First for Gamers: Game of the Year 2013 Voting (platform-specific)

The Comedy Stylings of Google Voice, part 2

Not sure why Google thinks my boss calls me “baby” or “babe” but I can assure you he doesn’t.

Hey Babe, It’s me, just give me a try again. Give me a shout when you get a chance one catch up on the Cumberland’s 9. Interestingabout. Will time greatest just some of the so Give me a call. I’m gonna be here at the 60 minutes before I go in and I meet with withthat. So, I’ll speak to you later. Bye.

Not sure what that was about.

The Comedy Stylings of Google Voice, part 1

Now that I use both an iPhone and an Android phone (one personal, one for work) I’ve come to appreciate the usefulness of Google Voice. It’s a wonderful service, but one of it’s potentially cleverest features, the transcription of voicemail so that it can email you what people said, is also one of it’s funniest. Google Voice, it seems, doesn’t do accents. Particularly Americanized British accents. My boss at CBS Interactive is originally from Macclesfield in the North of England, but has been in the States for 15 years. That combination is something that Google Voice really can’t deal with, and the subsequent voicemail alerts I’ve received have been unintentionally hilarious. Here’s an example.

Hey baby. How you doing. It’s 715 sexual software is anyway. Doug canceled tonight. Just. I’ve told you design. So okay. I believe he’s learned a really good to be this Friday. He’s going to be kind of contract for a couple of weeks that wraps it up. It’s not States. Just because right it okay contactable via spoke. That’s about it so. HeyJoe. Let’s catch up door dot google dot tonight at all. But I, I think the I’m guessing what would be out. But. After Tomorrow. So, if you’d like to be glad to get a chance totalk. Hey, don’t worry about the Yeah.

That was a note informing me that a coworker (Doug) was leaving the company, and would be sticking around for a couple of weeks to wrap things up. Not sure where the familiarity that GV inserted originated.

Pecha Kucha: The Future of the Games Business

Last week I was asked (at the last minute. Seems I was “on the list” but not top of that list) to participate in a session to close out a videogames marketing conference in San Francisco. The conference, called MI6 (not to be confused with the British secret agent thing) is something I’ve spoken at a bunch of times over the years, and it’s always been a crowd you can have a bit of a laugh with. The concept? Describe the games industry five years from now, the business models that will dominate, and then put your own business into that context.

Easy, right? Well…here’s the catch. We had to do it “Pecha Kucha” style. Not familiar with that? Here’s the Wikipedia description:

Pecha Kucha (Japanese: ペチャクチャ, IPA: [pet͡ɕa ku͍̥t͡ɕa]chit-chat) isa presentation methodology to organize the presentation order of an event, such as in a Pecha Kucha Night.

Pecha Kucha Night was devised in February 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Tokyo’s Klein-Dytham Architecture (KDa), as a way to attract people to Super Deluxe, their experimental event space in Roppongi. Pecha Kucha Night events consist of around a dozen presentations, each presenter having 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds. Each presenter has just 6 minutes 40 seconds to explain their ideas before the next presenter takes the stage. Conceived as a venue through which young designers could meet, show their work, exchange ideas, and network, the format keeps presentations concise, fast-paced and entertaining.

In 2004 PKN began running in a few cities in Europe, and has since become a worldwide phenomenon, now running in more than 260 cities in almost every corner of the globe.

So, 20 slides, 20 seconds each, no script, and no control over when the slides transition. Go.

It’s kinda difficult to convey the presentation without video or voiceover, but here’s my deck in PDF form. I had the auspicious honor of being the last presentation of the session, which was in turn the very last session of the event. So I had to keep it light and energetic, lest anyone, y’know. Fall asleep.

In retrospect, it’s probably the closest thing I’ve ever done that’s more like doing stand-up than a conventional presentation. There were five of us participating, and all of us had to balance hard information and keen predictive abilities with laughs.

People seemed to have a good time, I think. Plus, I always have the luxury of falling back on the accent and the fact that American audiences seem to enjoy hearing naughty words spoken with an English dialect.

