yesterday's technology tomorrow

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Game Dreams
Back when I was at school I was a little bit into Dungeons and Dragons, a lot into Sherlock Holmes and a huge amount into online BBS such that I lead a fairly nerd like life for my final school years. (ha ha I hear you saying....not much has changed).

Around this time I bought a copy of Steve Jackson Games' Killer, basically its a live roleplaying game where you try to kill people without hurting them....all harmless fun back in the 1980's but somehow I feel would get you arrested in certain countries at the moment.

Since that time I've always held a candle for developing the next generation of role playing game in a real world environment.

In 2001, It's Alive, a Swedish company, came out with BotFighters which is a killer like game you play using your mobile phone and some snazzy location based services available through more progressive telcos in Nordic part of the world. BotFighters was very much along the lines of what I had been thinking of for a game for ages.

I contacted Its Alive in 2001 and told them I'd love to work for them if they were ever wanting to start an Australian operation. They responded nicely saying my skills and background would make me perfect for the role but they weren't planning anything in Australia yet.

I also pushed forward with some initial designs for a 007 Spy type game based around a city and using mobile phones and the web for communication. The big stumbling block around here was the lack of location based services for the phones but I now see lots of chances to build something which uses more non virtual location services e.g. addresses etc to base the game around.

Around the same time I was organising the AgentArts christmas party and thought it would be fun to have a treasure hunt type of thing as part of the day. So I planned a game where the staff were split into 6 teams of 2 people and each started at the office after lunch and was sent out with their mobiles and cryptic description of a location to get to. Once they got to the location they called me and told me where they were then got the next clue.

The end result was that they ended up down at the Yarra River ready to hop on a boat cruise for the rest of the afternoon. It was a great success with everyone finding the boat and everyone getting slightly lost at some point.

Yesterday I read Geeks without borders, an article about virtual/rela world games and saw that a company has built a business out of running exactly this game for corporate clients and others!!!!! WOW!!

The article also talks about these immersive online games which are an online treasure hunt with secret messages encoded in images, fake websites, instant messanger bots etc.. Apparently there are some groups out there that band together to solve these puzzles and manage to do so significantly faster than a single person.

Associated with these types of games are the pure online games such as Ultima Online and which are totally virtual worlds in the snowcrash sense.

The REALLY interesting things that are happening with these games is the unintended crossover between the virtual and the real worlds and the marketplaces that are being created for selling online game items (houses, gold etc) in the real world using real dollars. Julian Dibbell's Play money is the blog to start with this stuff if you are interested. He's trying to create a job brokering the onlilne and offline trading.

I still harbor the desire to start or work for an "immersive game" company here in Australia, in fact I feel that with my internet, distributed computing, emergent behaviour, swarming, instant messanger bots and creative game play ideas it would be the Perfect job for if anyone knows anyone doing this type of thing or wants to do it let me know!!

0 comments | 10:31 AM
Playground Finder Flink Labs - Data Visualisation

neuronwave is the personal site of Ben Hosken. I am the founder of Flink Labs, a data visualisation studio based in Melbourne. Previously I founded AgentArts, where I developed a recommendations system that we ultimately sold to MSFT.I have two patents, one in Recommendation Systems and one for a datamining algorithm I invented. I have a strong interest in physical computing, emergence, self organising systems, immersive games, bluetooth ad hoc networks and other fun things.
A while ago I built and ran Blog Change Bot - an AOL IM Bot which notified you when blogs you like are updated. I also built IcyPole, a bluetooth based P2P mobile phone app in 2004. With Suzette, I've built Playground Finder - a community contributed site for parents to find playgrounds nearby and while traveling for their kids to play in. Its a "playground" for my social, location, community and mobile interests.
I live in Melbourne with my wife Suzette, son Oskar Tex and my little girl Jasmine

Random Pile of Ben
Bodypump, Flink Labs, autumn weather, balance.

Downloads etc
The Best Bagel Recipe ever
iTunes XML structure
Photo of some of my best Panetones

Neuron EcoSystem
Flink Labs
oskartex.comOskar Tex
JasmineJasmine Aurora
Playground Finder


ben at neuronwave dot com