Gd.Ie Shindig

There will be an informal pub meet of forum members and friends this coming Friday night in the Cornerstone Pub, corner of Kevin Street and Wexford Street in Dublin from 7pm.

There is an up and downstairs so have a good look for us and if you need a contact number PM aphra before Friday evening.

for a map see http://www.softguides.com/dublin/maps/l52o54.html

On Sat Ernest Adams is hosting a workshop with secondary school children on game design in DIT and next Monday Microsoft and Trinity College are hosting an XNA development day. More news on these elsewhere in news and on the forums under events.

see http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewforum.php?f=18

Xna Game Dev Workshop

The Trinity College IET MSc programme in collaboration with Microsoft is hosting an XNA Game Development workshop on Monday 26th November in the Lloyd Institute, TCD.

If you are interested in attending this event you must register in advance here:

http://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032358370&Culture=en-IE

Speakers include Liam Cronin, MS academic liaison in Ireland, and Dave Mitchell, Director, Microsoft XNA, Microsoft Corporation who will talk about ‘ The Ongoing Democratization of Game Development. Steve Collins will also speak.

More details of the event and the schedule are available at the above website.

For map of Trinity see http://www.tcd.ie/Maps/tcd_east.html

Review Of Serious Games Conf. ‘07

Friday 26th September 2007 saw a Serious Games Awakenings (SGA) conference hosted in the North West Regional College (NWRC) in Derry in Northern Ireland. James Burke from the University of Ulster at Coleraine wrote a review of the event for gd.ie

The event was organised by the Northern Ireland Business and Innovation Centre (NORIBIC) and involved speakers from the Serious Games industry, from academia as well as exhibitions from local companies involved with serious games. The event was also host to the launch of “Recall”, a 3D serious game made in Derry to promote peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland’s schools.

Prior to the event’s commencement, local companies and schools had a chance to set up and showcase their work in the centre’s foyer. Exhibitors included ICECUBE, SilverTongue Software, DoodleDawg Entertainment, Nerve Centre, Instinct Technology, Invest Northern Ireland, and University of Ulster. I was contributing as part of the C3 research group at UUC and the conference provided a great opportunity to display information about our work on rehabilitation and educational serious games, as well as our work on game based e-learning systems.

The conference kicked off with a foreword from NORIBIC, and the entire conference was being broadcast live through Second Life, which was shown on screens at either side of the main stage.

Professor Paul Fullwood – Abertay University, Dundee

The first talk of the day was from Professor Paul Fullwood of Abertay University, Dundee. Prof. Fullwood’s talk began by giving a brief overview of the games industry, now an industry bigger than the movie industry, having overtaken DVD as well as movie sales. He also mentioned the statistic that 31% of males play games, whilst only 14% of females play games, which is something he believes needs to be taken into account in the design of educational games.

He discussed the premise of play being a natural technique: just like young animals play to learn and improve skills, so do we as humans, and this is just as viable a learning technique when we are older. He also recalled how his son could learn a very long cheat code off by heart for a game, and suggested how great it would be if we could educate children with such a memorable impact through game content. Games will educate if they are fairly paced, well balanced in terms of difficulty (skill versus balance), well designed, and of course, if people want to play the game.

The importance of packaging educational content in the form of a fun inviting game for also stressed, and he used an example that kids would not desire to play a game entitled “Long Division” (you’re right there!). Based on his experience from his California based serious games company ‘LightSpan’, Professor Fullwood proposed that there are 3 main conditions that will make a serious game successful:

*Dilution
*Dispersion
*Demographics

These conditions are based upon the theory that in order for a serious game to be successful, it is important to dilute the educational objective and disperse it over many sections of a game, rather than cramming it all into one section. This means that the game’s playability will not be hampered by the educational messages which need to be portrayed. He also advised that games must be designed with the player demographics in mind, for example a game designed and produced by Americans will not necessarily suit children in Scotland.

