Monday, November 27, 2006

Lecture to the visiting Danvik students


One of my clients, Tinka Town from Ravn Studio in Norway, also teaches at the Danvik Folkhøgskole in Drammen. It's a media arts school, and the students take annual visits to London and Los Angeles. Tinka asked me to drop by and give them a lecture while they were in London, and as it's only half an hour away, I was happy to oblige. It was the last day of their stay, so they were a bit tired, but still a fun group. I gave them "The Future of Computer Entertainment, 2005-2050," which is suitably general and doesn't assume too much familiarity with video games. Afterwards I kept bumping into them on railroad platforms as we scattered around the city. You wouldn't think one group of Norwegians would stand out so much...

I spent the rest of the day working with Tinka on some ideas for a new game that Ravn Studio wants to do.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Keynote at Swansea Animation Days conference.

Swansea, Wales

Swansea Animation Days, also called SAND, is a conference put on by the University of Wales to discuss computer-generated animation. It's not a festival (they do show films but they don't give awards), nor does it deal with hand-drawn animation -- the real emphasis is on CG animation. One day this year was artificial intelligence, and they asked me to come give a lecture the day after the JISC CETIS conference. I took the train down from Manchester at night, slept late, and showed up just in time. Although it's a fairly old lecture by now, I gave them "Putting the Ghost in the Machine," which turned out to be very well-received. (It's hard to go wrong when you start your lecture by reciting "Old Ironsides".) Later there was a fabulous Chinese dinner at which I got to sit next to Ruth Aylett from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, who's doing some interesting AI work for games.

The next morning I sat on a panel chaired by Ed Hooks of "Acting for Animators" fame, to discuss story in games. I'm afraid Ruth and I rather dominated the discussion, as we're both pretty passionate about the subject, and the other panelists were comparatively quiet by comparison. As soon as the panel was over I had to charge off to catch a train to Cardiff Airport for a flight to Finland...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Keynote at the invitation-only JISC CETIS conference.

The Lowry Arts Centre, Manchester, UK

JISC CETIS logo JISC is the Joint Information Systems Committee -- a large government-funded organization whose purpose is to assist higher and further education (the latter would be called "adult education in the USA) to make the best possible use of information and computer technology. CETIS is one of their many projects, and they have an annual invitation-only conference for academics and other educators. This year one of their topics was the subject of games in education, and I was invited to come along and give a talk about games generally. I gave them one of my favorite lectures, "The Philosophical Roots of Computer Game Design." It went over pretty well -- one of the audience came up and said it was the best talk he'd heard in the last fifteen years!

Picture of The Lowry exteriorThe Lowry, by the way, is one of Britain's millennium projects, a really cool art museum/theater/meeting space in the Salford Quays, a formerly dying industrial region of Manchester (like the London Docklands area, it was heavily bombed during WWII and the postwar reconstruction was not particularly felicitous). Inside it's all funny lines and angles -- I don't think there's a 90 degree angle in the whole place, except maybe where the walls meet the floors. Lots of ramps, oddly-shaped rooms and so on.

Many thanks to Paul Hollins for inviting me.