Playing in the Sandpit


The cards for the game have arrived from those lovely folk at Moo


…which means the the inaugural game of Hatchet will be played tonight! 

It’s at The Sandpit, Wednesday 9th September, at the Lighthouse in Brighton – the evening starts at 6.30pm, Hatchet will be played midway through (about 8/8.30).

See you there, yeah?


Original post…

The other week, I went and talk to Holly at Hide & Seek, just to find out what sort of things they did.

She told me, I liked it, I wanted to join in.  She said they were taking their Sandpit night on tour around the country… including to Brighton, where they were looking for someone local to design a game to be played there. 

She persuaded me that there was only one man who could design a game in Brighton… 

And that man was busy. 

Which means I’ve had to do it instead.  

Anyway, this is my game…


“You’ll be my Charlie, and I could be your George
Let’s bury the hatchet like the Beatles and the Stones”

                                “Hatchet” by Low

The game

Each contestant receives a card with a word on it.  That word will be part of the line of a song.  The aim is to find the rest of your lyric (minimum of five words), and sing it aloud.  Each member of that team gets a point. 

The first three completed lyrics get points.  The cards are then returned, shuffled, and handed out again.  The winner at the end of all the rounds is the person (or people) with the most points.

The songs

The songs in Hatchet are mostly Beatles songs… though there’s one rogue song that we’ll get onto later.


The lyrics taken from each vary in length.  For instance, there’s a five word lyric from Strawberry Fields Forever, a six word lyric from Twist and Shout, and so on.

As long as you make up a chain of AT LEAST five words, you can sing your song… you don’t need the complete lyric.

The bonus song

There is a bonus song in the mix, which is a nine word lyric from the Rolling Stones song.  If anyone manages to get that lyric, they get triple points (it’s like a golden snitch… it’s only in there once, it’s very hard to get before the easier Beatles songs are sung, so worth more)


Given it’s never been played yet, I can only imagine how it will go… something like this maybe…

At the start, everyone gets their cards, and doesn’t know what the Beatles songs are.  They have to remember, or use a phone to find out from the internet… anything they like.  So round one will take a while.  If people get too stuck, they’ll get some clues.

But in round two, everyone will more more aware of what lyrics are out there… and will start discovering more, so the game will get faster. 

Some people may even make up lyrics from the words that I haven’t been aware are in the game.  In that case, as long as it can be officially verified as a Beatles lyric, it’s allowed.

I really hope this works… ]]>

Home Gaming is Killing Music

There’s a brilliant article in the Guardian this morning by Charles Arthur on what might really be killing the music industry… gaming.


Basically, people only have so much money in their pockets… and as far as home entertainment goes, there’s a new game in town, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Has the music industry been concentrating on ‘£50 quid bloke’ (yes, it’s been years since anyone used that term), whilst the kids have a brand new bag?


The future of gaming arrives in 2010

When the Wii first came out, Nintendo took gaming into a whole new place; if you didn’t like learning to use fiddly little controllers (and remembering to press >>XO>< or something) to control games, then there was a brilliant intuitive alternative in the Wii remote.

Even the Redknapps could use it:


(I’d like to believe there’s a whole generation of technologists and designers who know sit for hours refining their inventions so that they pass ‘the Redknapp test’…)

Anyway, it was only a matter of time before Sony & Microsoft got in on the act, and in the last two days we’ve seen big announcements from both.

First up, Sony are giving us the PlayStation Motion Controller (via ENGADGET).  It consists of two parts; a little wand like device featuring some buttons and a glowing globe at the top, and a camera that you perch atop your TV to watch you waving it around.


Watch this video of the presentation to see it in action, and to learn a lot more about it:

It looks pretty darn cool, taking a lot of the technology we’ve seen in the infancy of augmented reality and moving it up another good few levels.

Yet it remains a controller, and it still has buttons on it… because, say Sony, buttons are still something we’ll need when playing games.

Buttons are something that Microsoft are proposing we don’t need in the future.

Have a look at this: it’s called Project Natal

If this works like it looks like it works, it’s going to be an absolute revolution in not only how we play games, but for everything where we want to interact with a screen.

Yeah, I know, that looks like another Microsoft high production piece with actors… so here’s a live demo from the announcement:

What’s more, it’s something that will work with every XBox 360 that’s out in the world already.

Both devices will be available in 2010 it seems… which isn’t a long time away at all. 

You’ve got to think that the XBox system is the game changer here; it revolutionises gaming, and the base system is already installed in more homes – this report from the Guardian suggests worldwide sales of 30 million for the XBox 360, versus 22 million for PS3.  Both are trailing the 50 million selling Wii).

