The latest installment of the storied "Tomb Raider" franchise is slated to release this summer on Xbox Live and the Playstation Store. Or is it? "Lara Croft and the Guardians of Light" ditches nearly everything about the franchise except for the heroine.
The news that EA is dropping third parties from selling into the company's dynamic in-game ad inventory is a pretty interesting development. At first blush, it looks like a move to increase margins and control pricing of the inventory. The more I think about the announcement, though, the more I hope the rabbit hole goes deeper.
Last month was the annual DICE (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit, and there was one talk in particular that captured a lot of imaginations -- Carnegie Mellon University Professor Jesse Schell's "Design Outside the Box" talk, which covered Facebook, convergence, and the future of reality-based gaming. The biggest takeaway from Schell's presentation is that games that connect to reality, either by letting you compete with your friends, or by awarding you points for real-world activities, exert a special kind of psychological hold on gamers, especially casual gamers.
Remember the original "BioShock?" The pivotal scene turned the tables on the gamer in a profound way. Typically a game sits there and waits for the player to tell it how to proceed: Run over there. Hide. Wait for the guard to pass by. Yay! But for a few minutes, "BioShock" switched the nature of the game. Instead, the game said "this is what we want you to do, and you can't keep playing unless you do it. We can control you too." I've sometimes wondered what that experience would be like as a whole game. Thanks to …