GDC 2010 Thoughts

Posted: March 29, 2010 in Game Design, Games
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My GDC 2010 Impressions

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Warning: Has nothing to do with Vampires, or even vampires.

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I have what I would consider a fairly typical group of gamer friends.  These guys have grown up on D&D, board games and table-top games.  We all love games and have our own relationship to them.  Something unusual happened over the last few game sessions.  We abandoned the game we all loved and respected for a shallower version of the same game.  Our sin was liking the experience more but we took so much joy in the fact that we were all on speaking terms by the end of the night.  I have so much respect for the game that brought us so much misery, that I had to take a deeper look.

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While looking into compulsion, I found that I couldn’t avoid looking directly at emotion.  The above picture is from Heavy Rain, a game where the creators are trying to introduce more emotion into games.  I must admit that I was skeptical for a long time and passed it off as artistic indulgence.   Something came along and changed my mind completely yet I haven’t played the game.  Emotion isn’t the sign of indulgence but perhaps the complete opposite in a medium rife with shallow emotional connections to simply sensational experiences.  While I do not speak with any authority on the subject, I am passionate about it and want to learn to do it right.

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Compulsion and fun

Posted: December 27, 2009 in Game Design, Games
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I’ve been doing some thinking about compulsion and the notion of fun.  Most people would admit that the goal of a game is to entertain, usually summed up in the word fun.  To have fun.  When building a game, we refer to the intangible ‘fun factor’ of a game.  We also talk about a game’s ‘stickiness’, i.e. it’s ability to have the players come back for more after they’ve left the game, or better yet, to stay in the game for extended periods of time.  For myself as a player, and other player’s i’ve talked to, a game’s stickiness is often involved in the fun.  A game that keeps me coming back, I naturally assume it’s because I enjoy it.  But is that really the case?

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The “Rules of Play” by Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman has been my book of choice this week.  Getting through all six hundred pages by the end of the week may be a lot for me, but it’s been interesting so far.  I’m going to avoid my usual opinion at thirty thousand feet because they made an interesting point in the book which resonated with me.  They discussed actual analysis versus the typical “Movie Review” critiques of video games.  The game review culture has almost completely neutered the critical analysis of video games.

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Dominos, the tippy kind

Posted: July 1, 2009 in Uncategorized
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It seems to me that the version of dominos where you spend the whole afternoon standing these little blocks on end only to watch them topple over at the end of the day is a much overlooked game when trying to study game design. The multiplayer varient of matching dots is more likely to be looked at given the more sophisticated rule set. But dominos, the tippy kind, has a genius simplicity.

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