Data science and advanced analytics in games – call for submissions!

I’m  coordinating the BRAND NEW data science in games track at the much-loved  game AI conference (now http:/nucl.ai),  in Vienna 20-22 July 2015.    Yipee!

We’ve already got some amazing talks and speakers already lined up from Mind Candy and Scientific Revenue.   Come and join us!   Do you have something you’d like to talk about?  Drop me a line before the first week of April, with a few lines about what you’re interested in, and I’ll be happy to explain more about the themes we are developing for the track, and other talks that are in prep.    The programme is almost full but there are a few spaces left, so pick up your carrier pigeon and let it fly!

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Must-read sources of insight and opinion on games analytics and analysis

I know!  My public productivity has taken a deep dive since I started my analyst gig at Splash Damage last February.    I’ve still been writing about stuff that catches my eye, but I’ve been doing it for internal consumption.   However, it being New Years Resolution time and all,  it’s time to say “hello world” again:

Hello world!

And as a not-too-demanding (but hopefully still interesting) first assignment of 2015,  I thought I’d share my favourite sources of insight and opinion on games analysis and analytics.   I’ll update this from time to time as I remember more unmissables I should have included.     But as a starter for ten, here are my top three must-reads:

  •   http://www.deconstructoroffun.com/   – started by Michail Katkoff, ex-Rovio, recently joined by Joe Traverso, ex-Zynga, focussed on mobile and social, great tear-downs
  • http://mobiledevmemo.com/  – curated and with original content from Eric Seufert, Head of Marketing at Wooga,  emphasis on game market analysis and marketing quant
  • http://andersdrachen.com/ – blog of Anders Drachen, game data mining and user experience researcher and consultant, variety of original findings and recommended sources from the exploratory data analysis facet of games behaviour research

What should I add to this list?  Please do add your own favourite sources in the comments.   Because it can be a weird old world out there, I moderate first-time commentators – so if you don’t see your comment  appear right away rest assured that I will read it soon as I can.

Making, combining, experimenting and inspiring at #playful13

I lucked into this conference last year when someone I know on twitter couldn’t attend.    It’s now inked into my diary for the forseeable future.  Playful describes itself as

A sticker-book of brilliant thinking designed to make you want to Make Stuff.

And it’s not wrong.

Full marks for diversity of topics.  We had mummified deer covered with beeswax, which inspired chefs into new ways of dealing with rotten plums,  a billion or so different snakes and ladders boards generated through genetic algorithms, eye popping mind-bending graphics making complexity out of simplicity, and back again, a poignant and poetic talk about boxes,  and a story about dropping out of the rat race in a virtual world.   We had real adventure playgrounds,  virtual performance art,  bananaphones, folding wheels, not terribly practical jokes on the postal service, people at Facebook dancing a marked up two step on polished concrete that based on the rhythms of a loved up couple’s Facebook posts.  We had movies of smiling engineers drilling into hardened steel with home made EMF machines.   We took a deep dive into the physical pleasures of response curves in button pressing, and the pleasurable physics of custard-punching.

What do mummified deer, dustard punching, and bananaphones have in common?  The announced theme was “playing with form”.  What I really picked up from the talks as a unifying theme was a strong feeling of joyous experimentation, and a passionate belief in the importance of experimenting as a way of opening up creativity.

All this in peaceful, beautiful Conway Hall, a London landmark of the humanist movement.  I love Conway Hall.   And I loved the event.  All the talks were interesting.   And everyone in the audience I spoke with was too.

Conway Hall

Two different talks used the same quote,  from Mike Chrisp –

Build what it is you want to build and learn as you go.

What good advice.

Many thanks to Mudlark for curating, and to the speakers*, for blowing a big, teasing, leaf-strewn wind through my mind.

* Duncan Fitzsimmon, Ann Holiday, George Buckenham, John V Willshire, Fran Edgerly, Pippin Barr, Dani Luri,  Marie Foulston, Ben Reade, Rev Dan Catt, Stephanie Posavec,  and Rob Lowe (aka Supermundane).