All posts by John Seedhouse

We’re the new Future Media team

We’re the new Future Media team.

We’ll be taking care of this space and sharing with you our experiences, visions and findings concerning all things digital.

The Future Media Team 2013-14
The Future Media Team 2013-14

Having come together from different cultures and disciplines, our combined skills and experiences will help us create our own unique take on the digital world.

Our Future Media Masters program runs like a real digital agency with creatives (MA students) and strategists (MSc students) taking on live projects with clients. Join us on our journey of discovery as we break down walls and shape the future of digital media.

Oh wait, before we start, we thought we would introduce ourselves properly. So here it goes, a little bit about each member of the team:

Ben White, Redditch, UK

ben-2After graduating with a BA (Hons) in History and Politics, Ben studies MA Future Media to understand how digital marketing is altered by cultural perceptions. Having previously lived and worked in East Asia, Ben plans to develop a digital skill set to allow him to maximise career opportunities in this region. Achievements include producing a N.A.S.T.A runner up student television documentary in 2010 and winning the C.I.M.A Global business challenge 2012. Ben is a compulsive tweetaholic and K-pop addict.

Caprene Bartley, Birmingham, UK

Caprene BartleyCaprene completed a BA in Dance and Theatre and a course in buying and merchandising before studying the Future Media MA. Alongside her studies she dances, works for a marketing agency and a retail company, doing sales, personal styling and visual merchandising. Caprene loves fashion, music, the creative arts and enjoys socialising with her friends and travelling. She wishes to develop her skills in digital marketing, social media, brand and marketing strategies. Caprene hopes to establish herself as a creative.

Steven Wilkins, Birmingham, UK

Steven WilkinsAfter several years in various London based marketing and advertising roles, Steven is studying MSc Future Media to specialise in digital, mobile & social media marketing, focusing primarily on planning, strategy and UI/UX. He graduated with BA (Hons) in Design Management way back in the day. He loves great design, enjoys good music and travels on a Vespa.

Gillian Wasser, Toronto, Canada

profilepic_GillianGillian graduated with a BA (Hons) in Communication Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Public Relations. She chose MA Future Media as a way to expand her knowledge in the field of online marketing. She hopes to broaden her skills and knowledge on an international scale, particularly in regards to digital, mobile, UI/UX design and strategy. Gillian enjoys photography, listening to 90’s pop music and watching romantic comedies.

Juliana Geller, Florianopolis, Brazil

Juliana GellerWorking in digitalmarketing agencies since 2010, Juliana completed a BA Hons in Journalism and now studies MA Future Media. Passionate about technology and enterprise, and fascinated about using data to drive creativity, Juliana is particularly interested in Big Data and Digital Strategy. She’s currently the Digital Marketing Strategist for Yamination Studios, a start-up animation studio based in Birmingham. Juliana speaks 4 languages, plus fluent geek. MakeyMakey and Lego are her favourite toys.

Nabaneet (Niku) Dutta, Assam, India

nikudutta-02Nabaneet has completed a BCA in Computer Applications and an MBA (Dual) in Marketing & HR. He has over 5 years of corporate experience across M&E conglomerates such as Corporate Communications, Media Sales, Advertising, and Digital Media. He served clients across India & abroad with his digital media venture; during which he was nominated for IAMAI 2nd India Digital Awards 2012 under the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology, Government of India & also received critical acclaim from The Guardian UK for one of his work. He is an avid marketer, strategist, art director & copywriter. Niku considers music as a universal language of mankind and follows it sacredly.

PoojaDatta, Bangalore, India

poojaPoojahas a background in media and psychology and aspires to be a creative enthusiast in the world of advertising and marketing. She’s currently pursuing MSc Future Media and, because of her love of water, has a secret desire to be a marine photographer.She believes life is for living and lives it to its fullest.




Pleased to meet you, hope you enjoy the ride!

Makey Makey Workshop and Playing with Video

by John Seedhouse

The Future Media team carried modelling clay, beans, fruit and tech to the Birmingham Made Me exhibition last week.  Lead by Mark Brill (Future Media Senior Lecturer) and Mei-Ju Yao (MA student) we were there to persuade a bunch of grown adults to get their hands dirty and techy with a little bit of kit called Makey Makey.

We have written about Makey Makey before but for the uninitiated it is a clever little PCB with a USB connector and a pack of wire and crocodile clips – imagine that bit from Lethal Weapon with the car battery and the wet sponge and we are probably in the right zone. The cool thing with this kit is that rather than electrocuting Mel Gibson the creative type can use the contents of the box to turn anything into a switch…

After a brief introduction to the contents of the box and the facilitators for the session we let loose 6 groups, with a Mac each, a table covered in the offspring of a Blue Peter demo and a last minute shopping trip to the 24 hour garage.

