeted from day one at the 18-24 year old marketplace, and through various different research and our understanding of that youth market we positioned ourselves as being one of these ‘must have’ brands of the 90’s like Nike. That was always core to us, with lots of underground guerrilla marketing techniques focused around students, nightclubs, pubs. I think they grew up with PlayStation, going from school to third level with this brand as part and parcel of their whole existence and we worked very hard at that. Having established ourselves as being that cool, edgy new brand, (we) had that aspiration factor, and once you have that the early and mid teens and even younger will always aspire to be part of that. So it really is getting the opinion formers, the hardcore gamers and the influencers on board and then they’ll bring everyone else with them.

JMC: When the PlayStation 2 was released what changed in your marketing strategy?

NOH: Well I suppose when we looked at PS2 we had to look at what differentiates it from PlayStation. Basically we decided that it was a completely different device offering so much more. PlayStation was for gaming and for gamers. PS2 we believe was much more so we were looking at a much broader market. It has DVD playback, (was) future ready for Internet connectivity, online gaming etc. Having looked at that we basically came up with an essence of the brand, which was that PS2 was in marketing terms an open gateway to a living future and out of that marketing speak came ‘The Third Place’.

JMC: Can you explain to me exactly where ‘The Third Place’ is?

NOH: A lot of people say what is ‘The Third Place’, where is ‘The Third Place’e, how do you get to ‘The Third Place’. It’s interesting because everyone has a different take on it, which is brilliant because that’s what it’s meant to be. It’s individual, it doesn’t exist, there is no place per se, it’s somewhere that exists within a person’s mind and different experiences will bring people to their own Third Place. It exists individually and different games and different PlayStation experiences will bring people to different places. So it’s a fun kind of nirvana between your work place and your home place you’ve got this space that you live in.

JMC: On to the games, how do you decide on what strategy to use when a new game from the Sony stable is released?

NOH: It’s something that’s constantly evolving but a lot of it stems from the development studio, which would have its idea for the game, which it’s passionate about so they’re the best people to speak to when deciding how to bring this game to market. We have a central product manager who manages the whole transition from the studio and the development cycle into developing all the various materials to bring the title to market.

Then on the ground you have local product managers who work alongside the central product manager and develop a marketing strategy for that particular title. It’s a combination of individuals who bring the title to market. Different games will have different things that you can do with them. We would have a look at the game and the type of content in the game and see where the core market is. If it’s the 18-24 year olds, if it is older, such as (for) a golf game, while a Disney game would be targeted a younger age group. Then you might have a Disney type game that would have gameplay that would be relevant for a much older age group even though it’s Disney, such as Kingdom Hearts which was a Squaresoft & Disney collaboration which was very much a Disney meets Final Fantasy even though it’s not a Disney Final Fantasy game. That’s bringing kids and late teens together in one environment and it worked very well. It really depends on the gameplay and the content, and if it’s a licence it depends on the licence. You can’t say there’s a directory of instructions to follow, it really is title to title.

JMC: Your most recent football title, This Is Football 2003 used an extensive beer mat campaign across the country to generate awareness. What made you decide to use this sort of advertising?

NOH: Well one of the things we constantly look at is alternative media. TV hits a lot of people in a short space of time but it’s expensive and we have limits to our budgets. So we constantly challenge our media agency, we have a separate agency specifically who looks after our media and media buying, to look for new opportunities and different opportunities to market our products. One of the things they came up with was beer-mats. However it wasn’t the first time we used beer mats.

We had a brand campaign using a computer distorted female, the strange headed woman called Fifi, and we had a lot of fun with that as well. We did the voiceover with an Irish accent, we also did the voiceover with a male voice, which was really weird, and we did one as Gaeilge which we ran on TG4. And we used beer mats for that. We are very much targeting an older age group, we’re not going after children and teens, like our competitiors, and beer mats are ideal for targeting people in pubs. We also use a lot of washroom advertising: behind toilet doors, urinals and cubicles.

JMC: The Playstation.ie website carries an extensive range of information for any PlayStation enthusiast. How effective have you found this, or do you put most of your focus on the micro-sites contained within it?

NOH: A combination of the two. We are one of the few countries where we have a dedicated web content manager whose sole purpose in life is to look after the website. We put a lot of emphasis on the website, update (it) daily and it’s got pretty high traffic. A lot of effort goes into the mini sites however we mightn’t necessary do all the work on them, relying on the central web team to do a lot of the editorial work for us. Certainly on the Irish specific content we do a lot of work. We build a lot of games and and we use a local agency to do that. In fact to promote the launch of the music game Frequency, our agency locally produced a game called Sequency which was a music based game. It’s still on the website and it’s good fun for instant gratification spending five or ten minutes creating your own tracks. Our central web team thought it was so good that they actually bought the rights to use it in Europe on all the individual European websites.

JMC: What is Sony’s outlook towards online gaming, and how will this be dealt with in Ireland?

NOH: In Ireland at the moment it’s non existent, and our approach to online gaming is wait and see. We’re in contact with the main operators about it, but until broadband penetration reaches a point, our hands are tied. We’ve launched elsewhere already but we’ll launch when it’s available. As for our outlook, it’s open. If a 3rd party publisher wants to launch a game on its own servers that’s fine. Our competitors insist on ownership of the servers and this has led to Electronic Arts signing all their online offerings exclusively to PS2.

JMC: Sony has had two great successes with peripherals: the boom microphone for SOCOM and more recently Eye Toy. Historically peripherals attached to games have been met with a lukewarm response, how has this changed with these two titles?

