YouTube derivative effects and gaming

Last night, I went to pick up Hugo from his best friend’s house. As usual in these scenarios, the drive home is all about the game they were playing. This one was fascinating, but not unusual.

Hugo: So we were making this movie in Halo, and M____ [his friend] knows this guy, who’se almost famous at making Halo movies on YouTube, and there were these two guys, and one was brown and the other one blue, so that the person seeing the movie could tell them apart, and there was this guy that kept on coming in and killing them all so we always had to start over, and the guys were supposed to go to the McDonald’s, but this really annoying guy kept coming, so they logged out and changed the password and went back in. This guy kept saying “cut! cut! cut!”

Me: You were making a movie in Halo?

I’m conflicted about Hugo playing Halo, and that’s a story for another post, but I was cheered when I noticed that kids like him find more satisfaction in directing a movie in a first-person networked shooter than actually shooting at avatars. It’s also intriguing from an industry perspective that the rush that comes from getting content on YouTube is turning games into opportunities for self-expression. This will, I’m sure, encourage game developers to make it easy for people to record their gaming sessions, and, I expect, to “set up” their sessions, so that they can build a plot, coordinate actors, program extras, put in soundtracks, edit out the boring bits, etc.

If you know where to look, YouTube is full of sessions from other sophisticated online games (MapleStory is a popular one for that age group), and the video mentioned in a previous post about the real estate market shows that even “roller coaster tycoon” ends up on YouTube. Both these usages are interesting in that it’s not the prowess at playing the game that’s highlighted, but something much more creative and individual. For a remarkable example of the more primitive, exhibitionist use of videos of games, see this performance of YYZ on Guitar Hero.

First-person shooters turn into multi-player shooters turn into virtual movie studios, where your co-gamers are the actors. Creativity will always find a way out of any boxed environments, and real-time collaboration makes it all more fun.

Twitter use case #1!

Before I forget. After weeks of hard work, I finally came up with a good use case for Twitter. Skiing.

More specifically, out here, you can decide to go skiing at a whim. It takes 30-45 minutes to make your way onto the hill. But conditions are sometimes iffy. You can check out the hill’s website, but that’s highly biased information. I want real-time user generated data from people on the slopes. And they have cellphones. Now I just need them to publish data. Next season, if Twitter is still in business (and hasn’t collapsed under the load), I might just print out some stickers and plaster them in the lodge…

I knew there was a purpose for the thing.

Brain dump

After a few weeks heads-down work in code for a demo, I got to look up and read, watch, learn. The highlights.

Ted.com has an updated website, with high quality videos on important topics, and lots of them. So far I saw Bill Clinton (a really good presenter, it’s impressive to watch), and I want to see more. (Found first through Paul Kedrosky’s feed, which is an interesting mixture of stuff I really don’t care about and stuff I do care about). A friend also forwarded me a link to

Andreas Kupries pointed me to a paper mentioned by Jean-Claude Wippler called Magic Ink. It’s a brilliant paper about user interface design, or the lack of it. In the vein of Tufte, but much more applied to software. The tail end of the paper is a little too fluffy for my taste, and the paper would have been better without it, but that’s a minor flaw on what I hope will be an influential paper. I’ll try and get people to read it, but it’s too long for many.

Saw two good movies recently: After the wedding, a Danish movie about a family (hard to say more without revealing the plot), and The Squid and the Whale, a movie about kids and a couple divorcing. Both recommended.

Next on the list of movies to see: Das Leben Der Anderen, a movie about the Stasi in East Germany.

A fascinating paper in New York Magazine about the work of Carol Dweck, whose research seems to show how indiscriminate praising of kids and telling kids they’re smart leads to under-performing and lack of confidence. Important reading for parents and parents-to-be.

For fun: Luke Closs juggling at Web 2.0 expo.

Quote of the dayfrom Dwell Creative’s manifesto:

No good ever came from a doomed relationship. Except The Beatles.

I think I’m already sick of the new graphic design on this site (in particular, it looks bad on IE). I’ll have to find something else to steal.

Finally, a warning: I just ordered a MacBook, so you can expect Apple to announce a new line of laptops by the middle of next week.