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GDC is the new E3

This is perhaps not a new observation, but it struck me recently that GDC is, in some ways, the new E3. For some time now, it has been big and loud, and big industry announcements were made there. But now since E3 is gone there is no other place or time in the year where so many people are in one place, and where so much press attention is focussed.

I was going to write something about PR arms races, but then I remembered at least Sony and Microsoft have been trying to out-party each other at GDC for years now. I never quite got those parties, but then, I like going to GDC to meet friends and have good conversations with them, not to drink. (This has been the third year in a row I haven't been to GDC. I would have liked to have gone, but I am not really missing it.)

But I think those parties won't grow the way expo stands at E3 have, and although the expo floor at GDC has grown over the years, I don't think it will ever get to the scale of E3. After all, there's only so many bikini-clad babes you can use to sell a new C++ compiler.

All of which puts the Games Convention in Leipzig in an interesting position.

Update: Mark De Loura thinks similar thoughts.

Analysis of Howard Stringer at Sony

Roger Ehrenberg over at Information Arbitrage has posted an interesting analysis of the predicament and performance of Howard Stringer, Sony's CEO. It contains some information about the culture at Sony that is interesting to know in combination with their current PR problems in the games sector.

News has an interesting momentum. The lure of a good story, e.g. "Sony is arrogant / doing terrible", is strong - I know I haven't been able to resist it. But 'public opinion' can change rapidly. Remember when people hated Electronic Arts? Microsoft? Nintendo? Alright, some people still do, of course. But public image wise, these companies are doing much better now.

Still, that doesn't mean Sony is doing great... does it?

I need more popcorn.

Warren Ellis on sex in Second Life

I have not really taken any kind of in-depth look at Second Life, but I have been reading the various stories that have appeared over the years. I was nevertheless quite surprised by the amount of coverage Reuters is giving it.

I found their Second Life site spooky because I had to keep taking closer looks to find out if this was real-world news or SL news. Exchange rates and economic stats? SL. Mass pillow fight video? RL. Article about John Edwards, presidential nominee? SL. "Granny finds grenade in groceries"? RL. The double-takes made my neck hurt.

Anyway, Warren Ellis is writing a column about SL for Reuters ("Business Community Economy Interviews Lifestyle Warren Ellis" - I figured it'd be about him. But no).

His latest entry, Second Life: Please stop doing that to the cat, talks about cybersex in SL. He finds icky stuff, and if he says that, I believe him - I stopped subscribing to his blog ages ago because of the stuff he links to.

It ends with:

I’m just saying: anyone who says that sexual activity is a tiny part of the SL experience is either stupid or knowingly lying. Further: anyone who thinks it’s not going to lead to trouble down the line is just an idiot.

Well, yeah. SL is bound to im- or explode at some point. It is the place where some of the most interesting cultural issues of our time are being worked out, in an uncontrolled way (Linden Labs may disagree). The unpredictability is awesome. Taxation? A wide range of legal liabilities? The nature of governance in cyberspace? You name it. Over-hyped or not, it is a little pioneering node, freely and frantically experimenting with stuff while culture in general is slowly catching up with it and figuring out what to make of it - what is OK and not OK, what is legal and not legal. Not that different from communes in the 60s.

Of course, I have no personal experience with either 60s communes or with Second Life. Yay for blogs and low standards! \o/

(Via BoingBoing.)

Minus World

Minus World is a comic by Bill Mudron and Anne Moloney, about a game development company in Portland, Oregon. (It starts here.) The details about the games business are very accurate, and often hilarious (e.g. the genesis of Minus World). Check it out.

(Wasn't there another comic about a game development company in Portland, Oregon, that was not as well-drawn? I forget.)

Update: Ah, yes, I was thinking of Angst Technology, which I blogged about years ago. It's not as good. I don't know why I am associating it with Portland.