A Visit From Bruce In Seattle

Today we had the great pleasure of hosting a guest lecture from Bruce Wolcott, a media theory academic at Bellevue College in Seattle.  Bruce joined us in the Battery Shed via Skype and spoke about environmental storytelling in videogames and the Seattle games industry.  During his presentation, Bruce was also able to show us some videos from a tour of Valve Software, which was hosted by Ricardo Ariza, one of the artists on Left4Dead and DOTA.

Bruce was also really interested in the work we've been doing in our summer program at the Innovation Circle, and he had a lot of questions for the students who have been building prototypes over the past couple of weeks.

We consider ourselves to be really fortunate that it's now so easy to connect people on opposite sides of the planet and allow us to share knowledge and experiences with one another.  We had an absolute blast learning from Bruce during his presentation, and also enjoyed the opportunity to let him know about what we're doing at the Innovation Circle in Tasmania.  Bruce assures us that he's keen to visit again sometime soon!

If you're interested in how we actually ran everything on the day, there really wasn't anything too fancy going on.  We used Skype as our videoconference client and with decent internet connections on both ends, we had a smooth HD audio and video signal throughout the presentation.

One of the biggest challenges with presenting remotely is delays and stuttering that can occur when the presenter is screen-sharing and streaming their screen from their computer to the viewer's location.  This is particularly problematic in a presentation with embedded videos (of which Bruce has a few).

To work around this problem, we chose not to use Skype's screen sharing feature, but instead used a fantastic feature of Prezi, which allows you to give a presentation remotely from within the presentation software itself.  By using this approach, all of the videos were streamed directly from the web, rather than having to go through Bruce's computer in Seattle as the source.  The end result was a really smooth remote presentation experience for everybody.

If you would like to learn a bit more about Prezi remote presentations, give this a read.