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GCG Feature: 'Event Wrap Up: Game Design Expo 2007'

GCG Feature: 'Event Wrap Up: Game Design Expo 2007'

January 16, 2007 | By Brandon Boyer

In the latest feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, we take look at The Vancouver Film School's first Game Design Expo, held in Vancouver, British Columbia from January 13-14, which featured speakers from companies such as EA, BioWare, Radical, Backbone, and Gamelab.

In this excerpt, Eric Zimmerman of Gamelab (Diner Dash) explains the interwoven nature of rules and play in his Design Expo presentation, "Designing for Meaningful Play":

"Rules, as Zimmerman explained, are seen as fixed and rigid, whereas play is flexible. However, rules turn into play, whether it is competitive, social, or strategic. Play, then, occurs within structures but also transforms these structures. Designers should look at games as systems of meaning and activities where the action influences the outcome. Meaningful play comes from the player's interactivity with the game system as well as awards in both the short term and long term.

Zimmerman outlined the "anatomy of a choice" in games as follows:

* The state of the game is represented
* The choices available are represented
* The player makes the choice
* The choice affects the game system
* The result of the choice is represented by the game as a new game state

If a game's interactivity falters, then it is often these areas designers should troubleshoot to solve the problems. Common problems include: the player feels the decisions are arbitrary, the player doesn't know what to do next, the player is losing and doesn't know why. Interaction itself is why they're there, feels Zimmerman. "If you're not providing them with maximum meaning in the moment to moment or in the long term, then why should they be there?" he asked.

Games are structures which we play with, and structures can change. "But only if we remember to play," Zimmerman concluded. "

You can now read the full Game Career Guide feature with more from the Game Design Expo including Electronic Arts' Glenn Entis' keynote speech on creating emotionally believable characters (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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