A few weeks ago, I had an extremely animated chat with Streamline Studios CEO and cofounder Alex Fernandez. Obviously, we spoke about his company, which develops original games and assists on some major franchises (Street Fighter, BioShock, Saints Row, and more). The conversation became loaded when Alex Fernandez wanted to discuss politics. He released a video statement (embedded below) speaking out against United States President Donald Trump’s immigration policy. As Alex Fernandez is a Latino-American that operates a business with offices in America, Europe, and Asia (in Malaysia, a primarily Muslim country), he had strong opinions on the matter. Here’s some of what he had to say.
Here’s a DICE 2017 chat I had with Jason Rubin, head of content for Oculus VR. Some of you will remember Jason Rubin as the cofounder of Naughty Dog, while those of you that follow the videogame industry closely will recall some controversial statements he made at previous DICE Summit events. In the chat below, he discusses what he said at DICE 10 years ago, how his views have developed over the years, and the tremendous potential of VR gaming. Here’s a clip from my conversation with Jason Rubin.
Pop star Ariana Grande has teamed up with Square Enix for a special appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. In addition to appearing in the game during a mid-January event, the diminutive superstar with a larger-than-life voice has cut a remix of her song “Touch It” for the game. For those of you unfamiliar with Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, it’s a free-to-play RPG for Android and iOS devices. It uses a simple interface and old-school turn-based mechanics, similar to Brave Frontier.
Fans of Ariana Grande are surely familiar with her predilection for wearing bunny ears. On her Instagram account, she showed off some pixel art from her appearance in Final Fantasy Brave Exvius in all her bunny-eared glory. Check out the short video she posted below.
Here’s a chat I had with Bonnie Ross, corporate vice president at Microsoft and head of 343 Industries. The piece was for the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences to promote Bonnie Ross’ upcoming talk at DICE 2017. She’ll be heading up a session called “Stewards of a Sci-Fi Universe.” The talk will cover how game creators and their communities can work together to preserve cherished sci-fi properties.
As Bonnie Ross is a huge fan of Star Trek, I was curious to hear her thoughts on how to work with longtime fans of a franchise that have…strong feelings about new takes on the property. While I love the new Star Trek movies, I know many longtime fans that loathe them. Here’s what she had to say.
Another year is in the books! Thanks so much for making RPad.TV a part of your 2016. To celebrate and reflect on the year that was, let’s take a look back at some of the best things of 2016. Naturally, when I mean “best,” I really mean “favorite.” (The idea of a movie or a record being “best” is…stupid.) Below is a “Best of 2016” list of my favorite movie, vaping gear, album, WWE Superstar, and more. I’d love to hear about your favorite anything and everything of 2016. Please share your personal highlights in the comments section. Now let’s do this!
Saving my favorite DICE Europe 2016 interview for last, here’s my chat with Hilmar Petursson, CEO of CCP Games. Many gamers know CCP for the popular MMORPG EVE Online. More recently, the company has been a pioneer in VR gaming, with titles like Gunjack and EVE: Valkyrie. At a previous DICE talk, Hilmar Petursson spoke about the human brain as a gaming platform. At DICE Europe 2016, he’ll be speaking about how gaming can benefit humanity.
As you can tell from the topics he chooses to speak about, Hilmar Petursson thinks a bit differently from most people in game development and game publishing. This is why chatting with him was so much fun. He has a beautifully creative mind, but he’s also kind of out there. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Hilmar Petursson.
I think we’re just beginning. How old would you say computer games are? Let’s say 30-years old. For the greater part of those three decades, the majority of games have been single-player. It’s one person playing against a device, not unlike solitaire. I am personally very interested in when you add a social dimension to it — when people are playing with other people. What we’ve learned through our work on EVE: Online is that once you start playing with other people, you’re part of a society. If you look at society as a computer game — at least the socio-economic aspects of society — it’s a fairly upstart endeavor. Money, debt obligation, and the concept of possession are really virtual phenomenon. They’re social constructs that we’ve trained ourselves to adhere to over thousands of years. They’re upheld mostly through paper, as well as our own understanding of rules and regulations. I believe that with computers, we will be able to elevate and accelerate those concepts quite a bit.
