Category Archives: Articles of Interest

Articles of Interest

A list of the various problems that can emerge when you employ the 3rd party offer revenue mechanisms that are becoming increasingly popular in F2P games.

Nexon’s revenues were up 35% year-over-year — looks like their international expansion is going well.

The Economist writes up Quest to Learn, the new school that will be based on a curriculum of games designed by Katie Salen. The article includes some interesting example games: “pupils take on the role of an ancient Spartan who has to assess Athenian strengths and recommend a course of action. In doing so, they learn bits of history, geography and public policy.” Also: “imagine they are pyramid-builders in ancient Egypt. This means learning about maths and engineering, and something about the country’s religion and geography.”

Ad Age: “In 1999, EA Sports, publisher of the Tiger games, ramped up ads and PR for about six weeks before the game launched and for a few weeks after… today EA Sports develops a marketing plan for each platform and type of content and runs it all year… The fire and fanning mentality just won’t work anymore.”

If you happened to see my IGDA or GDC lecture on “MBA Lessons” and liked what I said about motivating employees, here’s a more in-depth TED talk devoted to the same themes and research that I mentioned. The talk is by the author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

There’s more to life than games:

This Slate piece is easily the most informative article I’ve read about US healthcare.

Articles of Interest

How far can you get by cynically cloning and heavily marketing a successful Facebook game? FarmVille, Zynga’s FarmTown knockoff, now has 30m monthly active users. Zynga itself has 93m monthly players across all its games.

Some clever cross-promotion: Microsoft is devoting two whole episodes of 1 vs 100 to Beatles trivia in preparation for the release of The Beatles: Rock Band.

Check out Pierre: Insanity Inspired, an interesting GAMBIT game designed to explore your response to being taunted and cheered on during gameplay. Added bonus: the game itself is pretty cool! One minor gripe: the game has minor playability issues which may exaggerate a player’s negative reaction to being taunted. I’d be curious to know if players are more willing to suffer insults when they truly have no one to blame but themselves for their failures.

Konami has launched Konami Play, which features web-enabled versions of classic Konami titles and which uses Facebook to encourage social interaction.

Henry has posted a really nice article about the marketing of District 9. Quote: “The film… has been the focus of a transmedia marketing campaign for well over a year in advance of the film’s release. Signs prohibiting nonhuman use of restrooms surfaced at Comic-Con a year ago. By the start of the summer, such signs were appearing on park benches, the sides of buses, and in a variety of other contexts around major cities.”

Out of nowhere, 2K Games bursts onto the scene as a publisher of quirky, stylish indie XBLA projects. Interesting!

Seth Godin on how to interview potential new employees (the right way and the wrong way.) Wrong way: pretty much the way every company does it. Right way: dating before marriage (aka contract vs. full-time) or alternatively, a vastly greater number of candidates interviewed for shorter periods of time (call it speed-dating, perhaps?) I’m not sure about the speed dating, but I couldn’t agree more with the contract approach.

Simple but useful marketing checklist for indie games.

There’s more to life than games:

Random fact: the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in NYC reportedly earns over $350m a year, or about $35k per square foot (possibly more than any other retailer in history, including jewelry store Tiffany & Co.) How’s that for a strong brand?

Research suggests that changing circumstances in your life increase your willingness to make other, unrelated changes to products/services you consume.

This was a great week for the always-funny XKCD. First: are you tech support for your parents or grandparents? Send them this. Second: I fully intend to try this stunt on someone who doesn’t read XKCD… *grin*

California: where you can be sent to jail for life for stealing a two-buck pair of socks. (Also notable: California spends $216k annually on each inmate in its juvenile justice system, but only $8k on each child in the Oakland public school system. Ever heard the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”)

Wonderful Wired article about Craigslist.

Another excellent article by Kristof on health care reform.

Articles of Interest

Gamasutra estimates that July was the biggest month in XBLA history (and August seems likely to match or even exceed July, thanks to Summer of Arcade.) Some notables: Secret of Monkey Island: SE is estimated to have sold more units than Telltale’s Wallace & Gromit Episode 1 and Sam & Max Season 1 combined. N+ picked up approximately 30k players when it was deal of the week. Castle Crashers added another 80k players despite being a year old and despite heavy competition (another case of the hits get bigger.) And as mentioned in my previous AoI, Battlefield 1943 destroyed every record, putting a big fat smile on EA’s face.

