How a Recruiter Got My Phone Number

Original Author: Forrest Smith

This is two part tale. The first is an amusing story of a recruiter who way over stepped their bounds. The second is a public service announcement on how you, yes you, may be unknowingly exposing both your phone number and home address to the entire internet.

The Slimiest Recruiter

If you’ve been in the games industry for a few years and have a LinkedIn account odds are you are regularly messaged by recruiters. Recruiters are typically harmless and can safely be ignored. They send massive message blasts and hope to get a couple of bites. At least usually that how it works.

One weekday morning awhile back I missed a call. I was in a meeting and had left my phone on my desk. I went to lunch without ever noticing. By the time I got back to the office I had an e-mail from a co-worker. It turns out that that the missed call was from a recruiter. Less than two hours after their first attempt at contact they called my friend and current co-worker so he could pass a message to me[1].

Recruiters sending LinkedIn messages is harmless. Making phone calls is highly annoying and unwanted. Calling my friends and co-workers is an entirely new level of unacceptable. He couldn’t even wait two hours! It also unfortunately meant I needed to respond as I didn’t want more friends getting contacted.

Public Records

After skimming through twitter, facebook, etc I couldn’t find any place my cell number was exposed. I asked the recruiter how he got my number and was shocked at the answer – domain registration.

Run a whois lookup on domains and you may be surprised at what you find. If you have a domain of your own I recommend checking it out right now –  

Opinion piece: Australian games industry social media culture

Original Author: Rebecca Fernandez

Advocacy / Business /

I’m a programmer. Through and through. I might pretend to be good at organising a community every now and then, or at speaking on panels, but in my heart I’m a programmer. I deal much better with pieces of code than I do with words or people. So please bear in mind that writing is not my forte as you read this. It is a struggle to communicate exactly what is on my mind – just ask the people who know me well. And sometimes I screw up: what I say doesn’t quite capture what I meant, and occasionally people can take other meanings from my words. Also, the following is all my opinion, and mine alone. It does not represent that of the IGDA, AIE, Convict Interactive, the GDAA, PAX or AltDevBlog. And if you would like to comment about this article, please do so here – as I mention below, discussion over Twitter is difficult.

Which brings me to the discussions on social media over the last few days. It started with Tony Reed’s interview on MCV Pacific. I read it and thought it was quite sensible – I agreed with almost everything Tony had to say. But perhaps because I know what the GDAA are busy with, and I know Tony, perhaps it was easier for me to grasp his meaning. Since others online took huge offense to the article, which puzzled me to no end. So I asked them about it and suddenly it seemed like I’d started a war on Twitter.

Now, Twitter is great – so many opportunities can be found through it, and I’d be a different person today if it didn’t exist – but it’s not a great medium for a heated discussion, especially if you’re not great at crafting your rebuttal to fit into 140 characters or less.

This sentence from Tony’s interview seems to have generated the most controversy:

Creativity comes from everywhere, so raising gender, race or sexuality should play no part in the hiring process.

I read this to mean that we shouldn’t take gender, race or sexuality into account while hiring. By hiring I believed that meant the point where you say: “yes, you have a job, come work for us!”. So I thought he meant that you shouldn’t choose a woman for a job just because you want to improve the male/female ratio. I always believe you should choose the person most suitable for the job – the person with the appropriate talent level who fits the culture of the company, can communicate well enough with others and is significantly motivated, etc. The idea that someone might hire me instead of a male – who actually suited the position more – just because I’m a female is absolutely terrifying. It completely undermines and insults my intelligence, hard work and motivation. One of my main insecurities is that thought that perhaps I’m getting further in life because I’m receiving special treatment for my gender, and not as a result of my skills and hard work.

But others on Twitter took “hiring process” to mean the entire process. So, going out and looking for applicants as well. I hadn’t considered this part of it and I’m glad they pointed it out. But I don’t actually know enough about how that works at the moment to be able to find fault with it, or to know why that might be broken. From my experience and limited knowledge, companies will first look to people they already know for the job. Now this would be people already in the industry or individuals around the fringes who’ve made themselves known in some way. So yeah, if you’re looking to hire from that group of people, the numbers are going to be skewed towards men. Because the industry, and even student balance, is male dominated.

