Jesse Schell: When games invade real life

My professor/mentor at Carnegie Mellon University - Jesse Schell had given this talk
which shakes you and gets you thinking about the future. Its up on TED website. A must watch.

Art and Code : Videos

Here are the videos of the Art and Code conference and workshop I attended
at Carnegie Mellon University.

Processing by Ben Fry and Casey Reas :

ART && CODE SYMPOSIUM: Processing, Ben Fry and Casey Reas
from STUDIO for Creative Inquiry on Vimeo.

And here is the TED talk from our Carnegie Mellon professor and Art and Code
organizer Golan Levin :

Photo published

One of my photo that I took of the monorail at the Museum of Science Fiction
in Seattle got published in the Schmap Seattle guide - the online and
the Apple iphone version.

People and Culture

The best part of living in the US is that it has people from all over the world.
I find it very interesting to interact with people from different countries,
having different cultures and different point of views. Interacting with them really
expands your thinking and alters the way you perceive things.

Each country has its own uniqueness and its perception of what is crucial.
But the best part is finding out that a lot of things are perceived as sameby all
the different cultures of the world. I want to somehow meet up people from
every country in my lifetime .

Here are the people I have worked with till now :

  • American
  • Armenian
  • Italian
  • Indian
  • French
  • Phillippino
  • Colombian
  • Spanish
  • Korean
  • Japanese
  • Chinese
  • Taiwanese
  • German
  • English
  • Singaporean
  • Russian

Culture Contrasts

Below is an Infographic I made to visualize the differences
I found while living in 3 very different countries of the
world - Japan, US and India.

All these are my personal observations and not based on
any official data. All the visuals are made by me.

Please feel free to give your opinions and suggestions.
!Click on the image for a larger version :


Finally got the courage to try some Natto.
Natto is according to wikipedia - its the traditional Japanese food made
from fermented soybeans, popular especially for breakfast.
For some, nattō can be an acquired taste due to its powerful smell,
strong flavor, and sticky consistency.

Didn't like it one bit.

Capsule toys

I will admit I am addicted to capsule toys. What are capsule toys ?
When you either put in ¥100 coin(s) in a round-shaped vending machine,
turn the dial, and out comes a small sphere plastic container,
containing a tiny capsule toy. They are basically toys in a various themes,
from figurines of anime, video games to weird crazy stuff.
They cost 200 to 400 yen depending on the object. Its kind of a gamble too
coz you are never sure which character you end up getting and if you go
to the same machine, you might end up with the same character again.
Here are how the machines look -

Here are some of my toys -

My favorite ones -

This one is from the Miyazaki classic - Lupin III -The Castle of Cagliostro

Here is my team mate Ben assembling his collection -

My teammate Sean has a more "interesting" collection -

But my absolute favorite find, which I must say is very rare and I had
very pieces only was - Poop on a stick that... lights up !

Now if Poop on a stick with a sad face that lights up wasn't weird enough,
it also comes with an extensible antennae to hold it up high(?) !

Now who would want to buy something like that seriously ?
Err..My teammates and I of course bought it as part of "cultural study"
but why would anyone sane wanna buy poop on a stick that lights up ??

Btw, good article on PingMag about capsule toys here.


Last 10 days in Japan...alas.

Where the hell is Matt ?

Matt Harding is a 32-year-old videogame designer who quit his job in 2003 to travel around Asia. Along the way, he recorded and posted a short video of himself doing an elbow-intensive jig in Hanoi. That clip got passed from one person to the next and eventually got the attention of Stride Gum, which decided to sponsor two more of his trips. In his latest video, Harding visits 42 countries over 14 months and invites the locals to join in the fun.

I want his job. I am ready to dance silly.

Where the hell is Matt ?

Maid cafes

I mentioned about Maid cafes in my post about my Tokyo trip and finally
found time to write about it.
So what exactly is a Maid cafe ? Maid cafe is in its core essence a cafe
where you can have coffee, tea and etc beverages and snacks like a regular
cafe but ...wait for get them served by pretty girls dressed
in French maid uniform and they refer you by “My master”.
Moreover paying them extra you can get your photograph with your favorite
maid or for the desperate people out there, paying them extra you can play
card games and have a conversation with your favorite maid.
That exactly is how one would describe a Maid cafe.

So when my teammate Ben, who has now being living in Japan since a year,
suggested we go out to check a Maid Cafe in Tokyo as a part of
our “cultural study”, I was intrigued .
So a bunch of us headed to “@home” a very well known Maid cafe.
Entry in the cafe is on basis of entry fee per person(around 700 yen,
that is about $7 or Rs 350) and a time limit of 1 hour. You get in ,
take a table and a maid will be assigned to serve your table for your
allocated one hour. The cafe we went into was almost tastefully decorated,
more like a cross between modern and Japanese traditional décor.
No photography allowed inside. There were quite a few female guests
too at the place, unlike what I had imagined. Our menu had a list of
beverages and snacks and choices like we would like to have a photograph
taken with our favorite maid, or play a game with one. or just chat with
them(all for extra cash of course).We ordered our tea and coffee and
our “maid” came with the tray, she made the traditional Japanese green
tea for my teammate Sean, mixed sugar into my Latte and stirred it well,
in short, the services of a maid. After making the beverages, now this is a standard gesture in all maid cafe, the maid made a heart shape sign with
both her hands and said something like “moi moi”,the meaning of which I still haven't quiet been able to get, since it doesn't have a direct English meaning,
but it's suppose to mean something like-“lots of love/passion/devotion to my master”.But in short thats what a maid says every time she serves you your drink.
We had a nice time drinking our beverages and checking out other maids,
each of them having their own unique style of dressing and styling.
We were of course keeping an eye on the time since its just limited to one hour
or we get to pay extra.

At the end of our one hour, each of us were given a card, which had
our name behind, and after a specific number of visits (in the range of hundreds)
we could get free drinks and snacks. As I was wondering who would actually
visit this place so many times, it was announced that a guy had just had his
200th visit in this maid cafe.Everyone chapped for him and all the maids in
the cafe posed for a photo with him. Wow.

I also eventually visited another maid cafe in Osaka, this one was more classy and themed like a wizard school, where all the maids were training in magic, on the lines of Harry Potter.

My take on maid cafes ? Well again I would say something like this can only
exist in Japan. When I first heard the description of a maid cafe before
visiting sounded not very classy....more like a place for
guys to visit. But in Japan, where you have Karaoke and Cos-play as something
very common and normal,this too is one of the designed entertainment activity.
But to me personally, they were more of like a themed restaurant found in any
of the amusement parks, something I would probably visit once or twice just
to take in the entire experience. But as a substitution for say a regular
cafe place like Starbucks, maybe not, first ,since it turns out to be a bit expensive and secondly, regular visit to the place would not be able to
sustain the amusement factor or the charm for me.
But on the whole this is one unique experience everyone visiting Japan must go through once at least.
Osaka is of course famous for its Octopus delicacies, but it also known
for its “Fugu” or Blow fish.
As its known, only licensed restaurants can serve Fugu fish,since
there is a specific technique of cutting the fish or else the poison
from the body of fish can spread all over and result in the death of the
person eating the fish. Most restaurant serving Fugu have huge paper
Fugu fish outside there restaurant like this -

Now this is one fish who keeps the possibility of revenge open, I must say.

On another note, found this picture which will make me more unpopular
with my sushi loving friends -