Having provided our delegates with the materials of mass chaos, a “responsible” support worker, a brief outline of the what, why’s and how’s of the kit and a team name related to social media channels (see the clever way we link this all together…) Mark set the challenge.

Each team had to use any or all of the items on the table (plus begged, borrowed or stolen additionals) and the Makey Makey to create an answer to one of the briefs:

#1 Being more active is fun
#2 Get kids to eat more fruit
#3 Help older people
#4 Better business networking
#5 Train a pet
#6 Help build a team

Perhaps wisely, Shrey and I decided that we would live-blog the event rather than risk the potential danger of electrified seats… Into our usual mix of Vine, Twitter and Storify we thought we could try filming and doing a live edit onsite and then showing the results at the end of the session. More on that later…

It says something for the concept of the tech that by halfway through the introductory session normally mature adults were devolving into giggles and making obscene things out of play-doh and pieces of wire.

As a kinaesthetic exercise it was interesting to see the way groups approached the problems from a 3D perspective. Cardboard houses and earthing strips of aluminium foil were the most visible and the air was filled with fruit drums playing alarm klaxons.

Whilst I was madly videoing bits and bobs on the iPad mini and wondering if I would be able to edit them all with the i-movie app, Shrey was busy making vines of the chaos and tweeting (he was alone in this as the groups seemed far too busy to start hash-tagging instagrams and tweets.)

So what was produced?

Team Instagram came up with a variation on the game controller for Pacman – a boisterous project that involved play-doh pads, metal carpets and a serious lack of vertical stability. The demo team of Jon Hickman and our own Neil Horne had clearly engaged in similar silliness previously…

COntrolling pacman with makey makey
Dance Mat Pac Man Controller

Team Facebook developed a Pavlovian approach to childrens diet with a fruit / audio reward system.

fruit based piano
Team Vine seemed to enjoy hitting fruit to produce strange and wonderful melodies.

the makey makey drum trigger
Drum machine triggers from Team Vine

Team Pinterest and Team Foursquare combined electrocution and pet care into a pair of Woodhousian behaviour training systems.

pavlov's dog
One of 2 differing dog training systems

Did we change the world with the event? Not really but it did prove that there is an innate element of creative solution building in all of us. Sometimes it is just fun to regress slightly and try solving problems without resorting to Microsoft Office products – and maybe this is where we need to think about re-focussing on how we learn with technology.

We made a Storify of the session.



Did the self contained video production system work? Watch below…

Gaming, Gamers and Marketing?

by John Seedhouse

What does a “gamer” look like? That used to be a fairly easy one to answer, and yes, the stereotypes you just pictured were probably accurate –  but now? Who can say?

Are we talking casual gamer? Our work-skiving Farm Town playing office drone – is that it? Maybe the scary as hell online gambler couple from the TV ads? It could be the app downloading Word Scramble evening Corrie ignoring post retired and touch pad cash rich ex-teacher and her sister.

Scary Gamer

Here lies the opportunity and also the horror. We love our mobile devices, our phones, our pads, our handheld electronic books. We are anybody who can afford it. Sit down and try to create a series of personas for the app gamer and fall quickly down that rabbit warren.

For “gamer” substitute “developer.” For every hit or miss branded product you can download to your device there are a dozen others put together by indie programmers simply wanting to prove a point on their own voyage of discovery.


PESTER from Flump Studios is a game in point, a dead simple looking and yet tricky little shoot em ‘up that instantly reminded me of standing in the arcade with a cheeky B&H, skiving A-level French. It’s not cutting edge and doesn’t claim to be and yet everyone I saw playing it at its public debut, Game City Nights MAC event, had ear to ear smiles. It was sold to the crowd in one of the most honest and enthusiastic pitches I have seen for a while.

Paul presenting his game, Pester. Buy it ! :)

“I built this because I wanted to play this game. I’m never going to make money out of it and it’s probably not even going to cover the £40 cost of getting here but I want you to like it.”

Paul Marrable of Flump with Pester

-Designer and impending father to be Paul Marrable.


Iain Simons of Game City and chief stage orchestrator of the Game City Nights events feels that it’s a tough work-place to be in but there are opportunities:

“It’s a big market-place and it is constantly growing.”

“There is no real tried and tested strategy for marketing the Indie game product. It is not often that the big companies pick up on the fantastic wealth of new talent out there. It is not unheard of but it’s rare.”


Ian and James indicating the future of gaming?


“We run the National Games Archive and we know that there are some amazing games out there and yet they never get beyond a 50 likes Facebook page or a walk-through video on YouTube. We run these nights round the country to give new developers a chance to pitch their games and concepts. For us it is really exciting to see the enthusiasm and love that goes into the products that are coming out of bedroom studios.”


No development budget, no marketing budget and possibly nothing more than a desire to make something pretty much seems like a recipe for a credit card bill and heartache and yet it is clear from the crowd on this damp Tuesday night that there is a passion to be more than consumers of mainstream product.


