GDC round-up

 Posted by (Visited 9238 times)  Game talk
Mar 312002

I’ve posted the slides for the two lectures I gave with Rich Vogel at GDC 2002. They’re under Gaming/Essays, or just click here:

I’m waiting to hear back from Gordon Walton for posting the slides from the tutorial we did. If you want to read coverage of the panel or other online world stuff, here’s some links:

What was the panel like? Well, the audio snippet Joystick101 has is almost incomprehensible, so here’s a transcript of that bit:

Question: How do you make it so that if other people want to start playing in that, either it works out, or it’s a good story, or… what do you do?

Gordon Walton, panel moderator, exec producer The Sims Online, former Tyrant of UO: I want to paraphrase this, let me paraphrase this. What are we going to do when these unwashed people actually start, you know, putting stuff in front of us and you know, spoil our beautifully crafted world to hell. But uh, so that’s the paraphrase, the one paraphrase. The other is, how are we going to get over the 99% of everything that’s crap. Right? So that’s a real problem, if 99% of everything is crap, and most people, you know, have the desire to be creative, but most of them don’t have the actual skill to be creative. It’s a real challenge, I think it is a real challenge. Why don’t we see it today? That’s probably a big part of it.

Raph is dying to say something… this is probably the last question, so start filling out your little forms, you know, and mark ’em “1” for Jessica. [rest lost in laughter–Jessica Mulligan was one of the panelists, and I kept contradicting her, and it had turned into a running joke. Basically, Jess said a dirty word, and I said, “Shame on you, now that’s on tape!” and she said “Yeah, like they never heard that word here…”].

Me: Let me say, sir, that I really sympathize. I’m an artsy type, as Jessica is fond of reminding me, and you know, I have an MFA. I spent much of my life training to write crafted experiences. There’s an intense amount of learning and craft and skill that goes there, and I hate to say this to say this to all the film directors, writers, poets, um, painters, and everything else out there in the world: get over yourselves, the rest of the world is coming. Okay? People value self-expression. Is story going to go away? No. Is careful crafting going to go away? No. Are the professionals engaged in that going to go away? No–well, except that IP, the concept of intellectual property, may; but that’s a whole other side discussion.

The thing is that people want to express themselves, and they don’t really care that 99% of everything is crap, because they are positive that the 1% they made isn’t. Okay? And fundamentally, they get ecstatic as soon as five people see it, right?

So we can move to a meta-level of crafting experience. We can try to take a step up and say… you know, we can do what Lego did, which is give them the building blocks, so that they fundamentally can’t make something so screwed up that everyone ends up leaving. Okay? And that’s a different level of authorship than what we are used to, but it’s a really exciting area of authorship.

It’s all them, guys, and fundamentally, authorship is about us. And it’s the wrong medium for it–it’s not what the medium is for.

Another moment I liked was when we were asked what the fundamental appeal of online worlds was. I said, “Do things you can’t do as someone you aren’t, somewhere you can’t be, with other people.”

All in all, GDC was a lot of fun. Avatars Offline was quite good, I got to chat a lot with people I never get to see (like Will Wright & Gordon), and the dinners out were great.