GLS Conf 2014: Day 1

My thoughts on games and making them. Mostly.

GLS Conf 2014: Day 1

I spent last week at GLS. It was an awesome conference. I took lots of notes. Here they are.

Below are my notes from Day 1. I went to the keynote (I was lured in by the free coffee!), a follow up chat to the keynote, a design workshop, lunch (surprisingly good!), a story-telling salon, and a panel on “massiveness in educational games.”

Then I left to go watch my friend play ultimate frisbee. It was a good (and long) day.

Keynote, by Drew Davidson:

  • Drew is a funny man. Good choice to kick things off with him.
  • The ETC seems like a cool place to make some games and learn some things about games. Unfortunately, I’d prefer not to be an undergraduate again.
  • That same ETC studied how team diversity affects game making.
    • Increased diversity was found to lead to more in-team conflicts.
    • And better games, too.
    • My team’s diversity could definitely be improved.
      • Even if we can’t hire another full-time employee, I hope to get more contractors to help out with the next project.
      • I personally could do a better job of seriously considering others’ opinions on the game and not dismissing them with a wave of my producer’s “THERE’S NO TIME!” wand.
  • Making games exists on a three-axis field of Cost, Time, and Quality.
    • Can only maximize two out of the three qualities- quick / cheap / good.
    • Note to self: spend less dev time implementing art & animation.
      • Implement new art in waves. Spend maybe a solid day or two putting in a bunch of changes, then wait to do another round.
      • While waiting, work on non-art things: mechanics, balancing, etc.
      • “All that glitters is not gold,” and all that jazz.
  • Working Examples seems like a pretty cool project.
    • Can use it to get feedback from devs & teachers while your game is in progress!
    • Theoretically. Are there users giving feedback?
  • Something called the Higher Education Video Game Alliance was introduced… TEASER!

Fireside Chat w/ Drew Davidson & the Higher Education Video Game Alliance crew

  • HEVGA is essentially going to be a unified voice for studying and making learning games.
  • It’s super new (not even a website yet) so the aims and goals aren’t especially clear.
  • It should “legitimize” the idea of using games in classrooms / training / etc. hopefully.

Design Jam with Jolene Zywica,Courtney Francis, and Anna Roberts from

  • A really helpful workshop for me. It was presented as a series of questions which participants answered and then discussed with their neighbors.
  • Q: What problem are you trying to solve?
    • Focus on some else’s problem. Not your pre-formed idea of a solution.
    • WHY does this need a solution?
    • A: Kids’ identities are being stolen leading to massive debt and credit issues.
  • Q: What do you know about your problem?
    • Obstacles to solving:
      • Parents may not be aware
      • may not be checking credit
      • Don’t know until it’s too late (applying for a job or credit card)
    • Effects
      • Poor credit rating
      • Debt!
    • Possible causes?
      • Kids are active online – may give out info unwittingly.
      • But may be through no fault of the child victim
        • SSN and other info provided to many organizations. Increases breach risk.
        • Family members have access to personal info.
        • Mail may be stolen.
  • Q: Are you making any assumptions around the problem?
    • That child identity theft is preventable
    • That kids have parents or invested guardians
  • Q: What DON’T you know?
    • Precise likely causes of child identity theft
    • Precise likely effects (beyond “Debt! Poor credit!” – what else?)
  • Q: Who is most affected by the problem?
    • Kids and their parents who have to clean up the theft.
  • Q: Who else is affected?
    • Thieves
    • Credit agencies
    • Data collection organizations

Massiveness in Educational Games with Scot Osterweil, Dan Norton, Eric Klopfer, and Joel Levin

  •  Talking about Radix- an MMO math game
  • 6,000 signups and 25,000 quests completed so far.
  • Different sets of possible in-game communication methods for in-school and out-of-school players
  • Moderate discussion boards to prevent trolling & duplicate threads / comments
  • Need to build in opportunities for reflection – the space between high intensity play.
    • Walking to a new area for example
    • Ebbs and flows of activity
  • MMOs use “loyalty” as a metric
    • Sticking with something. Persisting.
    • Not just “fun” or “engagement.”
  • Hard to strike a balance between feeling part of a big world and feeling that you as a player are unique and special.