EIEF 2006

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The Edinburgh Interactive Entertainment Festival wrapped up on Tuesday evening after two days of thought provoking discussions of important topics affecting the games industry right now. Unlike the more famous games conferences, such as the now defunct E3, TGS and GDC, EIEF felt a little more relaxed and ponderous. And taking place in the Royal College of Surgeons it felt a bit like going back to Uni.

Day one kicked off with David Gardner, executive vice president and chief operating officer of worldwide studios for Electronic Arts, making seven predictions for the games industry before being cut off mid punchline by an ill timed fire alarm.

When we eventually got going again, Gardner shared some interesting
opinions and revealed how innovations in upcoming EA games will be try
to keep up with the demands of the ever growing market. Integration of
real-time news feeds, interviews and opinions into at least two major
EA titles (NBA Live 07 and FIFA 07) is aimed at appealing to the modern
‘multitasker’ who prefers to flit between active entertainment  sources
(YouTube being an example) rather than passively lounging in front of the goggle box.

The elusive female market, which so many publishes have tried in vain to capture, still seems to be a mystery, even to EA. Gardner acknowledged that girl gamers absolutely don’t want so-called pink games, but the failed attempt to expand the popular Sims game into an online environment seems like it might have stumped the dominating publisher.

Later on, industry analyst, Nick Parker, gave a bit of a light hearted speech which demonstrated some of the misconceptions about the games industry and explored where it could be heading in the next few years. He observed that Nintendo is becoming a ‘lifestyle brand’ – there’s certainly a hint of lifestyle design going on in the DS Lite.

Talking about the next-gen console war Parker observed that there was room enough in the market for all three console manufacturers and that wasn’t any need to try and pick a winner. Regarding the PS3, he sees it as a slow burner and that its crucial time will come around next Easter. When was Halo 3 due out again..?

Edge’s Margaret Robsertson discussed games that make her cry and how to make games emotional. This is because of ongoing argument that ‘videogames can not be art because they can not make you cry’. Robertson, whilst picking out several tiles that had made her cry, observed that the argument is wrong because games can cause real emotion in players and that a game can use common tricks to elicit these emotions. Instead, it is the players who invest an emotional response which is different to that found in any other media. This is crucial difference is what could someday distinguish videogames as a higher form of art.

More on EIEF 2006 over at Games Digest. 

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