Neat prototype: strap a Wiimote to an exercise ball (the giant kind you sit on) and get a whole new way to interact with a game.

Microsoft’s getting questioned about Games on Demand pricing, as game prices vary dramatically from region to region. Microsoft’s response: “No one retailer has the lowest pricing for every product, and our program is about giving people 24 x 7 convenience and selection…” That’s Microsoft’s tortured way of saying: “we are deathly afraid of offending our retail partners by undercutting them. So, for example, if retailers in Australia are selling a game for $60, we will offer that game to Australian LIVE users for $60 even if the same game sells for $40 in the US.” It really is that simple, folks.

Nice game design article about “the perfectly executed mini-mechanic.” Summary: reinforces the main character; is brief and infrequent, but not unique; is optional; is tightly integrated into the main game; should never be a “game-ender” but rather a pleasant diversion.

Nice summary of the issues facing companies in (and entering) the booming social gaming space.

This site supposedly describes every game in use or in development by the US military. Unfortunately, it feels out of date to me, but there’s some interesting stuff in there.

The DSi has sold almost 7m units worldwide, and is thus far outpacing early sales of the original DS, the DS Lite, and the Wii. Not bad…

Redbox, the DVD-rental juggernaut, is pilot-testing game rentals in two US markets. Games cost $2 a day; no word on whether there’s a “rent to own” option (which would be brilliant for Redbox). When a distribution system with over 15,000 locations turns its eye towards games, it merits attention.

Nice article about positive and negative reinforcement in MMOGs.

Danc’s latest article on making money with Flash is excellent, as always. Don’t be scared by the length — it’s good stuff, especially if you’re a small indie developer.

The DS functionality in the Wii version of Band Hero sounds very cool; lots of modes that broaden what spectators can do while watching friends play (in fact, they’re no longer spectators.) It almost makes me sorry that I’m married to Rock Band on the 360. Almost, but not quite. 😉

Over 2.5m users have downloaded 1 vs. 100 on Xbox LIVE, and “as many as” 200k users tune in daily. Not bad at all. (Note that 1 vs. 100 is free *and* benefits from constant and tremendous visibility in the LIVE dash.)

There’s more to life than games:

Another lament about the pace of modern digital life, but I liked this line: “Bumped and jostled, queasy from the constant ocular and muscular adjust­ments our body must make to keep up, we will live in a constant state of digital jet lag.” True.

This will make you want to change your Facebook password immediately. 😛

Neat suggestion by Seth Godin for improving the effectiveness of presentations to very small, private audiences (i.e. a couple people). Summary: strip some of the info from your slides, print the presentation, then sit next to the person you’re meeting with and go through the booklet page by page, writing directly on each page (taking advantage of the space you cleared earlier.) Leave the booklet as a takeaway.

A truly fantastic presentation on Netflix’s management culture. 128 slides, every one of them worth reading. Check it out.

Articles of Interest

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve had time to post anything of substance!! Get ready for a big heaping pile of articles-of-interest, some fresh, some not-so-fresh:

Some statistics about F2P game Domain of Heroes. Interesting to see that traditional ad revenue is just ~4% of total, and that the game is having success with really high microtransaction price points (I’ve frequently argued more F2P games need to explore adding higher priced options/items to their menus.)

More rumors about Apple’s 10 inch touch-screen device (like a big iPod Touch) — this article claims the price will be $800 and that it will double as a game console. It sure *better* be a whole lot more than just another cool console at a price of $800…

Quote: “Human memory is not an accurate, faithful image of the past. It is an active reconstruction subject to many possible distortions. As a result, anything that reminds one of the positive aspects of the experience, such as mementos and other reminders, can modify the memory. Photographs, for example, remind us of the positive moments. With each viewing of the pictures, positive memories are enhanced without reawakening negative ones.” Games clearly take advantage of this with Achievements and screen captures of key victories in games. Can they do more?