NOH: SOCOM can be played without the headset, but using it has opened up a new gaming experience for consumers (and) we’ve launched it at a competitive price point. We’ve had successes in the past with both the light gun and even the dance mat, and Time Crisis and The Jungle Book show this. The main thing about peripherals is that once they are priced competitively there will be take up, but if you price it out of the market it just won’t well. On the other hand, Eye Toy can’t be played without the peripheral but we’ve priced it as the same price as a normal software title so it’s reasonably priced as well as being great fun and I think our chart position shows this.

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JMC: Many of our readers on gamedevelopers.ie would like to know if Sony will take the lead in picking up Irish development teams?

NOH: If there are any Irish companies interested in developing for our range of consoles, we can be approached. We have been approached in the past, and have given funding, but also work on the basis of upfront payment and royalties. We do have a 3rd Party Liaison Group within the company for dealing with these companies. We can and have done publishing deals with Irish companies to sell, market and publish with these companies. If any companies are seriously interested in developing for a PlayStation console, I can be contacted directly about it.

JMC: Finally, what do you think needs to happen in Ireland to get the our development industry going?

NOH: It’s a difficult enough question as there are a huge number of Irish people working in various different development studios across the globe. Most of these people learned their trade outside of Ireland and stay out of Ireland. The economic environment in the country will simply dissuade people from coming back because it’s just too expensive. Enterprise Ireland needs to put more emphasis on the fact that the games industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. They need to put a cohesive plan together to draw in investment from both the publishing and development community.

A little more emphasis also needs to be put on games design in the education system in the IT’s and even at second level. It’s a large business like the movie business and needs to be recognised as such. Importantly it needs to be recognised as a viable career.

The chief of the IDA recently said the future of investment will go to traditional ‘old economy’ companies instead of new economy companies, which includes games companies, and statements like this are not very encouraging.

Author Bio: Jamie McCormick is the former editor of the Irish Games website IrishPlayer.com, as well as a freelance writer for a number of magazines and sites around the country. He is currently studying Marketing in Dublin Institute of Technology.

community/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=121Discuss this article in our forum

Multimedia Exhibition In Dcu, 7/8Th Nov.

NEXUS, The DCU School of Communications multimedia exhibition 2003 will take place in the Gallery in the Helix, DCU from 4pm on Thursday, 6th November, and remain open on Friday, 7th November and Saturday 8th November from 12 noon to 11pm, each day.

The exhibition will showcase multimedia productions from the
2003 masters in multimedia group, as well as projects undertaken by the
first graduates of the undergraduate multimedia programme, and a project from last year’s Masters exhibition which has been short listed for the EuroPrix award.

The 2003 exhibition is sponsored by Apple Computer, Eurotek, JVC and the School of Communications.

More information on the projects is available at http://www.multimedia.dcu.iehttp://www.multimedia.dcu.ie

Car parking is available close to the university entrance on Collins
Avenue. Directions to the Helix are clearly signposted in the car park.
The Gallery is on the second floor of the Helix.

Ni Telecoms Selected For Xbox Live – 2

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland have been selected by Microsoft as broadband provider partners for Xbox Live as part of its Compatibility Programme, it has been announced this week. This worldwide programme helps to optimise user experiences by selecting broadband packages, offering a huge potential for both Northern Ireland companies.

"Xbox Live is a tangible example of what broadband can deliver for consumers. Xbox Live allows players to connect with each other globally in real-time at high-speed, which is, after all, what the Internet is all about," said Esat BT CEO Bill Murphy.

Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland will be joined by over 50 other broadband providers in North America, Japan and Europe developing connectivity packages and assisting in marketing initiatives.

Orla Sheridan, Home and Entertainments Division Sales Manager Ireland, Microsoft, said "We’re delighted to be partnering with Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland to provide Xbox Live customers on the island of Ireland with the ultimate gaming experience. Esat BT and BT Northern Ireland were chosen as Xbox Live partners because of the quality, reach and ease-of-use of their residential broadband services. Speed is of the essence in many of the Xbox Live games and this partnership will mean that Xbox Live users in Ireland will be able to compete against fellow gamers across the world at blistering speeds."

For more information on Xbox Live, visit:
en-IE/default.htm?culture=0www.xbox.com or default.aspwww.xboxemea.com

User name: partner
Password: xb0xr0ck$

For further information, contact Andrew McLindon/Frans van Cauwelaert WHPR,
Tel: (01) 669 0030
Email:
mailto:andrew.mclindon@ogilvy.comandrew.mclindon@ogilvy.com
mailto:frans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.comfrans.vancauwelaert@ogilvy.com

Priscilla O’Regan, Communications Manager, Esat BT,
Tel: (01) 432 5162/086 633 5398
Email:mailto:Priscilla.o’regan@esat.comPriscilla.o’regan@esat.com

Xbox Public Relations
Nicola Watkins PR
Tel : (01) 6636587 / 087-2646858
Email:
mailto:nicolawatkins@eircom.netnicolawatkins@eircom.net

For more information on Esat BT, visit ie/www.esatbt.com

Ideas Generation Workshops – 2

As part of the Business Generation Seminars, this series of workshops include: setting up a business, understanding entrepeneurship, time frame for getting started, understanding the market place, indentifying real business potential, funding and start up assistance available in the Dublin region.

The workshops will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor’s Lane, Dublin 8 on October 18th and November 29th.

More details of seminars as they occur at:

seminars.htmseminars.htm

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