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The Urge to Emerge
by Kris Graft on 08/21/12 05:20:00 pm   Editor Blog   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


I have a blog here on Gamasutra, which makes sense, as I'm the editor-in-chief of the website. But I haven’t really done a good job of using it to talk to the great community we have here (mainly because when I write something, it goes elsewhere on the website). The last time I updated my blog here, it was sometime last year, to let you all know that we have a new "Like" system. It was a real literary milestone.

You may see me interact in comments sometimes on Gamasutra, but blogs are a better place to hang out and chat, right? One thing I'd like to start doing on a regular basis is to be more transparent about what's happening on Gamasutra -- we've got no real dirt to tell you about (sorry, we're boring like that!) and we're not going to tell you the deep, dark secrets of our success and awesomeness. But as journalists who report on this industry, it's good to talk with our readership every now and then about what makes us tick.

One thing that has been on my mind lately are emerging trends and markets, and the way that we cover them. On Gamasutra, we know that something like "The Fundamental Pillars of a Combat System" has a built-in audience, and wide reach. A bunch of humorous game developer "flashcards" penned by Cliff Bleszinski is a no-brainer for our audience. We love those kinds of stories, and will always do them.

But there are topics that we as trade journalists need to identify for you all -- things that you might not be immediately interested in, but we must say, "Hey! Pay attention to this, you might find this valuable."

I'm talking about emerging trends, like social games, back when you could consider that trend "emerging." Back at GDC Austin 2009 (it's now called GDC Online -- hello UBM branding overlords!), I remember when I had to squeeze into a room and stand up against a back wall to watch a session about virtual items for Facebook games. I knew that social games were becoming a big deal, but seeing in person these packed sessions for social games told me that we made the right editorial decision to follow this market closely, and keep you informed about it, well before even the launch of Farmville. (I need to give kudos to Christian Nutt and Leigh Alexander, who I feel were on top of that market from the get-go.)

Anyhow, we're over here looking at all of this dynamic interactive entertainment landscape and thinking "now what?" We've got mobile, a market that was once anemic in terms of games but is now explosive. We now have different territories in the world that are presenting new market opportunities for game makers. At the same time these emerging territories are growing their own game industries. We have HTML5 continuing to develop (I personally love seeing the passionate debate over this technology). There are third-party engines that are continuing to gain prominence. There's free-to-play, connected TVs, the rise of apps and digital storefronts, rapidly-advancing mobile technology, and I could go on.

As EIC of Gamasutra, I love running interesting stories that are about established sections and people of the game industry. But it's also really satisfying when we're able to get our audience interested and excited about new developments, to help our readers look to not just past events and current practices, but also to the opportunities of the future. We'll continue to strive for that.

Since this is intended to be a discussion, I'll just ask if there are any emerging markets and trends that you'd like to see covered more on Gamasutra, that you're not seeing much of currently?

One last thing… on this blog I think this is what I'll do: I'll try to make my posts about what makes us tick at Gamasutra: Details about what motivates us to cover what we cover, some stories that didn't make the cut, maybe some more background to an interview that people seemed to like. Overall, all of Gamasutra's editors will be blogging more often. So keep an eye out!

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Bart Stewart
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Very nice to see more editorial blogging. I think that's a good idea, well in keeping with the remarkable closeness of game developers to their customers relative to other industries.

On the question of things I'd like to see covered more at Gamasutra, two that come to mind are education/outreach and indie development.

Education: Why should anyone want to be a game developer? What are the pros and cons of working in the industry? Where are good degree programs or vocational schools? Where are the best (and worst) places to work? What are prominent game developers doing to promote interest in working as a game developer?

Indie development: What are the no-BS demographics and revenue numbers? What is the state of the art in tools and engines? What are some good low-cost tools? What are the best (and worst) platforms to target, and why? What kind of game can you make for X amount of money? How should legal concerns (such as dealing with specific software patents) be handled? What are some places where indie developers can help each other out?

Those are a couple of areas I'd like to see more focus on. I hope others will chime in with their own suggestions.

