Global Game Jam – The 48 hours @ Vancouver

February 4, 2009 at 10:01 pm (Conferences - Events) (, , , )

The Global Game Jam had a total of 53 locations around the world! From Friday January 30th to February 1st we were in the Jam, having a blast. The venue for the Vancouver location was SFU Harbor Center.

In Vancouver, we had a total of 27 participants, one of them actually drove from Seattle to be part of the event. Just to give you a glimpse of the great spirit and motivation that reigned.

At 5:00 pm on Friday the constrains were unveiled:

1) A complete play session has to last 5 minutes or less.

2) The Theme of the game should be: “As long as we have each other, we will never run out of problems”

3) To choose one of the following adjectives to incorporate in the game: thin, evolved, or rotating.

People pitched their ideas, discuss about them and got into groups. Five teams were conformed: Blobboy, Need Artists Inc., One Tonne Punch, Scorched Physics, and Treelings. There were also mentors who were at the Jam during the whole development process, helping with tips and supporting them, such us Mitch Lagran and Dan Taylor.

Saturday went pretty smooth. Everyone was working really hard to get their game.

On Sunday, the effort of 2 days was starting to notice, but always with a great atmosphere. At 3:00 pm, they had to stop working and upload their games to the Global Game Jam website, and then everyone was trying the games, including the judges that arrived.

Doing critiques of the games produced at the Vancouver Game Jam
Doing critiques of the games produced at the Vancouver Game Jam

We closed the event with every team presenting their game on the big screen, telling about how their idea evolved, some of them showing their prototypes as well. Judges gave their feedback, pointing out strength and weaknesses of those creations made in just 48 hours. We gave prizes to every team. Smiles, handshakes, and eagerness of coming next year for more Global Game Jam.

I’m proud of having been part of the organization, happy with the results, and thrill to the human factor of the event local and globally.

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Vancouver Game Jam – Announcement

January 15, 2009 at 9:42 pm (Conferences - Events)

Vancouver will be holding one of 52 Game Jams held simultaneously in 22 countries around the world. These Game Jams will all occur during the same 48 hours, January 30th – February 1st, 2009, as part of the Global Game Jam event coordinated by the IGDA (International Game Developers Association).

A Game Jam is usually a 48 hour event where artists, programmers, and designers come together to make games. Each participant works in a small team to develop a game from concept to final product under specific constraints established by the Game Jam event coordinators.

The Vancouver Game Jam will be at Harbor Center (515 West Hastings Street), Simon Fraser University, Downtown Vancouver, BC.

For more information check: http://emiie.iat.sfu.ca/gamejam/index.html

Call for Participation:

We hope to have 40 participants in the event. Participants can be a mix of industry professionals, students, and faculty. Through rigorous evaluation of applications of potential participants, we hope to get a good combination of skills and experiences to harness and promote learning and creativity among groups. We will also invite faculty and industry professionals for mentorship and judging.

You must apply through the process below by Jan 25th in order to participate.
There is a $25.00 participation fee, it will be used to cover costs of coffee and snacks that will be provided during the event.

To participate, please submit the following:
• Your resume.
• A cover letter indicating your current position and the role you would like to take: designer, manager, artists, or programmer.
Send these materials by email to magy @ sfu.ca

Application deadline is Jan 25th 2009.

The application materials will be evaluated by the program committee for the Game Jam to ensure the right number of participants for each role as well as the number of participants fits the limit established (40 participants). We hope to get a good combination of skills and experiences and a good number of both students and industry professionals to harness and promote learning and creativity among groups.

A decision will be emailed to participants Jan 27th 2009.

At this time, successful participants will be asked to register through email and the registration fee of $25.00 for participation. Deadline for registering for the event will be Jan 29th 2009. Failure to register will disqualify the participant and the next participant in our ‘accepted but no space’ pile will be asked to register.

If you have any questions or comments please send them to Dr. Seif El-Nasr at (magy @ sfu. ca).

Looking forward to your participation!

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1st World Mind Sports Games

November 22, 2008 at 11:03 pm (Conferences - Events) (, , , , , , )

I’m really glad to say that I participated in the 1st World Mind Sports Games, held in Beijing, China. The event lasted from October 3rd to October 18th. The venue was the Beijing Convention Center, located in the Olympic Villa which also has a complex of hotels where we, the mental athletes, stayed.

There were 5 mind sport games: Go, Chess, Draughts, Xiangqi, and Bridge. I play go, and was representing Argentina in the Women’s Individual, and Women’s Team. It was such a great time! There were people from all over the world, and different strength in playing level. For instance, something that was significant was that there were professional go players playing in the tournament. That was a huge thrill for the amateurs! Lucky me, I played with professional go player, Cai Bihan, from China. See the photo!

Veronica Zammitto playing go with professional Chinese player Cai Bihan
From World Mind Sports Games – October 2008

It was an excellent opportunity for sharing, and shaping playing skills. It was also great chance to put this ‘mental sports’ on the big billboard.

Hope the organization makes the effort to keep this event alive.

