Oh happy day … I’ve spotted the convergence of two of my favorite topics: physically-active games and user-generated content. :)
Codemasters has announced that Dance Factory will be available for purchase in April. Dance Factory is DDR with a twist: game content is auto-generated using a player’s own music collection. In other words, you can dance to anything you own (or create!) I wonder what would happen if you popped Barry Manilow in the drive…
This screenshot shows that the game has a definite emphasis on exercise: it displays “calories burned”, “equivalent jogging”, and “equivalent swimming”. I wonder if this might almost be too much information? I think the fitness angle is extremely important, but it’s kind of a downer to think about jogging when I’m looking for fun. More of a downer if I play a quick game and burn hardly any calories. Maybe there’s another way to communicate this information? Doritos incinerated, perhaps? Gotta choose a small food unit to keep the reported numbers high. :)
BTW, Codemasters has also produced Music Generator 3, in tandem with MTV. Good example of the correct way to fuse consumer brands with video game content — sensible and relevant to the gameplay.
This fit of admiration was inspired by two articles I read yesterday. One announced a writing contest; entrants must create a Neverwinter Nights module via which to tell their story, and the winners get a job working for Bioware. Good (free) content and good employees in one fell swoop. Nice.
The second article summarized a recent lecture by Bioware’s web community manager. The whole thing is worth reading if you care about learning from your customers, fostering a fan base, creating “super-fans”, and/or grooming an audience for future sales.
Bioware really understands the value of social engagement and user-generated content, two of the differentiators that make games so much more interesting (and potentially lucrative) than other forms of media.
They’re also smart recruiters. It isn’t cost-effective to build a team entirely from “experienced” talent in a rapidly-growing industry that lacks supply of qualified personnel. Plus, new people bring new ideas and fresh perspectives! (Then again, that might take all the fun out of bemoaning the industry’s lack of innovation. I can’t imagine going one week without reading another five articles on the subject…) Anyway, no surprise that Bioware was one of the few game companies attending the MIT career fair this year.