Innovation alert: Treasure World for the DS compels you to collect “star dust” which you exchange for 2500+ treasures. You collect dust by hunting for stars — aka Wi-Fi signals! — in the real world. You then decorate a virtual garden with your treasure. The kicker? Each treasure piece is a distinct musical note, and your garden is a 32-note music tracker — so the act of decorating your garden is also the act of creating your own songs. Man, I need to play this game…

Battlefield 1943 has sold over 600k units at $15 on XBLA and PSN since its launch on July 8th. You really can’t understate the significance of this event. Battlefield will be the game that finally convinces EA (and other major publishers not already onboard) to take XBLA and PSN seriously — or at least, much more seriously — this console generation (as opposed to the next generation, when digital is a given.)

According to NPD, Apple controls 91% of the revenue market for computers costing $1,000 and up. So much for the Windows gaming PC?

Lots of buzz around Booyah Society, which essentially lets you win achievements for a wide variety of real-life activities. I wonder to what extent, if any, the lack of a central authority for progress (i.e. a game system that dictates exactly when you do/don’t win an Achievement) might hamper player enthusiasm for Booyah? There are certainly more than enough people who already quite happily measure their own progress in a variety of activities… it will be interesting to see if they embrace this.

Combined game industry hardware and software revenues are down 31% year-over-year. On the other hand, online games are doing great. The article notes that online gaming is growing at “ten times the rate of the total US internet population and reaching nearly one out of every two internet users.” Of the traditional portals, Yahoo! Games is still top dog.

One iPhone developer claims that for every copy of his game that was sold, 24 were pirated. Quote: “Very quickly after the release of ‘the little tank that could’ the game got cracked, and distributed via torrents. Those crackers are a weird bunch, even taking pride in their work. Proudly tagging my game with ‘cracked by Hexhammer’. Well screw you Hexhammer.” I didn’t realize the iPhone was so similar to the PC…

This rough transcript of the Casual Connect session “Designing, Balancing and Managing Virtual Economies” is full of interesting quotes. I was particularly interested in the comments on inflation control, multiple currencies, “barrier pricing”, and chargeback avoidance.

A friend of mine is a co-founder of TrialPay, so I’m very excited to see them finally making a splash in the video game industry. (For those of you who aren’t aware, TrialPay enables consumers to receive a product or service for free in exchange for accepting an offer from advertisers such as magazine and credit card companies. Non-game companies such as Netflix and McAfee have been using TrialPay for a long time.) IMO, TrialPay is a great way to squeeze some extra revenue out of an online game.

Mark Pincus revealed that Zynga regularly spends large sums on advertising when launching new titles, like a “couple million dollars” promoting the launch of Farmville. The article speculates that Zynga is likely one of Facebook’s largest advertising customers. If Facebook ever creates a “featured games” page, I wonder to what extent (if at all) those ad dollars will influence the curators of that page…

Via Kim, Rock Band will enable users to author playable tracks, submit them for review to the community, and ultimately to sell approved tracks via the Rock Band Store and Xbox LIVE. Pure awesome.

James Gwertzman’s presentation, Lessons learned from SNS games at PopCap“, is full of interesting notes on the evolution of social features within Bejeweled Blitz (such as team scores for prize competition), on dealing with cheaters, etc.

There’s more to life than games:

Quote of the week: “There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they ‘oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.’ Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.”

Articles of Interest

Microtransaction-based games find their way to Twitter. Oh, btw, I have a twitter account now (though I still have mixed feelings about the service.) Username: djedery.

For those of you just starting to develop an interest in Facebook games, check out, a really great website that reports metrics and trends for Facebook apps large and small.

This is perhaps my favorite editorial on the definition of “indie”. For the record, in my opinion the definition of indie is simply: if you publish or distribute other developers’ games, you are not an indie. Any other definition becomes subjective and political very quickly.

Australia is the only developed country without a “mature/adult” classification for games, meaning titles with notable violence or sexual content are banned from sale unless the offending content is removed. This policy will now be extended from retail games to downloadable games, flash-based web games, etc. My favorite quote from the article: In a free country like ours, do we really need the government to step in and save us from racy web games?

Mochi Media has launched MochiCoins with a handful of game developers. In early testing, the average revenue for these games has increased to $6.50 per thousand game plays (from $0.50).

In June, a Facebook game called Farm Town snagged 8 million monthly active users. I’ve played Farm Town and I think it’s fair to call it an exceedingly crude game that lacks much of the polish we’ve come to expect from good casual titles. I highlight this because it’s further evidence, to my mind, of the enormous untapped potential in the Facebook game market. Get in now while consumer demand is high and supply is complete crap! This moment of opportunity is sure to be quite brief… it always is.

