As the year scrabbles to a close, the steady stream of conferences and presentations comes to an end.
World Congress of Science and Factual Producers
On Friday December 4th, I took part in a speed-networking event at the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers. What was interesting about this was being able to step away from the traditional pc/console space and think about new opportunities to use games and games technology.
In talking to the directors and producers, I had the thought that perhaps games were closer to documentary features than to narrative features. The topics explored – happiness as a contagion that can be tracked using network theory, or a man who built his own 300-million search-and rescue empire – were built on the film-maker exploring the world, creating theories, and constructing the narrative as they go, which is a clear analogue for what players do in games.
Not to say that there isn’t room for narrative in games, but modelling gameplay & the reveal of narrative in more of a documentary style might prove to be a useful template.
Game Connect Asia Pacific
Or GCAP as it’s less mouthfully known, took place at Crown from December 6th – 8th. I gave two presentations – one on games and games literacy (which was attended by only 5 people due to a last minute room change) and one on the creative process of writing and how that applies to games. Due to meetings and general schmoozing (and also pulling together my writing presentation), I saw almost none of the conference itself (other than Tim Stellmach’s keynote & the indie games that I was judging), but came away with the overall impression that from an art & design perspective, the content was unfocused and weak – which is reflected in a single stream that contained all of the art, design, and audio talks. As design is one of our local industry’s challenges, it would be nice to see an increased focus on it next year.
Details on the presentations after the fold.
Games and Games Literacy
This is a slightly modified version of a talk I gave at the VITTA conference last year on models of interacting with games in terms of their components as well as traditional literacy and numeracy skills.
“Today’s students have never seen a world without video games. They’re an integral part of life now, becoming a new cultural artifact, a new entertainment medium, and bringing with them a whole slew of new employment opportunities.
But how do they work? And what are the parameters for having a meaningful dialog about them with our students?
In this session, Paul Callaghan, a veteran game developer, will explore the elements that contribute to games literacy and how that can be applied to traditional literacy and numeracy skills.”
What does a writer do anyway?
Standing room only for this session, which was incredibly flattering. Also set a new record for me – 60 slides in just under 50 minutes!
“Telling stories is an essential part of our cultural fabric, but in the face of a new medium, one in which mechanics, rules, and play are at the heart of the audience experience, we’re still learning how to work the thousands of years of accumulated knowledge in writing and storytelling to our best advantage.
An often-neglected discipline in video games, this session will look at the skills and craft that writers use when approaching storytelling, dialogue, structure, and characterisation, and how to apply those to video games without losing the particular strengths of the medium. By dissecting the craft of writing, it will demonstrate the thought processes behind story creation, what does and doesn’t work within the medium of games, and why some of those boundaries exist. It will also show how some of those core concepts are applicable to games without stories, informing mechanic, level, and systems design.
Looking to the future, the session will lastly speculate on the marriage of traditional narrative and mechanics, and the sorts of stories that can only be told in the medium of games by exploiting the fundamental gameplay forces of agency, choice, rules, and goals.”