Here are the slides for the talk that I gave today at GDC Online. I have to warn you that more than usual, you needed the performance, I think. So keep an eye out for when the video shows up on the GDCVault — I’ll be sure to let you know. 🙂
It seems to have gone very very well. Lots of positive feedback on Twitter and in the hallways afterwards.
If I had to summarize my message, I suppose I would rattle off this set of bullet points:
We are losing (or changing) some qualities of games because of the contexts in which they exist now, particularly social media. We let the real world invade more — such as microtransactions and RMT — and we also let the real world shape design decisions — for example, giving up on the notion of not having global chat in you virtual world.
We’re understanding games better than ever thanks to both design theory and real-world science. And also understanding ourselves as people better.
That understanding is going into applying gamelike features to real life. Not just stuff like gamification, but also common features of social media that clearly draw heavily from game inspirations, such as quantified reputation systems, achievement systems, and even how our profiles look on social networking sites.
This is made easier because we’re in a “cloud phase” in the evolution of computing. The pendulum always swings from cloud to local.
But our local machines have gotten more accessible, but a lot less open over time, and the net result is that we don’t really control the cloud or our local devices now.
The rub there for the game industry is that we have essentially ended up recreating the console ecosystem, only with iOS and Facebook instead of Sony and Nintendo, which doesn’t bode well for several segments of the industry.
Instead, it just increases the odds that the process will accelerate, as we will be the product. Indeed, already our perception of reality has been greatly filtered by social media, and is less objective and inclusive.
But we shouldn’t forget that we are the ones who define the rules here; we’re the wizards of the game world. Games are fundamentally social media and always have been.
We will be OK, as long as we don’t forget that the point of games is not the points structures, but the people we played with, and the lessons we learned.
But summarizing it that way skips the fairytale I told, and the rapid-fire science-fiction story I told, and my brief Jonathan Coulton musical quote, and much more. 🙂
I hope, that in our archives and historical filings of the future, we do not allow the techie traditions of hierarchy and false regularity to be superimposed to the teeming, fantastic disorderlyness of human life.
This talk starts out with some game grammar stuff that may be familiar, then moves into looking at a definition of NP-complete problems, then provides ten examples of how they can be used to look at games, then finishes by examining cognitive bugs in the brain that many games exploit. Please note, I am not a mathematician nor even claim to be very good at math. 🙂
As usual, this along with all my other talks can be found on the Gaming Presentations page, reached by clicking “Games” on the top bar of the site, then choosing Presentations from the sidebar. For those of you who never click the top bar and think all that is here is the blog — there’s a wealth of stuff available there. 🙂 I’ve recently updated it to include a few presentations that were buried and hard to find, such as the audio for my Games For Change closing address, the videos for Living Game Worlds IV and Siggraph Sandbox, and more.