When I left Channel 4 Education in December, there were 5 projects which I had commissioned and were due to launch, and/or took the reins over from Alice Taylor after she originally green lit them. One of those was The Supermes, an emergent drama using The Sims 3 engine about a group of mates trying to get on with each other and what life throws at them in a houseshare.
The first episode is finally out.
It was designed to be part of Superme, the resilience system of content for teens to help them understand that it’s ok just to be ok.
The Supermes was part labour of love for Robin Burkinshaw, the genius crafter behind Alice and Kev, and part Massive Headache. In the best possible way.
The reason why it was a headache was simple: apart from stuff I can’t really talk about, there was the very fact that the characters were uncontrollable in a sense. These were not actors you could direct. Nor was this machinima. This was something entirely different and tricky because they were essentially robots. To cut what they did while Robin played them was no easy task, and the crafting of the story was a massive challenge, but it has worked.
Even the voice over was hard to get right. We originally wanted a Carl Pilkington-esque tone, but quickly realised it would not work. We did however want to make sure the narration nodded to some of the odd things our characters would do, because they were Sims. We wanted the narrator to balance those humorous observations with the more serious messages coming through, dealing with loss for example.
I am really proud of it, and some of the episodes made me cry.*
This post explains the whole process rather well, and you can also check out the blog on Facebook which involved the audience throughout the production process.
There were a lot of people who came and went over the course of this project, and they did a stunning job imho.
*Although still disappointed there was no cat in any of the episodes. The Sims 3 doesn’t have pets.
This is something I am Very Proud Of. It is my first games commission at C4 which I have seen from commission to live. It’s by the wonderful-to-work-with Littleloud and was part of our call for ideas around fashion and ethics last year. This turned out to be a way into global economics and is a classic example of cleverly taking a familiar game mechanic (Tower Defence) and use it to make learning happen through the game play.
I love the darkness of the Boss, the comedy of the references and scripting, the Gary Lucken art, and the 8 bit soundtrack. But most of all, I love the guilt of players and that many of the blog review comments have been about the politics of sweatshops, not whether people love or hate the music. And this is the point: *this* is why we do what we do,with the people we do it with.*
It is also our first game out of the door from the 2011 stable. More to come, including The End, a game about death, by the fantastic Preloaded and commissioned by Alice. Watch this space.
* And they squeezed in a cat for me (scroll to the end of this piece!)
I LOVE this (via @Mrdarrengarrett). Welcome to Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure. This is why I will probably never have children (or cats). I would spend a looonnnng time exploiting their creative innocence for my own personal gain obvs. Adorable. I want a ponycorn. Now.
Yay Sissy and her education fund.
I *will* possibly get a chance to do this kind of thing, come to think if it, without actually having to go through the agony of childbirth, as I have just had my induction to be a Ministry of Stories Minister in Training. I might even get to work in the Monster Shop. Check out the history and inspiration here.
They do writing mentor workshops with primary school age and will be working with older excluded kids soon too. Can’t wait. Bring on the Mortal Terror.
the most awesome thing I have seen in a very long time. Beats my efforts. I am still stuck down a dark hole in This is quite possiblyMinecraft, unable to find my way out as I have yet to make a torch. doh. (via Kotaku)
Just when I was starting to wonder what interesting thing I had really seen at sxsw (apart from a couple of sessions friends participated in), along came Jane McGonigal’s keynote. I knew it was The One I Must Not Miss while I was here. It did not fail to please. She has been the only one I have seen who has actually introduced some fresh(ish) academic theory into her talk – that of Happiness. She talked about 10 skills that games can give you which ultimately give you a better quality of “life”. Hence, why there is a mass exodus to virtual worlds.
- mobability: ability to coordinate at large scales
- cooperation radar: ability to attach who would be perfect collaborator for any given mission
- ping quotient: how good you are at reaching out and are good at responding to others’ engagement
- influencey: ability to adapt persusive ability: motivating people
- multi capitalism: monetary and social captial: recognising diff capital systems: getting people to trade those
- protovation: rapid, fearless innovation: failing is fun. fail quickly and a lot means you learn the most: gamers do this a lot
- open authorship: giving content away and acknowledging it will be changed: how to design content to make sure people can modify in positive ways
- signal/noise management: knowing what is signal and what is noise
- longbroading: zoomed out view of higher level systems
- emergent sight: you can spot patterns – things you weren’t expecting: being comfy with messy complexity (eg lost ring – multiple languages): seeing opportunities in messiness.
The thing about games and virtual story worlds – no matter how graphically sophisticated (or not) they are – is at least they give you feedback and points for doing things. That way we know instantly what our strengths and weaknesses are, and how we are doing. We don’t really get that in everyday life.
Then of course, she ended the session with a spontaneous Soulja Boy dance. As you do.