Upcoming events…

Flurry of activity before I disappear into a Freeplay wrangling flurry.

I’ll be running a session at the Emerging Writers’ Festival as part of their Business of Being a Writer Masterclass on Process and Organisation. This event has sold out (hurrah), but there are still tickets available for their myriad other events.

I’ll also be running on of their TwitterFEST sessions on play and the creative process, building on and discussing my piece in The Reader that you can read online here.

Through Freeplay, we’ve also organised a few playful storytelling things with them. Head over to the event on their website or Freeplay to learn more.

Early June, I’ll be up in Brisbane to talk at the IGDA / Creative Industry Precinct’s Game On program. There isn’t much detail on the site, but this is what I’ll be talking about:

The words we use to describe the space we work in – development, industry, culture, community – all describe structures built, either deliberately or as a byproduct of other processes, by people. In the face of a shifting industrial landscape, how can we build new structures that might better reflect how we’d like to live and work, what would the values of such a community look like, and what does it mean to connect with a wider creative, critical, and artistic culture? This year’s Freeplay will explore these ideas – along with many others – but before it does, co-director Paul Callaghan will talk about some of the history and philosophy behind Freeplay, what to expect from this year’s event, and what to think about into 2012 and beyond.

After that,  I’m going to be at the Continuum Speculative Fiction and Pop Culture Convention talking games and storytelling. Look out for the launch of their full program here.

And lastly, I’ll be running a workshop with ExpressMedia on Innovative Storytelling as part of their Big Splash series.

GCAP – Quality, Community, Fractals

One of the things I noticed post Freeplay is the uniquely personal experience of conferences and festivals.  Every one who attends the traces a unique path through the content, and as such it’s difficult to plan before the event what the ideal experience is and post the event figure out whether it hit those.  The best you can do is to hope there’s enough interesting content that everyone finds something in their path that connects with them.

This year’s GCAP did that for me.

And disclaimer: as part of the board, I helped program it, but compared to something like Freeplay, my involvement was minimal. Continue reading “GCAP – Quality, Community, Fractals”

A clockwork mountain

This post is a little old now.  I wrote it immediately before Freeplay and then let it sit there while I wondered what to do with it.  I’m reposting it because it helps to frame my thoughts on GCAP, which I’ll get up in the next few days.

So.

Freeplay 2010 was built around the theme of  ‘Play is Everywhere’ and we approached it as a way of looking at the fundamentals of the creative process.  As a result I ended up thinking a huge amount about the design of things – including a festival (and in light of GCAP, a conference too).  Some of this is a little out of date where I’ve explored it in more detail since, but what the hell?  It’s free content, right?

Continue reading “A clockwork mountain”

Ten, Twenty, Thirty

This is one of two posts I wrote for Invest Victoria’s gaming blog, reposted here because I think it gives some context to both the ‘social misfits’ post and also to my ongoing question of games & culture.

The gaming community is obsessed with numbers.  According to the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association, the average age of a gamer in Australia is 30 years old; 68 percent of all Australians play video and computer games; the average adult gamer has been playing for 11 years; and 80 percent of parents in game households play games with their children.

But what do those numbers actually mean?

Continue reading “Ten, Twenty, Thirty”

The need for Rockstars – Part 2

Following on from my post on why we need more rockstars locally, this link showed up in my Google Alert for Freeplay and reminded me that Kieron Gillen had said very much the same thing in 2005.

Rock Star is just used as short hand for fearless. It’s worth remembering that there’s all manner of Rock Star archetypes to follow. There’s Rockstars known for their piercing, caustic intelligence and puritanical rage as much as those who are just a byword for narcissistic excess. Some already do it – I had the rare pleasure of interviewing an independent developer who argued that the conservative critics were right: games /were/ murder simulations. However, since we live in a world where such power is centralized in Authority who regularly use it oppressively, it’s important that we’re able to train ourselves to resist them if required. Essentially, the videogame reinvented as a part of the revolutionaries toolkit alongside the trusty AK-47.

You can read the whole transcript of his talk here.

Critical failure…

The Wheeler Centre here in Melbourne recently ran a series of panels under the banner of ‘Critical Failure‘. These took in film, books, theatre, and the visual arts, and were designed to promote debate.  And promote debate they did, with it spilling out of the Wheeler Centre and across the internet on Crikey, the ABC, in the Guardian, and on blogs.

I think these debates are incredibly interesting, both because they reveal the huge schism between those critics working in traditional print media and those working online (and, in fact, their opinions of online), and also because of what you can learn from them about criticism and how it might relate to games and the broader culture.

Click through for my thoughts… Continue reading “Critical failure…”

Freeplay…

It’s been pretty quiet around here, not because I don’t have things to say, but because I’ve been working pretty flat out on pulling together Freeplay – which, if early accounts & the vibrant twitter feed are to be believed, was pretty succesful.

In the run-up, I wrote a fairly lenghty post about my own personal goals for the event, reflecting on the creative aspects of designing a festival.   I might still publish that if I ever get time to edit it, but I wanted to share one of my favourite comments (from twitter) about what we did.

#freeplay10 feels a lot like reading DanC’s Lost Garden, where many of the principles discussed can easily relate to any application in life” – GameTacoWall, 11:29 Aug 14

I couldn’t have put it better myself 🙂

AFTRS Intro to Writing for Games

I’m going to be running a 1-day intro to games writing on May 3rd at AFTRS here in Melbourne.  Anyone interested can register here.

This’ll be different, and way more in-depth, than the 2-hour Express Media workshop later in the month.

And if you didn’t hear – we announced this year’s Freeplay festival too.

Goals and opposition in Fabric

This latest build of Fabric introduces goals – helping the blue particles to coalesce and eventually form suns & planets – and opposition – in the form of the red spikey particles which can destroy the blue particles.

What’s interesting here is how much focus has been pulled away from the grid – which was the original element.  It feels like the more nouns that are added to the game space, the less interesting & dynamic it becomes.   All the player is really doing in this version is clicking on the red spikey particles, rather than balancing destroying the grid & stitching it back together.

Next step, I think, is to pare it back and consider how the player interacts with the grid because adding elements to the space doesn’t seem to work.  That might be some time because this week, there’s the Digital Distribution Summit, I’m running some workshops in Yarrawonga, and the flying to Sydney to do a presentation at Screen Australia – then we’ll be into October and the first of the Freeplay Experimental Gameplay Projects.

Fabric

Once I’d recovered from pulling the event together, I found myself really inspired by the people at Freeplay who were pulling together their own projects – and it made me want to do the same.

So, I’ve started two things.

The first is an attempt over at the freeplay forums to run monthly experimental gameplay projects in Melbourne, producing one highly experimental game every month within 7 days and fitting a theme.  The first will run in October and we’re still deciding on the theme.  Head on over and sign up if you’re interested in taking part.

The second is I’ve started putting together what I think will actually be a bigger game now that I’ve started it.  It’s called ‘Fabric’ and I’m going to try and document its progress here.

The original idea for Fabric came from thinking about expressing connections mechanically, and also about creating a game where you had to destroy part of the environment in order to protect it.

The fabric of the game world is essentially a cloth simulation – particles connected by springs – with charged elements that travel along the grid-lines, seeking out their nearest neighbour.  When those charges connect, they destroy a large area of the grid around them.  The only way to stop them moving is to destroy the grid-line they’re travelling along.  The overall aim of the game is to stop the fabric unravelling completely as you can see it doing towards the end of the movie.

It’s still early days, but even at this early stage, the nature of the technology has brought up restrictions in what I originally thought I could do gameplay wise, but it’s also opened up other possibilities too, which was the whole point of the experiment.