Looking forward to playing in the 2nd WMSG in London 2012!!!

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Canadian Game Studies Association Workshop

November 16, 2008 at 4:43 pm (Conferences - Events) (, , )

During September 19-21 2008, the Canadian Game Studies Association (CGSA) held an Invitational Workshop, fund for it came from a grant of the Canadian agency Social Science and Humanities Research (SSHRC). The format was quite singular and awesome. There were about 35 researchers, and they were divided into smaller groups according their research interest, also general research discussions, keynotes’ presentation, and planning how to continue game research in Canada.

Every single person who was invited to the workshop had to present his/her ongoing research to the small group that responded with comments, questions, suggestions, that is a great atmosphere for discussion. I was lucky to be in a group with Bernard Perron (University of Montreal – Canada), Guillaume Roux-Girard (University of Montreal – Canada), and Magy Seif El-Nasr (Simon Fraser University – Canada). There were two international key speakers: Helen Kennedy (University of the West of England – UK) and Espen Aarseth (Center for Computer Games Research @ IT University of Copenhagen – Denmark) who, besides presenting a lecture, help to coordinate the general discussions.

As part of the Workshop, we (as CATGames) held a lab-tour, gaming session, and a dinner reception at the School of Interactive Art and Technology (SIAT), displaying among other things our ongoing projects: Gesture and Tangible Prototyping Tool, Intelligent Interactive Virtual Characters, and Narrativised and Embodied Interface. We were really happy for the whole event, and for the great feedback we got for the projects.

I want to specially thank Jennifer Jenson and Suzanne de Castell for their work towards the game research community in Canada.

Bart Simon, Bernard Perron, and Guillaume Roux-Girard
Bernard Perron, Espen Aarseth, Guillaume Roux-Girard, Jim Bizzocchi, and Bart Simon,

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Women in Games International – Event

September 15, 2008 at 8:14 pm (Conferences - Events) (, , )

Last Thursday night I went to the Women in Games International event. It was a nice socializing evening. The game developer community in Vancouver is open and friendly, that really values companies that allow creativity, self-motivation from their employees. Big Fish was co-hosting this event (aka Yaletown Fusion Mixer). You could recognize their people by their nice jackets with logo. Folks from the Seattle office were there. Peter did tours to the brand new office, answering as many questions as he could.

I want my NDA next time! :)

Thank you WIGI and Big Fish!!!

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KRAZY!

September 8, 2008 at 11:12 pm (Conferences - Events) (, , , , )

Yesterday KRAZY! exhibition closed at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I apologize to those of you that I’m letting you know too late. It was great.

The exhibition featured comics, manga, anime, and videogames. Several walls were installed to create kind of maze walking in the gallery. I really like the work done for the installations; specially, the anime section where some projectors were aiming skewed in a delightful way.

One of the funniest feelings was having been intimately consuming ‘art’ from my childhood. Those hours in from of a screen from early times are paying off. And those recently too :) For instance, Rick Hunter fighting against the Zentraedi in “Super Dimension Fortress Macross”. Yep, “Robotech”. While you could here someone crying “Akiiiiiiraaaaa” in the back. Then, on another wall something more recent like “Paprika”. Sweet.

Going towards to the gaming part now, Will Wright was the curator. It was explained that the games were selected by their groundbreaking-ness:

  • Pac-man
  • Super Mario World
  • Sid Meier’s Civilization
  • Quake
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • The Sims
  • Spore

Yes, I noticed that “The Sims” and “Spore” are in the short-list, but it’s undeniable that they’ve marked game history. Although, he could have waited a little bit more for “Spore”.

These games were displayed in original arcade cabinet cocktail type (“Pac-Man”) that people could actually play it, ink-jet prints (“Sid Meir’s”, “Zelda”), other games were running in a console plugged to a monitor (“Super Mario World”) that you could play as well. Several monitors showing excerpt of games. There was a huge projection on wall composed by several by several squares of Quake videos. Like a big collage alive.

Overall KRAZY! was a great exhibition. I’m looking forward to a KRAZY! 2 exhibition that could show other angles of the new media art.

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Nigth Raveler

July 15, 2008 at 10:19 pm (Game Session) (, , , )

Night Raveler unleashes interpersonal relationship fantasies.

We play, we experiment with loving links through our little avatars. There is no ‘a way’ to play this game, it will be lead by our curiosity and unconscious triggers.

Its gameplay is really simple but powerful. The player sees buildings and little people at the windows, wire-like lines appear between windows. He controls a little guy with scissors that can cut those wires but only if they are thin. When connections are broken, the avatars run desperately in front of the window, sad faces show up. If isolation is a constant they commit suicide.

It is surprising how those ‘wires’ that start showing up turn into desires.

Let’s make a big party, and let connect of wires, multiple wires from which window. Or in a different mood, we believe in soul-mates and only two of them can be hook up, we’ll cut any other wire out there. There is always the possibility of isolation and self-destruction. Eros and Thanatos.

