INTERVIEW: Tadhg Kelly

I am very pleased to provide the following interview with Tadhg Kelly, COO at Simple Lifeforms and author of the upcoming book “What Games Are”. He also has a marvelous blog of the same name.

SGN:  What was it about games that got you interested in becoming a professional in the industry?

TK:  Ever since I was 11 years old discovering Dungeons and Dragons, I’ve always had an interest in games. I used to write tabletop roleplaying games, design boardgames and live action roleplaying games, and was a member of games societies in university. Like many people who actually work in the industry though, my path into them was half-chance. I feel very lucky that that happened, as my life could have very easily taken a different path.
SGN:  In the “About” section of the blog ” What Games Are” you mention that you have differing views than the conventional wisdom surrounding games. What do you mean by that?

TK: It’s traditional for those who work in, study or make games to fall into either the pro-gameplay (which I call tetrism) or pro-story (narrativist) camp, and to phrase their entire arguments about games as art, craft and business along those two lines. While both have valuable insights, I think both are wrong, and the future of games lies in finding a third way. Not a middle way that takes a bit of both, but a fundamentally different view.
SGN: How are games an art form?

TK: The more correct question is ‘How are they not?’. I find this question tends to reveal a lot about the assumptions on the part of the questioner regarding art. I regard art as anything which humans create that is not for utility or a service, so all entertainment is art, all creativity is art. The question is then if it is good or great art.
SGN: What are your thoughts on the social games industry? Where is it going in 2011?

TK: I think social game developers are in a curious transition phase, where the initial cowboy-ism of the industry has been left behind, but they’re not quite sure what the model of the future is. What’s interesting to me is that many of the big-name social developers of a couple of years ago seem to have stalled, but the next generation of the games themselves is not quite here yet. Will it resolve in 2011? I suspect not, but by the end of 2012 it should.
SGN: In a recent post you discuss the importance of Apple’s new Mac App Store. What types of new opportunities will this marketplace offer developers?

TK: Well app stores connect developers directly to customers without any kind of middleman, but they do in a price-dependent environment that cuts the legs out from under the high ARPU model that PC game developers are used to. I think this creates a huge opportunity for disruption because it allows for the economics of the iPhone with the production standards of cleaner PC games. In 12-24 months’ time I expect there will be many fond memories for what the PC market used to be, but we’ll actually be very excited about a whole new generation of games that have very little to do with the past. If I were an investor in gaming, the desktop app store is where I would make a bet for the future
SGN: What are your thoughts on Alternate Reality Games (ARG’s)?

TK:  ARGs are always going to serve a microscopically small market at best. They require a highly engaged audience in real time to make a success, and it tends to be the case that most players do not have that sustained level of time and interest. Instead they have one or the other, because they have lives to live. I think the same is also true of gamification, I might add.
SGN: Any last thoughts to offer the social gaming community?

TK:  The future belongs to you. Social is not only here to stay, it is embedding itself in as a core part of what games are. It’s not just the connection between players, but rather the capacity of games to form communities and cultures over the long term. That is something that games have always done, but we are approaching it in a new – and ultimately better – way.

UPDATE: Interview with Tadhg Kelly from InsideSocialGames here


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Filed under Gamification, gaming, iPhone, social games

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