• Game Economy vs Game Ecology

    On: September 22, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 2588

    I was in a fascinating workshop on games today with Mark, the Hide & Seek guys, Tassos (who it was lovely to meet for the first time), Johnnie (likewise) and the Brainjuicer peeps (indeed, again).

    And as happens occasionally, there was a brief lingual slip by Alex when he said “game ecology’ rather than “game economy”…

    …but it prompted a really interesting thought:

    What’s the difference between a game economy and a game ecology?

    (CAVEAT: of course, before anyone gets all extra-clever on me, I know I’m not the guy to be writing this… I’m only just versed enough in games to be dangerous… but it’s interesting, worth capturing, sharing, and seeing if smarter, gamesier brains than mine can take it up and run with it)

    Here’s my starter for ten.

    Let’s say a game economy is where the actions and rewards within the game have been sufficiently worked through so that the points and prizes you collect feel fair for the effort put in. 

    It balances out to keep you interested and keep you playing.


    So, with that in mind, perhaps a game ecology is a lot more organic and complex in the way it changes…

    …everything is interconnected, but not in clear, expected ways, so that an action has a lot of different, harder to determine consequences, because it causes a shift in the ecosystem.


    So whereas both an economy and an ecology change because of the actors in a market, an ecology also changes because of small things which make bigger things happen… the butterfly effect, I suppose that is.  Which if they’re big enough, and disastrous enough, get termed ‘acts of god’. 

    Anyway, I’m going to think more about this.  And would appreciate some help.  I feel it’s important, and interesting, though exactly why yet I’m not sure.

    The one thing that’s already apparent is that if you think proper game economies are hard to get right, imagine how tricky a game ecology might be…



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  • The last media agency

    On: September 17, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 2374

    “Because we are increasingly producing and sharing media, we have to relearn what that word can mean”

    Clay Shirky, Cognitive Surplus

    I talked a couple of days ago about writing this post, prompted by the PSFK badges. 

    Well, on the morning we present our wares for the Media Week agency of the year awards (with some stiff competition from our fellow finalists, MEC, Zenith & Carat), it’s as good a time to get it out there…

    The media agency you work for now is the last media agency you’ll ever work at.

    Of course, by that I don’t mean that everyone who reads this is going to disappear off into some stellar career in some other sector of the communications landscape, or land a plum role client side, or give it all up to farm a smallholding in Norfolk.

    Though some of you will.

    But it’s more about the nature of what the folk in the media agency do for clients, and what that adds up to as an entity, as a community. 

    And as I mentioned before, it was set off by the PSFK badges last week…

    I arrived at the conference, and greeting me (along with an army of smiley helpers) was a table of badges with lots of different little badges, with words like ‘PR’, ‘communications’, ‘design’ and the like on them.  Something to help other people know what you did, spark a little conversation perhaps.

    Anyway, I grabbed a media badge, as you do…


    …and then looked around the other badges. 

    And noticing the one saying ‘tech’, grabbed one of those too. 


    Because what we in a media agency do nowadays is so infused with technology that each and every last one of us is a techie.  Whether we like it or not.

    (Some folk, of course, like it more than others.  You can spot them by asking them how long a parsec is if the Millenium Falcon did the Kessel run in twelve of them…)

    And then, I saw the ‘maker’ badge.


    Now, traditionally ‘making’ is not what the ‘media agency’ do.  We don’t do making. 

    At least, so the ad agency keep telling us.  Before showing us a thirty second script that needs to be shot in Argentina ‘because of the light’.

    Yet as I write this of course, I’m up to my ears in the pocketgame manufacturing process (arranging atoms is a different kettle of fish compared to arranging bits), and upstairs Drum PHD have a list of projects as long as your arm of phenomenal things they’ve made…

    …including the Sage AFP of The Krypton Factor, which is still the thing I can tell my Mum & Dad about and say ‘we did that’ so that they have at least a vague idea of what I do.

    We make stuff, nowadays.  Lots of wonderful, different, diverse things. 

    But why? 

    Firstly, all a media agency has ever done is connect people with companies.  It’s our sole, driving purpose.  It just so happened there was an established, mass media delivery system that we used to do that when there was nothing else. 

    Now there’s lots and lots and lots of different options.  But our purpose remains the same. 