David Perry unveils his competitor to OnLive, Gaikai. Notably, Gaikai will not position itself as a portal but will instead allow developer and publishers to host Gaikai’s functionality out of their own sites.

Interesting article on Nike+, the successful hardware/service combo that converts the act of running into… you guessed it, a game. 🙂 If I ever revise Changing the Game this is going into the revised version.

There’s more to life than games:

On the importance of naps, which “enhance productivity, learning and memory.”

I love, love, love technology! Restoring sight to the blind — via a tooth implanted into an eyeball, of all things.

Articles of Interest

Check out ARhrrrr, an augmented reality mobile phone game prototype that takes a real-world map and uses a mobile phone’s camera to bring it to life — pardon the pun — with zombies.

Sony has revealed that it is increasing the retailers’ margin on the PSP Go (relative to the old PSP.) This is an unsurprising response to the Go’s digital-only game distribution model. Eventually, all consoles will transition to a state in which the majority (if not all) content is distributed digitally, at which time their manufacturers will also need to give retailers a more generous cut of hardware revenue.

Gamasutra has posted its regular monthly estimate of XBLA sales for May 2009. I’ll have to write a longer post about the fate of episodic content on XBLA, PSN and Wiiware, but here’s a sneak peak: I’m very skeptical in the absence of system improvements that enable consumers to purchase a “season” at a substantial discount to the aggregate episode cost. And even then, I think that episodic content on the console will really struggle until one of the console makers and/or a big publisher (preferably both) decides to promote an episodic franchise in a really big way. By, for example, meaningfully integrating it with a TV show currently on the air. That’s probably not something that will happen anytime soon, given the current economics of the XBLA, PSN and Wiiware.

Warning: very long but good article describing the development and distribution of a mobile app for Blackberry. A nice break from articles about the iPhone…

Ravi has posted a nice article about virtual gifting, what drives it, and why it’s good business. Interesting quote: “HOT or NOT pioneered virtual gifting in the dating industry by letting users send virtual roses ranging from $2 to $10 to prospective dates. In an outcome that turns traditional economic theory on its ear, the $10 virtual roses have been the most popular because they send the clearest signal to the recipient…”

There’s more to life than games:

Well written article about some of the most common problems with business plans.

A summary of Cialdini’s Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.

For those of you following the events in Iran as avidly as I am, here’s a twitter feed (generated by one of the protestors, and written primarily in English) that is widely followed and is a remarkable, gripping, and anxiety-inducing view into what is happening in Iran right now.

Articles of Interest

A couple weeks ago Facebook launched “Pay with Facebook” — functionality that enables users to make purchases within 3rd party applications using credit cards or, of course, Facebook credits. Yet another move that makes Facebook’s 200m+ users that much more appealing to game designers.

NPD estimates that 18% of LIVE Gold members download content regularly. 10% of PS3/PSN users regularly download content. These stats are interesting, but largely incomplete as they leave out LIVE Silver users (though it’s clear they download less content than Gold users) and refer to downloads in total as opposed to free and paid downloads; I’d also like to have seen a definition of “regularly.” So, the only real takeaway here is that digital content consumption on the console is taking longer to really take off than many critics of retailers would like. (Bear in mind that many console buyers never connect their consoles, so those 18% and 10% figures are even worse than they sound.) NPD also reported that 56% of digital game sales came from just three channels between July and December 2008: Steam, Bigfishgames and RealArcade.

Xbox LIVE Marketplace is finally instituting a user rating system sometime this summer! Assuming it’s well implemented, this should have a meaningful impact on Marketplace, especially Community Games (or whatever they’re calling it now; “Indie Games” I believe.) Of course, if required free trials weren’t already enough to throw publishers off their game, required trials combined with user ratings will really throw them for a loop. You can’t just sell a pretty box with a recognizable name anymore.

A very useful reminder for PS3 skeptics like me: Sony has been named the top consumer technology brand by teenagers worldwide, ahead of Apple and Nintendo (!) according to the Global Habbo Youth Survey, which polled 112k teens from over 30 countries. PlayStation was also named the number one console brand, even after all of Sony’s recent missteps. Now if only Sony could get around to selling the PS3 at a price teenagers can afford…

The Sims 3 exceeded 1.4m units sold in its first week on shelves. Advertisers take note: this is the start (not the end) of a great opportunity for downloadable and expansion-based product placements. See just one example from The Sims 2 era.

