Monthly Archives: November 2011

life_of_george

Life of George: LEGO + iPhone App = a weekend’s worth of geeky fun

This weekend I spent an undisclosed number of hours playing Life of George, LEGO’s foray into iPhone-enhanced gaming. The premise is simple: buy the boxed set of 144 coloured bricks, then download a free app that presents objects which you build out of bricks within the allotted time. Fast, accurate construction is rewarded with points that are calculated when you use the iPhone to capture an image of your work.

The game is pleasingly distracting – on the difficult setting it kept me engaged long enough to complete the twelve levels. The context is straightfroward – George is a a typical office worker (think Dilber but better travelled), who takes photos to chronicle his adventures. Each page of his photo album constitutes a level, and challenges you to construct ten LEGO objects from George’s photographs. Complete each level and unlock the next (or play two player, taking turns to build as quickly as you can).

Life of George demonstrates the potential of mobile devices to ‘close the loop’ with physical toys, games and equipment. Having the device set the tasks and assess the performance while the blocks provide the means of actual ‘play’ uses both parts of the system to their best advantage, creating a seamess hybrid real/virtual experience. Having said that, where the game falls down is in the broader ‘gameplay’ – the premise of building George’s photos is simple, but not particularly engaging. The gameplay does not actually advance George’s life at all – the player has no impact on the ‘story’. To make matters worse, after twelve levels the heroic adventurer is rewarded with a screen that simply says ‘more levels coming soon’. In the age of Donkey Kong that would have been acceptable, we expect a little more narrative resolution these days.

Arriving around the same time as Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, Life of George starts to show us how mainstream the ‘real virtuality’ of play will become – particularly when we leverage existing play platforms like LEGO and well established digital platforms like the iPhone. In the near future will see a lot more of this, specifically I think that we can soon expect…

  • Something for the kids. George is targetted at… well guys like George (which I am guessing is how LEGO understand their older geek audience). It’s 14+ not for difficulty but because seven years olds might not see the relevance of building a martini from the office party, or a copy of Munch’s Scream.
  • The Life of Citizen Cane. Even if the gameplay is limited, we should be able to be more immersed in a story. The Final Fantasy¬†franchise has finely honed the craft of gluing very limited gameplay together with long, meaningful cut-scenes – surely LEGO can learn a little from that.
  • Making a real difference. The really exciting part will be when the play activity (building objects with bricks) actually integrates with the storyline in a meaningful way. You want to get over to the other side of the river? Biuld a bridge. You want to woo the beautiful maiden? Build a rose. As our actions become more meaningful within a narrative, and as that narrative becomes one that we feel we have a stake in… well, I know I’ll be rushing out to by the next installment.

The Difficulty with being a Generalist Dilettante

A while back, it suddenly occurred to me that it's been quite some time since I gave my CV a good thorough update. Not that I need to do so for any reason (relax guys, promise…), but it has becoming an increasingly confusing thing to try and do over the years. In some ways I envy people who have stayed with one role, one employer, or just one career – surely it makes one's existence so much easier to articulate.

For my own amusement more than anything, I sat down to try and write the most succinct resume I could. I'm sure I have forgotten things…

 

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Andersen Consulting (Accenture)

  • Consultant (Developer, Team Leader)
  • Senior Consultant (Business Analyst)

Harlequin Talent

  • Director (Partner)

APL Digital

  • Developer
  • Producer
  • Senior Producer
  • Executive Producer
  • Director of Special Projects

Beyond Interactive

  • Director of Strategy

Digital Strategist

  • Director (Owner)

OneDigital

  • Executive Producer
  • Director of Strategy
  • Creative Director

Naked Communications

  • Communications Director
  • Digital Evangelist
  • Brand Strategy Director
  • Director of Technology and Innovation

 

EDUCATION

  • Bachelor of Science (Computer Science & Psychology) – University of NSW
  • Master of Communication (Public Communication) – UTS
  • PhD (New Media & Cultural Studies) – University of NSW (discontinued)
  • Master of Teaching (Primary) – University of Sydney (in progress)

 

TEACHING

  • Tutor, UTS – Public Communications
  • Course Convenor, Center for Continuing Education – Email Marketing
  • Course Convenor, AdSchool – Digital Creative

 

OTHER ACTIVITIES

  • TEDxYouth@ Sydney Conference, Executive Producer
  • Primary Teachers' Network, Founding Committee Member

 

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS

  • 'Building an Electronic Repertoire of Contention', Social Movement Studies
  • 'On the Production of Creative Subjectivity', Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts (DIMEA)
  • 'Digital Technologies of Connection :Modelling Individual and Societal Impact', Proceedings of the 2004 Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

 

I look forward to discovering what it looks like in another ten years!

Naked Director of Technology & Innovation (getting back to my /roots)

Well, it's been an awfully long time since I've posted here hasn't it?! And that's probably because I've been concentrating on other things – mostly brand strategy, studying teaching, or this little guy. And all that has been just swell. However, I'd be lying if I didn't admit there is still a geek firmly buried in my psyche who likes the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into emerging tech.

It's that inner geek that was particularly excited to start transitioning into a new role here at Naked, as Director of Technology and Innovation. While we are still working through exactly what that looks like, I'm thrilled to be able to focus more energy on bringing innovation, emerging technology, and world-class geek-partners to Naked – and to letting the world know about the great work we are doing.

Watch this space!