Kris Graft
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Hi Bart,

Regarding education, this is something that's definitely on the official to-do list. You're a regular around here, so you probably know that one of our sibling sites is But we can do better to highlight educational stories here on Gamasutra, and come up with a better editorial strategy and cross-content plan between the two sites. All the questions you have there are valid, and would lead to great educational pieces. So I'm probably going to steal your ideas (crowdsourcing!). I particularly like the idea of talking to game developers to see what they're doing to promote interest in the field. I think I have just the guy for that...

As for indie development, every time we see an indie game developer (or any game developer) unveil their digital distribution numbers, we get pretty excited, because as you know they can be hard to come by. But I think that we can delve deeper here... As for the other questions you have, again, they're really good ones. They all have a particular slant towards reference pieces -- the useful kinds of articles that can live on the internet for a long time.

Also, as far as reference articles go, we're brewing up some plans for a place on the site where more technical and how-to pieces can live, and be more easily found. I know they can be hard to find on our site right now.

Thanks for the great insight. I'm definitely taking note here...

Mathieu Halley
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@ Kris
+1 to making older reference articles more accessible. There are definitely some good, useful articles hidden throughout Gamasutra

Justin Lynch
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One area that I see emerging over the next 3-4 years in the how our devices communicate with other devices and our television. There seems to be a new wave of gaming potential coming with the Wii U, Microsoft Smart Glass, iPhone/iPad/AppleTV connections.

While the idea of having multiple screens while playing a game is nothing new (see the DS and in some ways the Dreamcast) I think this last years E3 showed that all major console developers are enamored with the idea and are looking for developers to create compelling ways of utilizing multiple screens.

I know right now we still don't know a lot about the Wii U's and Smart Glass's potential but as new information starts to emerge I think it would be great to discuss their impact on the gaming industry.

Kris Graft
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Hey Justin,

First of all, VMUs 4 lyfe.

Secondly, at E3 this year, I thought that SmartGlass was the most interesting thing to come out of Microsoft's press conference. I know that right now, the concept and the tech are still in their infancy, and as you said there's not a vast amount of information about how these secondary screens will be utilized in games, but like you, I'm excited about the potential here. That excitement goes for both Microsoft's SmartGlass, as well as the Wii U's GamePad (particularly if they can be used as a solution to better play RTS games on my TV, without having to use a mouse and keyboard on my lap!). I think I have some editorial ideas around this, so we'll see what happens there.

TC Weidner
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what will emerge in the next few years? my prediction, your next game console will also be you fios/cable hi def box, along with your blue ray player.

Used video games days are coming to a close.

Of course digital delivery will also continue to grab larger market shares, and we will slowly see the death of the brick and mortar game store. Gamestop will be the next blockbuster video. Hell Amazon may well put Best Buy out of business in the next decade as well.

As far as gaming itself, game makers are going to have to become even more clever in getting people to pay for games without actually feeling like they are paying for them. I see the casual gaming growing, and growing.

As far as what I want to see here at Gamustra, it is just more of the same, and hoping you guys keep it real. World economy is shaky , layoffs are real, lets not sugar coat things. Treat everyone as grown ups and keep the industry propaganda to a minimum.

Kris Graft
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Set-top box! That is pretty much happening right now. Of course, we're following what Sony and Microsoft are doing for the next-gen, and watching with much interest. I don't know if it'll be successful, but I think that Nintendo has the right idea with the Wii U, in that it is trying to offer something that is decidedly different. It worked for the Wii, we'll see what happens next.

Back to Microsoft and Sony, they need to differentiate themselves somehow as well... I've got my gaming PC hooked up to my TV, and if new consoles can't offer me anything better than that, then what's the point? Speaking of, Valve is putting Steam's Big Screen Mode into Beta next month...

One thing we're also looking into is this idea of reselling used games, which I find to be a great example of an old business trying desperately to jam itself into a sector where it just doesn't belong.

Also, we shall continue to keep it real, yo!

