Feb 022018
 

Today, at the kind invitation of Joe Osborn, I gave a talk for one of the workshops at AAAI-18, one on Knowledge Extraction from Games. I was pretty intimidated about talking at all; any time I stand up in front of people who really know algorithms, systems, or math, I feel like an utter dilettante who is bound to say foolish things. I had been noodling around with some notes around the broad topics of depth and indeterminacy, centered around the idea of games as ternary output machines, so I sent them to him, and he talked me into getting in front of an audience with them.

Along the way, I stumbled into formalizing many of the “game grammar” ideas into an actual Backus-Naur Form grammar. This is something that was mentioned to me casually on Facebook, and which I was aware of from long ago classes on programming, in the context of parsers… but which I hadn’t ever seriously considered as an approach to the more humanities-driven process i was going through with game grammar work. Grammar was just a metaphor! Continue reading »

The cost of games

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Jan 172018
 

Yesterday I was in Anaheim giving a talk called “Industry Lifecycles.” It was intended to be a brief summary of the blog post of the same title, with a dash of material from my recent post on game economics.

Now, that latter post resonated quite a lot. There was lengthy discussion on more Internet forums than I can count, but it came accompanied by skepticism regarding the data and conclusions. If you recall, the post was originally replies to various comment threads on different sites, glued together into a sort of Q&A format. It wasn’t based on solid research.

As many pointed out, getting hard data on game costs is difficult. When I did my talk “Moore’s Wall” in 2005, I did some basic research using mostly publicly available data on costs, and extrapolated out an exponential curve for game costs, and warned that the trendlines looked somewhat inescapable to me. But much has changed, not least of which is the advent of at least two whole new business models in the intervening time.

So the Casual Connect talk ended up being an updated Moore’s Wall. Using industry contacts and a bunch of web research, I assembled a data set of over 250 games covering the last several decades. This post is going to show you what I found, and in rather more detail than the talk since the talk was only 25 minutes. (You can follow this link to see the full slides, but this post is really a deeper dive on the same data.)

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Nov 012017
 

A while back I gave a keynote at the Game UX Summit in Toronto. Video of the talk is now up, so I’ve gone ahead and posted up a whole page for the talk that has the slideshow as well as the video.

The talk was similar to some of my other talks on game grammar, but with a focus on user experience: the way in which we can see each UI button as a “game,” each high-level experience as a “game,” and that therefore there are huge commonalities between UX design and game design and narrative design… but there are also big differences when we dig into looking at them granularly. In some ways it therefore draws on the same stuff (and many of the same slides!) as my talk on Game Grammar from PaxDEV, and also from my blog post about UX vs game design.

If all you want is the video, though, the organizers have you covered. And if you watch to the end, you’ll get to see some stuff about some of the tabletop games that I have been working on for the last few years:

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Aug 192017
 

I have posted up slides for the keynote talk I gave at the Foundations of Digital Games conference. It was called “Reconciling Games” and it was about fish tanks. Well, fish tanks as an example of a naturally occurring ludic system that offers up surprising lessons for game design, across many disciplines: internal game economics and systems balancing, but also narrative, community design, and more.

Among the key quotes from the talk (based on tweeted comments from attendees) are

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