So where else should we look for applicants? I honestly don’http://christianmccrea.net/post/53496516461/8-7-is-proof-of-a-problem”> Christian talked about in his blog? I honestly don’t know what he was referring to and it was never expressly stated. What is it that we aren’t doing that we should be? I genuinely want to know.

I mentioned students briefly above, and I’d like to expand on that topic. I don’t know enough about Christian’s class, but a 50/50 split of males to females in any game development related class is exceedingly rare. I’ve worked at two educational institutions and have watched the ratio decline over the past few years. When I was a student we probably had about 8 or 9% females in our classes. Now as a teacher I have 0%. My involvement with IGDA Sydney means I get to see into other schools, and the numbers are not too much better there. The numbers are usually better in game art, or game design degrees than they are with programming, but not by much. Which is why I believe what Tony said is true – something is happening at the primary and secondary school level that is not making game development seem attractive.

Is it because of our culture? What is our culture?

I have pretty thick skin – I worked for seven years at cinemas on the south coast of NSW. Verbal abuse from customers was at least a weekly occurrence.  I also feared for my physical safety on a number of occasions from violent patrons.  My fellow staff members were no better: we had low morale and bullying was common. I also experienced what I guess is called sexual harassment from a number of male employees. I just thought of it as them copping a feel – nothing more.

The games industry, in comparison, is amazing! Everyone is so polite, even when they are angry with me, or disagree with me. My fellow game developers are respectful, courteous, and treat me no differently to male developers. My only complaint would be that some assume I’m an artist and act surprised when I explain that I’m a programmer.

Any abuse or inappropriateness that I have experienced since entering the industry has come from gamers or members from other industries who we occasionally interact with.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem – the thousands of articles I see and have read are clear indicators that there is a problem in some areas. But, because of my experiences, I believe that these problem cases are the exception in our industry, not the norm. Which, with the volume of posts and articles that appear surrounding this issue, can be hard to believe.

I believe it is because bad news gets more attention than good news – thus media sites and the internet culture in general are more likely to jump on a bad news story. I get it. But it makes me so mad! Yesterday, the PAX Australia panels were announced and everyone jumped all over the “controversial” one. And that’s all anyone talked about. Did anyone talk about any of the awesome panels that are on? There’s one called Child’s Play that is all about how the games community can help sick kids in hospitals. WHY DID I HAVE TO SEARCH THE PAX SITE TO FIND THIS?? Why aren’t we screaming this message from the rooftops?

Yesterday I just got so down about the fact that the internet drowns out the good news by focusing on the bad. I DON’T believe that it is because there is more bad news than good.  I’ll get in trouble for this – but I believe lot of those bad headlines are just click-bait so people will get traffic to their websites.

Add to this the general negativity and cynicism of the internet, and especially the noisy people I follow on Twitter. For example – when the Xbox One was announced, everyone complained about the DRM among other features. Fast forward a week -Microsoft have removed those features due to complaints and THE SAME PEOPLE ARE COMPLAINING THAT IT CHANGED. What the fuck?

This penchant to find the negative in everything drives me up the wall. Sometimes I feel that people go looking for the bad news. They actively seek it out. And if you go looking for bad news, you’re going to find it. There can be a certain feeling of power in being the person who presents the bad news for discussion – I get it. Suddenly you’re the centre of attention. But, you know, if you go looking for good news then you’re going to find it too – do people not do this because they don’t get as much attention from sharing it?

I feel like our industry social media culture is a far more unwelcoming place than the actual industry culture. If I’m not cynical and negative and agreeing with the horde then I’m shunned. I wanted to unfollow everyone yesterday because I just didn’t feel welcome.

Another thing that bugs me is people complaining about a thing without offering any solutions. If it shits you, then what are you doing about it? In regards to theYug, instead of publically raging about it on the internet not even in his general direction? Did anyone suggest a rewording of that panel description? All I could see were self-righteous pitchforks. And even when it had been fixed, people were still obsessing over it. What does that accomplish? How is that helping the industry? Why are you wasting time on it?

