‘Laat met je merk spelen’ bijna uitverkocht!

>Just to be disruptive a Dutch subject title today. It says: ‘A Brand New Playground’ almost sold out!

Of course I am referring to the Dutch version of my book. The first edition almost sold 1.500 copies so far in 15 months time. According to my publisher Kluwer this is good result for a book in such a niche-market that was written for Marketing Managers of which there are maybe 10.000 in The Netherlands. So I already sold my book to 10% of the market potential, which is excellent penetration! There are about 300 copies left, so if you want to get a hold of your copy of the ‘eerste druk‘ (first release), order it here: www.bol.com or here www.managementboek.nl It – generally – is rated with 4 out of 5 stars – so don’t take my word for it. If you send me a picture of yourself reading the book I will even hand sign it for you (Dutch residents only ;-)!

This is a Dutch review of the book in 2010 by Management Boek.nl
This is a Dutch review of the book in 2010 by Max Kohnstam:

The English version is still available for free through www.brandnewplayground.com

How many you say? Go figure!


During one of my presentations recently in the United Kingdom some one asked me how many game developers there are in the world. In my book I made an estimate that there would be at least 60.000 different kinds of boxed games available in the world since the beginning of the games industry in 1974. I wrote that in the beginning of 2009. Soon I learned that there were about 200.000 apps available for iPhone and that 70% of all downloaded apps are games (this was end 2010). The past year Android and Windows 7 phones have proven to become new ‘handheld’ gaming devices as well and with 500 million downloads for Angry Birds and a few million on WordFeud one can conclude gaming is mass-market. But still … how many game developers are there globally woud you think? I said that I know there were about 20 big publishers in the world amongst them of course the ‘console-owners’ Microsoft, Nintendo and PlayStation, EA, Ubisoft, Activision and many others. But then – what is Steam? Is it a distributor, retailer or publisher? What is iTunes? Retail or publisher? What is Facebook, what is Google+ … a gaming platform or a game publisher? It directly connects content with consumers so in that case it seems to be a publisher… ?

I just read a report on gamastura that there are over 750.000 registered game developers using Unity. 750.000 !!! Of which 200.000 are monthly active and releasing new games on a regular basis. These games are mostly web-based (or iOs / Android).

Read the article about Unity here: www.gamasutra.com

So how many game developers are out there…? I honestly don’t know! And should we care? There are a lot, good ones, bad ones, mediocre ones, small and big. The only thing I hope is that game developers still start their companies with a burning desire to make great games instead of ‘just’ making money.
I recently held a presentation for students in Amersfoort and I really hope that they remember my first rule of entering this industry: do so because it is your passion, you love playing games and love making them! Don’t enter this business to make money, because you will be disappointed and will never make it through your first three years. If you do everything you do with passion and dedication there is no doubt you will be successful, depending on how you define success of course 😉

I guess life is not about quantity (how many) but always about quality (how well).

So be well – Be passionate!

If you would like to be game developer one-hunder-and-twentythree-thousand, check this blog first: http://www.gamedev.net/ 

Learning Faster by Playing Games?

>Introducing Morten Geertsen – one of my new Bloggers to the Gaming & Branding Universe! This is his first article: a summary of a paper about the effect of serious gaming!

Here’s the article:

Learning Faster by Playing!
I recently stumbled across this study on serious gaming: Transfer of Gaming – Transfer of training in serious gaming. If you are unfamiliar with the term, serious games are games used to teach something to a specific group of people. In other words: a learning tool with serious objectives.
Apparently it seems these days, companies and other institutions have increased their focus on such games. They see it as an attractive alternative to the traditional types of training. Here’s an example: A geography class might fly an airplane over a digital model of the earth to discover the location of various countries. Or a math class has to “catch” the correct answer to a math equation with the mouse. Maybe you remember one or two of such games if you look back at your school years. Also companies train employees by using such games to simulate the environment and real life practices of the work place.
The study answers the question, “Why do people play games?” Well, one major reason has to do with an evolutionary and developmental aspect. During play individuals perform new, unfamiliar activities and while doing this, they learn the “rules of the game”. They develop new skills and learn to adapt to new environments. Another important reason is related to the feeling of reward and being positively stimulated. Remember the rush of adrenaline you get when you score a goal in your favorite sport? This feeling makes us want to play the games because it feels good and is fun: Games for the sake of gaming!
With this in mind, we can see how serious games offer training possibilities for companies. A dynamic, interactive and rich learning environment is created to practice work-specific tasks to learn real life practice. These games give employees the opportunity for memorization, practice and forming elaborate cognitive structures or schema’s. They can be adapted to the individual learning needs and ability levels of learners, and that way offering relevant tasks at a level of desirable difficulty to strengthen the learning process.
The World Bank Institute is making a strong push for bringing Serious Games one step further with two leadership capacity building strategic games.
Companies can pass on knowledge about job tasks in a more stimulating and entertaining way than with traditional training programs. Research shows that games generally increase the motivational level. The games are expected to make employees more perceptive during the learning process, because the training is interesting and different from the usual types of employee training. The above implies that the use of games for training can be asolution for reachingroups of people who are not motivated by more traditional types ofeducation. But by making the employees motivated to learn, they will generally be more perceptive to the learning process. To illustrate this, I’ll quote a part of the actually study:
“In a tank gunnery training, a Space Invaders game is implemented as a bonus scenario. This requires the learners to perform their training tasks at ever increasing speed. As they like to play the Space Invaders game so much they are willing to spend their own time in the simulator and improve their skills beyond the training goals. It is also imaginable that players become so involved in a game that they start to explore other information or task elements related to the domain the game is set in.”