Professor Fullwood closed by talking about his current project, Add Knowledge, utilising Fullwood’s years of experience gained from LightSpan. The project, which has backing from the Scottish government, aims to provide every child in Scotland, aged between 5 and 12 yrs old, with a free games console. Games will then be provided which cover all aspects of the education curriculum, with the objective of children playing these games outside of school hours to increase their learning time. Consoles were chosen as the key platform over personal computers as consoles are generally cheaper than high powered PC’s, are easy to setup, have a high availability, and are a lot more stable and universally compatible than PC’s. “Learning is child’s play” is the fitting motto to end Professor Fullwood’s presentation.

Roo Reynolds – Metaverse Evangelist, IBM

Next up was Andrew “Roo” Reynolds of IBM’s Hursleys Park Laboratory, who describes himself as a “metaverse evangelist”, and is part of a team which facilitates the use of virtual worlds. He has a very active online presence, blogging with his work partner on eightbar.co.uk, wandering the world of Second Life, representing his music taste on Last.fm, keeping his bookmarks on del.icio.us, uploading his photos to Flickr, tracking his location on Plazes, and telling what he’s currently doing on Twitter. He also showed a product developed for IBM’ers called ‘IBM Rock’ which aggregates data from Last.fm as well as the user’s location on a Google Earth type interface, showing where users are and what they’re listening to.

Roo believes these social sites allow people to keep in touch, as well as learning more about each other, perhaps leading to discussion about mutual interests you never knew you had, as well as extending our social networks. The content of these sites is user-driven and highly personalised. The technology also allows people to collaborate at times when it might not otherwise be possible.

He also spoke of how virtual worlds allow us to be whoever we want, be it a representation of our true selves, or something completely different. As an example he talked about a friend of his who uses a cloud as his avatar in Second Life! They can also be used for work purposes, as Roo showed screenshots of meetings which IBM held within Second Life, with the employees’ avatars gathered around a table. “Work doesn’t have to be boring”, he says. Other virtual worlds were mentioned, such as the online space game “EVE Online” which Roo plays occasionally, and the upcoming “Playstation Home” virtual world, which will be for use on the Playstation 3 console. Finally, he showed Metaverse, a virtual world being developed internally for IBM employees, based on the Torque engine.

You can read Roo’s personal blog at http://rooreynolds.com/

Professor Lizbeth Goodman –
SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, and Magic Gamelab

Dr Lizbeth Goodman is Professor of Creative Technology Innovation, and founder/director of the SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, and Magic Gamelab, based at the University of East London and at international sister sites globally. She is the director of a team of professional new media artists, technologists, urban planners and engineers conducting collaborative research into the transdisciplinary fields of technology development and art, e-health, e-inclusion, haptics and ‘art-sci’. Her fields of speciality are gender representation in the digital media (performance, film, moving image and games/virtual environments) and the creation of learning games developed for, and also with, people with disabilities and non-standard gamers. She believes that games should not be needlessly challenging, and should be somewhat relaxing.

Professor Goodman’s presentation consisted of a DVD video which showcased the institute’s areas of work:

InterFACES – the human face of assistive technologies. This project tests the effectiveness of available tools for using eye movement as a control mechanism for communications by people with little or no other voluntary muscle movement. The video showed an event called Music Jam, where the user, James Brosnan, who has cerebral palsy, was able to play along with musicians using an eye tracking system involving an on-screen grid, where different positions represented different notes and chords.

MINDtouch – Embodiment Theory & User Interface Design (BBC project): To work with biofeedback sensor technologies on the bodies of Tai Chi practitioners and Mediators’ in tandem with mobile phone technology to find unique and meaningful ways to work with and visualize the mind/body activity in various states of movement, stillness and meditation.

Lost & Found – A game utilising cutting edge and future technology tools to help track missing children and adults, and running a GPS-enabled system with live and online objectives to track sightings.