Gamer Camp, the Birmingham City University Master’s program, is a course designed to create industry ready employees for the major players in the Gaming Industry. It had 3 offerings on show. The students on this course are preparing to enter a notoriously difficult job market. They are also prepared to invest a substantial financial gamble on their ability to demonstrate skills.

“We set them a technical challenge to design a 2D platform game which made use of the swipe control of the iPad”


Oliver Williams of Gamer Camp


Oliver Williams, Gamer Camp Operations Director and fan of FIFA.

“We showed them Manic Miner and then let them work from there. All 3 products were approved for the app store on first submission and the teams have produced three great playable fun games.”

“We don’t focus on the marketability element of the process at this stage of the course and it’s something we should consider integrating as these guys should be proud of the product and pitching at events like this are a key part of the professional development process.”

This is all well and good but how far can you take a career in this industry with a Field of Dreams approach? Tubby Toucan, Totem Dash and Baggage Reclaim for Gamer Camp are free for the iPad – how do you make them stand out?

“The previous Gamer Camp course got 20,000 downloads for their game.”

Brad Hinkle from Team Stache – the guys behind 70s inspired Baggage Reclaim. 

“We would ideally look to match and improve on that figure. We have a really cool game that hits that nostalgia cartoon market.”

“We didn’t really do any audience research other than decide as a group what we thought was fun and if we like it…”

So with no budget and no audience in mind – where next? Ben Dobschin from the team behind Tubby Toucan:


Ben Dobschin and Tubby Toucan

“If we had time we would look beyond the game. We have a character that would be ideal for a plushy doll. This game is a technical assignment but we understand the market. We have ideas for a second game and BCU don’t maintain the IP of the product”

If any of the Gamer Camp products illustrates the difficulties presented by the current approach of “Indie” game design it is Totem Dash. It is artistically lush and highly addictive and yet monochrome. Everyone who plays it seems to love it – and I have lost my iPad most evenings to it and yet would a non-colour game ever make it past product research in the mainstream? It is a shining example of creative versus strategic implementation. It works but shouldn’t and anyway, who the hell is the target audience?

Totem Dash with his creator

BCU has over 20,000 students. Is that a captive audience? BCU sponsored the Rethinking Regional Media event in 2012. Very little was made of the Games Industry contribution to the media and yet on a national level Second Screen seems to be the holy grail of broadcasters and advertising monetization.

Totem Dash under appraisal
This is a now situation. According to Apple there were 20 billion downloads from the app store in 2012. 300,000 apps were for the iPad. How times were these apps downloaded and more so how long did they last? I have screens full of downloaded and unopened apps filling space on my phone. I am not unique.

“Games die. They generate unbelievable excitement and then they fade out. What is the value of your game?”

“When 2 second hand games are on the shelf and one has the instructions and one doesn’t, one sells for 25p the other for 19p – it would seem that the write of the manual is worth more than the game designer…”

-Iain Simons

Somewhere there is an answer of how to make the jump from games for games sake and games for the ubiquitous commuter/work shy/average latte drinker. How do you make that jump? How can you prove a guaranteed ROI? I can’t tell you because I have to go and save the rainforest by swiping a little Toucan around a 7inch screen…

If you are interested in digital marketing you can find out more about our Future Media course here.

John Seedhouse

4 Minute Warning with Melissa Sterry

Melissa Sterry of Earth 2 Hub

[View the story “4 Minute Warning – Melissa Sterry” on Storify]

4 Minute Warning – Melissa Sterry

In advance of The DRUM “4 Minute Warning” event on Dec. 5th we asked Futurist, writer and Director/Head of Technology at Earth 2 Hub™ 4 questions and got 4 answers…

Storified by John Seedhouse · Fri, Nov 30 2012 11:25:36

4 Minute Warning. Only one thing is certain: this climate of digital revolution. Disruptive forces require businesses to quickly adapt to customers’ needs,…
@MelissaSterry What are you looking forward to most about the event? #4minwarningFuture Media
@BCUFutureMedia Looking fwd to the melting pot of imagination and insight #4MinWarning is bringing together and seeing the outputs of this. MELISSA STERRY
@MelissaSterry What particular opportunities in the Digital Revolution excite you the most? #4minwarningFuture Media
@BCUFutureMedia What I find most exciting about it is its potential to help us build a more intelligent and efficient society. MELISSA STERRY
@MelissaSterry What is the most unthinkable concept you can think of happening in the future with regards to the industry? #4minwarningFuture Media
@BCUFutureMedia An ‘impossible’ I can see becoming possible, thanks to the Digital Revolution, is a world-class education accessible to all.MELISSA STERRY
@MelissaSterry If you could have one super power to sort out all the problems you see, what would it be/how would you use it? #4minwarningFuture Media
@BCUFutureMedia That superpower would be to instantly endow others with the foresight to see the longterm impacts of their actions.MELISSA STERRY