Very little has been heard of Interval Research Corp since it was created by Metaphor Computer Systems refugee David Liddle and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen to reinvent Xerox Corp’s Palo Alto Research Center – Liddle’s one-time employer. But suddenly this week, the doors were thrown open at the Palo Alto technology incubator and not […]
Very little has been heard of Interval Research Corp since it was created by Metaphor Computer Systems refugee David Liddle and Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen to reinvent Xerox Corp’s Palo Alto Research Center – Liddle’s one-time employer. But suddenly this week, the doors were thrown open at the Palo Alto technology incubator and not one but three new companies were allowed to leave the nest and strike out on their own. The three new companies are Carnelian Inc, doing software to manage tiered prices of services at World Wide Web sites; Ogopogo Studios Inc, marketing multi-player video games; and Purple Moon Inc, which will start developing interactive games aimed at girls aged seven to 12 next year. Liddle said the three new companies would seek funding from the venture capital community because those investors instill management discipline in the companies they back – but anyway, he says, each of the start-ups has enough seed money to operate for at least six months. Perhaps the most interesting of the three companies is Purple Moon – not because it looks like a runaway winner but on the contrary because the games for girls market has proved so difficult to crack, if indeed there is a market there at all. At all events, Interval claims to have heavily researched ways that boys and girls play computer games and why boys are often so much more avid – according to the New York Times, Purple Moon was inspired by arguments Liddle had with Brenda Laurel, a computer specialist at Interval, about why many girls don’t warm to conventional computer games. Interval assembled thousands of hours of interviews with pairs of young girls who play together, and extensively observed them at play.
High cooties factor
The result, Liddle said, is a set of what he calls magic crystal principles for games design. The first product from the San Mateo-based Purple Moon product will begin ship next year, Nancy Deyo, vice-president of marketing and sales told the San Jose Mercury News. This was one of the early projects for Interval, watching kids play and interact and looking for gender differences to determine how they might be applied to their use, or lack thereof, of technology, she said, adding that Purple Moon games will will have a high cooties factor, – in other words, boys will find the games yukkie. We wanted to make sure that boys hate it, whatever it is, she said. Girls have been dropping out of technology use, so we think we’re doing something worthwhile by encouraging them to drop back in. Carnelian aims to help publishers to set up subscription-based services and products to complement the existing free content model of the Web. The important difference between Carnelian and existing Internet publishing efforts, it says is that Carnelian will have long-range vision: two to three years instead of the six to 12 months characteristic of the Internet industry. And Ogopogo co- founder and chief executive John Levy said he hopes his company’s products will entice both girls and boys to play with technology in ways they never before thought possible. It’s secret is complex signal processing technology and new interactive designs to draw children of six to 11 into new worlds. Children at play throw themselves into it, he said. They tumble and wave and run around. They don’t tend to sit still and press little buttons or move little mouses around, Levy averred.