Other projects listed on the SMARTlab website include:

MAGIC and PLAYroom – The PLAYroom provides SPACE for free play: projects based in the PLAYroom will focus exclusively on gaming and play, whilst emphasising knowledge transfer, partnership with the private and public sectors, commercial development, and virtual and real world community projects.

MAGICBOX – Accessible Tech Personal & Community Fabrication: The MAGICBOX workshop enables fabrication of computer generated design models. Our goal is to develop accessible systems for desktop manufacturing, peer production and digital materialization. We are interested in the application of this technology to disadvantaged population groups.

TRUST – The Butterfly Factory: A storytelling game with human movement interaction triggered by a haptic chair.

HOPE – Gives chronically ill children the opportunity to escape stresses inherent in their conditions by providing distraction through gaming and comfort via peer contact.

To conclude, Lizbeth stated that SMART Labs are actively looking for new communities or universities to start new partnerships. You can check the team’s website at www.smartlab.uk.com for more details.

David Wortley – Director, Serious Games Institute

David Wortley is Director of the Serious Games Institute (SGI) at Coventry University. He is responsible for the development of the Institute as a self-financing initiative to establish a centre of excellence for the serious games application area.

“Virtual worlds are a new frontier. We as developers are its pioneers”, David proudly announces.

David spoke of his experiences with virtual worlds such as Second Life, and talked of the increasing use of augmented reality and geographic information systems driving us increasingly closer to technology where we will be able to zoom into an area of the world, and drill right down inside a building, which will allow us to socialise with other people within that building. He presented an example of this, where the institute were having a meeting which was also simultaneously represented in Second Life, with each person represented as an avatar.

Another example of augmented reality which David spoke of was the virtual doll house – a doll house which could be explored and controlled in a virtual world, but where each action in the virtual world was mirrored on a linked doll house in real life. For example, opening a door in the virtual doll house would cause the represented door to be opened in the real doll house. The concept of this made me realise that perhaps voodoo dolls may be a frightening reality very soon!

Finally, David talked about what he called a “speed dating” system which their institute had trialled, whereby teams of people would ‘island hop’ in a virtual world to meet and converse with other teams of people, socialising and sharing ideas.

Eric Zimmerman – GameLab Keynote Address

Eric Zimmerman is a game designer, artist and academic, and is one of the co-founders of the computer game development company called Gamelab. Unfortunately he was unable to be at the conference in person, but delivered his keynote address via a webcam. There were some issues, webcam communication technology being what it is, such as a very slow frame rate and some intermittent pauses in the audio feed. However, none of these issues hindered the conveyance of the presentation.

Eric began his talk by saying how he was worried about the fact that he didn’t know what our responses would be to his jokes, since he could not hear nor see us. Lucky for him, people laughed at this.

He then continued by suggesting the idea that game design can be used as a model for literacy in the 21st Century. He proposed that there is a new emerging form of media literacy, which he called ‘game literacy’. Zimmerman describes gaming literacy as designing, creating and managing digital information, and being able to understand and utilise complex systems and social networks using digital technology.

Increasingly, this new form of literacy will be crucial in the workplace and in our social lives. Zimmerman believes that the process of game design, which combines logic, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and storytelling among other elements, is one of the best ways of engaging with this new form of media literacy. He outlined how gaming literacy is centered on systems, play and design. He went on to describe how games are systems which are defined by rules and play is rules set into motion.

Following this talk, he gave the audience a sneak preview of his latest project called “Gamestar Mechanic”, a game designed to teach people about game design. It’s emphasis is on game design rather than programming, and requires the designer to successfully put together a rich array of knowledge and skills in order to create a game that people will interact with and play. The purpose of the game is to get young people to think like a game designer. The system reminded me somewhat of YoYo Games’ ‘Gamemaker’, but with a more plug and play approach whereby you can design a part of the game, and jump right into it immediately, as well as a more friendly interface for those who are not programmers.

