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Taking liberties since 1978


My blog has moved....

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Girl Gamers, the DS and stupid stereotypes

I recently bought my Mum as DS, after she showed more interest than I'd expected in my PSP, but the zillions of buttons and controls were confusing.

Since then I've been looking for games to get her and I've been annoyed by what seems to be the lamest bunch of "girl games" ever. Cooking Mama, Baby Pals and Nintendogs - what a pile of tosh. This reminds me of those bloody barbie games they made to appeal to girls. FFS

I'm sick of all this chatter about attracting the girl gamer market while completely failing to understand what engages that userbase. I don't want a bloody game that asks me about hairstyles, babies or bloody cooking!
I see rants about not enough women being involved in games development but very little actively done to address it.

Ok as a gamer I like a wide variety of games from FPS games to more unusual Japanese games like Katamari Damacy or Loco Roco. I'm rarely attracted to heavily strategy based games.

Gaming is becoming more mainstream and the DS, Nichole Kidman and Brain Training have no small part to play in that. The difference is not in making "girl games" though, but in getting the usability right. The DS and the Wii are triumphs of usability over functionality.

As far a girl games are concerned the closest to a success so far is Facebook. As the web and gaming converge I think that the market will expand and finding new ways for us to communicate and interact with our friends, be it Animal Crossing or Sims.


Apologies and yuletide greetings

Sorry for the complete lack of posting of late. I'm working on incorporating my blog into my own website and therefore haven't kept this as up to date as I should of.

Back to the mince pie fueled grind stone for now.

Seasonal greetings to all.


TED talks - Stefan Sagnmeister 2004

I love watching the talks from TED, so many interesting talks and concepts. There is something great about listening to really smart people discuss topics that interest them.

Stefan's talk was about happiness and the large part design had to play in his happiness through life.

Here is his list of life lessons, there are definitely a few in here that I could do with reminding myslef of every now and then.

Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.

Thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now.

Being not truthful acts against me.

Helping others helps me.

Organising a charity group is surprisingly easy.

Everything I do always comes back to me.

Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.

Over time I get used to everything and I start taking it for granted

Money does not make me happy

Travelling alone is helpful for new perspective on life

Assuming is stifling

Keeping a diary supports my personal development

Trying to look good limits my life

Worrying solves nothing

Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses

Having guts always works out for me


How culture killed i-mode in the UK

Culture matters: Why i-mode failed

Although hindsight is a wonderful thing I think this article makes a very important point. People don't care about technology (well except for us geeks), but people do care about an experience.

This can classically be demonstrated by the Wii, which is little more than a supped up Game Cube and doesn't compare to the XBox 360 or the PS3. But in terms of experience it kicks their ass offering much more than Gears of War and other generic sequels.

So when you are thinking about how to improve your products or services, think about what the latest technology offers in terms of experience and don't assume people will want it just because it's new or because you offer it.


Nottingham Girl Geek Dinner 9/7/07

Another Girl Geek Dinner tonight and I was delighted that Fiz and Alex could come. There was a really good presentation on search engine optimisation by Internet marketing company Hallam.
Susan Hallam gave a really good presentation covering some of the major players in SEO. It was a great refresher as it must be about 5 years since I really focused on SEO, and have relied primarily on good mark up and a decent amount of content to drive Google rankings.
It was great to learn some interesting facts like that while Google occupy about 75% of the UK search engine market, in the US it only takes about 40% with the likes of MSN being major players. Also interesting that the driving force behind this probably tied in to my old job with libraries and there quality of cataloging and metadata and choice of Google as the search engine of choice.

Another thing I learnt was that Google only looks at the first 65 characters in yout title and it ranks them in order. So it's time to start altering my page titles I feel. I knew that it was detremental to have the same title on everypage, but this made me really examine what I used rather than being lazy about it.

The whole presentation was really well delivered and although we had to skim over areas due to time constraints it was really clear that Susan knew her stuff and it was able to support all her opinions with a great deal more than "marketing fluff". My only bone to pick was over her comment that "Flash was bad", which harks back to the Nielsen comment. I'd agree most implementations aren't satisfactory and that is far easier to create "bad flash" than "good". But it's too easy to dismiss it as being bad both in terms of accessibility and SEO. I find it hard to argue that a Flash or Flex UI does not create a richer user experience - so we can't just ignore these technologies but must push and strive for ways to make them more accessible to users and robots alike. I would have loved to have heard about new approaches that can help improve Flash, rather than a flat negative response.

The talk was full of great examples and I felt like I'd been spared a thrashing when she said she'd googled us and was going to use our websites but thought better of it. Perhaps a little too much like shooting fish in a barrel. As a quick look at the new Nottingham Girl Geek Dinners website shows not everyone in the room is up to the title "professional" web designer. Who dragged that out of the 1990's?

In fact overall the geek factor is still sadly missing. I'm not sure whether it is my expectation that is wrong or that the Nottingham dinner is really quite different to the others that are run. But it is still really marketing focused, which is hardly short of women - that generally where all the women in IT firms work, while I still hold out the hope of actually talking to other women developers and designers - I know these are a rarer breed but I thought that was kind of the point.

Now there isn't another one until October! Are we really so lacking in local talent that it takes 3 months to find another speaker?


Olympic logo


A great argument about what is wrong with the London Olympic logo - it's too trendy. It is meant to be aimed at the younger audience, but by trying to make it hip they have ultimately created something that will be out of date by 2012.

No one can really guess what the most fickle fashion conscious among us will like in 5 years - especially as they are about 12 right now.