I am planned to give a lunch talk for students and partners in EIT ICT Labs in Kista, talking about the game Codename Heroes that we are developing. The plan need to change a bit though, as I suddenly got a meeting in Göteborg. But my dear college Syed Naseh, who also been involved in the process will tell you about it all!
It will be a bit of everything in game design as science. About design issues, maybe some dos and don’ts, definitely about the game in itself, probably about game design as science, for sure about the core audience of young women and how to design for empowerment. I also promised it will be a bit about how we in the play spaces project and in Mobile Life design for ‘the good life’, beyond efficiency and work. And, it will be a discussion, so make sure you get involved and bring the focus to the areas you find most interesting!
So, even though I wont be there,if you are part of EIT ICT Labs I think you should take the opportunity to come and listen to a(nother?) great young mind in game design research!
(Interested and outside of EIT ICT Labs? Contact me and I’ll send you forward to the people to speak to)
I just realized I never wrote anything on my game design during the summer. I went to the TOTEM Summer School together with 16 game designers and programmers. For one week we designed and programmed mixed reality and pervasive games for the android. And when I say program, yes it does mean I programmed Android as well1 When it ocomes to mobile phone I’m used to being only the designer, but this gave me the opportunity to be part of the programming team as well.
Our team cosisted of four people: Marta Clavero Jiménez, Jacob Garbe, Sahar Vahdati, and myself. The game we developed worked with teams of two players with different roles and a limited capability to communicate. One player played an investigator solving a riddle in the castle that was our home for a week. The other player played a ghost that communicated with the investigator. The ghost was sitting in one place and could follow the investigator an a map. The ghost also knew where the investigator needed to go to find the next clue. Meanwhile the investigator did not have this information but could instead talk to the ghost. While the investigator could talk, the ghost could only answer by knocking on his device, and this signal was transformed into buzzing on the investigators device.
Jacob wrote more on the game on his webpage: http://jacobgarbe.com/passingon and you will be able to find more information on both our game and the other teams on the TOTEM web page in the future.
I’ve just returned home from this years Prolog. A Swedish larp-convention with both games and development forums. A nice place to meet others with similar interest in a quite relaxed environment.
During the convention among other things I presented my view on larp as a designed activity, and that’s one of the reasons for writing this now, even though I’m really tired. I promised my audience to put something up, and I will… tomorrow. But for now it will have to do with this short comment. And you are most welcome to comment back to me if you want to get in touch or discuss something around what we talked about!
Other interesting things during the conventions: I visited several gender discussions, some body language and power technique workshops, and I got to run a test on our new game Codename:Heroes. The link to the game work, but the page is mainly for mobile phone, and you won’t be able to run the game unless we are there running it with you… But if you sign up you will get an email telling you when we have something more compleated!
I came back from the Staging Illusions Conference yesterday. The conference was Thursday – Friday but I stayed in London looking at busking spots for the project in the spring. Not that many buskers out of course (wrong time of the year), but I got to see the three main spots at Covent Garden and the one at London Eye and found some action at Picadilly Circus. Also I found the time for a lunch with Andrew Sheerin (one of the designers of War on Terror: the Boardgame) and some discussions on his network for critical game designers. The plans are still quite young, but could turn into something fruitful. Keep me up to date Andrew!
A two day, yearly, conference on staging illusions. Mostly people from culture, media and gender studies, also some historians and some with a bit of a technical background. And quite many practicing magicians, nice! This is not really my field, but it was a great way to broaden my mind and find new angles on what I’m doing. If I should really distil the main content from the conference I would say Vanessa Toulmin’s keynote gave a good overview, from pantasmagoria and Peppers ghost to George Méliès movies and Dark Rides.
Other talks I found interesting was:
Jacquelin Hylkema’s speech on history and how the public focus changed from the deciever to the victim around the change of the century 1800 – 1900.
Max Schneider‘s overview of directing miracles and magic effects. Mainly the three roles of a magician:
- Playing the magician, a superior being, an alpha male.
- Magician playing a role, in a story.
- Magic in a play, without one clear magician
Also the split into three types of magicians is interesting:
Kate Genevieve presented “Give me your hand” where the participant is blinded, but with a video showing the surroundings. This builds upon the idea of relating to a rubber hand if you treat it the same way as your real hand (Google it).
Jon Armstrong presented his idea of magic in theatre performance. He’s got a different vocabulary but a lot of thought connect well to what I’m thinking, and especially to the project I call ‘Spooks’ (yes, I’m talking to you Arkadia).
