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How we design games now and why

Katherine Neil shares her thoughts on game design as they appeared in the book Critical Hits: An Indie Gaming Anthology, edited by Zoe Jellicoe. 

In 1884, an English man called George Sturt inherited a two-hundred-year-old wheelwright’s shop from his father. A wheelwright was an artisan who made wheels for horse-drawn vehicles — carts and carriages. Sturt had been a schoolteacher, and was entirely new to this business of making wheels. As a man possessed of both a wheelwright’s shop and the enquiring mind of a scholar, Sturt set out to learn not only how wheels were made, but also why they were made that way. Finding people to show him the wheel designs and how they were constructed was not difficult. But he could not find anyone to explain why, for example, cart wheels were a strange, elaborate dish-shape — like saucers. Why were they not flat? At first glance the strange shape seemed to have some clear disadvantages. Not only did it make them more time-consuming to build, they had to be positioned on a cart in such a way as they jutted out from the side at a rather odd angle. And yet they did their job remarkably well.

Sturt developed his own theories to explain the strange design, which he recorded in his 1923 book The Wheelwright’s Shop, and in the decades since then designers and engineers offered their own theories. While Sturt was destined to never truly understand the secret logic encoded in this wheel design, he quite happily continued using it to make wheels over a number of years. In doing so he was following the tradition of generations of wheelwrights before him, whose knowledge and skill were accompanied by that other enduring tradition of the artisan: an almost complete lack of theoretical understanding.

By 1923 they had great wheels but it looks like they could’ve done with a few more bridges.

Turn-of-the-century game development

We no longer have wheelwrights and we are no longer making wheels in shapes we don’t understand. This is because design practice (the way designers design) in any discipline — from the creation of wheels, buildings and furniture through to film, music and literature — develops over time. It reaches milestones; it passes through phases. Until around a decade ago videogame design looked as if it was about to begin the evolutionary shift that other design disciplines had made before it. But this did not happen. A confluence of major changes to the world of videogames — technological, industrial and cultural — took place, setting game design on a very different course. To understand what happened, we need to turn the clock back to the late 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s, before these major changes had occurred.

For the rest of the article, please continue to the original post on Gamasutra…

Source: Gamasutra: Katharine Neil’s Blog – How we design games now and why

How Teamwork, Leadership and Culture Drive Results

In his talk “How Teamwork, Leadership and Culture Drive Results,” Paul Tozour from Mothership Entertainment reviews survey data from game developers about common practice and workplace culture. These self-reported factors are compared to performance metrics with some enlightening results about working overtime (a.k.a., crunch).

The full description of the talk follows: “The 2014-15 Game Outcomes Project was a first-of-its-kind study that analyzed how culture influences outcomes. It found surprisingly strong and consistent correlations between input factors such as teamwork, leadership, crunch/overtime, trust, and respect with discrete project outcomes such as MetaCritic scores, project delays, achievement of project goals, and return-on-investment (ROI).
This talk will introduce the 2014-15 Game Outcomes Project, discuss the motivation for the project, the survey design, all the major findings, the limitations (what we can prove, and what we cannot). It will also provide many new insights not covered in the original study results and offer new analyses of the data and what the data tells us.”

For the full talk, please head to the following link at the GDC Vault:

http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1023258/The-Game-Outcomes-Project-How

Higher-Ed Edtech Conferences You Need to Know for 2017

Ray Batra at Edtech has compiled a great list of conferences to attend in 2017.

“As we close the books on 2016, we can’t help but look forward to the New Year. Just in time for you to plan your 2017 professional travels, we’ve updated our picks of notable edtech & innovation conferences for higher-ed educators, administrators and companies.

Our free conference map includes dates, locations, brief descriptions of why and for whom each conference might be valuable as well as clickable names that link to each conference website.”

See the full list and article: Higher-Ed Edtech Conferences You Need to Know for 2017

Learning by design

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