However, far from all such games are successful at transferring a recent amount of work knowledge to the employees. What makes some serious games successful in this regard?
Well, it is essential that the employees can see the similarity between the skills, knowledge and attitudes acquired by playing a game and challenges in real life. This mostly depends on what game industry specialist’s calls fidelity: To what extent a simulation looks and feels like tasks in real life in terms of physical measurable characteristics. Some games have almost no resemblance to reality and users playing them will only improve their ability to play that particular game. It will have no direct effect on the employees’ work skills. However, when having a strong focus on realistic, authentic practice, serious games are seen as powerful tools to strengthen the learning value and increase learners’ motivation to practice.
Companies might run into trouble when developing successful serious games. Not all tasks can be adequately converted into a game. Managers will have to identify the specific types of tasks, which have to be trained. Which skills to such tasks require? Can these skills be effectively trained in the game? Based on the knowledge about employees’ performance and learning processes, it will be possible to identify types of tasks that are better suited to train using game-based technology.
The study shows that serious gaming should be seen as a promising substitute for training. The amount of companies using serious games indicates the same. The games ensure that the employees are easily attracted to playing a game, are motivated to continue playing, and as a result: Learn! The entertaining qualities of serious games make employees more receptive to the learning process. Gamers typically emphasize the fun, engagement and flow aspects* of successful serious games. So although there might be barriers in successfully implement serious games into the workplace practice, the advantages make them a worthy alternative to traditional training programs that seem unattractive or expensive.
* The flow theory is explained in Bart Hufen’s book ‘A Brand New Playground’, which you can download HERE (link to www.brandnewplayground.com )

Game in the City 2011 Indigo booth


This game is visually stunning and seems to be really fun to play as well!
I saw it at ‘Game in the City’ last Friday where I also gave a presentation about marketing your brand for young entrepreneurs (graduates).
The game is called Cargo Commander and is inspired by (amongst other things) ‘The Cube’. If you haven’t seen that film, go rent it soon!
The video will explain the rest and if you would like to parttake in the open beta, please go to www.seriousbrew.com/cargocommander and use the SECRET code: goldenticket …

Dutch Game Awards 2011 Openings Film


The opening film for the Dutch Game Award dinner last Thursday. I had great fun that evening with some great individuals from the Dutch Gaming Industry. Hopefully the organization can keep up the high level of tasteful food, drinks, chicks (chicken breast that is)…and euh… GAMES of course!

Below some more pictures of games and the dinner… I am the guy with the mustache… Remember Movember (getting sponsored for prostate cancer)…

 Two new friends I met that develop game trainings for students (gamesmaken.nl)

 Me and the ladies… 😉

There was in fact – an iTable … although not designed by Apple… 

A VERY cool game concept : a puzzle game made in two months by just one guy: Jay van Hutten – his ‘one-red-button’ game is called ichi: check it out on www.ichi-game.com

Bob Derksen over uniek project [Dutch – Sorry]

> By exception a Dutch video from one of the partners I work with just because:

A. It was his first Pecha Kucha presentation
B. He did a great job presenting – very funny and very much as himself
C. It was a great project that I saw coming to life from close distance and really enjoyed being (tiny) part of.

Pecha Kucha presentatie from Today Designers on Vimeo.

Go to their website for more creative shizzle: www.todaydesigners.com

Lady Mitra interacting with Wall of Balls.MOV


Last week I visited London, Manchester and Birmingham with a delegation of the most promising Dutch Creative Companies. During this tour we visited all kinds of events like the entrepreneur conference in the Milky Building in Tech City (Shoreditch) on Monday, the BBC studios, a match making lunch, a meet and great with our prime minister – Mark Rutte and a high tea in the town hall of Manchester. The third day we went to Launch – a game event in Birmingham and we visited RARE Entertainment – one of the key developers for Xbox Kinect. They created the best selling Sports series. I went back to London on Thursday to have a fabulous day with my good girlfriend Mitra and she took me to all kinds of museums (VNA & Science Museum) and a fantastic authentic Iranian restaurant near Paddington and Hyde Park (hidden park as we call it).