I’m not saying to not talk about it at all. Of course, we need to hear both bad news and good. But don’t get hung up on these things and continue talking unless you’re offering solutions and actually doing something to turn the problem around (which, I know, is hypocritical, given I’m writing this).

I’m finally in a position where I can go to high schools and speak with girls about entering the games industry. I’ve been talking with my boss about planning an event just for girls to learn what it is like to work ingames. Up to this point, my only contribution was trying to be a role model for any girls that I met at expos, Girl Guides or online. I also run IGDA Sydney and try to make it as inclusive as I know how. I’ve not had one person tell me to my face about any gender/homophobic/racist problems they’ve had with IGDA Sydney. I hope that’s because we have no problems, but I doubt it.

Tony said that we’re waiting until the industry stabilises to appropriately address this issue. He wasn’t saying he was going to ignore it completely, just that his full attention is not going to be focused on it. He’s busy working with the government and other bodies to get the industry back on its feet again. I appreciate that – I’m sick of our talent being made redundant and going off overseas and our students working in bars and pubs, unable to enter the indusyty. I believe THAT is a greater deterrent to working in games than the apparent unwelcoming male culture.

I believe it is true that a shift in the ratio of women in the industry would create more diverse games and generate more income, hence increasing jobs and boosting the industry. But that’s a long term fix and the Australian industry, sadly, needs a short term fix to keep us from going belly up right now. The money is the short term fix to enable us to work towards some long term fixes.

Anyway, I’ve spent more time on this topic than it possibly warrants – thank you to those who read the whole rant. In short, I feel that too many people are blowing up issues way out of proportion when they don’t need to be,  and that there is too much saying rather than doing.

I’m going to continue with my passions – coding, helping out Aussie game developers with IGDA Sydney and doing my best to be a role model to younger girls. What are you going to do?

True Magic of Next Gen

Original Author: Claire Blackshaw

Originally written for Climax Studios for publication in Develop. Reposted with Permission. Also since I wrote the original article E3 happened and Sony has revealed a lot more of the stratergy, some of which is shown in this video which is a good primer on the subject.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OegYm1dM9g&w=560&h=315]

Some time last year two black PCs rolled into the Climax offices. These seemingly simple PC cases, as is common practice, contained the innards of the early PS4 alpha dev kits. We were about to ride into the next generation.

I’ve been lucky at Climax to be involved early in its life cycle. Since midway through last year I’ve been bursting to talk about this. The hardware is gorgeous, but the real excitement is in the next generation of services and architecture layer.

Sony has already outlined some of the key services the PS4 offers, but I’ll give a quick recap. At all times, at no cost to the developer, the PS4 records recent gameplay enabling frictionless sharing of video clips and screenshots, so you never miss a moment.

Passive recording means we don’t have to think about it. The serendipity of pulling off the impossible and having it on film is magic. So when we have that amazing moment we can instantly share it with our friends. Not on some restrictive closed ecosystem but with the entire web using open standards.

One of the main areas that will be disrupted is exposing new content and how you learn about brilliant new games. Today we learn about new games through previews, trailers, and press channels, which is really just one big marketing machine.

This led to a recent explosion of marketing budgets where marketing money can trump quality gameplay and innovation in the short-term. The flip-side is, how did you learn about Minecraft, Unfinished Swan or Fez…? YouTube and friends. The way we talk about, discover and share the games we love is going to change.

We are storytelling creatures who like to express and digest information in a narrative form. The stories we want to tell are personal, not “look at this cool game” but “look at this amazing starship I built”. The ‘show, don’t tell’ method of video makes it easy to express unique gameplay and explain it instantly.

This means more innovative and quirky gameplay can quickly show its value and a live stream adds the joy of sharing in the players reaction to interesting gameplay. If we see something we like we can start downloading it and within moments start playing the game while the rest downloads in the background, encouraging us to try more games and engage.

