Game talk2048: Game Design Theory Edition

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May 022014
 

gametheory2048I have to post this here for posterity even though I already tweeted it yesterday. Anyone better at 2048 than I who can post the full list of everyone in it? I’ll update the post with the details. :) See below!

2048: Game Design Theory Edition. Made by Brian Upton.

I can’t get higher than Eric Zimmerman… my daughter saw Frank Lantz though.

Edit: the full list, as provided by commenters:

  1. Chris Crawford
  2. Greg Costikyan
  3. Jesse Schell
  4. Raph Koster
  5. Ernest Adams
  6. Marie-Laure Ryan
  7. Jesper Juul
  8. Eric Zimmerman
  9. Frank Lantz
  10. Ian Bogost
  11. Brenda Romero
Mar 242014
 

The debates about “what is a game” happened between multiple overlapping circles that have very little to do with one another… “Games” is never going to fall into one bucket or critical lens… We enrich ourselves and our mutual understanding not by claiming pre-eminence of one circle, but by learning to move between them.

On the Sunday before GDC, I attended and spoke at Critical Proximity, a games criticism conference. It was quite excellent. I am left with many thoughts, which will have to go into a separate post on the subject. In the meantime, there are write-ups available in several places:

As regular readers know, I have been involved in a lot of discussions about “formalism” in games over the last few years. This talk was an attempt to reset the conversation with insights into “formalism in the real world” as Brendan Keogh put it on Twitter, a look into the ways in which looking at the formal structure of games is able to help out and illuminate all sorts of games criticism. Including “softer” or more humanistic approaches, such as historiography, study of play, and cultural studies approaches.To that end, I deployed a set of analogies from other media: fine art, and poetry, and music, to help draw connections between the ways formal approaches and even notation are used in these other fields, and how we might use them in ours.

My talk is below the fold (hover over the slides for the notes text), and for the full transcript plus a link to the video, go here.

There were many other talks I highly recommend… the entire Twitch stream is available (see that same link) and lasts 8 hours!

Continue reading »

Oct 102012
 

Here are the slides for the design track keynote I gave yesterday, as a PDF. Edit: thanks to Alexandre Houdent for providing a version of the PDF that works on all OSes…

Among the topics: a recap of Theory of Fun, discussion of what I would change about it today, and all the thoughts it led me to: game grammar, games as art, games as math, the ethics of games, gamification, etc. With a dash of Classical philosophy.

I had the shakes bad before I started… but it felt like it came together in the end.

Apologies to anyone whose face I rendered unrecognizable. And the unlabelled woman is Jane McGonigal.

The press coverage so far:

A challenge for you all: can you name all these people without peeking at the slides? Continue reading »

Jan 262012
 

When I said that narrative was not a game mechanic, but rather a form of feedback, I was getting at the core point that chunks of story are generally doled out as a reward for accomplishing a particular task. And games fundamentally, are about completing tasks — reaching for goals, be they self-imposed (as in all the forms of free-form play or paideia, as Caillois put it in Man, Play and Games) or authorially imposed (or ludus). They are about problem-solving in the sense that hey are about cognitively mastering models of varying complexity.

Some replies used the word “content” to describe the role that narrative plays. But I wouldn’t use the word content to describe varying feedback.

In other words, perverse as it may sound, I wouldn’t generally call chunks of story “game content.” But I would sometimes, and I’ll even offer up a game design here that does so.

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Game talkGangs and Guilds in MMOs, again

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Sep 142011
 

A long while ago I posted about some research that showed that gangs and guilds seemed to have mathematical characteristics in common.  A few days ago, I got this sent to me by someone at the department of CS and Engineering at the University of Minnesota:

Hi,

I saw a previous post on your blog about similarities between MMOs and street gangs. Me and my research group (VWO) recently published a paper which contradicts the previous results. We thought you may find it of interest.

Thanks, Muhammad

The blog post about the paper can be found here, with some conclusions, and you can also read the pre-print PDF of the paper. It looks like this is based on the the same set of Everquest II data that many researchers have been using for a while now — I am unsurprised to see Dmitri Williams credited.

Game talkMailbagA few interesting links

 Posted by (Visited 5970 times)  Game talk, Mailbag  Tagged with: ,
Aug 162010
 

Just got back from vacation! I had a lovely time. I also had some interesting stuff sent to me, which has piled up in the mailbox. So here’s a couple of interesting links.