We’ve been inspired by a lot of what we’ve learned though EVE: Online. You could basically call it a society. I wouldn’t call it a country, because that’s a very specific thing, but it has all the expressions of a society. It has its own social economy. People value the things in that world. They have a similar relationship to their possessions in the virtual world as they do in the real world. Even though EVE: Online was one of the first games made like this, in many ways it can be improved upon a lot. It’s the first hint of what can be done with games. And then we see virtual reality and how we can really engage with the rest of the human senses. Then you can buy into the notion that not only do you belong to a virtual world in the abstract, but you can also buy into the notion that you are part of a virtual world in a concrete, physical sense. Even though you aren’t, so many of the body’s sense are engaged that you feel like you are. The illusion takes a step further.
I believe that with advances in both concepts — these vast, massive social worlds and economies — coupled with advances in the visual domain with technologies like virtual reality, we will be able to really bring about a virtual world where we have higher and deeper relations with each other. Physical reality is, in many ways, kind of primitive. We have to implement the atoms of the Earth to create clothing to express our personalities. It’s taking away resources that could be used for something else. Ninety percent of what we buy for our homes is out of them six months later as trash. We have all these very wasteful processes that we’ll be able to implement much more efficiently using technologies in computer games. In many ways, we’re trying to tell this to ourselves in science-fiction, whether it’s The Matrix or other works that discuss the virtualization of social interactions.
Please check out my full talk with Hilmar Petursson when you have a chance. He’s a wonderfully creative person that supports my theory that all Icelanders are at least a little bit crazy (see Guðmundsdóttir, Björk).
It was fun chatting with Jeff Hilbert, founder and CEO of Starting Point. One of the oldest agents and managers in the videogame business (in terms of experience, not chronologically), Jeff Hilbert was also the founder of Digital Development Management (DDM). Think of him as the Ari Gold of videogame agents…but with less tantrums and profanity. At DICE Europe 2016, Jeff Hilbert will be talking about “Realistic Opportunities in AR/VR.” In addition to touching on that subject, he spoke to me about traditional movie and television agents entering the videogame business. My favorite part of the conversation was when he spoke about aspects of Hollywood he’d like to see come to games. Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Jeff Hilbert.
I’m indifferent to Hollywood talent coming into games, to be honest with you. I don’t really see any individual that makes me care whether they make a game or don’t make a game. I just don’t care.
Now, there are some IPs I’d love to see in gaming. I love the fact that Robotech is being discussed. I think that would be awesome! I love that Marvel, DC, and Tolkien have been coming in. That’s been spectacular! I don’t see Kim Kardashian as an individual because of the way that she’s managed herself. She’s done a brilliant job managing herself as a brand and that’s great to have in gaming.
So, I’m not really into individuals coming in as much as I am into the brands. I love when new brands are introduced into the gaming industry, because they bring in new people that didn’t realize that they love playing games.
Additionally, he mentioned some videogame properties he’d like to see get a second chance in movies and television. He also had some great stories of the attitudes some Hollwood talent had when entering the gaming world.
Kindly check out my full conversation with Jeff Hilbert when you have a moment.
Here’s a chat I had with Henrique Olifiers, the cofounder of Bossa Studios. The company’s Worlds Adrift is one of the most ambitious online worlds ever conceived, combining the broad aspects of MMORPGs and sandbox videogames. Given DICE Europe 2016’s theme of “World Builders,” Henrique Olifiers was a perfect choice for the summit. His DICE Europe 2016 talk is titled, “A New Dawn for Simulated Worlds: the Making of Worlds Adrift.” During out conversation, he spoke about the evolution of online worlds from the earliest MUDs to what we have today. Here’s an excerpt.
As a game designer, I’ve always looked at what could be the perfect online experience. That was never something that was possible because of technology restrictions and game design paradigms that we have to deal with. If you look back at the history of online interactions, ever since the first MUDs — multiuser dungeons — came along, up to today where you have massively multiplayer online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, EVE Online, World of Tanks, and so on, there was always this progression curve going upwards in terms of what you can achieve and how you could interact with your friends. All of a sudden, we seemed to have hit a wall in that the same tropes and same design mechanics have been repeated, essentially with a new coat of paint.