Which leads to the next feature, easy one button live streaming with camera & microphone inputs. Video is only the start, we can involve our friends through HTML5 and web standards to interact with our games. So every browser, be it on desktop, mobile or new devices is part of our network. So your friends don’t need a PS4 to enjoy your story and share your triumphs.

This is all tied into a powerful extensible framework which builds on open standards like HTML5 and empowers developers to create truly modern game experiences.

This, coupled with a range of smaller technical features built into the very DNA of the PS4, sets the stage for the next generation of services. Imagine a narrative moment when you flip open your radio and on the other end is not some faceless AI, but your friend on their phone making decisions that impact your game. So not only can we watch the games our friends and casters are broadcasting but we can interact with them.

The first impulse of many will be spammy Facebook-like interactions, but it can be so much more. This is not only limited to real-time streams but asynchronous services, websites, mobile services and the PlayStation dashboard. Discover your friend’s dying message on a wall, or instead an ammo cache they left for you. Beyond simple boosts this extends to story moments, what if the old sailor is your friend and the dire warning of sea monsters was voiced by her.

Whether from her PS4, phone, Vita, or desktop we can make this your story with best mates. We can extend this to the crowd, you could be broadcasting online while you creep through a haunted mansion fearing for your life, your viewers guiding you through the horror with text messages on your character’s phone while they look at a map of the mansion online.

Beyond the active participation you can build rich passive data for the more solo experiences. Chart your survival quest through the zombie apocalypse as progress is mapped onto a real-time web page your friends can follow and you can annotate with video clips and notes. We can also pull data into our games from the servers without expensive proprietary servers.

Sony has built a machine from the ground up thinking about user-generated content and the online lives we live, making it easier for studios to use user-generated content in their games. This extends into media. For example, imagine a web TV show based around a few witty friends playing through a user-generated mission campaign.

These applications barely scratch the surface; there will be some amazing applications in the next generation. The best part of this story is to take advantage of this next generation; we need innovative gameplay and creative thinking. No one wants to watch the same tunnel shooter twice let alone hundreds of times. This has the potential to truly reward smaller studios and new types of games.

This will be aided by not betting everything on a marketing push or the first month’s sales, but instead on continued community value. Additionally, the fast download and play behaviour will allow impulse purchases much like retail. People can learn about my games from their friends or online. This viral spread is a steadier vector of information and will encourage a longer tail to sales.

The PS4 brings in the next generation built around strong social services and open platforms. It’s little surprise that Sony are courting innovation and putting gameplay at its core.

So here’s to a future of innovative gameplay, sharing our stories and experiences with friends. A world where the game is front and centre and not the marketing machine or business model. Where I can see something cool, hit download and within moments be playing with friends. Here is to playing and sharing with friends.

Strattonian Gambit

Original Author: Jaymin Kessler

After a 1 year hiatus from the site (including a bit of crunch), I thought I’d try to start making videos again.  Hopefully I can also finish a bunch of the almost dones and post them as well. I apologize in advance for how hastily I threw this together.

Implementing absolute value using only odd instructions on the SPUs.

To me, the most fun part of programming is finding fun and creative ways to use an ISA. There are few joys greater than exploiting really weird instructions in ways they may or may not have been designed for to save a few cycles. While the solution to this one didn’t really involve anything too crazy, its was still quite a fun puzzle.

This one was inspired by a challenge posed to me by Cort Stratton of Naughty Dog ICE team fame. We were at a Sony dev con and everyone was going out drinking, so of course we decided to break off from the group and talk about programming. There he challenged me to find a way to implement absolute value using only odd instructions. The answer I gave him was, in his own words, a little “floaty” and “not too concrete.” I mumbled some lame excuse about arriving in NJ the day of Superstorm Sandy, spending 3 days jetlagged with no electricity or internet, before catching a flight to cali for the conference. I also promised him that I would send him my (more comprehensible) answer as soon as I got back to Japan.

One and a half years later my answer still isn’t concrete. Its still floaty and inexact. It may not even be correct. But this time it has nice pictures and animations to go along with it.

