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3/12/2010
08:03 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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GDC: Game Developers Conference Wrap-Up

As the Game Developers Conference winds down in San Francisco, I'm struck by the apparent vitality of the gaming industry. There was real excitement, enthusiasm, and hope for the future among the developers there. Between the mobile revolution and the surge in social gaming, there's a sense of opportunity and ambition that's just not evident in other industry sectors.

As the Game Developers Conference winds down in San Francisco, I'm struck by the apparent vitality of the gaming industry. There was real excitement, enthusiasm, and hope for the future among the developers there. Between the mobile revolution and the surge in social gaming, there's a sense of opportunity and ambition that's just not evident in other industry sectors.It may just be that things in the news business are so grim that normalcy elsewhere looks unusual, but I don't think that quite explains it.

Watching the Microsoft Surface demo on Thursday, I had the sense that we all have some great new experiences to look forward to. The PC revolution is three decades old now and we take it for granted. The desktop publishing revolution is almost as old and equally easy to overlook these days. The era of the user-friendly Internet, which began in 1993 with the NCSA Mosaic Web browser, also seems like ancient history, even if society is still wrestling with the repercussions of global online connectivity.

The focus now is on mobile devices and social networking. Soon it will be touch computing and the Internet of Things.

Microsoft Surface, Project Natal, mobile phones, and the addition of touch interaction in Web browsers are making computing more accessible to a broader range of people. They're making computing more physical, and more social. They're opening up unanticipated opportunities for businesses and are making the tech industry more interesting than it has been in years.

Two of the more interesting companies to watch in the gaming space are Unity Technologies and Ansca Mobile. Both companies make development environments that let users create games for multiple platforms without coding in Objective-C. Unity 3D is great for 3D games and Ansca's Corona is terrific for 2D games. If Adobe, Apple, Google, and Microsoft aren't making bids for these companies, they're not paying attention.

I had a fascinating conversation at GDC with Ansca co-founder Carlos Icaza. Unfortunately, I can't say anything about it at the moment. But expect big things from the company.

One thing I can mention is that Ansca uses Google Apps. And that's something I've started to hear a lot.

Google Apps came up in a GDC session led by Randy Smith of Tiger Style Games. Smith's presentation was about running an iPhone development studio on a shoestring and Smith spoke highly about using Google Apps.

"Google Apps is like a one-click-to-install IT department," he said.

Microsoft is not unaware of the threat that Google Apps poses to its Office franchise, but until recently, it has been able to dismiss its challenger as a rounding error. With something like 600 million Office users out there, Microsoft has reason to be dismissive. But Google Apps is growing fast. Microsoft needs a Web-based product that's better than Google Apps. Soon.

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