Development and Play – Do Women do it differently?

Paulina Bozek in the corner

Paulina Bozek, Executive Producer, SingStar, Sony

My Thoughts

More notebook work – I found it entertaining, and some analysis of Singstar, and some thoughts on UGC – User Generated Content.


Singstar developer, leaving Sony, joining Atari this week.

Singstar had broad appeal – 60% female players and 15 million units sold – universal appeal.

Singstar is entertainment, ie; fun, social, competitive, aspirational, music, authentic. Core values.

Was once a singleplayer girl game going through some kind of dream land where the music altered/fixed it. Then turned into something called “Sing Safari”, then eventually Singstar.

Key decisions

– 2 mics – social participation
– Competitive – scoring system
– Authentic – real music + videos

Assumed it’d be aimed at girls …that quickly changed.

Attracted girls at a trade show, but then the guys (then parents, grandparents, etc) appeared too – interested in what the girls were interested in, then interested in the game in general. Music appeal is universal.

What songs were in the game was key (notably, the demo used for the trade show had 5 songs one of which was the Cheeky Girls, luckily not in the final product).

Lesson 1

It is all about the user and experience.

Importance of:
– Feedback, testing
– Demos, shows
– Sampling and marketing

Even paper prototypes were very important, since they got in testers or went out to test it in varous places. Shoing the demos off are worth the work even if that work is thrown away – “is your game appealing?” needs to be answered.

Sampling – do not rely on the press for feedback. To put games in shops and the places they usually go to (Topshop, airports etc.)

Lesson 2

Prioritize what brings the most value to the experience.

-> Focus on the user

Singstar development used 3 imaginary users – Sam, Lisa and Susan (who was the typical mum). Thoughts like “What would Lisa think?” about a feature.

Nxt gen problem: What to do?
– Add singstar store
– Singstar online

The team: 33% women (of 55), many in key places – it was a combined effort (the lead designer was a man).

Switch gears!

Feedback on the conference news at Kokatu; some conversation on female lead characters as if it was going to be the focus of the conference and which they thought was the best one. Not many people said it was about women playing and making games. There were also lots of “Bozek is hot” too – but that’s a whole other talk.

User Generated Content

Not in the frame of mind to doa 100% complete game after Singstar, with UGC as an important point.

The division of professional and amateur are changing – the tools are available now. UGC as a tool to use the internet – a big shift and change. Creative control is good, but don’t be nieve – spore penis monsters are common.

On Singstar Video Gallery, 50,000 user videos (on 500,000 sales). Need to surface the good stuff – it is said that 10% of the users upload, 90% don’t – but do view and this is still a high amount of content.

More examples: Little Big Planet, Second Life, Spore, MyBuzz, and finally Sims Carnival – which you can make games with no programming skill. How will the landscape change?


Selling the expensive PS3 for singstar?
– Higher penetration of consoles at a later date. PS2 launch of Singstar was very late. For the PS3, starting again in a way. Important for the social aspects, early adopters can get this experience. Also sister, little brother, secondary user getting it for themselves.

UGC being constructed is a problem – not a good a good indie space really?
It’s very sue happy and litegious. It can’t last though, gone too far. Accepted reuse will probably happen. Moderation system helps the need for crack teams of lawyers (and takedowns rarely happen). Lawyers balked at Singstars stuff originally. LucasArts also changed views for instance.

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