Eric McVinney
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I don't know about the FiOS/cable being around or at their peak as they are now. Google has their experimental "giga-byte" net service running in Kansas, so we could be looking at a more sustainable cloud gaming service from all 1st party developers, IMO.

TC Weidner
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Look for the new xbox and ps4 to be bundled with your fios/cable package and be deeply discounted. Like a 100 bucks with a two year subscription. Much like how phones are bundled with subscription plans.

As far as computers hooked to TV as our main service, never work, way way way too many variables in each and every different system. Need uniform technology to get best overall performance.

As far as Google, that tech looks interesting, but to wire this country for that, you are looking at a decade and tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Kris Graft
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I'm still a fan of LAN. You could say that I'm a LAN Fan. I've got your back, fellow LAN Fans.

Matthew Downey
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I would like to see more on larger community-made games. We currently have a lot of large AAA games, but it'd be interesting to see if people will start making large games throughout college (almost as a thesis) with all of the available engines that are free. There are a lot of community projects right now, but plenty seem to fall through the floor because they are made by complete strangers (not necessarily a bad thing). It seems like we are not far away from seeing more community games made by students in their free time, though.

I would like to see more US schools that are built entirely around game creation. I've seen schools like the Vancouver Film School (Canada) but most schools seem to specialize in the tech side, which leaves the school with a drought of artists. There should be more specialized schools that put techies and creatives together so that the student population can flourish.

There probably are some schools like this outside of NJ (where I live), but in-state tuition along with a lot of other legislature makes NJ schools the best option for me.

Ian Bogost
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I am looking forward to becoming interested and excited about new developments.

Kris Graft
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The developments will be interesting; possibly even exciting. Or not. I'm really not totally sure about anything.

Ian Bogost
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I can already feel the interest and/or excitement welling up!

Kris Graft
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I look forward to your inevitable interest and excitement.

Curtiss Murphy
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Emerging Topic: The explosion of game curriculums and students will ...

1) ... over-saturate the industry. Too many workers, not enough demand - it'll become a hobby, rarely a career.

2) ... explode the possibility space. Increasing numbers of games-that-are-not-games: for training, for visualization, or as a way to share ideas.

PS - Lately, Gama's features and blogs have been great. It's beginning to feel like a community. And I vote for #2

Kris Graft
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I wonder if anyone has researched the proliferation of game curricula and has some hard stats on the growth...

Also, it means a lot that you feel that it's starting to feel like a community around here. There's a LOT more we can do (and plan to do) to nurture that.

TC Weidner
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on 1, I agree, what does the average app game now produce revenue wise, I believe its is like 500 bucks.

Simon Ludgate
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For #2 to happen, I think there has to be a considerable degree of cross-proliferation across the professional fields. For game-grads to get hired at non-game companies we'll probably have to have game company veterans in a hiring position at a non-game company, and for that we'll probably have to see game companies hiring more people likely to get hiring positions at non-game companies. The current isolationist hiring practices (such as requiring experience having shipped 2 or 3 games) prevent the circulation of talent that has brought vibrancy and success to other industries.

I would like to see Gamasutra exploring the potential for a diversified workforce and the kinds of things that are preventing its adoption. What what is being done to prevent "promotion to incompetence" problems? What initiatives are being taken to attract talent from other industry sectors? Are game-based curriculums simply compounding the isolationist tendencies by training people capable of working in one sector only? Or are steps being taken to ensure that game-based degrees gain respect and recognition outside of the game studio?

Michael DeFazio
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here's a thought...

present a somewhat "controversial" topic for debate:
(i.e. regenerating health verses health pickups, game story verses game mechanics, the OUYA will be a success (yes/no), cloud gaming is the wave of the future, metacritic is good for the industry...)

and have two writers / editors each take a side on the debate and present there argument for/against the other.

the "debates" don't have to be "all encompassing" but a good launching point for the folks in the community to chime in and debate their points...

if we can keep things civil, i think it would be interesting to get peoples thoughts out there and i think it would have potential for some interesting discussion.