i feel incredibly honoured to have been asked to give a talk at the upcoming TEDxToronto conference.
The fun hook here is that TEDxToronto crew has also asked my 6-year-old daughter Cassandra to take the stage with me, to talk about the game we made together and the work that has grown from it.
i’ll admit i’m somewhat nervous about giving a talk with a little kid. The last time the spotlight was on Cassie (at 7 in the morning on live national television) things went a little sideways. But she’s a year older now. Cassie is precocious and talkative as ever. She has absolutely steeped herself in video games, to the point where she has vivid dreams about them. She woke up this morning and showed me the real-world game she had drawn out on stacks of paper in crayon when she was supposed to be in her room sleeping. She couldn’t wait to get to daycamp to show her friends how to play it. It involves frogs.
My KID Knows More About Technology Than *I* Do!
The follow-up to Ponycorns for Untold Entertainment is a site called GamesByKids.com, which is actively under development. It’s meant to help bridge the gap between children’s passion for games and technology, and grown-ups’ fear or lack of understanding of the same. Grown-ups are responsible for teaching our kids, at home and at school, about how all this marvelous technology works … but because they themselves feel overwhelmed, i worry that kids aren’t receiving the training they need to excel in a knowledge-based (as opposed to manufacturing-based) working world.
That’s what Cassie and i are planning to share at TEDxToronto in October: we want to encourage grown-ups to take the wheel and get messy with technology, taking kids by the hand and leading the charge into a wondrous sea of unknown buttons and features and functions and doo-dads.
i was relieved to read an interview on Gamasutra conducted by industry reporter Leigh Alexander, about the Project Overboard team and our upcoming graphic adventure game, Head of the Gorgon. Through wincing, trepidatious eyes, i read an article in which the points written about the project were accurate, in which the quotations from me were things i actually said, and in which the reporter made a concerted effort to present the material in a positive light.
Why is this remarkable? i guess i’m just used to the state of affairs over in mainstream media, where reporters with a very flimsy grasp of the industry have driven a truck through the place, smashing a hole through the public perception of our trade.
YOU … SHALL NOT … ASK!!
Last week, a reporter from the mainstream media hit up the Toronto Video Game Community Facebook group asking for connections to female gamers for a piece he was writing. Industry reporter Shaun Hatton (Electric Playground) jumped in front of the bullet immediately, citing botched reports by the “lamestream media”:
Copywriter and ladygamer Lori Dance chimed in, and soon links to our past ham-handed mainstream interviews were posted to the thread. In each interview, the reporter clearly had an agenda to push (respectively: video games tear relationships apart, and violent video games make children kill). The reporters asked leading questions of us until anything remotely resembling or supporting their theses emerged from our mouths. These inadvertent talking points were then seized upon and selectively featured in each piece.
In poor Lori’s case, lax editing made the usually intelligent woman appear a rambling goofball. In my case, my point about the need for parents to educate themselves about kid culture was sliced into the alarmist sound bite “GET INVOLVED IN YOUR KIDS’ LIVES!!”
Lori and i were both quick to write our own articles clarifying our positions, revealing how the mainstream news media did their best to put Baby in a corner. Both articles embed the interviews in question:
i was recently speaking with Andy Smith from Get Set Games, the local Toronto success story responsible for the hit iOS games Mega Jump and Mega Run – Redford’s Adventure. Andy told me how the news media crafted a rags-to-riches story of two brothers raised in Zambia who are the “creative driving force” behind the studio they founded:
What can we learn from CBC’s report?
That the iPhone is a gold mine promising untold riches to whoever ventures there
That the reporter doesn’t listen when her sons tell her about video games either
That Rob Segal, one of the studio’s four founders, is a spectral figure who haunts the Get Set offices, whose ethereal voice and opinions cannot be captured by standard news recording equipment
Though the situation looks grim, the mainstream media does boast a handful of reporters who actually know a thing or two about the industry. A commenter in the Facebook thread i mentioned above gives credit to Marc Saltzman and Steve Tilley for knowing their stuff, and i’ve had good interviews with Jonathan Ore (A father and daughter’s excellent gaming adventure – CBC.ca) and Daniel Kaszor (Toronto’s littlest video-game designer – National Post). The big difference is that these four fellows actually play video games and understand the industry a great deal more than your typical nervous-parent-cum-news-reporter.
Show Me on the Doll Where They Misquoted You
Have you ever been interviewed by the mainstream press about video games, only to have your words twisted to their populist purposes? Tell Uncle Ryan all about it in the comments.
It’s a fact: i wrote a book on Unity, and lots of people have pretended to read it. But every once in a while, i meet someone who has actually read the whole book, down to the shocking twist ending (SPOILER ALERT: the butler coded it).
So what’s life like for people who have finished the entire course of their prescription, instead of just taking two doses of antibiotics and letting the rest of the pills collect dust in a bottle in the medicine cabinet? Today, i received a wonderful email from a reader who had both the drive and the tools to make good.
TO THE EASILY BORED: the email contains a free game code. Leave a comment if you’re the lucky redeemer!
Last year, I purchased “Unity 3.x Game Development by Example” as an iBook for my iPad. I lost my full time position around the econ crash of 08 so my wife and I started our own company. I am usually found working on servers and routers; game development is totally new for me. At some point in early 2011, I decided to try to make a game to sell in the iTunes App Store. I came up with an idea and began researching how to go about things. Unity seemed to do anything I would need and I started at page one of your book. I went through every page and every example. I learned a great deal and found your book and examples easy to follow. Almost 1 year later, Vector Tract was born. Apple approved the app last night! I am including a link and promo code if you would like to check it out.
Thank you for creating such a helpful beginner’s guide to Unity!
As an aside, Phillip absolutely insisted that if i posted the free game code, i had to also post the accompanying license terms, which i thought was completely adorable, so i’ll oblige:
Code expires on
Tue Sep 04 06:00:36 PDT 2012
and is redeemable only on the iTunes Store for United States. Requires an iTunes account, subject to prior acceptance of license and usage terms. To open an account you must be above the age of 13 and in United States. Compatible software and hardware, and internet access (fees may apply) required. Not for resale. Full terms apply; see www.apple.com/legal/itunes/ww/. For more information, see www.apple.com/support/. This app is provided to you by
Total Edge Technology, LLC
Anyway, it strokes my cockles to see folks using my book to fulfil their own game development dreams. Just be sure to remember me when i stumble up to your front door at 4 in the morning, soused and penniless.