Scott Foe’s clever Reset Generation is now freely available on Kongregate, where it serves as an advertisement for Nokia. Check it out if you’ve never had the chance to before.

There’s more to life than games:

A robotics research group has created a prototype that was able to open and pass through 10 doors and plug itself into 10 standard wall sockets in less than an hour. Turns out this is a relatively significant milestone. My favorite quote from the article: “Now they can escape and fend for themselves.”

Articles of Interest

Just cranking out one last AoI before the impending avalanche of E3 news necessitates the next one…

Researchers have studied the relationship between in-game violence and player enjoyment. (Example: in one experiment, they exposed people to two versions of Half-Life 2, one with little violent imagery and one with much more.) Results: the amount of violence in a game did not predict how much players enjoyed it, nor did it influence purchase intent for sequels of the game.

For those of you who will be assuming new management roles soon, check out this surprisingly thorough and helpful article about the ways new managers can avoid making a bad impression on subordinates (an issues which, the article notes, can prove utterly crippling to new managers in the long term.)

EA is developing Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online, a free, streaming, browser-based 3D golf sim. No comment yet on revenue sources. Between this and Battlefield Heroes, EA appears to be making a real commitment to exploring f2p gaming, unlike some other major publishers.

Profs. Gee and Jenkins note that educational games that harness and promote player communities might stand a better chance of success. Might seem obvious to some of you, and yet there are very few educational games that actually do this in a meaningful way.

Sony has announced the “PSP Go”, which will sport a 3.8-inch screen, will be 43% lighter than its predecessor, will have 16 gigs of memory and will by all digital (no UMD.) Barring the larger screen, this sounds almost like my iPhone… minus the phone functionality and minus my desire to carry it with me everywhere I go, like I do my iPhone. *grin* (In all fairness, I’ll withhold judgement till I hear the price of the Go…)

2m+ users have registered for SOE’s f2p, family-friendly MMOG Free Realms within the first month. 75% of registrants are under the age of 17; 46% under 13. Notably, nearly a third of players are female.

Google has released an API for Google Talk that permits for asynchronous multiplayer games.

Nintendo is doing some interesting community stuff with Personal Trainer: Walking. For example, every player’s steps is added to a community total, and that total dictates how deeply into the galaxy the community will “walk.” I like it. It would be neater still if the community could interact within the context of the space walk.

There’s more to life than games:

The first black woman to ever be ordained as a rabbi; she’ll also be the first black rabbi to lead a majority white congregation. How lovely. 🙂

Youtube: The Vendor Client relationship… in real world situations. This is brilliant.

Check out this presentation of Google Wave, which according to fans will replace email, instant messaging, wikis, forums, and SMS. It looks very cool to me, but I can never guess whether these things will overcome inertia

Articles of Interest

iPhone apps and games have earned Apple just $20 to $45 million, according to rough estimates by Jeremy Liew. (Of course, Apple doesn’t care because the app store is more of a marketing tool for the iPhone than anything else, as far as it’s concerned.) The remaining 70% — $50m to $115m — hardly justifies any real interest in attempting to generate revenue by selling games; giving them away for free and monetizing with microtransactions, on the other hand, is interesting. And of course, I’d expect to see a boatload of (additional) advergames in the near future — perhaps some will even be good!

The iPhone lost its spot as top-selling phone to the BlackBerry Curve in the first quarter of 2009. The Curve succeeded thanks, in part, to Verizon’s “Buy one, get one free” deal and from availability via four major carriers as opposed to just AT&T.

Interesting article about level pacing in single player, hardcore action games.

EA’s digital game distribution revenue has almost doubled year-over-year to $80m, and digital revenue as a whole grew to $400m. EA trumpeted those numbers as heralds to a new age of PC-based gaming.