EDIT: the video was uploaded to the wrong channel. The new (permanent) home is here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rETlg2jDTEA&feature=youtu.be

Mobile game review sites are a waste of time

Original Author: Kyle-Kulyk

appstoreWith app discovery being one of the main hurdles that an indie, mobile developer will face it’s understandable to want to reach out to the hundreds of app review sites out there in the hopes that they’ll be able to help launch your game to stardom, or at the very least be a lifeline that could potentially keep you afloat. Dozens of guides exist providing tips on how to make your mobile game stand out in the hopes of garnering some review attention. So armed with this knowledge, you put together a press package, research which sites to approach, find out who to contact and what their favourite color is and then start initiating contact. This is what I did, and in my opinion it was about as effective as wishing on a star.

We now have two games under our belts and trying to court review sites for coverage has felt a bit like sending head shots to a supermodel in the hopes she’ll take you to your prom. On each title I’ve spent weeks of my time reaching out to review sites and have zero to show for it. For our next title, I won’t waste my time on a single one and I wouldn’t advise any other mobile app developer expend any effort either unless they specifically know someone who can provide them an “in.”  Statistics show that roughly 20% of users discover their apps through 3rd party sites including press releases, blogs and review sites combined and given that the chance of being featured by one of these review sites that make up a portion of that 20% are slim, how much time should a mobile developer spend on the off chance that they might be featured on one of the worthwhile sites?

Between Itzy3d, I’ve initiated over 400 contacts with mobile review sites, not counting some actual back and forth conversations and follow-up. I’ve received a big, fat goose egg for reviews for our latest title, Vex Blocks and one review for Itzy3d from a site that is no longer active. The other reviews we received for Itzy3d were paid reviews of poor quality I shelled out for in a desperate attempt for exposure before I realized I was being scammed. I currently have an email box full of review sites asking for money for their “expedited review services” ranging from $25 to upwards of $300-$400 for exposure on sites that rarely even reveal meaningful data regarding readership when requested.

I followed the guides. I carefully crafted my press package, I personalized, I included media and gameplay videos. I researched sites and people, attempted to establish a rapport with reviewers and even when a dialogue was established, in the end all the work I put in didn’t help move a single copy of either of our titles.

keepcalm-and-wait-why-am-i-doing-thisNow while I’m sure a piece by a well known game site certainly wouldn’t hurt app exposure, the reality is these sites are inundated with requests for reviews and most likely if you don’t know (or aren’t willing or able to pay) you’re just one of thousands of voices crying for attention. The sites that don’t exist to simply take a desperate indie’s money and throw up a couple of paragraphs for their few hundred readers are most likely so backlogged with review requests that even the most well meaning among them probably hasn’t a prayer of reviewing even a tenth of the requests they receive. So far, based on my experiences, I’d recommend you not waste your time if you find yourself in the same situation. Again, I’m not saying that you might not get lucky with review sites. You might win the lottery. What I am saying is there’s probably more productive ways you could spend your time promoting your game.

There are dozens of promotional activities that can yield results. The sites that have provided write ups of either of my titles I didn’t even have a chance to contact before they had written something based on our press releases. My initial press releases sent out through various PR sites generated more internet exposure and game coverage on websites than 400 contacts to roughly 200 individual sites. Other activities that I’ve engaged in have included blogging, keeping a company facebook page (I try to keep it entertaining while being informative on our products), maintaining our website keeping up with twitter interactions. These have all resulted in far more eyes on our product then reaching out to mobile review sites.

GoldRushAnd in the time it took me to write this recommendation today, I’ve already received two more requests for cash for “expedited review services.” As most people aren’t perusing review sites on their phone when looking for apps, the impact of being reviewed is questionable in the first place.  I love review sites and I use them all the time but for mobile indies out there looking to promote their titles I say don’t get sucked into the time-consuming trap of emailing or filling out the web forms for these sites who’ll just use this contact as an excuse to add you to a list to hit you up for money. This isn’t every review site, but it’s enough of them.