Question 1: What use case and scenarios in your area would you consider the most appropriate and representative for all large large-scale experimentations with the future internet platform to be built starting from 2013?
The most important application scenario for the game development community will be content. It is appreciated, that apparently it is a goal to involve creative industries and media into this from the beginning. We also support the idea of having trials which focus on the whole content production chain. The internet is not just about content management but also about developers and producers for the content itself. Of course from a technology point of view the idea to develop also the network and infrastructure and to develop middleware in this context is important (e.g. in the latency context). The games industriy has however developed server management technologies and other tools which can deliver quality of experience without perfect networks.
The most important role in this content use case of the EGDF is to keep the content application layer open for creators. That means that we will try to steer this research approach into a direction, where it does not leed to new gatekeeper scenarios.
Networked game development can also be one of the main user scenarios for the content layer; context questions of gaming platforms and human machine interfaces are to be complemented by games themselves. It should be clear that neither offline game publishers nor pure technology providers can do the job properly, but only game developers themselves. The PC based internet of today, which allows independent developers to communicate directly with the consumer, has been good for the European game and media development community and this should be brought further.
Another aspect of the involvement of game development are other user scenarios like energy, transport, logistics, and health. These other user scenarios can be interesting application scenarios for applied games (also called serious games). Special attention could be devoted to health related computer games, not only from a traditional stand-point, but also seen from a “how to get people to move” standpoint. For too long have computer games been given the “blame” for still-standing kids, it’s time to look at the potential positive use of it. This means that computer games are used not only as motivation trainer and softtools, but potentially also as real medical equipment in a psychatic context for example.
Another area for development is a more active use of games and games experiences in tourism, museums and school-systems, where both travellers and students can get more pointed and better experiences through the use of the gaming medium.
It is very important to observe and to be heard in refelctions on new business models (which are well developed in the game industry and can be a new piracy proof model for other content applications) and legal and other observations in this context. EDGF is offering to participate in this think tank approach.
Question 2: What innovative internet functionality and technologies would you consider important for your suggested use case scenario?
Most important internet functionality would be the reliability and pan-European speed of the network, also if large volumes of data are driven in real time. It is widely acknowledged that computer games have contributed in the past to the development of computer hardware worldwide more than any other application. So far, computer games have been the most demanding mass-application for computer hardware and they will be in the future. The development of microchips inside the hardware as well as the development of graphic cards and other elements, like displays, is deeply related to the more and more demanding architecture of modern computer games. Today this approach spreads to networks themselves, as computer games played in the networks are a high technical challenge for them. Therefore computer game developers and companies can be seen as an indicator for innovation on computer based systems and networks. As of such it is difficult to exactly pin-point the exact innovation of the functionality, as its content based, and hence it already moves in all directions. Recent evolutions have however focused around real-time streaming, user-created content (for i.e. uploads to larger gaming universes), 3D gaming, touch-based gaming, advanced AI, reality “lay-overs” and multiple other new scenarios.
Of course it would be important to connect mobile and online services with the cloud in a real time -level. Especially, if the network becomes more content aware in a non-discrimatory way. These days we even see the start of the first gaming working-class, people working within games to serve other users inside games, and hence the legislators and net-work creators must also ensure that the rights of the innovative consumers are protected.
Question 3: Wich of the identified functionalities would you expect the Future Internet core technology platform to deliver to support your and other usage aerea scearios?
First it is important to develop open application scenarios which are not too much linked and twisted into testbeds, but are also tested as mass- application. It is not necessarily useful to be too little innovation driven and hiding from reality. One of the things which, should be thought about is that standardization is useful, but only when it does not lead to a situation where a group of stakeholders creates lock in effects. Generic enablers, for example, must be designed in a way, that they are also acceptable from an open community in a real context. This has to do with technology but also with business models and platform policy, where the voice of those, who create the cotent, should be heard from the beginning. If this is not secured, the whole effort might be deemed to fail.
It is also of the outermost importance of laying down fast and reliable networks, with the ability to securely stream or distribute large amounts of data / content, across Europe. If the trend towards cloud computing continues, which it seem to do, it’s vital that the infrastructure is capable of supporting this trend.
Moreover it’s important that the eco-system surrounding the online games when it comes to personal security as well as payments systems. Today Europe is a “mess” when it comes to payment systems, and a more homogenous approach to this could prove to be effective for content developers. This is in particular important for the many new “free 2 play” micro-transaction initiatives from the gaming sector. This mind-set to free gaming and small payments is now spreading fast, across the entire eco-system, from small Facebook games to large virtual universes, and it’s important that Europe seeks to ease its diversity on mechanical aspects like payments. This will also help decrease development and support costs, as well as pave the way for this future when it comes to newspapers, TV and many other forms of media.
