International Hobo’s founder Chris Bateman is at Develop Brighton this year with a talk entitled What Players Want: Understanding Player Diversity. This session is a culmination of more than a decade of work in player satisfaction modelling (not to mention game design experience from fifty published games), and presents a new way of understanding the psychology of videogames in terms of Player Motives. As well as helping clarify effective videogame design, the model can help studios make tough commercial decisions about which audiences they can or should be pursuing with a specific design concept.
How often do you go out without your smartphone? What’s the longest you’ve gone without the internet?
Whether you’ve noticed it or not, we have become cyborgs – human-machine hybrids. Whether it’s Facebook selling our personal data to be ‘weaponised’ by Cambridge Analytica, or Google suggesting answers to questions like “are women evil?” to people who asked for no such thing, our lives are affected by the machines we are living with. Cybernetic networks are all around us – and thinking about ‘neutral tools’ is no longer helpful. You’re already a cyborg… join us to help find out what would make a good cyborg!
Thursday 10th May 2018, 6:30 pm to 9 pm
Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NU - order your free tickets here!
- 6:30 pm Are You A Good Cyborg?
Game designer and philosopher Chris Bateman takes us on a journey through the strange world we now live in, asking what the good life might look like for us cyborgs.
- 7:30 pm Cyborg Living Panel
Lively debate about our relationship with technology, the internet, robots, and machines.
What does the Wikipedia know, and how can it know it? More to the point, how can anyone using an anonymously edited source, the contents of which change on a daily basis, know that what they are reading constitutes knowledge? In this provocative challenge to contemporary concepts of objectivity, four figures of knowledge – the Wikipedia, scientific experiments, anonymous peer review, and school education – are investigated in order to question the way we understand the world around us.
Rather than support the classical view of an objective world 'out there' that our beliefs must accord with in order to count as knowledge, Wikipedia Knows Nothing argues that all facts are the residue of skilled activities and that knowledge is better understood as a practice. Furthermore, rather than a single 'real world', the many worlds that we each live within form a multiverse about which our subjective knowledge-practices give us broader understandings than the objective knowledge produced by experimental apparatus.
The merit of the sciences doesn't lie in their possessing the only path to truth, but in their capacity to develop knowledge-practices that can resist objections across all worlds. This leads to an urgent need to recognise the role of practices in creating and maintaining knowledge, and the different ways that truth can be stitched together into distinct but non-contradictory patchworks of 'real worlds'. When we do, we must question any claim that knowledge can come from anonymous individuals exercising an unchecked power to silence others – whether this happens on the internet in wikis, or in professional academic discourse.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.
Cross-posted from ETC Press.
Two of the keynote speakers at this year’s SBGames conference in Teresina, Brazil, are International Hobo’s own Ernest Adams and Chris Bateman. Ernest, who was part of the award-winning games consultancy for more than a decade, received his doctorate in 2013 at the same time Chris was earning his as a PhD by Publication. Both have worked on numerous commercial videogames, as well as having published extensively on games in academic publications and elsewhere. The event in Brazil marks the first time that Chris and Ernest have been on the same speaking bill since their joint presentation at GDC Europe in 2004. They both look forward to meeting the delegates at SBGames this November!
The following Press Release has just been issued by University of Bolton, where I currently teach.
‘Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) first asked me to teach Game Narrative for them back in June last year,’ Chris explains, ‘but I had to decline because of my commitments at Bolton. But after thinking about it, I realised that with the high tech resources at both our campuses it might be possible to teach my class over the internet.’ That is what has happened. Using D2L’s elearning platform Brightspace, Chris will be able to teach his class on the other side of the world this Autumn.
‘I teach a world-class introduction to game narrative theory and practice in the BSc Game Design at Bolton,’ Chris adds, ‘and at LCAD I get to teach the subject as a Visiting Professor on a Master of Fine Art degree – which given the years I’ve spent defending the value of games as an artistic medium is a genuine honour.’ The class at LCAD is a modified version of a module Chris has taught at Bolton for many years, which in turn is based upon workshops he and a colleague used to run for both the BBC and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe when he was working as a full time consultant. The Bachelor's version of the workshops will also be used by Uppsala University, the oldest university in Sweden, for an Interactive Storytelling class commencing in January 2016.
Chris notes that his co-workers are amused that he’s working in Bolton and e-commuting to California: ‘They think I should have gone to California and e-commuted to Bolton instead! But I’m happy with how this worked out, and it’s a great partnership between two exceptional academic institutions.’
