In a recent post, i unfairly characterized interactiveontario head Ian Kelso as a “film guy”. i was (and am) disappointed in io’s content offering and what i perceive as a lack of advocacy for small games shops like my own here in Toronto. i also felt jilted for not being asked to participate in io’s InPLAY kids’ interactive conference over the summer, even as a paying sponsor (despite repeated requests, i didn’t receive the sponsorship package until about a week before the event). InPLAY was one of the only events i’ve ever considered sponsoring, which is a big deal for such a small entity. Because i run a studio that specializes in interactive content for kids, teens, tweens and preschoolers, it seemed like a perfect fit and a worthwhile expenditure.
Of course, there are multiple sides to any story. The truth about Ian is that while his background is in film, he’s had a firm footing in interactive for over seventeen years. i spoke with Ian briefly toward the closing of interactiveontario’s IN10 film/teevee/digital media convergence conference. While i didn’t quiz him on his favourite games, i’m pretty sure he could defeat you quite handily at … let’s say, SSFIV.
(i bet that whenever he plays, Ian picks Dhalsim :)
If you’re not quite sure what SSFIV is or stands for, Ian’s exactly the type of guy to whose expertise you should defer if you’re interested in learning more about games and digital media.
As for me, i have a tangible and publicly-stated paranoia about the linear media industries – especially teevee – swallowing the interactive (and especially games) industry. There’s an immense power imbalance that i’m particularly sensitive to, and have been from the very beginning of my career.
i worked for a broadcaster in their interactive department in the midst of the dotcom bust, just as Flash content was gaining a foothold online. Very early in my role there, the larger and much more well-regarded teevee promotions department met with the interactive group because, essentially, they didn’t like the website. Their supervisor’s plan in holding the meeting was to have her super-creative and talented team assist the clearly out-to-lunch interactive group cook up great ways improve the site. Because they’re teevee people, many of their suggestions involved running full-screen video and animation on the website. This is in 2000, remember, when many people were still rocking a 56.6 modem connection, and even a simple jpeg could take an agonizingly long time to appear on your screen.
Come on … LOAD, damn you!
It was exasperating to have graduated from school in an interactive discipline, and to have linear media experts telling my colleagues and me how to do our (very different) jobs. Since then, i’ve been very protective of what i feel is my industry and my area of expertise. As an interactive vendor serving, among others, teevee producers and broadcasters, i’m usually far more motivated to work on projects where the client leans on my strengths, instead of haughtily dictating every aspect of production. If you want great teevee, experienced teevee producers and broadcasters are the right people for the job. If you want great games and interactive content, they’re not. The fact that linear content and interactive content are both presented on a screen does not automatically qualify you to create content for both.
All that said, i could certainly stand to develop a more inclusive approach to content development, and to remodel my attitude with more of a mind towards advocacy, education and spokesmanship, rather than zealousness. i know i’ve managed to strain Ian’s grace in the past, and i hope that he will continue to tolerate my capriciousness as i struggle in my quest to become a real boy. If not, i’m likely due for a Hadouken to the face.