The editors hope to attract a wide range of writing to Metaverse Creativity, including ideas about artificial-intelligence systems, landscaping, zoological and biological creations, and even virtual-world fashion design. Second Life’s relations to psychology, law, and technology are another focus. Plans for MC‘s first issue include a piece on how technological prostheses—beginning with the telescope—have altered human perceptions. Another article explains what neuroscience reveals about the benefits of the kinds of brain plasticity that simulation in virtual worlds can enhance, while a third edges up demurely on love in Second Life with a take on virtual-world adaptations of Korean romantic puppetry.

Avatars as Editors – PageView – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

If I can meet my kickstarter goal of $5000, phase 1 of my trip will commence. Starting in Korea, where I currently reside, I will fly to Vietnam, and explore Southeast Asia via land travel (bus, train, walking) over a period of 4-5 months: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar.

I will then venture into China, and make my way towards the coast, where I will depart for Japan sometime in the Spring, in time for the planting season, where I will most likely spend some time volunteering on organic farms. I’m scheduling about 6 months for the whole trip…

If I can meet my $5000 kickstarter goal, that should cover most of my expenses through Southeast Asia, Japan and China. I would like to make at least two games for each country I visit, so we’re looking at probably 10-15 games. There’s no cookie-cutter mold for the games, though, so it will also depend on the size and scope of each individual game.

Jan 282010
 

Got an email today from Jason Rohrer, asking if I was going. Alas no — not only did my son have surgery yesterday, but I have jury duty on Monday. :( But the event looks very cool:

The Art History of Games is a three-day public symposium in which members of the fields of game studies, art history and related areas of cultural studies gather to investigate games as an art form.

Also featured in the conference is the premiere of commissioned art games by Jason Rohrer, Tale of Tales and Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman. The three commissioned games will be on display at Kai Lin Art (800 Peachtree St. N.E.) from Thursday, February 4 through Tuesday, March 2. The opening reception will take place Friday, February 5 from 8:00 pm until 10:00 pm.

Read on for more details:

The symposium will be held Feb. 4-6 in the High Museum of Art’s Rich Auditorium on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., in midtown Atlanta.

For more information, please contact arthistoryofgames@scad.edu.

– ARTHISTORYOFGAMES.COM.

Brenda Brathwaite’s game Train will be on display as well, and Eric & Nathalie’s game is non-digital, so this looks to cover both the videogame and boardgame side of things.

There’s an afterparty too:

just finalized the details of the Art History of Games After Party; Sat Feb 6th. 7-10pm @ W Atlanta Midtown sponsored by Indiecade and IGDA Atlanta.

It’s an Indie Game Slam Open Mic where you can sign-up to give a 3 minute overview of your game.

Here is the Facebook invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=261265599581&ref=mf

Dec 172009
 

The latest results from the giant EQ2 data research project came out a few days ago, and this time they center on gender. I’ll just point straight to the summary from Terra Nova:

  • Men are more driven to achieve within the game space, and women are more driven to socialize, although these differences are not as large as one might expect.
  • Female players fall into two distinct categories: stereotypically feminine players, typically brought into the game by a partner, and very hard-core players.
  • The hard-core women are more intense than their male counterparts: “The top 10% of male players played an average of 48.86 hours per week, while the top 10% of female players played an average of 56.64 hours per week.”
  • Female players are healthier offline than the males. This is especially true among older players.
  • When males and females play together within a romantic relationship, the males are less happy and the females more happy. When not playing in a romantic relationship, these outcomes are reversed: the females are less happy and the males more happy.
  • There are a surprisingly large number of bisexual females playing, but not males. While male bisexual players stuck to the national average, females were about five times higher than the national baseline rate.
  • Females under-report their playing time more than males.

via Terra Nova: Gender differences in MMOs.

The full paper can be gotten here (scroll down a bit) but you have to register or purchase it.

Nov 302009
 

I am unsurprised to see that there is a fresh paper out that states that there are strong mathematical commonalities between gang formation and guild formation. (I am also unsurprised to see Nic Ducheneaut and Nick Yee among the authors of the paper).

In particular, we find that the evolution of gang-like groups in the real and virtual world can be explained using the same team-based group-formation mechanism. In contrast to the quantitative success of our team-based model, we find that a homophilic version of the model fails. Our findings thus provide evidence that online guilds and offline gangs are both driven by team-formation considerations rather than like-seeking-like. Interestingly, each server’s Internet protocol (IP) address seems to play an equivalent role to a gang ethnicity.

“Human group formation in online guilds and offline gangs driven by a common team dynamic”

The source data comes from WoW guilds and from Long Beach CA street gangs — and with lots and lots of data points to boot.

What’s the mathematical model underlying the two? Well, it’s a basically pragmatic approach to team-building:

Continue reading »