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GDC Mobile 2008: Anssi Vanjoki’s New Paradigm Of Gameplay

In the morning keynote of the second day of GDC Mobile, Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki took the stage after an introduction from GDC Chairman Robert Tercek which called Vanjoki "a champion of open and honest thinking," to deliver a speech presenting Nokia's vision of a future where the mobile phone is the "fourth screen."
Games On DeckIn the morning keynote of the second day of GDC Mobile, Nokia's Anssi Vanjoki took the stage after an introduction from GDC Chairman Robert Tercek which called Vanjoki "a champion of open and honest thinking."

Vanjoki opened with a short video to introduce Nokia's vision: inspiring images of the importance of cinema, television and then the "third screen" (PCs and the internet) to culture of the world, before revealing a world where "everything changed" and a single screen in our pocket, the mobile phone, delivered everything that we needed as the "fourth screen."

"Today we have more than one billion consumers out there with a Nokia device in their pocket. Never in the history of mankind has there been a device which has spread like the mobile phone, and never has there been a brand like Nokia with more than one billion consumers. Out vision is a world where everyone is connected."

Vanjoki explored the way in which they understand the market, describing "technology leaders" the 200 million of Nokia's customer base whose needs lead the development of their phones. Nokia use a system of metrics with over 100,000 people who have given their permission to have their usage tracked, and have found that only 12% of mobile phone usage is, on average, for voice communication.

Currently 31% of data traffic is non-cellular WiFi, a statistic of some importance when browsing the internet is a key use of data traffic (52%).

Vanjoki used these statistics to argue that mobile devices are now, unequivocally, "powerful multimedia computers."

"The web is starting to be really impacted by mobile," said Vanjoki, quoting the examples of mobile usage of YouTube, and Flickr.

Seeds of Innovation

Creativity, a key point of earlier sessions at GDC mobile, was similarly of core importance to Vanjoki. He Nokia's recent innovations, such as using GPS on a mobile phone to track movement throughout a city, with the speed of the user's movement tracked, plus where they visited, all of which could be "tagged" with web information.

A similar example Vanjoki moved on to describe was the Manhattan Story Mashup, an urban game using a combination of GPS, photography and messaging to create a game.

But "the fouth screen is not very big," Vanjoki admitted, explaining that even their largest N-Gage screen was 4.2 inches, but offered the potential for their phones to be attached to televisions.

"I'm a real believer that we've only seen the beginning of games in general," said Vanjoki, "because se we're not seeing girls and women playing enough! Because most games are created by men. I've had some years of training with my wife and daughter to learn that women are different!"

Vanjoki argued that the intimacy of the mobile phone was a perfect device for female gamers, with their needs better met by a device which encourages engaging, inclusive experiences.

Monopolistic Carriers

Vanjoki next broached a topic never far from the mind of any mobile developer or publisher: the carriers' monopoly on game distribution. "I believe this needs to change," Vanjoki said strongly, and used this to look at the new N-Gage model, which intends to offer a better customer experience.

"We're currently testing this, and I know that many of you are testing this, and the feedback we're getting is just music to my ears. I know we have a few bugs here and there, but you're helping us sort them out."

"Mobility is just one aspect of ‘mobile games'," Vanjoki discussed, "the importance is in ‘contextual games'": games which fit the context of users' lives, and that fit with the context of their "small multimedia computer." Vanjoki took this opportunity to talk about OVi, which contextualises games under an umbrella of services which includes music, video and TV, maps and the Internet.

"It's been really a pleasure to have the possibility to share these thoughts with you," Vanjoki concluded, "We've been in the games business for a long time, starting with Snake in 1996, and now we're reaching the next thing. I invite all of you to take part in this new business. All for the love of gaming."

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