The season of acronyms…

As the year scrabbles to a close, the steady stream of conferences and presentations comes to an end.

World Congress of Science and Factual Producers

On Friday December 4th, I took part in a speed-networking event at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers.  What was interesting about this was being able to step away from the traditional pc/console space and think about new opportunities to use games and games technology.

In talking to the directors and producers, I had the thought that perhaps games were closer to documentary features than to narrative features.  The topics explored – happiness as a contagion that can be tracked using network theory, or a man who built his own 300-million search-and rescue empire – were built on the film-maker exploring the world, creating theories, and constructing the narrative as they go, which is a clear analogue for what players do in games.

Not to say that there isn’t room for narrative in games, but modelling gameplay & the reveal of narrative in more of a documentary style might prove to be a useful template.

Game Connect Asia Pacific

Or GCAP as it’s less mouthfully known, took place at Crown from December 6th – 8th.  I gave two presentations – one on games and games literacy (which was attended by only 5 people due to a last minute room change) and one on the creative process of writing and how that applies to games.  Due to meetings and general schmoozing (and also pulling together my writing presentation), I saw almost none of the conference itself (other than Tim Stellmach’s keynote & the indie games that I was judging), but came away with the overall impression that from an art & design perspective, the content was unfocused and weak – which is reflected in a single stream that contained all of the art, design, and audio talks.  As design is one of our local industry’s challenges, it would be nice to see an increased focus on it next year.

Details on the presentations after the fold.

Read moreThe season of acronyms…

Game Connect: Asia Pacific 2009

Details of the 2009 GCAP program are now up on the website.

My session, What Does a Writer Do Anyway?, is on Tuesday December 8th at 3:35 as part of the Art / Design / Audio stream.

What does a writer do anyway?

Telling stories is an essential part of our cultural fabric, but in the face of a new medium, one in which mechanics, rules, and play are at the heart of the audience experience, we’re still learning how to work the thousands of years of accumulated knowledge in writing and storytelling to our best advantage.

An often-neglected discipline in video games, this session will look at the skills and craft that writers use when approaching storytelling, dialogue, structure, and characterisation, and how to apply those to video games without losing the particular strengths of the medium.  By dissecting the craft of writing, it will demonstrate the thought processes behind story creation, what does and doesn’t work within the medium of games, and why some of those boundaries exist.  It will also show how some of those core concepts are applicable to games without stories, informing mechanic, level, and systems design.

Looking to the future, the session will lastly speculate on the marriage of traditional narrative and mechanics, and the sorts of stories that can only be told in the medium of games by exploiting the fundamental gameplay forces of agency, choice, rules, and goals.

Site update & a short review…

I’ve added a school visit section to the site.  You can wander around it here.

I also found this brief review and collection of blurry photos from my talk at GC:AP.

“The next session I popped into Paul Callaghan’s talk on a theory of everything. He is the head of games design at AIE Melbourne and thought it would be interesting to find out a theory on everything. He was quite entertaining and talked about how a theory can be applied to all things of ‘play’ while he said play isn’t the correct word for it; it was the only thing he could think of that could be used to best describe it. He talked about that in almost everything we do we test the world, build a hypothesis, test this within the world and the re-evaluate and redefine the hypothesis. But in certain worlds there are rules we know and are aware of, or quickly learn, so we are always testing identities and ‘playing’. He mentions that we are still exploring the grammar behind the games design world and that his theory is evolving with that.”