How About a Digital Gaming Revolution, Mr. Turnbull?

PAX is a conference for gamers of all kinds, and geek culture more broadly.

But you wouldn’t have guessed it from the length of the room-overflowing queue leading into the session “Boss Level: Meet the Brains in Charge of the Aussie Games Industry”. The most political session at the conference. Scott Ludlam’s presence on the panel is always a dead give-away.

There were plenty of questions about how to change the status quo, how to make games a more serious part of the Australian economy, how to get taken seriously. And it sounds there is slow progress, but still…

…I feel frustrated on behalf of the panelists when people as “Tell us what we should do?” or “Tell us how we can get meaningful change?” As if permission to act is required. When in reality the best thing everyone can do is to put their best argument in the ear of their local politician. Nothing motivates politicians better than mountains of individual arguments, because they betray a level of passion for the subject.

The dirty little secret of politics is that the less effort you have to take to make your voice heard (copy-paste campaigning, or signature gathering), the more of it you need to carry the same weight as a dozen well-crafted personal messages. Effort counts, not volume. Effort in lobbying translates to effort to get politicians elected (or challenged).

I’m not a citizen. So I don’t get to vote. But I still have an argument to put forward from some simple facts that were incredibly easy to gather from the prompts of several speakers. So here is my bit for the cause.

Globally, the movie industry is worth about $90 billion this year (and climbing).

Globally, the music industry is worth about $27 billion this year (and declining).

Globally, the video games industry is worth about $114 billion this year (and rising rapidly).

Malcolm Turnbull talks a good game in support of the digital economy. Labor has thrown their support behind this message. Getting support for the software industry should be a slam dunk.

And based on current trends, next year the video games industry is going to be larger than the movie and music industries worldwide.

And game development studios have a much more direct path to access the global economy; we already do well in Australia considering the general lack of support the industry gets.

But in light of the numbers above do the movie and music industries get generous support, whilst the games industry gets absolutely none? Success in the latter will be a much bigger factor for the success of the Australian digital media industry than either of the first two.

So…

Time to put money where the mouths are. How about extending some tax incentives into the industries of the future, and set Australia up to punch above its weight internationally?

Now, share this post with someone.

And then make contact with your local politician, and make your own argument why this matters for your career, your economic future, your passion. Because that’s how it is done.

#PAXAUS – Day 1

I bought our tickets many many months ago. I think almost as soon as they became available. They are just too much of a bargain to take risks with how long they will be available.

If you want to ask me “What’s a Pax?” – go over to Penny Arcade, read some comics, and maybe watch a video or two. A PAX is essentially a glorious celebration of amalgamated nerd culture. Over a three day weekend, there are panels on many varied topics, a show floor for PC, console, handheld hardware and games, board games, and many places to play and try a little bit of everything.

All set on the south bank of Melbourne, with all the food, and entertainment, and gas torches.

We’re now at the end of day one, and it just doesn’t feel like there is enough time to get to everything. Too many sessions. I am on average triple-booked throughout the day. I need more time to see all the great cosplaying. I need more time to play all the games.

Or perhaps a better filter. As great as the event is overall, it is not all equally great. I’ve been in two panels that felt a bit under-prepared. Like the host had had a great idea for a session, suggested it, got accepted, and then didn’t do any work to put together a cohesive set of questions and a narrative digging into the material. Which is a shame, because I was looking forward to the sessions on diversity in games.

And although Mike didn’t manage to make it to Australia this year, Jerry (Holkins) is firing on all cylinders like always. I like his words. He puts them in order in the most fantastic way. I need to figure out if there is something I could ask him to sign on my pass. I am leaning towards “A Second Naked Kris Straub” at the moment for reasons I cannot adequately explain outside of the context of the game of Quiplash I witnessed. I could easily listen to him all day.

I had a specific request lined up for Mike as well. Something from First 15 that I thought would go well on a T-shirt, but I will have to forego that privilege for now.

Maybe that was more to assuage my guilt over not knowing what either Mike or Jerry looked like last year, and possibly accidentally snubbing Mike at the pin-trade. Which I have since learned would have been an even more severe snub for the fact that pin-trading came forth from his imagination.

It is a shame that all these cool people gathered here together disperse again in less than 48 hours.

3 days just feels too short.

It’s like… less than 1% of the year. Does that sound like enough to you? It doesn’t to me.

ADSD with AOA and Udi – Day 4

It has been four days since I slept.

I am hallucinating Authorities (aka Services), Bounded Contexts, or is that Business Components? Up is down, down is up. Everything is abstract. Everything is physical but different. Or not.

Today we moved at a much steadier clip through our materials. I was more alert by necessity, and there were fewer tangents, although still enough. There’ve been a few cases of not-really-questions-more-comments-to-try-and-impress, but far more frequent are in-depth tangents that feel like individuals trying to get some free consultin’ out of Udi.

It is of course hard not to bring your real-world scenarios into the learning experience, but there is a difference in the feel of a question motivated by not-quite-understanding and a question that is looking for a solution.

Today was actually surprisingly more concrete and nuts-and-bolts. Still provocative and even surprising in places though, but I wouldn’t have *that* any other way. Why yes, yes, let’s connect the javascript client straight to the database; and the case he made was surprisingly compelling all things considered.