Zimmermann concluded by stating that games and play present a wonderful challenge to us all and that although games may not be wonderful bearers of information they are a primary form of play and through play we learn. He considers that we have moved from the information age into the entertainment era, and that in fact the 21st Century is the century of play. It is no longer about just having information; it is about designing for ourselves and taking control.

Eric has co-authored two books: Rules of Play, and The Game Design Reader. Both are available from MIT Press.

Conclusion

Personally, as a student involved in Serious Games research at UUC, I found this conference to be of great interest. It was valuable having the opportunity to hear from people within the industry, as well as being able to network with people between talks. The event was very well organised, with each attendee getting a free goody bag containing a copy of the ‘Recall’ game, as well as an Awakenings t-shirt, and a great hot lunch was provided for all attendees, including dessert! At this point I would like to thank NORIBIC and all others involved for a most enjoyable conference, and hope to see more conferences in Ireland for Serious Games in the future.

[sorry to James for stripping out his links etc…ed.]

Author: James Burke
With contributions from Therese McGinnis
University of Ulster, Coleraine

If you were at the day comment on this article and on the day on our forums at http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewtopic.php?t=3976

for other comments see
http://creativecomputingcoleraine.blogspot.com/2007/10/awakenings-serious-games-conference.html

For pics of the event see http://flickr.com/photos/rooreynolds/sets/72157602740336337/

Writing For Games Workshop

The Digital Media Forum presents this workshop which will examine how increasingly important narrative is to the success of computer and console games and looks at what skills are required for writing for games.

Guest speaker Guy Miller is an artist, writer and game designer. Credited with writing the storyline for the original Tomb Raider game (his miniscule footnote in gaming history is coming up with the name ‘Lara’), he has become renowned in the gaming industry. He also co-designed and directed the notorious Shadow Man games, and was Creative Director for EA’s Harry Potter series.

Date: Wednesday 28th November
Venue: Filmbase, Curved Street,
Templebar, Dublin 2
Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Admission: FREE – Registration is required as space is limited

To Register: email info@digitalmediaforum.net

Tea & Coffee will be served

http://www.digitalmediaforum.net/documents/news/games_flyer.pdf

Presented in association with Skillnets and Eircom

The Digital Media Forum,
The Digital Depot,
Thomas Street,
Dublin 8

ph: 01-4893604
e: info@digitalmediaforum.net
w: www.digitalmediaforum.net

Writing For Games

The Digital Media Forum presents this workshop which will examine how increasingly important narrative is to the success of computer and console games and looks at what skills are required for writing for games.

Guest speaker Guy Miller is an artist, writer and game designer.

Date: Wednesday 28th November
Venue: Filmbase, Curved Street,
Templebar, Dublin 2
Time: 6:30 – 8:30pm
Admission: FREE – Registration is required as space is limited

To Register: email info@digitalmediaforum.net

Tea & Coffee will be served

http://www.digitalmediaforum.net/documents/news/games_flyer.pdf

Digital Media Student Project Exhib

This looks like a useful opportunity to see some new emerging talent. Launch is this Thurs but the exhibition will run until the 16th of November.

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In 2007, The Digital Hub called for submissions for ‘Best in Show’, an exhibition to showcase work from Digital Media students. 10 artists have been selected to showcase their work in this, the inaugural ‘Best in Show’ exhibition in The Digital Hub.

For the first time under one roof @ The Digital Hub, this exhibition showcases a selection of work from graduate exhibitions from a cross section of colleges. Pieces shown are from many different disciplines including Visual Communications, Fine Art, Interactive Media, Virtual Realities, Film, Gaming, Animation, Model Making and Multimedia courses. Best in Show is the 10th exhibition in the “Exhibit @ The Digital Hub” series.

