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Big ideas in short spurts at GDC's microtalks

Big ideas in short spurts at GDC's microtalks

March 29, 2013 | By Simon Parkin

March 29, 2013 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC, Indie, Design, GDC

Richard Lemarchand | Visiting Associate Professor, Interactive Media Division, University of Southern California introduces the session.

"Welcome to the GDC Microtalks! Each speaker gets 20 slides, each of which gets displayed for exactly 16 seconds. Our goal today is simply to provide bite-size morsels of progressive, philosophical, future-looking game design inspiration for your brilliant, hungry minds! This is an interesting time for the game industry - it's a time of great change, in terms of the way we make and distribute games, the way that we fund the games that we make, and in terms of the culture around games and the people who play them. For a lot of people, it's a scary time. But anyone with a background in agile development will be used to seeing change as an opportunity rather than a crisis. By approaching the challenges we face with rationality and an openness to criticism and to new ideas, we can seize a chance to forge positive change in this industry that we love. It's now up to us, the people who make and evangelize games, to live up to (the) faith that's been placed in us, to be thoughtful and to use integrity in our work, and to continue to usher games into the mainstream of our cultural and artistic discourse, where they belong."

Leigh Alexander | Editor at Large, Gamasutra on video gaming's image crisis:

"I feel for the first time grown-ups are listening when I talk about the work that I do. Commercial games are still treating their audiences like kids. Many appear focused solely on what teen boys like. There is homogeneity and arrested development in AAA game development. We need to do more. We know audience is getting bigger and yet the market is constrained. Video games have a serious image crisis. Marketing can sell crap but it's failing to sell joy. We need a fresh perspective. If you work in marketing and you just want to make numbers, please work in another industry. It'll be better for everyone."

Tom Bissell | Writer, Freelance on what it means to be a writer on a video game:

"Big budget game development is not a writer's medium. The writer doesn't steer the story; the player steers story. The writer contextualizes story. People believe that game and story are two different things. But my experience taught me story and game are the same thing. Story has to be what the game does. Writer has to provide orientation, mood and to provide the context for a story."

Kim Swift | Project Lead/Game Designer, Airtight Games on 'how to not be a douche-y boss':

"Always give people credit for their work and ideas. Having credit taken from your work sucks. Take responsibility when things go wrong and give credit when things go well. Express opinion, but always ensure your criticism is constructive. Before delivering your critique, find something you like first, comment on it and then move on to critical comments. Don't underestimate the power of empathy. Being empathetic makes you more approachable as a boss."

George Fan | Game Designer, Independent on how to choose the right theme for your game.

"Does your theme support your game mechanics? This is a crucial question for a game-maker Always choose a world that fits as snugly with your game mechanics as possible. Constantly look to have one influencing the other. If mechanics and theme are tightly knit you will have a much stronger experience. Also ask whether your theme has both familiarity and novelty. The familiar is what makes theme easy to relate to; novelty is what makes it interesting.

Dr Carla Fisher | Founder & President, No Crusts Interactive on the gamer's guide to parenting:

"Kids are a multi-genre game in extensive need of QA. Guiding children' behavior is a significant task. To change behaviors systems must motivate - we know this from game design. Design a reward to inspire a shift in behaviors."

Ben Cerveny | Founder & President, Bloom on game design in the city:

"The city is already out biggest game. The city is the most complex game we have: multiple people using multiple systems to collaboratively build. The city provides new immersive contexts for expression. Let's build the tools to play the city together. As a new medium we're not going to a new device: we are stepping outside of the device. Let's discover the games that can occur there."

Mare Sheppard | President, Metanet Software Inc. on the fear of being a one-hit wonder

Part of our studio never felt we should move on till we've finished our first successful project, n. Every time we thought about returning to n it felt like a step backwards. Over the years we worked on a bunch of new games but they never felt as good as n. Idea after idea had problems and we started to believe that maybe n was the only thing we could ever do. Caught in a horrible struggle of needing to finish n or to move on. We started to see that everyone is stressed and has problems, even if they're not talking about them. Struggles don't mean that we are stupid or broken. It would help all of us if we could talk about the psychological pitfalls of making games as much as we do the technical ones."

Anna Anthropy | Primary Antagonist, Auntie Pixelante on diversity on panels at tech conferences:

"Men should boycott panels that don't feature women on them. If you're a man and you're being asked to speak on a panel where no women have been asked then refuse vocally and explain your reason for it. The industry as a whole has a problem with women. Maybe you'd like a game industry for grown-ups. If so, women need to be included in that discussion, and to even lead that discussion. A more diverse cast gives a more diverse set of thoughts."

Manveer Heir | Senior Gameplay Designer, BioWare Montreal on game-creators making themselves vulnerable through their work:

"Throughout the game Papo & Yo (a game about its creator's experiences living with an alcoholic father) I sobbed from the gravity of emotion of the game. The game didn't make me cry through a timed narrative dynamic. I cried because it showed me the power of letting go, specifically of the anger I held towards my younger brother. It reminded of the need to let go of anger, to forgive and look towards the future lest I become a monster. This wouldn't happen if the creator hadn't showcased his vulnerability. I long for more games that move players to reflect in ways that they do not normally. I hope more of you - no matter what games you make - will consider putting this kind of content in your game."


Photo by Jeriaska

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