Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ten Commandments at Games:EDU 2008

Brighton, UK

I wangled myself a speaking invitation to Games:EDU this year, which takes place the day before the Develop Conference begins. I wasn't speaking at Develop and I had a bunch of other stuff to do, so I only went to the educators' day. I saw a bunch of old friends and gave my opening keynote from the 2008 GDC Academic Summit, Ten Commandments for Game Development Education. I had to cut it down to 30 minutes to fit into my time slot, and then for logistical reasons I actually ended up with only 14 minutes to give it in; but that was OK. I just talked really, really fast.

In addition to all the schmoozing and reunions, I got to hear a couple of excellent lectures. One was by Jolyon Webb of Blitz Games and Heather Williams of De Montfort University, talking very honestly about how industry/academy collaboration works and how it doesn't. One of industry's bigger problems is convincing those who don't have what it takes not to apply... we need the most talented people we can get. Jolyon and Heather's slides included some funny pictures of very low-quality artwork submitted by job candidates. Jolyon promises to make his text available (minus the offending art) Real Soon Now.

Heather and Jolyon. All pictures courtesy of PixelLab.

The other highlight of the day, for me at least, was Jonathan Blow's brilliant lecture on the conflict between what he calls "dynamic meaning," i.e. meaning that arises from the core mechanics of a game, and traditional storytelling. To those who follow indie game development and experimental gameplay stuff, Jonathan needs no introduction. He's the author of Braid, which is winning rave reviews in spite of its total weirdness, and the longtime organizer of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop at GDC, where all the most avante-garde ideas in (and out of) the biz are displayed.

Jonathan Blow, blowing minds.

What excited me so much about his talk was that it was exactly on the subjects that interest me most--successfully interweaving gameplay and storytelling. I disagreed with certain parts of it, but that just made it all the more enjoyable.

You can download Jonathan's slides and an MP3 of his lecture itself
here, but beware, as it's 35 MB.

Finally, here's a picture of me doing the very thing I said in my lecture that instructors should not tolerate: waving my hands!