The artists selected are Joanna Hopkins (LSAD), Cormac Kelly (IADT), Clare Shanahan (IADT), Conor McGarrigle (NCAD), Katy Judge (DIT), Stephen McCarthy (DIT), Jennifer Kidd (DIT) Faith Denham (Goldsmiths College, University of London) and two groups from Dundalk IT, the Tactical Control Force group and the Seven Deadly Sins group.

Launch Date: Thursday 8th November 2007
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8
RSVP: exhibit@thedigitalhub.com or 01 4806200

This exhibition will run until 16th of November from 10am to 5.30pm daily excluding Saturday and Sunday.

Digital Media Show

10 artists have been selected to showcase their work in this, the inaugural ‘Best in Show’ exhibition in The Digital Hub, Dublin.

Launch Date: Thursday 8th November 2007
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: Digital Exchange, Crane Street, The Digital Hub, Dublin 8
RSVP: exhibit@thedigitalhub.com or 01 4806200

This exhibition will run until 16th of November from 10am to 5.30pm daily excluding Saturday and Sunday.

Eurographics 2007, Ucd

This event has previously taken place in TCD and included a lot of talks of interest to game developers. This year it moves to UCD and the following information was sent in to us.

**************

The 8th Irish Workshop on Computer Graphics will take place at the School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin on the 17th of December 2007.

Previous Eurographics Irish workshops have been very successful with many top international speakers and researchers in attendance. In recent times, the importance of graphics, visualisation and related technologies in all sectors of Irish society has increased rapidly. These technologies are not only relevant in the games and film industries, but also the biomedical sector.

This year is the first year a non-computer science institute is hosting the conference, re-inforcing the multi-disciplinary nature of this field of research.

The special theme will be “Humans: from the Inside Out “, but we hope to bring together a diverse group of people interested in the theory and applications of Computer Graphics and its intersection with other areas, such as perception, Games, Physics, Artificial Intelligence, audio and haptics.

Please join us in Dublin and help to promote the exciting field of Graphics in Ireland.

See: http://www.ucd.ie/diagnosticimaging/html/eg07/

Local Heroes

A lot of videogame history is lost in translation. Due to dubious localisation, some of the greatest games were afforded lines like “This guy are sick”, or asked questions such as “But do you really are?” Who can forget Resident Evil’s pièce de résistance: “Jill, you the master of lock-picking”. Meanwhile, “All your base are belong to us”, a moment of surreal nonsense in an English translation of Japanese game Zero Wing (1989), became an Internet phenomenon, spawning a catchphrase and even merchandise. In the past, incomprehensible dialogue in games – hand grenades described as “throwing-stick exploding bombs”, etc – was excusable. In 2007, when international markets command around 40% of total videogame sales, publishers and developers know that car-boot translations will simply not cut the mustard.

Localisation has become priority for all major releases, affording gamers in Prague the same enjoyment from a title as those in Philadelphia, and Ireland is renowned as an ideal base for this business. In 1995, Vivendi Publishing Games (Warcraft, Diablo, Spyro, etc.) established its worldwide localisation centre in Dublin. Vivendi Games Ireland is involved in the organisation and adaptation of content, translation, graphics, audio recording, engineering, and Quality Assurance (QA). Activision recently established its localisation division in Ireland, GALA networks have a European base in Dublin’s Digital Hub, while Goa Games Services (a subsidiary of France Telecom) is involved in localisation of titles such as Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, from its Dublin office. Game Localization Network (gamelocalisation.net) also works from Dublin, providing services such as voice-over recording and graphics localisation.

Microsoft Game Studios (Ireland) – based in Microsoft’s European Development Centre Sandyford, Dublin – undertakes localisation services for Xbox 360 and PC titles across the EU countries, Central and Eastern Europe and Russia. The division also provides support for various Microsoft teams around Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and (to a lesser degree) Asia. Peter Fitzpatrick, Senior Programme Manager, recognises the prevalence of localisation companies in Ireland and the advantages to an Irish base. “When Microsoft executives – from the Visual Vice President right up to Steve Ballmer or Bill Gates – visit Ireland they cite our time zone and the calibre of our employees. We have a strong workforce with good IT skills – historically that has always been the case. Also, the Irish workforce has the ability to work within the EU. We are no strangers to negotiating and partnering with bodies – whether government or businesses – in any EU state. We are familiar with the work required to be successful in the EU.”

