Archive for April, 2013

Battle: GDC 2013

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GDC13Photo Credit: Chris Liao

Every March, GDC–the Game Developers Conference, for the uninitiated–rolls around in San Francisco without fail. It is the harbinger of E3 and herald of the non-stop gauntlet of the summer convention/conference/tradeshow season. In contrast to its ritzy and manic infused cousin, GDC forgoes the smoke and bright lights and opts for intimate meeting rooms and extensive one-on-one showcasing of the magic that makes games tick. But make no mistake; a battle is taking place behind the seemingly calm landscape. The gaming world is undergoing a fundamental shift. Developers in droves are choosing to go indie, swearing allegiance not to a console or publisher but to their games themselves.

If the gaming world is a battlefield, developers are the warriors, and the consumers the proverbial spoils…GDC would be their armory. The only impetus guiding a developer’s weapon of choice: innovate or die. The newest, fastest, greatest and latest are shown on the expo floor. Ranging from graphics engines, processors, gadgets, and user interfaces.

There is no lack of cool, shiny new things to discover.  Case and point, Activision’s R&D team and the Unreal 4 Engine blew us away with their respective Real Time Demos–graphics in games are lunging headfirst toward the other side of the uncanny valley, where characters and animations are so realistic they are indistinguishable from reality. Nvidia with their Tegra 4 chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are set to level the playing field between traditional consoles and mobile platforms.

And in the chaos of the rise of the indie developer and agnostic gaming, disruptive bleeding edge user interfaces, like the Neurosky Mindwave (a headset that can read your brainwaves) and Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift (a reactive 3D virtual reality) manage to stand out as a beacon of what’s to come.

2013 will no doubt prove that we live in interesting times, indeed. For a gaming industry in flux, we’re eagerly waiting to see how the cookies crumble.

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Team Achemwali

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buildOn1By: Patty Hubbard (President, West Coast)

In early 2010, MKTG INC formed a partnership with buildOn on the West Coast. Our objectives were twofold: to give back to our community, and to mentor high school students who study in challenging urban areas. The buildOn organization provided us with both of these opportunities and more. Since 2010, we have completed several community service projects alongside Bay Area high school students. Along the way, we learned about these students’ extraordinary efforts to lift up not only their own communities but also build new schools in some of the poorest countries on the planet. Many kids involved in buildOn raise funds through volunteer workdays, earning the opportunity travel to countries like Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua and Nepal and build schools there. This is where my journey began.

On March 8, 11 of my female friends, many of us working moms, took our own buildOn trek, traveling to Malawi to build a school. We called our group Team Achemwali (which means “sisters” in the native Malawian language of Chichewa) and we departed having raised $44,000 towards the cause. The Chinthola village found out about their school, and our visit, only about two weeks prior to our arrival. The money raised was enough to build a two-room school as well as fund a three-year adult literacy program. When they heard our group’s name, they were thrilled.

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When we arrived after two days of traveling, the village of Chinthola gave us a warm Malawian welcome, running alongside our bus dancing and singing. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we quickly joined in the festivities. At times the only way to communicate was with sign language, laughter and an open heart. For many of the villagers, this was the first time they had seen a light-skinned person.

Our experience included living with local families. Each day would start at 5am with a short walk to the bath hut with two buckets of water (one cold, one hot) and a cup. The day would end with a family dinner of okra or nsima (a local cornmeal staple) and pumpkin leaves. We ate on a bamboo mat covering the mud floor with a single candle or headlamp illuminating our meal. At night we slept in sleeping bags under mosquito nets.

During our conversations with the 15-plus village chiefs, four teachers and a small group of women, we learned about our different lives and cultures but also our similarities. The richness of family and community support in Chinthola meant that our common thread is love and a desire for healthy, happy children who have the opportunity to get a good education and grow up in a safe world.

For me, the time in Chinthola is one of gratitude, respect and humility.

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April 9th, 2013 at 4:17 pm