My last day of GDC consisted of both game design and production sessions. I started with a 9am talk by Clinton Keith, a leading proponent of agile game development and also instrumental in answering my questions when I first introduced Scrum to our company two years before. Clint mostly covered the basics, but it was nice to get his personal experiences on what worked and what didn’t. Afterwards, Paul and I approached him and I felt like a (jetlagged) fangirl 😛
I attended a discussion on improving the game writing process by Mac Walters (Bioware), Steve Jaros (Volition), Tom Abernathy (Pandemic Studios), and Dalan Musson (freelance); and also attended (in standing room, I might add) the Portal post-mortem by Kim Swift and Erik Wolpaw (Valve).
But the highlight of my day, and actually the highlight of my entire conference, was the Game Designers Rant.
Entitled “Pouring Gas on the Flames”, the rant was an annual event which I had failed to attend the year before, but this year they asked game designers to take the stage and officially whine. I’m not a fan of whining or ranting, and had no idea it was such a big or popular event. It was hosted by Eric Zimmerman (Gamelab) and Jason Della Rocca (IGDA, whom I got to meet at their party and I felt like asking for his autograph).
This time, the rants weren’t about complaining for the sake of; the rants were actually very positive, in my opinion, and very inspiring. Clint Hocking (Ubisoft) had the most profanity, but he was angry that our games aren’t meaningful to people the way literature and film can be, because our games aren’t really about “honor” and “duty” and the other buzzwords in game titles. Jane McGonigal implored that game designers apply what we know about making gamers happy in virtual life to actually make people happy in real life. Jenova Chen (flow) wanted more games for adult, thinking gamers, not the same stuff we’ve been playing since we were kids. Daniel James (Puzzle Pirates) gave a decidely British “rave”. And indie Jonathan Mak made us all stand up and toss balloons around while happy music played. My balloon said: “With this, you enter the yellow brick road.”
And with that, I really did. I’ve always wanted to make story-driven games that were emotional, something that would matter to *me*, and I got an idea for a project that I’ll submit with my MFA applications. I’ll work on it over the next few months.
“So, how was your GDC?” Gabby asked me.
“I did a lot of soul searching,” I said.
(GDC photos here.)