Economics also nurture a localisation-friendly environment in Ireland, says Peter. “There is a very encouraging tax regime for multinationals in this country. On more than one occasion, people like Steve Ballmer have said that doing business with the Irish state is very easy because the state goes out of its way to accommodate companies like Microsoft. We Irish can be very cynical, but it is fascinating to hear this.”

Peter has worked with the Bungie franchise and their blockbuster Halo series over the last few years. Firstly in an audio capacity for Halo 1, then as project manager for Halo 2’s localisation. His role further expanded for Halo 3. As part of his job, Peter manages an internal team and a number of outside partners. In-house, the work consists of liasing with software engineers, packaging managers and documentation managers; externally, he deals with vendor companies that provide localisation services and audio production. “We use an outsource model for a lot of our work,” he explains. “Our policy is to only use experienced game localisers in-country. A professional translator can translate a contract but you need a localiser to adapt, as well as translate, a game. A flat translation of a game like Halo would not work.”

Halo 3 is a case in point for the importance of localisation. In early 2007, the game’s Global Marketing Manager informed Microsoft Game Studios (Ireland) that Bungie wanted to include cameos from local celebrities for each region. Thus, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, and Mexico, all featured indigenous stars helping out on voiceover duties. For the English version, which shipped to Ireland and beyond, the Dublin division secured the services of TV and radio celeb Jonathan Ross.

Why Jonathan Ross? “I knew that he was a gadget freak and he has a profile that is not inconsistent with a Halo gamer. A Halo gamer will stay up watching TV at night, then play some games – they know who he is. Jonathan is into culture. He’s a big fan of Japanese gaming in particular, so it was a bit of a no-brainer.” In June 2007, the team travelled to London to supervise Ross’s recording session. What exactly did Ross do for Halo 3? “He ad-libbed and brought a character and humour to the game. He voice-acts in a couple of cut scenes – for example, he’s a pilot in a craft that crashes – and he also appears in a couple of Easter Eggs. He plays a couple of marines, so if you stall and do nothing for a while, he will start talking to you.” The localisation team recorded Ross for around three hours and their audio lead, who worked in Bungie’s studio in Washington for two months on audio mixes of the game, used around 80% of Ross’s content.

image2
Team Halo Dublin. From left-to-right: Jamie O’Connell [Packaging
Manager], Mick Ivory [Software Development Engineer], Master Chief
[Hero], Michel Buch-Andersen [Group Manager MGS Ireland], Jason Shirley
[Audio Lead], Peter Fitzpatrick [Senior Program Manager], Not pictured :
Niamh Marsh [Documentation Manager]

Other Dublin-based game multinationals cater toward the needs of individual territories. Gala Networks Europe (GNE), part of the Gala Group, publishes online games such as Flyff, Space Cowboy Online, Rappelz, Corum Online and Upshift StrikeRacer. Gala’s group company is headquartered in Tokyo; it has a development company in Korea and a publisher in the United States. GNE is a subsidiary of the U.S. publisher. “We set up our company via IDA Ireland,” explains Gus Hur, Chief Operating Officer at GNE, at his office in Dublin’s Digital Hub. “Our mother company in the U.S. publishes games for English language speakers, but there are many European users, so we decided to set up a European service.”

What localisation duties does GNE undertake? “We translate from English to German. We customise the game for European people. Sometimes we sell special items for users – European people love soccer, so we sell soccer-related items with big games. We don’t spend much time on translation – our main job is customer support. We employ 11 people here. Around half of them work in customer support.”