Some terms came up, such as “amusement park,” from the players. They feel like the worlds that they’re playing in are on rails and that the experience is very scripted. Which is a shame, because as a big fan of MMOs and online interactions on a large scale, I always expected this to go all the way — into virtual worlds where people are free to do what they want. And so, this is what I mean by a means to an end. For me, it’s about being able to show people that we don’t have to be restricted anymore. There’s technology today that’s available to us and that will allow us to continue that trajectory. This is how I see Worlds Adrift — being part of a puzzle, if you will, and part of the evolution of online interactions.
When you have a chance, please check out my full conversation with Bossa Studios’ Henrique Olifiers by clicking the link below.
It was fun talking to Tanya Forsheit on behalf of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Most of the people I chat with for DICE and DICE Europe interviews are game developers or game publishers. Tanya Forsheit is a partner at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz and the co-chair of the firm’s Privacy & Data Security Group. She is considered one of the leading privacy and data security counselors and litigators in the world. At DICE Europe 2016, she’ll be talking about “Building Communities through Big Data.”
While many people have a fear of data collection, Tanya Forsheit believes that gamers, developers, and publishers should embrace big data. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.
The bottom line is that most websites are doing targeted advertising or behavioral advertising based on people’s browsing, including gaming sites. That advertising is based on things like your browser type, IP address, and device information. It’s not a “Big Brother” type of situation that a lot of consumers are afraid of — this idea that somebody out there is watching me all the time. It’s really not like that. This is a machine-automated process. It’s designed to bring people free or low cost services online, using more relevant advertising. And, by the way, even though do-not-track doesn’t work, there are ways to opt out of these programs through self-regulatory organizations like the NAI (Network Advertising Initiative) and the DAA (Digital Advertising Alliance). The funny thing is, if you opt out of targeted advertising then you just end up with a lot of advertising that you don’t want. It’s not an ideal situation, but if people want free or low-cost games or apps then there’s a trade-off. People should look at it as benefit that we could never have imagined having 20 or 30 years ago.
Kindly check out the full interview to get more of her take on big data’s role in videogames, as well as to find out her favorite lawyers from movies and television.
T-Mobile has announced that it’s giving customers free data to play Pokemon Go as part of its T-Mobile Tuesdays promotions. Starting next Tuesday July 19, customers will receive free data and a bunch of other discounts (while you “gotta catch ’em all,” the company has to sell accessories). Here are the official particulars from the press release.
Next Tuesday, as part of T-Mobile Tuesdays, we’re thanking customers with:
- Unlimited data for Pokemon Go through August 2017
- A free Frosty (you gotta stay fueled up to hunt)
- A free Lyft ride up to $15 (to explore new Gyms and PokéStops)
- 50% of select accessories like battery packs (to keep playing for hours and hours)
On top of that, 250 people will win $100 to spend on PokéCoins, and five will win trips anywhere in the US to hunt new Pokemon with a guest.
Out of the four major US mobile carriers, T-Mobile has had the most interesting marketing efforts. This is another stellar example of the company’s fantastic marketing. Pokemon Go is the mobile craze at the moment and it’s borderline shocking that a telecommunications company has taken advantage of the phenomenon so quickly. Then again, this is T-Mobile — the company with the most charming (and quite possibly unbalanced) CEO in the industry. T-Mobile plays loud and bold, so if any of the “big four” took advantage of a modern trend, I’d expect the company to be first.
While free Pokemon Go data through August 2017 is outstanding, the other bonuses are pretty sweet too. The Lyft ride can be useful for finding new Pokemon and going on PokeStop binges. The battery pack discount is fantastic, as an external charger is a must for serious players (I highly recommend this Anker external battery).
T-Mobile’s Pokemon Go promotion is absolutely clever. It makes the company seem more in touch with today’s trends, as it sells lots of accessories. While I’m on old, stodgy, and boring Verizon, I’ve been wanting to switch back to T-Mobile for a few years. I want to support cool marketing efforts and an insane CEO while saving money on my mobile bill. Who’s with me?!?