Sandy Appleöff, the Founder and Chair of the Art of Game Design MFA at LCAD, says that they particularly wanted Chris to teach the class for them. ‘We’d asked a number of professionals in the games industry to suggest someone to teach game narrative at LCAD, and Chris’ name kept coming up. It was a shame when he initially declined, but a great pleasure when he found away to make it happen anyway. Chris is globally recognised as an expert in game narrative, and is exactly the kind of professional we seek out to teach here at LCAD.’
Chris has enjoyed a highly successful career in game development, working on over forty five games including classic titles such as Discworld Noir and Ghost Master, as well as major global franchises such as Cartoon Network: FusionFall and Motorstorm: Apocalypse. He even self-funded an ‘artgame’ called Play with Fire that was featured in a travelling exhibition. Chris’ talents and work also go well beyond game development, stretching into groundbreaking academic research that combines game studies, neurobiology and philosophy. His work on the foundations to game aesthetics, published as the book Imaginary Games, is part of a long-term project combining philosophy and scientific research to help understand play and games. In 2013, he became the first person in the world to receive a doctorate in the aesthetics of games and play, via a PhD by Publication drawing from his existing work.
University of Bolton offers both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Game Design, Games Art and Game Programming, and Chris teaches on all the games degrees in various capacities, although Game Design is the BSc course that studies Game Narrative under Chris tutorship. The University was one of the first in the UK to offer degrees in game development, and its graduates have gone on to work at major developers such as Rockstar North (based in Dundee), creator of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, and TT Games (based in Knutsford), who are responsible for the LEGO Star Wars, LEGO Batman, and LEGO Jurassic World franchises. A team of game students from Bolton recently won two major prizes in this year’s Dare to Be Digital competition.
Laguna College of Art and Design is a world-renowned fine arts university located on the spectacular California coast line. It offers both Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) and Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree courses. LCAD is considered one of the best colleges in the United States for traditional and graphic arts, specifically digital game art, with graduating students quickly being snapped up by top gaming companies including Walt Disney Animation, Microsoft, EA, and Activision.
Pleased to announce that I’m part of the team behind a new conference provisionally entitled The Player Experience: The Emotions and Worlds of Digital Games, due to launch in the Summer of 2016. An inter-disciplinary event, we are intending to sit at the intersection between Game Studies and Cyberpsychology, but will accept submissions from philosophy, narratology, neurobiology, or any other field with connections to the subject. We also welcome delegates from the games industry who’d like to give a presentation, or who’d just like to attend.
The theme for the first conference in the series is Avatars: Presence and Immersion, looking at the representation of identity in and around the fictional worlds of games, and how these lead to presence (high fidelity of experience) and immersion (deep engagement) within those imagined worlds.
The conference will be hosted at the University of Bolton in Greater Manchester UK, and we expect the Call for Participation to begin in February 2015 and close around 30 May 2015. The conference organisers are myself, Dr. Angela Tinwell, and Dr. Julie Prescott. At the moment, we are asking for Expressions of Interest consisting of an email stating that you would like to take part and your academic field and institution, or your company.
Please email px [at] ihobo [dot] com - or click this Email Robot – to let us know this event interests you. Hope to hear from you soon!
ihobo will return in January 2015.
After 12 years heading up the creative consultancy brand International Hobo (ihobo), and running one of its constituent consultancies from both the UK and the US, Chris Bateman is stepping down from his role as ‘Creative Overlord’ to accept a position as Consulting Researcher at University of Bolton. The move does not affect International Hobo’s consultancies, which will continue to provide expert services in game design, narrative and player satisfaction, and Chris is still available for consultancy work himself.
Chris explains his move as “a natural next step for me”. Since publishing the paper “The Neurobiology of Play” (with Dr. Lennart Nacke) in 2010, Bateman has been gradually moving closer to his research interests in player satisfaction, game design and philosophy. His work on foundations to game aesthetics, published as the Zero Games book Imaginary Games, is the start of a long-term project combining philosophical theories of representation with empirical and practical studies of how and why people play games. His work in the emerging field of game aesthetics (which includes ongoing empirical investigation into the biology of play) finally convinced him to partner with a university with the necessary resources take his research to the next level. He states: “Bolton is delighted to have me as a researcher, a lecturer and as a consultant – and they have actively encouraged me to continue the kind of consultancy work I’ve been doing for the last decade,” adding “I’m sure I can do great things with the talent and resources University of Bolton has at its disposal.”