Localisation is often a necessity. In the past, strict censoring laws in countries like Germany meant that Quake, Soldier of Fortune, Carmageddon, Grand Theft Auto, and other such games, removed blood in favour of greenish gunk. In Germany’s version of Command & Conquer, enemy soldiers were turned into robotic ‘droids’. In this respect, localisation often involves the manipulation of graphical content. Microsoft’s Peter Fitzpatrick explains: “We’ll only do this if it is required. A practical example would be Project Gotham 4. Let’s say you are driving through a city that has road signs. Logically, the signs would be in the language of that city so we would not change them. However, in a game like Fable, we make sure that signs are localised otherwise it impacts the user’s ability to play the game.”

This process requires close partnership with the game’s developers. The history of localisation features horror stories of text scattered throughout a game’s code, or unorganised voiceover files, making the localiser’s task a nightmare. These days, most developers create games with localisation in mind. So, when a developer introduces text to a game, they either separately resource the text or embed it in the graphics. In the latter case, a developer must ensure that the files are layered so the localiser may replace them. The developer must also ensure that the code and content is structured in such a way that the localisation of the game does not require compiling. Thereby, a localiser can drop assets for, say, an Italian version of the game, straight into a flat-build structure and immediately execute that version. The game’s memory and runtime must also support non-Western or accented characters, ensuring that players in various regions may use their Xbox Live Gamertags.

A localiser must also create regional manuals and packaging, continues Peter. “We released 42 different product variations of Halo 3. There is the Legendary Edition with the helmet, the Limited Edition with the tin, and the regular package of the game. To cover all the different markets, the promotional copies and bundle copies, each variation required a slightly different mix. We provide a fully localised manual so that the experience for the end user in Germany is as good as in France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, the U.S., etc. Our documentation people are faced with a real challenge when dealing with areas like Central and Eastern Europe. We give them a manual containing multiple languages. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and Russia, receive the same basic package with all the languages on the packaging, then a manual with each of the languages inside it. This is a logistical challenge because you are limited as to how many pages you can put in a box. We try to balance the expense of catering for these markets, versus making sure that the gamers get what they need.”

Localisers are constantly recruiting and they offer plenty of opportunity. Peter Fitzpatrick initially worked for Music Pen, a game developer in the U.S., before he came to Microsoft Game Studios (Ireland) as an audio manager some 13 years ago. Since then, he has progressed through a series of different jobs. “You can come into this company as a tester and end up a software engineer,” he says. By way of example, a graduate from the Waterford Institute of Technology started in the division as a game tester; he is now one of the Senior Engineers, and worked closely with Bungie on Halo 3. There are opportunities for game testers, although anyone with an easy ride in mind need not apply, notes Peter. “Great testers must understand the process of development and bug fixing; they need the discipline to work within a schedule and a team. We do some testing in-house, but we also have external vendors.” GNE recruit around three or four staff every month, adds Gus Hur. For the most part, these are customer support staff, but game producers are also taken on board.

The Irish localisation industry has already experienced a degree of cross-pollination, with employees skipping from one company to another, but having so many people in one vicinity, engaged in a single goal, can only be beneficial for Ireland’s development community and its college graduates. Hopefully, the industry is also helping to assign shoddy game localisation to history. “Developers are acknowledging and delivering on local content to help drive interest in games,” concludes Peter. “Localisation used to have a very bad reputation, but now teams like ours are demonstrating that it is a great job with real results. From a game’s point of view, localisation in Ireland has never been more exciting or had more potential.”

More info:

Microsoft Ireland – http://www.microsoft.com/ireland/

Gala Networks Europe – http://www.thedigitalhub.com/enterprise_research/company_directory.php?action=view&id=106 and http://flyffde.gpotato.eu/ (in German)

Eurographics 07 Ucd

The 8th Irish Workshop on Computer Graphics will take place at the School of Medicine and Medical Science, University College Dublin on the 17th of December 2007.

See: http://www.ucd.ie/diagnosticimaging/html/eg07/