It’s Official. I Can’t Do the #Oneaday Thing

I tried. I even faked it for a while. But I just can’t keep to the one a day (#oneaday) blogging schedule so valiantly pioneered by my little brother. This makes me officially crap. Chalk it up to burning the candle at both ends, a seemingly endless list of adult responsibilities, the desire to squeeze going to work, going to the gym, and spending time with family and/or friends into a day (along with the fact that I’m old, and fall asleep before 10:30) and the result is this… I haven’t blogged in over a month.

I will continue to blog regularly, I just won’t be pretending to stick to a schedule. I have tagged this entry #oneaday though, just to mock myself.

Mystery Reader

I didn’t go into the office today. I worked from home so I could be the “Mystery Reader” in my little-guy’s kindergarden class. It was awesome. I had to provide some “clues” for the class before I showed up, so the teacher could test the class to see if they could guess who would be reading to them. Mine were:

  • He likes riding his bike
  • He has a beard
  • He has a younger brother
  • He works in videogames
  • He’s from England

I think the little guy had it pretty much nailed by that fourth clue. It’s quite a giveaway, although it turns out I’m not the only dad in that group with a career in this area.

I read two Mr. Men books to the class, Mr. Topsy-Turvy and Mr. Dizzy – both of which were very well received. Seeing the look on my youngest’s face when I walked into the classroom will be something I’ll remember for a very long time. He looked so excited and happy to see me.

Our PS3 hates us

Today, Sony released the 3.60 firmware update for the PS3. Apparently it adds some stuff to the already overburdened array of stuff that the lousy interface already fails to accommodate adequately, as well as “cloud saves” for people paying for PlayStation Plus.

Cloud saves should absolutely be this year’s thing, and kicking this off is one of the most forward-leaning things that Sony has done in a while. They should be applauded. Loudly. And then everyone should copy them as quickly as possible. Particularly mobile developers. And especially those making universal iPhone/iPad apps. Or hybrid Android tablet/phone apps.

I applaud regular system updates on any and all hardware, I really do. I think they do a great job of evolving technology to accommodate our changing needs, and they can sometimes change things so significantly that they completely overhaul our relationship with the device. My issue with the PS3 updates is that they’re always so damn intrusive.

These days, we tend to use our PS3 as a Netflix and Hulu player rather than a games system. That’s not a conscious choice, and certainly no indication of bias but we just seem to play more on Xbox 360 these days. We don’t like using that console for media though, because the fan and drive mechanism is so comically loud. Really. You have to crank the sound on the TV up to drown out the noise of the disc spinning and the cooling system going into overdrive. Anyway, I digress. The PS3 and Netflix; great for the kids when it’s raining (which is something it’s doing a lot lately) and Mrs D and I have been working our way through TV shows that we have never watched before, but meant to; Veronica Mars, Bones… the list is ever-expanding. My issue is that unlike the vast majority of other devices; whether it’s the iPhone, the Xbox 360, my Mac, or anything else I can think of – the PS3 is rendered utterly useless as an online device as soon as a new update is available.

So, today when the kids wanted to watch something cartoony on Netflix, the PS3 just refused. “You have to run the system update” it whined and then just completely cockblocked any attempts to circumnavigate its insistence. “But we just want to watch something funny,” we told it. “No,” it bitched unreasonably, and promptly disappeared up its own 25 minute download, install, update hole by which time the kids had taken to hitting each other with plastic swords instead.

After so many updates, and so many complaints from so many people, you’d think that someone at Sony would have put their hand up at a planning meeting and said “hey, maybe we should make the update process suck less?” Hey… I get it. When you’re working with product managers and engineers and coordinating with teams internationally you have to think about all kinds of considerations. Sequencing and prioritizing projects is a real handful, but at some point you have to stop worrying about adding yet another piece of functionality and start thinking about user experience instead.

It would be nice if v3.61 finally showed some evidence of this kind of thinking.