GDC08: Three Highlights

6 03 2008


A part of our session strategy at GDC was to avoid some of the ones we knew would get lots of press coverage, and catch smaller ones instead. We did make sure to see plenty of Jonathan Blow though. Here he spoke about understanding games:

he offered ten different perspectives by which to interpret a game: A consumer product, as escapism or fun, as exercise, as communication, as artistic expression, teaching, training, a challenge, exploration or practice. Blow admitted these categories are “messy,” not orthagonal and even overlapping. Ultimately, however, he suggested that we haven’t yet defined game design sufficiently as a science to be so analytical about it.

Also, Jane McGonigal, Ian Bogost and Mia Consalvo on recent research findings:

10. The best content understands exactly how the player likes to play — and makes it slightly harder.
Takeaway: Custom procedural variation in a limited environment can be more fun than big environments and open worlds.
Question for game designers: How can your next game use player-inspired procedural variation?

(This meshes with some of my current thinking on what makes any experience more compelling: relevance is a key ingredient, and in future I suspect it will start to look less like genres and more like contextual advertising).

Finally, Ernest W. Adams giving a Ten Commandments of Game Design Education:

0. Thou shalt not take an existing computer science, art, animation, media studies, English, or other program, add a game course or two to it, and call it a game program, for that is an abomination unto the Lord.

CC image of escalators in the Moscone Center via, er, me 🙂



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