It amazing finding ourselves doing the former or the later, and the middle one possibilities as well :)

I would like to make a call to NR players, try to bring that second when you make the decision of cutting or not, listen to yourself, experiment doing the other. Although, I doubt you haven’t already tried it :)

The game at Ludomancy blog

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GDC ’08 – Game Studies Download 3.0

April 18, 2008 at 10:39 am (Conferences - Events) (, , , , , )

Two months ago was GDC’08. The media covering of the event has been huge but anyway I’d like to highlight one presentation: Game Studies Download 3.0
This presentation was lead by Ian Bogost, Mia Consalvo and Jane McGonigal. They found and went over the “best” 10 papers of 2007. Its neatness relies on the close attention they pay to present academic content and deliver it for industry content.

They were able to kept the diverse audience attracted by speaking both “languages”, they could summary the papers into nice ‘research questions’, explain what was done and then the big insights that were the practical conclusions. What else can you ask?! :)

The reference papers can be found at their site http://www.avantgame.com/top10.htm

Slides of this and previous versions are available as well.

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Oasis

February 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm (Game Session)

Let me start with Magy’s short presentation of the game: “Oasis is like the minesweeper version of Civilization”.  Indeed a very appropriate summary.

Oasis is a sweet little game.  It’s designed in a way that it’d be appealing for both casual and hardcore gamers.

You’re Scarab King, but you have to rebuild your empire first.  Each level is grid-world, it starts covered by fog of war.  You’re standing on one square and can only move to its adjacent. You have limited number of moves before the barbarians arrive.  In order to win, Scarab King has to discover cities, develop technologies and find the obelisk in the oasis.

These simple goals can be approached from different playing styles.  The game offers strategical depth.  It’s upon the player and his “mind consuming” predisposition.  For instance, the way to unveil the map is quite organic; legal moves are only those to adjacent squares from the already known ones.  This is an invitation to a keep going through a path and area at fast speed.  Clicking, clicking, clicking.  But each click is a move… eventually the barbarians will arrive… maybe I should watch out better where I click…  clicking, clicking, clicking.   These approaches are two different playing styles, one would be more casual whereas the other relies on a management playing style.

There is also a clever used of elements for encouraging a balance sweeping of the map: followers and technology.   Cities are the key for the reconstruction of the empire.  They can be found near farming fields.  Building roads between cities makes the population grow.  Developing technology brings new weapons that will help to defeat the barbarians.  However, both building road and technology need followers.  You need people in order to have the work done, you know?  While you discover the map, you find followers.  But you’ll find more followers per square the desert where camps are.   The game “pushes” you to move around cities and the desert.

One great thing is that the whole game can be played with just one button (you could use the keyboard but, who wants it?!). This characteristic is really casual friendly.  With just one click the avatar moves, if the square is already unveiled, it’ll show the option of building a road or for mountains the possibility of mining.   This simple interface makes easy to understand the potential actions, reducing the learning curve.

The barbarian hordes arrive from where the cairn is.  They will start attacking the nearest city.  Hence, it’s better to move troops to that city.  One strategy that the player could use is it to move around the edges of the map and make sure to discover the cairn.  But there might be other attractive square to discover or he can simply invest moves to other purposes.   When the cairn is not discovered, the player has to make his best guess and choose one city to defend first.  This brings an Alea flavor.

Each level takes a couple of minutes.  This is ideal for short session, and I swear you’ll want the next level right away.

In a nutshell, the design of this game is neat enough to fulfill two different playing styles: a casual approach and a hardcore one.   One would be rule by intuitiveness, the other one by close attention to resources and moves left.

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Richard Bartle: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs

January 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm (Game Design Reader) (, , , , )

This article is a must for any game designer and game studies academic. Although it was written in 1996 and based on MUDs the application of its content is absolutely current.

There are four proposed types of players mapped into a two axis chart according to playing styles.

  • Action versus Interaction
  • World-oriented versus Player-oriented

The four labels to these styles are:

  • Achievers (action-world): getting treasures, killing mobs
  • Explorers (interaction-world): discovering the topology, physics and mechanisms of the world
  • Socializers (interaction-player): communicating with others
  • Killers (action-player): Bothering other players

According to Bartle, players have one of these styles as the primary, and will only shift to other style to keep advancing in their goal.

The main application of this analysis was to promote balance in MUDs. Game developers of current Triple-A MMO use this player classification for fine-tuning, like in Pirates of the Burning Sea, game designers not only ask to the beta testers what computer they own but what kind of player they were, if achievers, explorers, socializers or killers!

But what happen we want to know gaming styles in other genres? Bartle’s work has initiated a broader analysis in digital games: player taxonomy. For instance, Bateman and Boon have developed a classification that includes players of different games and platforms; they coined the term “demographic game design” to the application of such analysis into the game design process. However, Bateman and Boon taxonomy heavily relies on Bartle’s which is concerned about multiplayer online, so their classification might be letting out a more sensitive taxonomy that includes different types of games. There is the relationship with my thesis; I’m trying to identify gaming preferences attached to personality traits, that could lead to a refine taxonomy of players.

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