I have put up a page containing both a slideshow and a PDF download of the talk I delivered on Friday at GDC 2017.
I think it came out a bit more somber than I had anticipated, certainly more somber than the sample slides I submitted. We shall see what the long-term reaction is, as I pulled no punches in describing the awesome responsibility people have in building online communities.
I was also losing my voice, so it was very much a deliberate and slow presentation compared to my usual “high speed brain blast” as one attendee once described my usual speaking style.
Not only was this in the afternoon of the last day, but I was opposite the Experimental Gameplay Workshop, which is one of the best-attended sessions at GDC usually. So the room was definitely sparser than usual. That said, there were several old virtual worlds hands present to confirm what I said, backing me up during the Q&A period, and there were also a number of current developers of both social VR worlds and even social AR games like PokemonGO. (In fact, I heard a few members of that team were in the audience, and I hope I didn’t offend by picking on their game so much).
The session was filmed, so hopefully video will be forthcoming; once it is, I will post a link to that as well.
The GDC Vault has posted up one hundred and forty free videos from GDC 2015. Holy Cow, almost as good as being there. 🙂
Among them is the talk that Rich Vogel, Gordon Walton and I presented on “Community Management in the Culture Wars.” I’ve embedded it below, and I’ve also added it to the already existing page for the presentation, which also has the slides.
This morning, Gordon Walton, Rich Vogel and I presented our talk on “Community Management in the Culture Wars.” I realized as we started that the last time the three of us were on stage together at GDC to talk about community was 14 years ago (!). A lot has changed… and a lot hasn’t.
The slides are pretty self-explanatory, and can be found here.
There has been a surprising amount of coverage on it.
Thinking on Wil Wheaton’s well-intentioned essay, here are some things that we know.
Anonymity is usually problematic. But the real issue isn’t anonymity. It’s actually “lack of persistent identity.” Anonymity can serve as a cover for bad behavior, because humans are deeply situational when it comes to ethical choices. We fall prey to disinhibition readily, and the biggest reason is “we don’t think we will interact with these people again.” It’s repeated interactions that drive trust, you see, and we behave well because we expect to be treated well in the future.
The tl;dr version is “go here for the talk.”
This past week I was in London, attending Wikimania 2014. Many thanks to Ed Saperia and the organizers for inviting me to speak, it was a highly illuminating experience.
I gave a talk about seeing the Wikipedia experience itself as a series of games: the game of being a reader, the game of editing (or attempting to edit) the content within, and the game of active participation in the community, in terms of working with its policies, its infrastructure, and so on.
Along the way, my intent was to basically toss a few hand grenades in the general vicinity of the foundations of Wikipedia, and in fact of the larger Wikimedia project. This is one of the most idealistic projects in all of human history, and a group of highly intelligent and altruistic people who are fortunately very open to self-examination. So I felt that maybe questioning some of the fundamental assumptions about how they saw themselves and their project was something healthy, and maybe something that would be extra-helpful if done by an outsider.
To make it extra fun, I tried to make the slides look like they were from an old print book.
You can find the slides as a slideshow or as a PDF, and even video of the talk, all here on this new page I have created. I also participated in a panel with a bunch of wonderful folks, on the broader topic of virtual communities. That video is also posted there.
I left the conference thinking a lot about complex systems thanks to lengthy chats with Yaneer Bar-Yam, and toying with the idea of reframing my various definitions of play and games as just “dealing with complexity.” About which more later, I am sure, as it continues to percolate.
This is post #2,342 on this blog (not counting the dozens of articles, snippets, and presentations not in the blog database)… yet more of the over a quarter-million words written here since the site started in 1997 and the blog in 1998. And I have to admit, I tend to take for granted the idea that people have read all the stuff that matters, so they understand me when I throw around terms or assume that they know what my past writing on the topic is. Which is ludicrous, of course.
So I got asked on Twitter for a list of my juiciest game design posts, to serve as a central jumping-off point.
This was hard. But here’s a list of ones that I think are my best. Many of these are actually talks, rather than posts. These are usually in sort of rough reverse chronological order, but there’s plenty of places where they are just in the order I found them in, or random cut & paste order.
Feel free to list your own favorites in the comments. And if you haven’t seen some of these before, well, this is the best way to catch up on my overall beliefs and philosophies on games.
Theory of fun (cognition and games) and game grammar overview. This covers the very highest level structure of the thinking on these two interrelated subjects.
Warning: giant (4700 word) post on basic marketing principles, prompted by some recent discussion on a forum about what makes for a well-retaining game.
A lot of folks, especially in social, seem to use the word “retention” when they should think “conversion.” I tend to think of this as an emotional journey.
You can think of this sequence as going something like this:
Yeah, yeah, I’m writing about this again. 🙂
We can’t get to a really better community, where all the goodwill is felt from the bottom of the heart, without the players themselves contributing to that. I still remember my first day in Everquest, where a complete stranger helped me and even gave me a magic necklace, for no gain to himself. It is hard to blame developers for the fact that such behavior has become so rare.
Designers design the social environment by commission or omission. If they ignore it altogether, then there will be an accidental mishmash of features and the result is fairly unpredictable. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that paying close attention to it is going to work well either. Players respond to the environment they are given.