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Games and Web 2.0: My presentation at the University of Applied Sciences Wiener Neustadt

Last Wednesday I gave a 90 minute presentation on how the internet is changing the games industry at the University of Applied Sciences / Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt, a university near Vienna. It was part of the eMarketing course taught by Sascha Mundstein for the Business Consultancy International B.A. programme.

The structure of my presentation was:

  • An overview of the 'core' games industry, including big players, numbers, demographics.
  • The internet on consoles.
  • The internet as a community platform: past and current trends (think small moves into integrating the web and web 2.0 - I showed WWS stats of a recent boss kill by my World of Warcraft guild).
  • User-generated content: past and current trends (Spore, LittleBigPlanet, Halo 3).
  • The internet as a marketing channel: the most boring slide, I practically skipped it.
  • The internet as a distribution channel: Steam, consoles, Manifesto Games.
  • The internet as a trading platform: all the kooky stories of people buying virtual real estate for $100,000. This took quite a while to research.
  • The internet as a gaming platform: Gaia Online, Desktop Tower Defense, Line Rider, Habbo Hotel, Three Rings, Runescape. This was my key point: a disruptive new market/industry is developing that is mostly being ignored by the 'core' games industry. And yes, if you follow Raph Koster, that won't be news to you. I came at it from a somewhat different angle though.

It really was an overview of the various ways in which the internet is transforming the games industry - it was wide, not deep. There were still many topics I had to leave out: 'big' games and ARGs, mobile games, professional gaming, South Korea and Asia in general, game elements in pure Web 2.0 sites, in-game advertising, machinima... it's a big subject.

If you want to see the slides, you can download them here (710K PDF).

There's a long story as to why this particular topic interests me so much right now, but I am keeping that for a later blog post.

I hadn't done a presentation for some time, but it all went pretty smooth. It is customary to have many technical glitches that need fixing before the talk starts, but I was hooked up to the internet and the beamer in no time. I did have to put a new hard drive into my iBook the night before, which was an interesting challenge. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever done involving computer hardware - layers upon layers of tiny screws... But it all worked out fine. The only thing that did not work as planned was playing HD videos with Keynote running on a 3 year old machine with only 768 Mb of RAM. But although the videos would have livened things up, they didn't contain any vital information.

The audience was very nice, a lot of people seemed quite interested even though I threw a ton of information at them. In retrospect I could have reduced certain things a bit better, focussed it a bit more on the other material they had been learning. But I was assuming they wouldn't all be super-knowledgeable about the games industry, and it is hard to make certain points about how interesting the new games / web 2.0 sector is if you don't know about console manufacturers, rising development costs, and the demographics of various market segments.

Developing the presentation kind of went like this:

  • Interest in the topic (for reasons I will explain in a future post).
  • Pondering the right concept for this particular presentation.
  • A first draft of the structure of the presentation. By this point I basically knew what I wanted to say.
  • Fact-finding and slide-designing. Fact-finding took most of the time - about three to four days. I had to search several key sites, look through old bookmarks, gather tons of news items and articles, then pick the data I needed.
  • Practicing. When I practiced at home, even though I talked slowly, I did fine for time, but when I did it live I overran by a few minutes and there was no time for questions at the end. Practicing on the same day as the presentation itself turned out to be dangerous: I could notice myself growing hoarse. But I brought some throat lozenges and a bottle of water and it turned out fine.

Using Keynote was a breeze - it was super-easy to make fancy charts that look a lot better than copying in some picture. I would have loved to have the latest version of Keynote on a MacBook capable of driving two screens though. The presenter mode is so sexy. On the other hand, printing out the slides for my notes and looking at my watch worked fine.

To paraphrase Pascal (maybe): I apologize for the presentation being so long; I did not have time to make it shorter. It was okay - at least I didn't just read out the slides. But it wasn't quite at the level I wanted it to be. Ah well, practice makes perfect.