New version of Swing, the Wii Remote typographic karaoke Flash experience, to debut this Saturday

Animation, Announcements, Events, Flash, Flex, Fun, Interactive Design, iPhone, LA Flash, Music, Typography, Wii
12/5/08

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For those in the Los Angeles area, stop on by LAFlashapaloozastock III in Venice this weekend for a full day of Flash goodness, including the debut of a new version of Swing. Swing has evolved into a typographic karaoke experience—we’ll use online services to stream your choice of song, download the lyrics, and get you waggling your way to Wii happiness. I’ll also have a number of “tuned” song/lyric combinations for you to play (yes, your dream of finally seeing a type animation of every single “ee-oh-oh” in Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic is about to be realized).

I’ll also be handing out postcards and generally talking up my upcoming iPhone game “Ruben & Lullaby,” which should be released in the next few weeks and has already garnered notice in TouchGaming. For more information visit opertoon.com.

Hope to see you there at LAFLashapaloozastock!

 

BAVC’s Producers Institute kick-starts innovative online documentaries, serious games

Events, Games
6/27/08

BAVC logo

I was recently invited to be a mentor at the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Producers Institute, a week-long intensive workshop in which teams of independent documentary producers are immersed in interactive technologies and techniques and then develop pitches for interactive projects based on their work. At the end of the week the project teams pitch their ideas to potential funders and hopefully get a kick-start on the path to getting their proposals underway. Though I was only able to help out for two days towards the end of the workshop, it was still a pretty amazing gathering to see and be a part of.

The main project I was involved with at the Institute was the forthcoming work from Take Action Games (TAG), the company best known for Darfur Is Dying, a game about the crisis in Sudan which received a lot of media attention and helped to put serious games on the map for many people. I’ve had the pleasure of consulting with TAG team members Susana Ruiz and Huy Truong before, and have found their professional style to be a wonderful mix of a strong vision combined with a genuine excitement about the medium and an openness to new ideas. Looking forward to finding out more about their latest project, In The Balance: The Death Penalty Game, I wasn’t disappointed, as Susana, Huy, and Ashley York are again bringing their talents to bear on a challenging social issue and stretching the boundaries of the medium in the process (the project was recently written up in the Washington Post).

I met with a number of project teams while at BAVC—the whole atmosphere of the gathering had a lot of camaraderie and intensity as the various groups, flush with new information from the Institute’s various speakers and events about leveraging documentary content online, sought to assemble compelling pitches for a host of fascinating projects. For a taste, check out the following video from The Drax Files, whose creator Bernhard Drax was documenting the goings-on. This clip touches briefly on In The Balance during a chat with Tony Walsh, a veteran BAVC mentor and founder of the game development firm Phantom Compass. Drax filed a number of reports from the Institute, so check out The Drax Files if you want to see more.


 

An inspirational gathering for lovers of electronic literature

Electronic Literature, Events
6/17/08

I’ve had peripheral contact with the Electronic Literature Organization over the years (including a public reading of unpublished chapters of Chroma at the Hammer Museum which was a blast), but never attended one of their conferences until this year. Blue Velvet was accepted in to the Media Art Show at this year’s Visionary Landscapes conference at Washington State University Vancouver, which afforded me the opportunity to attend. I’m glad I did—it was a wonderful experience.

The 'Early Authors of Electronic Literature' exhibit at the Visionary Landscapes conference.

The ‘Early Authors of Electronic Literature’ exhibit at the Visionary Landscapes conference.

Having so many luminaries in the field in one place was enlightening in and of itself, especially because the attendees were a mix of both scholars and artists, making for a lively interplay between theory and practice. In many cases, I ended up meeting people for the first time whose names I’ve been aware of for years. Gratifying as well was the chance to connect with a number of folks who were early fans of The Lair of the Marrow Monkey and Chroma. New faces were abundant as well—people excited by the potential of the medium who were either taking their first steps in this world or doing important research to push the form ahead.

I was particularly impressed by the work being done in generative narrative by D. Fox Harrell, Kenny K. N. Chow and Jichen Zhu at Georgia Tech. The GRIOT system originated by Harrell and Joseph Goguen takes what I found to be a very refreshing approach to dynamic narrative—I can’t say that I have a strong grasp of the technical aspects of the engine, but there was a kind of fluidity of scale and affect involved in the formal elements the system generates that felt far less “brittle” than other generative approaches I’m familiar with. The fact that GRIOT immediately appeared in my mind to be well-suited to cinema, poetry and comics simultaneously was an intuitive whisper for me that Harrell and his collaborators are moving in a very productive direction.

The recent release of the Electronic Literature Collection: Volume One also seemed to mark a milestone for the field, being the first of a proposed series of collections of seminal e-lit works. Each volume is published on DVD and online under a Creative Commons license to encourage the widest dispersal possible. The conference at times felt like an implicit celebration that e-lit has managed to survive long enough to make such collections possible. While the boundaries defining exactly what e-lit is remain porous and will rightly continue to be so, the fact that a gathering dedicated to the field could engender the sense of cameraderie that it did is certainly something to celebrate. Thanks to Dene Grigar and John Barber for putting on such a great event.

 

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