Relations with universities are nothing new for the International Hobo consultancies. Ernest Adams of ihobo’s Designers Notebook (specialising in game design consultation) has enjoyed close links with the University of Gotland in Sweden for many years, as well as serving as a Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor for the University of Ulster, and teaching at dozens of other institutions. Similarly, Wendy Despain of ihobo’s Quantum Content (which provides game writing services) has been teaching a new generation of game writers at Full Sail, in Florida, while Richard Boon of ihobo’s Story Guy (providing narrative design and scriptwriting consultation) has been lecturing on digital and transmedia narrative for various institutions based in the United Kingdom, including the BBC.
For over a decade, companies under the International Hobo brand have delivered award winning consultancy in game design, concept design, dialogue scripting and narrative support, as well as offering cutting-edge player satisfaction services. It has worked on nearly forty videogames since being established in 1999, including million-selling S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and Bratz: Rock Angelz titles, cult classics Ghost Master and Discworld Noir, and recent AAA titles such as Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall and MotorStorm Apocalypse.
International Hobo is pleased to announce the phenomenal success of their BrainHex player satisfaction model, which launched in August 2009 and received more responses in its first week than in the entire lifespan of its predecessor, DGD2. To date, the test has been taken by over 60,000 respondents, and the data is currently being analysed by the University of Saskatchewan. Multiple academic papers will be published later this year announcing the key findings of this research into how and why people play games.
Although data analysis has already begun, International Hobo will leave the BrainHex site up and running indefinitely, so that gamers can continue to take the test for their own enlightenment and amusement. It is possible that responses being collected now will still be used in future analyses.
We wish to thank everyone involved in the BrainHex project, especially Neil Bundy for his work on the test's backend code, Corvus Elrod for his work on the logos, Lennart Nacke and Regan Mandryk for their work on the statistical analysis, the countless people who helped publicise the test, and lastly the tens of thousands of players who provided the data. Thank you all!
It is with great pleasure that International Hobo announces the imminent publication of Beyond Game Design: Nine Steps Toward Creating Better Videogames, with Charles River Media (an imprint of Course Technology). The new multi-author book features chapters by Richard Bartle, Chris Bateman, Noah Falstein, Michelle Hinn, Katherine Isbister, Nicole Lazzaro, Sheri Graner Ray and Joseph Saulter, and is edited by International Hobo’s Chris Bateman.
Beyond Game Design is a master class in videogame design, marketing and theory, and essential reading for anyone working (or hoping to work) in the games industry. The book deals with the entire spectrum of issues relating to how and why players enjoy the games they choose, the different ways of modelling play, and the many distinctions in the audience that make the creation of videogames such a challenging and rewarding experience.
The book has two key themes: understanding the psychology of
play and including a wider audience, both of which combine towards the goal of
teaching how to make superior games for everyone to play. The first part of the
book shows how understanding the psychology of videogames can help make better
games, covering Bartle Types, the Four Fun Keys and Roger Caillois’ patterns of
play, as well as looking at social play. Combining psychological research and
observation with helpful and pragmatic advice, the reader is taken on a journey
that shows them how to understand players, and how this knowledge can guide
The second part of the book shows the many different players who are often not considered when making games, and the practical ways to include these often untapped audiences. Issues of cultural diversity, accessibility and gender are all covered by the leading experts on these subjects. By including these wider audiences into the market for videogames, we can learn how to truly make games for everyone.
An essential read for any game designer, marketer, producer or anyone interested in what makes videogames such a vital medium, the book will be available from 16 March 2009, and can be pre-ordered from Amazon, Charles River Media, and all good book stores.
The hugely popular reference book Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames has sold out once again, and is being reprinted for a third time. The book was edited by International Hobo's Chris Bateman, and features chapters by three of the company's agents (Ernest Adams, Chris Bateman & Richard Boon) as well as several of the company's external pool.
Wendy Despain, another International Hobo agent, and member of the executive panel of the IGDA's Game Writers Special Interest Group which connects the authors of the book remarked: "This is the first book that really focuses on the fundamentals of game writing, and is indispensable for any game writer trying to improve their craft."
You can learn more about the book from the original press release.
Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames is available from Amazon and all good bookstores.