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Thinking In Play Symposium: Visual Design & Modding Passage

As you may have seen through various press reporting, the inimitable Jason Rohrer’s work has been the focus of a solo exhibition at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College for the past couple of months, culminating in a reception and a symposium around his work, entitled “Thinking in Play”. I was invited, along with the wonderful Leigh Alexander (who joined remotely) to be on a panel specifically about the visual design of Jason Rohrer’s work. The day then followed with subsequent panels featuring the also-wonderful Robin Hunicke and others reflecting on the game mechanics of his work.

It was an unusual format, certainly, but if you’re interested, here is the presentation I gave.
The Visual Design of Jason Rohrer's Games

PPTX (with notes) | PDF

The key part is that in the context of 9-years-ago games history, Passage and Gravitation were, along with things like Rod Humble’s Marriage, heralded as games whose minimalist visual aesthetics were discussed in certain circles as being a marker of the idea that they contained some ‘universality’ and ‘truth’. Certainly, they reflected parts of real, human experiences for real people, but at the same time, the games heralded as being part of this movement told the ‘truths’ of a narrow demographic; namely the interpersonal struggles of cisgender white men and their heteronormative relationships.

And yet, at the time, Passage did mean something to a younger version of myself; the idea of conflict and mortality is certainly a universal one, though perhaps not with the particular ‘skin’ that the game comes with by default. Not everyone has the privilege of having one of their central struggles as being around balancing relationships with creative goals, for instance (though this was, at one point my own experience, to an extent).

So, as a tiny experiment for the above talk, I did a quick (and I mean very quick) mod of Passage. It took me less than 10 minutes.

 

passage_mod

You can download it here:

Passage_ThinkingInPlay_Win || Passage_ThinkingInPlay_Mac

I did this for (at least**) three reasons:

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Submission

I realise I haven’t updated once again, but that is because, at the beginning of last week, this happened:

PhD thesis

After a long and eventful journey of far too many years, yet containing far more adventures than I’d anticipated, I’ve finally submitted my PhD thesis! A huge relief.

Now, to just await the snake fight.

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My GDC 2015 Talk – Thinking About People: Designing Games for Social Simulation

This is a quick write-up of the notes from my GDC 2015 design-track talk, Thinking About People: Designing Games for Social Simulation. Essentially, the talk is a call to arms for thinking about the importance of social simulation in games, as well as some reflection on the value of social simulation, through a survey of existing games which have adopted various elements of such mechanics.

Here it is:

Slide01

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Global Game Jam 2015 Keynote

I was incredibly honoured to be asked to give one of the keynote talks for the 2015 Global Game Jam this year. Here’s my contribution, and you can see the other keynotes here too. Miniboss’ talk is incredibly important, and a message that should be heeded – and Reiner Knizia’s, meanwhile, is a thing of absolute joy and wonder.

Here is mine, which was a very personal talk for me, so I hope some of you enjoy.

The transcript/write-up is after the jump.

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Thinking About People at GDC 2015

Sneak preview of work-in-progress title slide. Yes, I know the title is wrong!

 

I’ve been meaning to announce that I’ll be speaking at Game Developers Conference 2015 this year, with an hour-long Design Track talk entitled “Thinking About People: Designing Games for Social Simulation”.

I’m mega-honoured, and also a bit nervous; while I’ve previously been fortunate enough to speak at GDC in previous years, they’ve been microtalks and rants (two of each, to be precise), so I haven’t given a talk there for longer than five minutes at a time. I hope you can make it, though!

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