Nintendo has revealed the global lifetime sales figures for first party Wii and DS titles. For the Wii: Wii Play – 23m, Wii Fit – 18.2m, Mario Kart Wii – 15.4m, Smash Bros. Brawl – 8.43m, Super Mario Galaxy – 8m, Mario Party 8 – 6.7 million. For the DS: Nintendogs – 22.27m, New Super Mario Bros. – 18.45m, Brain Training – 17.4m, Pokemon Diamond/Pearl – 16.8m, Mario Kart DS – 14.6m, Brain Training 2 – 13.7m, Animal Crossing: Wild World – 10.8m, Super Mario 64 DS – 7.5 million

This interview with SOE about the marketing of Free Realms was interesting to me in part because it discusses the use of twitter and pseudo-“exclusive” access to the Free Realms beta as a mechanism for driving consumer excitement. This is one of the several potential uses of scarcity that I referred to in my MBA lessons, Applied lecture at GDC and the IGDA Leadership Forum.

Walmart has leased store space to E-play, which released 77 “Video Game Buyback” automated kiosks at select Walmart locations as part of a limited pilot program. Customers scan a game’s jewel case at the machines, at which point a buy back price point appears on the unit’s screen. If the customer accepts the buy back price, the machine confirms the authenticity of the game disc and issues a credit to the customer’s credit card.

There’s more to life than games:

Another great Gladwell article, “How David Beats Goliath.” Summary: relentlessness and/or unconventional tactics that exploit obvious weaknesses.

Articles of Interest

My “Changing the Game” co-author, Ethan, was one of several individuals who worked on Celebrity Calamity, a casual game that teaches important personal financial lessons through roleplay as the business manager of a virtual celebrity. Testers who played Celebrity Calamity showed a 55% to 70% improvement in knowledge of concepts like credit limits, finance charges, etc. A video about the game and people’s experiences with it can be found here.

Trip Hawkins on the iPhone: “We make as much money with [iPhone games] as we do putting a game on 100 different cell phone platforms.”

Gamasutra has attempted to estimate the sales of those XBLA games released in March.

Nintendo will release Wii MotionPlus on June 8th. Finally, the Wiimote will not suck, and it will only cost you $20 (per device!) to rectify that suckiness… or more, if you want the Wii Sports Resort bundle. I plan to be one of those people dutifully enriching Nintendo, though I will mutter an evil curse while I do so.

Thoughtful article by James Portnow on “faux choices” in games: “Many games attach rewards that effect gameplay problems to choices, thus reducing the choice to a simple equation. For example: how many times have you been offered a choice to be nice to an old man or to ignore him and had the reward for being nice to him be X experience (or ammo or money) and the reward for ignoring him be Y experience (where Y is less then X, and often zero)?”

NCsoft has launched a mission creation tool available to all users of City of Heroes. Of course, it allows users to rate one another’s submissions and stories, and players can earn in-game rewards for highly-rated content. Certainly cheaper than attempting to replicate WoW’s army of designers; I wonder how long it will be before a popular, big-budget MMORPG launches with this kind of functionality? (Update: Kotaku reports that within 24 hours, CoH players created more content than had ever been created by the devs, and that ~14% of that content was rated 5 stars.)

Metaboli (now owner of GameTap) discusses its business models, both subscription and download to own. Subscription, unsurprisingly, is higher margin. I always thought XBLA should create a subscription or rent-to-own offer, though I worried that either (if very successful) might skew developers away from short-but-sweet games, which are under-appreciated enough as-is.

Doug Creutz shares his take on the current developer value proposition for PS3/360 vs Wii in the US: “There is a 19m unit installed base for the Wii versus 22m units combined for the 360 and PS3. Assuming some overlap in the 360/PS3 installed bases, they’re roughly equivalent. In addition, Nintendo is the dominant publisher on the Wii with over one-third of software market share on its platform. Guitar Hero and Rock Band account for one-sixth of sales. So the addressable market for third-party Wii titles is only about half of what the installed base would imply. The situation on the 360/PS3 is less daunting, with less than a quarter of software dollar share going to first-party publishers and Guitar Hero/Rock Band.”

There’s more to life than games:

Researchers at DePauw University have found that people who frowned frequently in photos taken when they were children are five times more likely to get divorced later in life. Interesting way to evaluate the people who are hoping to marry your kids, siblings, etc. 😉

Nice article by Tom Brokaw exploring how the US could save untold billions by consolidating local government entities. Example: “It’s estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts. A year ago a bipartisan state commission said that New Yorkers could save more than a billion dollars a year by consolidating and sharing local government responsibilities like public security, health, roads and education.”