Astrid Enslin had a lot of good ideas around metalepsis as a transmedia phenomenon. How levels of story collide and different ways of looking at it. There was a lot of good references and I need to look more closely at her work in the future. Among other things she compared:
- Mimesis, the illusion of experience reality (Plato, Aristotel, Averbach, Ricouéur, Genette, Wolf)
- Fourth wall (Diderot, Auter & Davis)
- Willing suspension of disbelief (Coleridge, Ferri)
- Immersion (Murray, Marinelli, Salen & Zimmermann, Boellstorff)
Also there were some talk around Bergson’s intuitive method that was quite interesting
On Game Education, and Getting a Job as a Game Developer – thoughts from the Swedish Game Conference
Just returned from Swedish Game Conference in Skövde, a two day event connected to the Game Incubator Network. It’s a incubator for new companies in the game industry (meaning the computer game industry). Mostly aimed at industry, but with some really interesting discussions on connection between industry and academia. The questions revolved around the role of academia and what the industry want. Are you in an education? Are you holding an education or are you a recruiter? I would very much like to hear your side of the story! Reply here, on twitter or facebook if you have something to add! But first, lets summarize the thoughts from the conference:
This is really an old subject, the academic education system doesn’t seem to satisfy the needs of the gaming industry. Very few of the students in game design educations actually ends up working in that industry. it’s not that they are unemployed, but rather they find work in other areas. The reasons fort this are many, some of them mentioned in presentations and panels, by both academia and industry are:
- Economical – the game industry doesn’t pay that well, and when you can get a substantially larger salary in more classic IT-industry this is quite attractive. As mentioned today, people in game industry go onto it for the passion.
- Distrust in academia – A lot of game companies are started as ‘my basement’-companies by people with passion, and even if they are bigger now it may be hard to go from that to value of academic education.
- Knowledge – the Academic educations doesn’t teach the right things.This sees to be especially true when it comes to programming. The industry wants C++ programmers more than anything else, this is usually not the chosen language of programming educations.
- Unspecialized – Many game design educations try to educate game designers with a broad view of games, instead of specialists. There’s a big difference between a programmer and a graphic artist, instead of trying to teach all it’s better to focus on one thing and get really good at that.
These are all good points, but I believe some things has been missed, some thing was simplified, and some things just plain wrong! Let me add my thoughts to the list, and take into account that this is far more of a rant than an actually well researched issue:
- I believe the economical reason above is about a lot more than economy. The passion mentioned is not only about love of games, it’s also about giving up on a lot of other stuff. Looking at working conditions the game industry is actually a quite unattractive working environment. Many companies demand unpayed overtime, scheduling crunch time at periods with work more or less 24h/day for periods. I’m not saying it’s like this everywhere, and from what I’ve seen it’s better now than some years ago. But with this attitude still a part of the industry it’s hard to work if you have other interests outside of your work. A lot of people going into the business leave in a couple of years (I’ve heard an average working time of 6 years for a programmer, but don’t have any sources on that) simply because they value other things: friends, family, a nice vacation.
- The distrust in academia may be deserved. Academia teach people that they know better, and even if that’s true, better is not always the best way. Following the form of the company may be better. From some of the talks I feel there’s also a misunderstanding in what research is. The talked about that they use academic papers, but usually about ten year old papers building upon them and going in other directions. This I see a lot, and i believe there’s nothing wrong with it! This is not about research going in the wrong direction, it’s about research being ahead. The things done in research environment’s isn’t directly applicable on today’s technology, if it was it would be engineering, not research. Research is looking ahead, creating the new, and in ten years from now the same people will find the greatest papers and implement them, probably in a bit different direction.
- And, finally, the knowledge and unspecialization (yes, it’s a word!): There’s a connection. It may be true the industry wants specialists, but academic education is not only for industry, it’s also for the students. A lot of people don’t end up in the game design field, but they do end up in jobs, and often in jobs they like. In these jobs they need more than a specialist education. Also, a large part of gaming industry is small companies, of course the big ones want specialists, but there’s a much bigger chance of becoming a web page or mobile app developer in a company with five employees, and then you really need your broad education! After a four year university education you should not end up a code-monkey, or at least you should not be educated to become one. You should have a bigger understanding, you are by then well educated in researching and solving problems, even if they’re outside of your main field. Even if that’s your way into the industry you should have an understanding that will help you in the bigger picture . And, by that, we’re back on distrust in academia. But maybe it’s not really about distrust, maybe it’s more of a misunderstanding of it’s purpose.
And, as I said before: Add your comments and show your view! I’ll especially like to hear about the passion – work time conflict. Does it still exist? Have you felt it? How do you deal with it? Also I’d like to hear a bit of your views on the importance of extra, out of school, projets during your education!Read more »