Amy from MM on XX Game Jam

Amy from Media Molecule has written a great blog post all about the XX Game Jam, which is well worth a read:

We made a game called Android Grim Reaper – you play the Grim Reaper and have to find and harvest souls as their timer runs out. About 30 minutes before the end of the jam we didn’t have a game that ran, but with a lot of head scratching, and plenty of ingenuity, we pulled together and got a build limping towards functionality. Of course we were over ambitious, tried to do far too much in the 24 hours available, but that’s half the fun and makes for a tense and exciting finish! We’ll be polishing the game and hopefully in a week or so it’ll still be fun, but will also be vaguely understandable to players other than the dev team :)

It was an awesome day, so inspiring and a lot of fun! I’m pregnant which makes you pretty tired at the drop of a hat, so it has taken a week or so to recover from the late nights, but it was SO worth it.  I’ll definitely be GameJamming again soon!

Android Grim Reaper game concept from XX Game Jam

ExPlay 2012: What can games offer science and society?

There is a write-up on Edge of the recent ExPlay session that Auroch Digital's Tomas Rawlings chaired:

It’s encouraging to hear from developers engaged with areas such as science and education who are so passionate about ‘traditional’ gaming values. The idea of closely aligning education with game goals – needing to know that copper conducts electricity in order to solve a puzzle, for example – is a simple, but powerful one.

Auroch Digital wants to say a huge thanks to the ExPlay people for making us feel so welcome and putting on such a great event!

The talk above happened the day before the games from the Wellcome Trust ExPlay games jam's shortlisted game's were showcased.

The Anatomy of Fun: FeedBack

Yesterday was the Anatomy of Fun session at Develop.  We've had a couple of good articles written about the session from LazyGamer:

At the Develop Conference, researchers have stated that they’ve been able to measure that magical element that’s missing from some games, fun.

And Beefjack:

In a panel today at the Develop Conference, some really clever sciency research types have been talking about how they can measure the notion of “fun” in a game – and the interesting trends they’ve discovered by doing so.

It also got a good reaction on twitter; here is a flavor of that discussion:

How Do You Make Science, Play?

We're going to be taking part in this event at the Develop Conference on 12th July. Why not sign-up and join in?:

Wellcome Trust Workshop: How Do You Make Science, Play?

Date: Thursday 12 July 2012, 14:00 – 16:00 at Develop, Brighton

From Deus Ex to Portal, science has inspired a vast array of successful games and sometimes in quite unexpected ways. This hands-on workshop explores how contemporary science can be mined for compelling ideas by games developers, going from concept to design. Whether as the inspiration for a game or for content supporting a bigger game, this workshop will see you collaborating with top scientists from across the country to develop novel ideas.

The session includes a presentation with Preloaded as they explain how a close collaboration between games makers and content specialists resulted in their latest game, Axon. There will also be a chance to find out how you can access the Wellcome Trust’s funding streams to develop science-inspired gaming ideas further.

Please note there is limited space available for this session. If you would like to attend, please email, with subject heading ‘WORKSHOP’.

Auroch at Crossover Summit/DocFest

Tomas was curating/sharing a panel discussion at this year's Crossover Summit as part of DocFest for the Wellcome Trust.  Here is the panel information:

Exploiting the Feedback Loop

Tom Rawlings (Chair) / Jon Dovey (DCRC) / Kate Quilton (Channel 4)

Games like Bejeweled, Draw Something or Words with Friends are not one-off media events, but are on-going almost living entities. Being connected to the network they can collect huge amounts of data from players and so feed back to the designers which elements work and which do not. This allows them to respond, changing and improving the project in response. But while this ‘bio-media model’ clearly works for video games, can it work for filmmakers? By seeing video as data, a number of media thinkers are increasingly challenging the view that a film has to be a one off creation.

Plus there are some notes from the discussion online too:

The idea for the session is rooted in biological processes that happen around us (and in us!) everyday. For example, the image (right) is of 6 linked insulin molecules.

Computer-generated image of six insulin molecules assembled in a hexamer. (Source, Wikipedia)

These are part of a number of biological systems we have that together make up our homeostatic systems. This is a series of monitoring and control systems that measure various facets of the body (blood sugar, temperature etc) via feedback loops and trigger the body to respond to external and internal changes. So while the body is striving to keep a form of stasis (being alive!) the chemical composition of the body is in a state of constant flux.

There are similar ideas going on in how we create, consume and develop media. This biomedia approach sees the media form itself and something in flux, connected and responding to feedback loops. It sees media artefacts themselves (games, films, novels etc) as being part of (and evolving within) a complex ecosystem, a media ecology. ...

There is more here.

Strange Seeds: The Ethics of Artificial Sperm and Eggs

Auroch Digital's Tomas Rawlings is going to be facilitating this event:

What will happen if scientists succeed in their attempts to create artificial sperm and eggs? Could anyone become a parent, regardless of age, gender or sexuality? Would this make reproduction truly ‘democratic’? This raises interesting ethical questions. What if the safety of artificial sperm and eggs could only be established by trials in humans? Access to IVF is currently limited, but is society ready to allow ‘IVF for all’?

In Vitro is a 20-minute film that explores these questions through the story of Rachel. She’s a high-flying scientist who fertilises her own egg with artificial sperm created from her bone marrow. Compelling and provocative, the film shows a world where using artificial sperm and eggs to conceive is as routine as IVF.

Stay on after the screening as scientist Robert Lovell-Badge and ethicist Anna Smajdor take on the issues raised by the film and discuss whether artificial eggs and sperm are likely to play a part in our future.

If you're interested in attending, the event is at the Dana Centre in London on 13th October at 7pm.

Notes from Charity Comms Talk on Games

Tomas did a talk today on games and charity:

From Wii Fit to Farmville, games are now common currency for millions of us; the average social gamer is a 43-year-old woman and 8 out of 10 UK homes have one or more games consoles. But they can offer more than fun, research found 52% of players report games help them think about moral issues. Sega raised $250,000 to help with the Japanese earthquake in a week. This session introduces the gaming sector and explores its potential for charities.

The notes with lots of links, from the talk are over on his blog. Thanks to Charity Comms for the invite to speak and also to those who attended!