Question 4: What kind of experimentation environment would you consider necessary for broad large scale testing of platform to be developed in your user area? What would be needed to experiment new services and applications cutting across use areas (services and applications mash-ups) and building a new services and application eco-system around the prototype implementation of the platform?
The experimentation environment should be realistic. It is not necessary to develop at too much unrealistic scenario. If experimentation testbeds have any large scale interest for game developers, it is at the crossover between cloud computing, mobile services and online services, where large databases are used in real time with low latency. As computer games have contributed to the development of computer hardware as no other application, they can be demanding applications for networks in the future. The experimentation should be therefore not only seeing computer game development the possible mass application but as the test scenario itself. Developing large scale computer games on new test arenas would be the possibility to insuresure that it actually runs. This concerns also the mix up of game technology with other more linear media technologies in an internet context.
It is important to notice here that even though “games” is placed under one umbrella, it’s really branching out to encompass a multitude of directions and use scenarios. This eco-system of games is now spreding into new fields at an ever faster rate, and the experimentation environment will differ from developer to developer and project to prohject. This goes not only for pure online gaming on the PC / Mac platforms, but also on experiences related to the consoles and on portable devices. This means that one should not necessarily bind the scenarios down to a few variations, but rather allow a mindset where one can expect, and should adapt for, many new (as of now unknown) applications. As most of the larger developers in this field already posses their own specialized pipe-line for testing their own content, often built to spec on technology they have spent years developing, it’s important that the environment, like today, is kept open for self-experimentation, and not locked down by strict regulations.
You can also say that “what do developers need” goes just as much on good support programs, as specific new experimentation scenarios. In Europe we now have a big chance, the biggest to date in the history of gaming, to become a lead player, but we are also fighting against other states and their support programs. It’s therefore vital that within the experimentation, one must also experiment with online games dedicated support programs, which allow a higher degree of risk for our best and most innovative developers. We now see that active states, like Canada, are actively “stealing” all of our best companies through great support programs; and many of our leading companies have decided to move large parts of their production outside of Europe.
Question 5: How do you see the potential role of your organization in the FI-PPP, in the context of usage areas ttaking a prominent role in the Initative, to ensure an appropriate application driven approach?
The Role of the EDGF in the FI-PPP is to a certain degree the trust- holder of the independent and in the most cases content driven SME’s which have been and will be the main driver of the internet. The fast and thrilling technological and cultural changes have been made possible by unleashing the possibilities of setting up new services and business models beyond existing hirarchical structures. From the entrepreneurs perspective it is therefore very important to keep the pace going, which is made possible by many small enteties, rather than few large ones.
Therefore end-user aspects as entertainment and fun of users are not to be underestimated as drivers of innovation and should not be pushed to the side. They must be in the very center of the future internet. It is therefore the mission of EDGF to make sure, that the developed elements (as generic enablers) are not used by other partners in the long run as tools to gatekeep European SMEs for business purposes. The role of the EDGF – as an association of more than six hundred game developing companies in Europe – is to keep innovation open and healthy during the development of this public private partnership.
Within the development phases of the PPP the EDGF could have following roles:
In phase 1 EGDF should be involved in the definition of the basic principles, governance models and key set-ups from the perspective of its very community in trusteeship for the content driven SME’s. It must be involved in the steering group also to support relevant user areas from a game developer’s perspective. Especially it is about preparing the set-up of phase 3 – the application scenarios.
In phase 3 there should be several application scenarios from a game developer perspective, such as Funcom. So to say the involvement in phase 1 is necessary to be able to define the previous positions of applications from a game developer perspective in phase 3. Therefore EDGF is prepared to participate in a respective support action now.
Games are apt as represenatives for drivers of – sometimes – destructive innovation and many other content and application layers can learn from the game industry, its technology and buisness models. The EGDF’s voice should therefore be involved also in the think tank activity.This concerns cross domain applications and services (so called mash-ups) especially the interlinkage between content and technology as well as between content and networks. It also concerns political and legal issues from a technology perspective like freedom and non-discrimination as innovation driver.
Keeping game developers in the center of the future internet PPP is a cornerstone of implementing a user centric apporoach. Not only are game developers themselves early users of professional services, but they know and sense probably more and better than other parts of the industry what the users need as they are more than others depending on the users joy only.
It is also noteworthy to mention that the “open” internet allows European game developers and publishers to operate without having “forced” fees to American and Japanese players platform holders (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, Apple). With these new types of online games, where European companies can for the first time communicate directly with their users, they also control their own future to a much bigger degree. Ultimately this means that the revenues, industry build-up and innovation also comes directly back to Europe. Over time will not only positively impact the tax income of Europe, but also the creative gaming industries of Europe. This in turn will have a direct impact on many other European industries in need of the visualization and interactivity which the gaming industry has always advocated.