But if there’s one thing that’s for certain it’s this; given the amount of jumping, running, kicking and punching we’ll be doing in the future, we’re all going to need bigger living rooms and unbreakable vases… ]]>

Virtually here

Last night in defiance of the credit crunch, not only did I buy a new summer residence, a sofa and some ornaments for my new house, I also put it all on a credit card. It was not too extravagant though – it cost me £5.

Oddly though, I don’t actually own anything. What kind of weird reality is this?

Well, this is the new Playstation Home Beta… (forums will help shape it ) – now open to anyone with a PS3, broadband connection and some time on their hands. Like Second Life or the Sims (but actually well rendered), you will find people from all round the world wandering about the mall, bowling alley, cinema and “home square”.

It’s a place to meet other game users and chat, there are games dotted around to amuse yourself with your new chums (chess, bowling and pool), or you can dance, sit or just watch. Of course, it’s hard to converse with everyone, there’s Spanish, English, French and even some Welsh in the chat you can see – a real UN of inhabitants at the moment.


The chat is stimulating…

The “posters” run video and expand as you approach to fill the screen, you will be able to buy branded goods from the “shops” to clothe your virtual self… As a virtual world the possibilities for engaging content and advertising become endless, tapping into the TV set, broadband and Blue Ray player we are seeing the start of something groundbreaking.

Of course, Microsoft are not so sure, calling the service outdated. Odd after 2 days….


The Krypton Factor… oh yes, it's back :)

This post has been a while in the making… it was about a year ago this Friday that a small gang of us travelled to Newcastle to pitch to Sage, who were looking for a way to engage with people in a powerful way… ‘think big’, they said, so we did…

…and suggested they bring back The Krypton Factor, in order to test the business intelligence of the nation.  Lo and behold, a year later, and it’s BACK!  How very, very exciting…


The first show goes out in the New Year, I’ll post up anything I can get my hands of the look and feel…

…but as a quick taster, head on over here to play the first of one of the many games that will accompany the series… it’s really good, I’ve been, well, ‘roadtesting’ it this morning (it’s bloody hard as well… but then it is ‘TV’s Toughest Quiz’).



DRM: why less is most definitely Spore…

I’ve been really looking forward to the release of the game Spore, from gaming genius Will Wright; for those of you who don’t know about it, it’s a “multi-genre “massively single-player online game””(Wikipedia).






And I would have probably bought it this weekend, except I noticed something in the ‘rapid fire’ post from Jake McKee, titled Backlash: Anti-DRM Protesters Trash Spore’s Amazon Rating



I clicked, and read that the DRM which EA have included with the game to ‘prevent piracy’ means you can only register it three times in total; no good if you want to install/uninstall according to system space.  As one poster put it “…what they have done is essentially created a rental for the price of the full game”.



Not a great way to treat valued customers.  But the disgruntled customers are no longer stuck in a supply chain where their only recourse is to fire off a letter or phone a disinterested sales support hotline; they can actively (and perhaps rightly) trash the reputation of the game.  In protest, there have so far been over2000 one-star ratings on the game’s Amazon profile…



Although it’s still number one in the charts (being the biggest most anticipated gaming release this week), subsequent sales will be strongly influenced by the feedback that services such as Amazon enable customers to share.  Anyone who sees that many one-star ratings is going to investigate.



It’s sad to see other “information” based industries falling into the same trap as the music industry; instead of alienating customers with a heavy-handed policing system to prevent sharing, working out a way to encourage them to share the game with friends, and then upgrading those people to advanced versions of the game they would have paid a reasonable sum of money for would surely have been more popular…



…essentially, encourage the spread of the game further through working with communities.  Instead, the games industry seems set on taking the same stance the music industry did; if you share it, you’re a criminal.  And we know how that’s working out…


XBox: yet another reason not to invite friends round

A news story on Techcrunch tells us that Netflix, the online movie & TV show subscription service, is soon coming to XBox, meaning that Netflix subscribers can access all the content they buy through their console.

But the most important part is that it’s not a solo experience; using the Live Party feature, you’ll be able to watch the content with a group of up to 8 friends, wherever they are, using their XBox too. 

It’ll be interesting to see how the sociability angle works whilst people are watching (forum-style comments underneath? your friends voices talking over the show?). 

But one thing for sure is that the potential functionality of watching content ‘together’ whilst physically separate is going to be far greater than anything that standard TV platforms can produce.

The whole story’s here.