I cannot quite tell how he felt about CQRS; the tone and body-language was somewhat dismissive, but he explained it with a level of nuance and determination at odds with that posture. He was definitely dismissive of Event Sourcing though. And we’re not allowed to use Udi Says for justification, but it was hard not to sympathize with his assessment of the limitations on its value.

He still reveals some things with a larger sense of mystery and caginess than I think is warranted, but at this point I’ve decided the showmanship is just getting the best of him.

And… I was so hopeful.

We got to 200 pages out of 250 around 4pm. I thought today was going to be an “early” one (i.e. 5:30pm for example), since I knew he had a further speaking gig in the evening, and surely he eats?

In the end he raced through to page 237 by about 7pm. I’d have said that bodes well for an early mark tomorrow, but I really have no idea what to believe anymore. I’m doing my best to stay focused and absorb everything throughout the day, but it is … so … hard.

One more day.

I can do this.

And then, hopefully, a more in-depth summary of what I got out of the experience.

The Answer Might Surprise You.

ADSD with SOAAOA and Udi – Day 3

Dear diary, today is day 12 of my 5-Day Training Course.

I would complain about the energy drain if not for the appreciation that Udi is investing so much of his time. Every day starts at 8:30, and goes well past 6 pm with very limited breaks. It’s a … marathon? (I hope?) We’re now 30 hours in with at least 20 more to go that I can tell, excluding further homework tomorrow.

I am a bit mystified why Udi uses the word “Service” so much when he clearly has a distaste for its nebulous definition and general appropriation. “Authority Oriented Architecture” sounds like a much better descriptor overall, even if Authority isn’t ideally unambiguous either.

IT managed to go through all the good words by the end of last century, re-defining them all into meaninglessness.

The pattern in Udi’s style is abundantly clear by now; cleverly selected examples without singular answers, and a well-honed skill at arguing, together make for a lot of head-scratching around the room. I am enjoying thinking around the provocative propositions he throws out there, but I cannot help but feel there’s a level of empty calories about the exercise.

There will be no technology advice anywhere along the way. That’s an implementation-detail that is case-specific and therefore not something he can (or will) give us. I think some in the class are still hoping/thinking we may end up there, but that’s not the direction this course is following.

There will also be no scientific underpinnings for the theories. De-composing architecture along the lines of his advice is a good thing, because. And by squinting just right I am convinced overall that’s true, but I wish I had something more concrete to hang that on. Case studies. Empirical evidence. A rigid mathematical proof (I can dream…), but that’s also not where this is heading.

It’s a very valuable exercise at stretching the mind, and learning new ways to approach architectural and design decisions though, and that’s not to be sneezed at.

Still no silver bullets, sadly.

ADSD with SOA and Udi – Day 2

So,…

Apparently I am back in school now; after a long day (8:30am – 6:30pm) I have a homework assignment for tomorrow. I had hoped to get some extra sleep tonight, but no luck.

UsingĀ Thing-Oriented-Architecture, I am modelling the service boundaries for a hotel booking system tonight. I probably will save some for on the train tomorrow morning, because I could barely keep awake today and if I don’t sleep well, tomorrow will be worse still.

As much as yesterday felt like the set-up for some grand unified theory on distributed design, after today it feels like there aren’t going to be any answers, just increasingly vague questions. And a lot of my own opinions. So maybe more than anything this is a course to help me figure out what I believe myself? With some rules-of-thumb thrown in?

So far the single most useful piece has been a helpful question to determine whether services are sitting in the right context together (or not). I can tell it’s going to get a big work-out in time.

And I’m looking forward to the suggested approach to pull information back together into a cohesive interface. I can kinda see where Udi’s leading, but it is still a little bewildering. This may be exacerbated by the fact that heĀ is clearly purposely constructing worst-case examples to push boundaries.

I’m hoping tomorrow brings more answers than new questions.

I’ll hold off on holding my breath.

ADSD with SOA and Udi – Day 1

I am learning this week.

Advanced Distributed Systems Design with Udi Dahan.

So far, I have acquired many new questions that I didn’t think I had need of, and I am hopeful that in another 4 days they will all have disappeared again whence they came. I am an optimist.

One thing missing from the copy of the slides we all got was the reference table for quick lookup of relative latencies in computers; it’s good to keep in mind how much slower memory is than the CPU, and how much slower an SSD is than memory, and network than SSD and reboots beat everything. I kinda feel an urge to start suffixing method names for nasty latency surprises to make it a bit more obvious.

As my mind wandered onto tangents, Conway’s Law took on a whole new dimension too. I wonder if software organisations should ever re-structure if there isn’t a need for software re-architecture.

I have so many provocative notes in my little booklet that I’m not sure how to turn into cohesive provocative statements. I’m also not sure which ones I actually believe yet, so maybe I will have a more nuanced view to filter them through towards the end of the week.

There are definitely things I disagree with, possibly strongly, but I haven’t given them as much thought as Udi, so I do not feel qualified to disagree overtly just yet.

First, I need to get through all these damned questions.