Author Archives: David J Edery

Aside

Andre Vrignaud asked the Xbox community to tell him how Live should evolve. Tons of responses. Skimming them will give you some insight into the desires of Xbox’s most passionate customers. A detailed account of a virtual war that has … Continue reading

Sharing the Wealth

I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that lately, when someone asks me for advice on building up their community-centric media project, my answer often includes the following question: “What are you doing to drive financial value back to your users?” I say embarrassed because this question invokes tragicomic memories of failed dot-com startups; you know, the websites that paid you money for websurfing (“make pennies per day!”) Or, for that matter, more recent sites that prove the classic pyramid scheme is alive and well.

Past failures and frauds aside, there’s clear evidence that creating economic opportunities for users can result in big bucks for businesses. This has long been obvious outside the entertainment industry — eBay, Google (adSense), and Amazon (Marketplace) all make a ton of money by riding the efforts of users. But in entertainment, many people remain fundamentally opposed to sharing the wealth. Why bother, they ask, when users aren’t demanding it? (see MySpace, YouTube, etc.)

Continue reading

Pooka the Ghost

Apologies — I wanted to write something intelligent this weekend; instead I spent all of it playing with Pooka, our new whippet. (We didn’t pick the name Pooka — she’s three years old and she’s had that name since she was born. Feels wrong to change it.)

But I also occasionally call her “ghost” because she’s entirely white and utterly silent. I’ve never met a dog that doesn’t bark or yelp or anything. We’ve heard her whine once — when Eve left the house and Pooka got separation anxiety — and we heard her growl for about a second, when another dog tried to paw her. That’s about it.

Anyway, much time spent giving treats, learning dog mannerisms, and keeping Pooka off the bed (she still jumps on it when I’m not looking, but she’s smart enough to fly out of the room when I walk in… *grin*)

Something more worth reading to come soon. Thank you for your patience.  ;-)

Five Things About Me

I got tagged with the “five things” influenza that’s ravaging the blogosphere. I could ignore it, but where’s the fun in that? So here’s five things you probably don’t know about me:

  1. My first favorite games were Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, Hero’s Quest, and Might and Magic 2. My best friend and I still occasionally chant the tune (in unison) that M&M2 made each time you destroy a skeleton with “turn undead” (“na-na-na, na-na-na!”)
  2. I got into medical school (Mt Sinai, NYC) when I was a sophomore in college. I didn’t end up going because every time I saw blood, it made me want to puke. Contrary to popular wisdom, the urge to puke did not wane with repeat exposure. My father still wakes up screaming from time to time as a result of my decision.
  3. My first language was Spanish. My parents wiped Spanish from our home when some teacher complained I was incomprehensible. Now I have a BA in English Literature and can’t speak Spanish worth a damn. Stupid teacher.
  4. My wife and I are frequently compared to “Dharma and Greg.”
  5. I love really good dark chocolate. But I can barely stand the taste of milk chocolate, no matter how fancy.

And now, for my shameful contribution to blog pollution, I tag Ben Mattes, Henry Jenkins, Parmesh Shahani, Danc, and Chris Avellone.

Aside

Worldwide wrap-up of notable happenings in video game academia this past Fall. Linden Lab has open-sourced the Second Life client. Given widespread recognition that the current client isn’t very user-friendly, the announcement has been greeted with enthusiasm by many bloggers. … Continue reading

Bridging Demographic Gaps

A couple of weeks ago, Kim Pallister and I were chatting about a particular video game. Kim mentioned that it would be nice if the game included a “little kids’ mode” — i.e. one in which the player can’t actually lose and doesn’t even need to follow any “rules” per se; he/she can just experiment with the controls and have fun within the virtual environment. (I believe the comment was inspired by the exploits of Kim’s two-year-old twins.) In essence: open the game to more members of the household (in this case, very young children) without much additional cost.

Shortly thereafter, I read a post on Ben Mattes’ blog exploring a related theme; offering “little brother” co-op mode in hardcore games, so that experienced gamers can more easily invite less dextrous family members and friends to play along. A quote:

Continue reading

Aside

Via Slashdot, word that the Milgram experiment was recreated in a virtual environment. I always thought that the video footage from Milgram’s original experiment was incredibly powerful stuff that every high school student should be required to watch. (PS. Best … Continue reading

Interview with Trip Hawkins (Digital Chocolate)

I thought I’d start off 2007 with something fun. That said, check out my recent interview with Trip Hawkins, the Chairman and CEO of Digital Chocolate. Prior to founding Digital Chocolate, Trip also just happened to found Electronic Arts and 3DO. Interest piqued? Let’s get on to the Q&A.  :-)

You’re best-known for your central role in the founding of Electronic Arts. Would you mind sharing a few little-known stories about the birth of EA? How did decisions made in the early days set the stage for what EA would become?

I came up with the idea for EA when I was a teenager and saw my first computer in 1971. I had already started designing simulation games but they were complicated to play. The instant I saw that computer I realized I could put the complicated stuff inside the computer and create “real life in a box.” I then laid the groundwork by studying computer science and other relevant topics in college. It was during a summer computer programming job in 1975 that I thought it out and decided to start my computer game company in 1982. I really did plan it that far in advance. Again, I continued from 1975 to shape my experience to support EA’s eventual birth, including getting an MBA to learn more about business and going to work for Apple to help build the market for computers in the home so that I could then sell games to play on them.

Continue reading

Aside

Interesting interview of Elan Lee, VP of well-known ARG maker 42 Entertainment. Fox teams up with Multiverse to turn Firefly into an MMORPG. A player-created virtual sport (“Repel Ball”) has appeared in City of Villains. This kind of thing is … Continue reading

Whither Viva Piñata 2

Today my buddy Rhys called me out for criticizing Viva Piñata a couple weeks ago, then playing it for significantly more time than I initially intended. (I’d have kept my indulgence a secret, but the Live achievements system sold me out.) So I’ll admit it: I’ve played Viva more than any other 360 game I own. So sue me.

Many other people have written detailed descriptions of why they like this game, so I’ll pass. Instead, I’d like to focus on what I think the Viva Piñata franchise could become, and what that means for gaming in general. In short: I’d like to see Viva Piñata 2 (assuming it’s ever made) focus more on self-expression and social networking.

Continue reading