This is just a small video of Mitra interacting with a video wall that uses the Camera Interaction Technology. At first we didn’t understand what it was about until the balls started to copy the shape of her movement… Well done by the artist!

Below some pictures of the other stuff we visited during the tour in the UK and my moment with our prime minister! I handed over the Dutch version of the book (Laat met je merk spelen). Be sure to download your personal copy of ‘A Brand New Playground’ at www.brandnewplayground.com (it’s in English of course 😉 

Hope you enjoy!

Office games are Serious games!

> This article has been shamelessly copied from the newsletter by the Entertainment Software Association (check www.theesa.com to subscribe)


Companies know that keeping employees motivated and monitoring their performance are key to running a successful business, and many now view entertainment software as a helpful tool in these efforts. Increasingly, companies like IBM, Target, and Deloitte are integrating video game elements, such as achievements and real-time progress tracking, into the workplace to improve employee motivation and productivity. This new management trend gives workers an interactive platform to monitor their individual performance, motivate them to improve output, and encourage them to participate in trainings and other work-related education courses. 
Games have played a role in the workplace for several years, as many companies capitalized upon the engaging nature of games to train employees, build brand loyalty and advertise products to consumers. Given their effective role in the office, companies increasingly utilize the beneficial aspects of video games in everyday endeavors. In fact, tech-industry research firm Gartner projects that by 2014, roughly 70 percent of large companies will use video game elements for at least one business process. Additionally, the market research firm M2 Research estimates that by 2014, revenue from in-office game software, consulting, and marketing will reach $938 million, a substantial increase from this year’s revenue of less than $100 million.
Already, a number of major companies have incorporated video game elements into a variety of business processes. SAP AG, one of the world’s largest business software firms, uses a variety of games in the workplace, including a golf game that helps assign sales leads to employees and an environmental awareness game that awards points to employees for reducing their carbon footprint through various tasks like carpooling. At Target, cashiers receive a score based on the speed of each check-out transaction, and at the end of the day, receive a total success rate score. IBM integrates numerous video game dynamics into its business processes, including a game calledCityOne, an interactive simulator that helps corporate and government leaders learn how to solve complex business, logistical, and environmental issues faced by cities.
Other companies, like Facebook, Photobucket, Mozilla, and Fern Expo use tools such as Rypple, a social performance management platform that combines aspects of social media and game play with digital reward-giving. Rather than waiting for annual or semi-annual performance reviews, Rypple allows for active goal-setting and consistent, timely feedback in the workplace. Appearing similar to a Facebook page, the program enables project team members to interact with each other in a number of ways, including tracking the assignment and completion of work by using status bars and badges, taking and organizing notes from one-on-one meetings, commending specific team members for their efforts with achievement-like badges, and anonymously requesting feedback on projects and performance.
The application of video game components in the workplace produces significant results. LiveOps, Inc., which runs virtual call centers, provides one example. The company uses video game applications to improve the performance of its 20,000 call agents. Beginning last year, the company awarded agents virtual badges and points for tasks such as making concise phone pitches and closing sales. Additionally, digital leader boards allowed each agent to compare his or her achievements to fellow colleagues. Since the system’s implementation, agents reduced their average call time by 15 percent, and raised sales by 8 percent and 12 percent among certain agents. 
As an increasing number of companies infuse video game mechanisms into their processes and office culture, many employees will be able to leverage these systems and methodologies to produce greater results and generate increased energy in the workplace

Advergames and my tour in the UK next week!

>As you might know – I am going on a ‘UK-Tour’ next week organized by our Ministry of Funny Walks, I mean Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs and we’re going to visit London, Birmingham and Manchester in four days time (and then some leisure time for me in London). During the tour we will meet a lot of game developers and brands that are interested in using games as a marketing tool. Amongst them are Matmi – and they have quite an impressive list of advergames and cool brands they  work for (amongst them: Lilly Allen!).

Check out the advergame below and be sure to check my blog next week to see the pictures after I handed out my book (Laat met je merk spelen) to our very own prime minister Mark Rutten during the high-tea in Manchester! You can still download the English version of my book HERE. Should be cool!

Also we are visiting the BBC Studio’s in Manchester (on Tuesday), Microsoft Kinect and the conference ‘Future gaming and digital media’ in Birmingham on Wednesday. I will be in London again on Thirst-day, Free-day and Sad-third-day when I leave again…. 😉 so if you want to meet up – give me a shout through Twitter or Text message!

Matmi presents Iron Maiden The Final Frontier…

Check out more advergame concepts at their website: http://www.matmi.com/games_playgames.php

My presentation during Games for Brands in London today


Check out my presentation at Games 4 Brands below 

BrandNewGame @ games for brands final

This is the first version of my presentation for today.

To download a free copy of my book, please go to www.brandnewplayground.com and spread the word! Let me know what you think through Twitter @BartHufen