    Secondly, we’re techies because we need to understand how you connect people with companies…

    Going back to Clay Shirky in Cognitive Surplus, he describes media as “the middle layer in any communication, whether it is as ancient as the alphabet or as recent as mobile phones”.  We need to know that ‘middle layer’ inside out.

    Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, I think the making bit goes back to something Matt Jones talked about at PSFK…

    He showed this picture of the Richard Dreyfuss in Close Encounters of the Third Kind…


    …where his character has this vision of a mountain in his head that he becomes obsessed with.

    And the only way he can get it out properly is to make it.

    That’s what I think we feel when we, the meadja agency lot, are immersed in that ‘middle layer’ between people and companies… it’s perhaps too hard to explain sometimes to an ad agency exactly what the thing is, or looks like, or should be. 

    The only way we can get it out is by making it. 

    That’s what we are nowadays:

    We are media, we are techies, we are makers.


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  • PSFK: making lovely badges, prompting interesting thoughts

    On: September 16, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1339

    I’ve a long, complicated blog post in my head set off by the lovely PSFK badges from the conference in Friday. 

    Anjali at Made by Many has written a great summary of the day here.

    I’m going to keep the post in my head until it’s shorter and more straightforward, but I thought I’d post a picture of the badges in the meantime, as a nagging reminder to post it. 


    And of course, so we can all remember the badges with fondness.

    Great conference, Piers et al.  And great badges 🙂


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  • People want to be brands, brands want to be people

    On: September 13, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1234

    So, I was in the paper today.  I’ve not been in the paper since I was in the Hamilton Advertiser for playing rugby or something.  It was a while ago.  Mum may have a cutting I guess.

    Anyhoo, I was in The Observer, chipping in my tuppence-worth about sports people and twitter, after all the Pietersen/Mascarenhas/Rice twitter hiccups of late.  The article’s here if you’re interested (and you aren’t an Observer reader).


    Of course, as is always the case whenever you say something, you walk away and think of millions of much smarter, wittier, more insightful things. 

    It occured today that, in general, sports stars (and other celebs, of course) have been chasing ‘brand’ status for a while… to have the perfect, replicable, sellable image that will reap millions from sponsorship deal after sponsorship deal.

    Twitter (if in the hands of the star themselves, unfiltered and unfettered by advisors, managers or PRs) doesn’t help with that. 

    By putting someone so indefatigably human at the heart of a direct communication to millions, it should be no surprise that they act… well, human.  They say the sorts of things that ordinary people say to each other.  It doesn’t get ground through the machine into the worthless, sanatised quotes we expect from today’s sports stars.

    The main benefit of this (and I think this is kinda of universally agreed) is that it helps bring sporting stars and sporting fans ‘closer together’.

    Which is, at the other end of the spectrum, what ‘brands’ want to do.  Which is why companies and brand teams up and down the land are trying to break apart this ‘perfect brand image’ and become more real, more connected, more… human.

    I reckon that, over the next five years, a lot more companies will end up somewhere in between the sports stars and the brands; unique, talented individuals who’re part of that company will be the brand representatives, but with the acceptance that it’s warts ‘n all. 

    It’s not just what is being said that’s important, it’s who is saying it.




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  • Physical stuff. It matters. In Matter.

    On: September 10, 2010
    In: rivetings
    Views: 1484

    A quick ‘un…

    We love all the digital malarkey.  It’s ace, and new, and exciting, and so on and so forth.

    As a result, we spend less time thinking about the physical stuff.  And as Ed points out here, physical connections for brands & companies can be phenomenally powerful.

    It’s what Matter was started to do, over two years ago now. 

    Here’s a photo of the first box I opened back then.  There’s a whole pictorial review on flickr here


    Anyway, Matter is coming back this November, when we put the Pocketgames in it.  Woo!

    Someone’s dropped out though, so Tim asked if there was anyone else that might want to put something wonderful in Matter to send to people. 

    I thought I’d post it here, in case anyone who reads it might have something.

    But what to put in?

    Charlie wrote a good critique of the first matterbox pointing out that…

    “Most of the other bits were a bit weak… not really getting me that excited or stimulated.”

    I think (and may be wrong) that the trick to getting something that works brilliantly in Matter is to create something physical inside the box that will make people want to do something social outside the box.

    It’s not (I repeat, NOT) a sampling exercise. 

    It’s a box of actual social objects.

    Email Tim, he’ll tell you more – tim@artomatic.co.uk

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