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Justin Hall visiting UCSC Tuesday

Justin Hall (credit: Joi Ito, cc-by-2.0)Justin Hall, game designer of various stripes (and internet personality before it was cool), is visiting UCSC this Tuesday (May 11) to give a talk, critique undergrads’ game designs, and discuss with us. The talk’s open to the public, for those of you in the Bay Area, and will take place in Engineering 2, Room 280, at 11am.

Justin’s currently at iPhone-game developer/publisher ngmoco, where he’s Producer for freemium online social games. He has an MFA from USC, and his thesis there turned into The Nethernet, a “passively multiplayer online game (PMOG)” (see the Wired piece), which he developed as CEO of his startup, GameLayers, from 2007 to 2009. Before that, he was famous for running links.net, which started in 1994 as a hand-curated set of interesting links (around the time Yahoo! was founded to do the same), and morphed into a “web diary” of sorts that, appearing as it did some years before the official invention of blogs, led the New York Times Magazine to later call him the “founding father of personal bloggers”. By the early 2000s, he’d become something of an evangelist for mobile gaming.

In his talk (again: E2 280, 11am), he’ll tell us:

What if the entire web were an MMO? What if web surfing leveled you up in a meta-game of information warfare with bombs and treasure buried across a web you explore through link filled Missions?

PMOG, the “Passively Multiplayer Online Game”, was an attempt to build an MMO in a Firefox toolbar. PMOG started as a research project at USC, in the Interactive Media Lab. With two collaborators, a writer/designer and programmer, Justin produced an experimental online game for his MFA thesis project in May 2007. These three people formed GameLayers, Inc. and raised over two million dollars to turn this game into an internet startup.

By late 2009, GameLayers had no Firefox MMO, two Facebook games and four employees. What happened to GameLayers? And what will happen to their Firefox MMO, The Nethernet? Justin will share his experience as a graduate student, entrepreneur, CEO, unemployed person, and now Producer at iPhone games company ngmoco.


About the author:  Mark is a PhD student in artificial intelligence, building logic-based videogame design support tools.

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