September 18, 2007

SCS2007 Panel on Play

Filed under: precat — tsladmin @ 1:32 pm

we started out the morning by playing “reverse scavenger hunt” (we are soooo playing this at GLLS2008!)
Amy Jo Kim – Putting the Fun in Functional
game design principles have been finding their way onto websites more and more
“social media” for her
1. player-created content (she likes to talk about the people who use your software as “players,” not customers) +
2. social features (profiles, reputation, groups, etc.) +
3. tools for sharing
“game” = a structured experience with rules and goals that’s fun (which includes things like “The Sims”)
stretches what can be considered a “game”
games tap into our primal response patterns
game payoffs are like slot machines – random, unpredictable, not always controlled by your behavior
games engage us in “flow” (that space between apathy and boredom, anxiety and boredom)
the tricky part is that the game has to adjust as you play it
game mechanics for social media
1. collecting – you’re going to show off your stuff (stuff in WoW, friends in Facebook, etc.); so when you’re designing, look at what can be collected to drive player behavior; downside is who has the most friends
2. points – point systems give you leaderboards, give you something sticky over time; great way to introduce new features, new areas to explore; social points are given by other points (different from system points); eg, flickr interestingness, ebay reputation, etc.
3. feedback – accelerates mastery; eg, Guitar Hero; this is probably the lowest hanging fruit of all these; it’s one of the easiest ways to make something compelling and fun and to help people master the curve
4. exchanges – back and forth interactions between two people; implicit (not built into the system, but comes out in other ways, eg The Wall in Facebook or the social pressure to provide feedback on exchanges in ebay) vs. explicit exchanges (codified in the system, eg adding a friend in Facebook); so leave room for implicit exchanges
5. customization – of the interface, your character, your identity, your experience; makes the person more invested and just makes it more fun; Gaia Online lets you customize your avatar before you even start playing
power to the players (trends)
1. the rise of content sharing networks – Flickr, YouTube, etc. that create the network but the players exchange the content
2. accessible tech – much simpler UIs, open APIs, cross-platform services; seeing these things in games, too
3. syndication – not just having your content-sharing network, but also to be able to take bits of it and place it on other sites (feeds, widgets, embed code); integrating with the rest of the web and accessible there
some of this change is because of the change in the audience (new demographics for gaming, both up and down); broadening of the audience has transformed game design into something that reaches beyond the hardcore
happening on the web, too
game mechanics + social media = the future of networked entertainment?
gave some tips that can be found on her website
points don’t have to be explicit – views on a picture, how many times it was emailed, etc.
points are not always the right thing to use
Merci Hammon – PMOG
launched in March before having to take the game down for improvements due to new funding
Firefox extension
game environments, the environment levels you up
in passively multiplayer, you don’t get to choose your class; you get assigned a role
in PMOG, two of them represent order and two represent chaos
you can purchase things that are bizarre
lightposts are used to create “quests” (they “illuminate” your context or something about the site)
“portals” transported you from one site to another seamlessly, but became a problem because of where you might end up
Merci’s favorite object was a mine – could leave one on a site and then the next PMOG player hitting a site would encounter it; an anonymous weapon that spreads havoc for the other players
had to develop “armor” at the end because popular sites would obviously get mined quickly
they were shut out by, open directory didn’t work, so they created their own tags
you get points for erasing other peoples’ tags and for adding your own
so users are determining the scope of the universe
hoping to test the new version in early 2008
they don’t monitor gameplay to see if players are gaming the system
passive because of class characterizations and point collection
Playful Programming, Competitive Code – Ned Gully (The MathWorks, Inc.)
“the big brain has many legs”
“competitive wikipedia” – imagine if the system could award points if your edit was an improvement and your picture then appeared on the page?
would wikipedia be better for having a system like this?
his contests run like this:
– entries are automatically scored, ranked, and displayed immediately
– code, author, and score are visible at all times
– anyone can modify anyone else’s code and resubmit it as their own
means you have to put your code into the public domain to get rewarded
are they encouraging collaboration or theft?
will this make you so angry that you won’t play anymore?
having been tweaked, some people delight in tweaking right back
“tweaking is the nickel slots of their contest” – teaches people to open up (their wallets, in the case of the slots)
showed a graph of improving game play scores which resulted in a final entry that was code no one could have written on their own
phase transitions (Jenny: can actually illustrate reflection?)
lots of interesting graphs and an animation of the tweaks
innovation uptake – can see it happen in convultion-based algorithm
social signaling – it’s just code, but thousands of entires have to be named; became fun exchange of communication
code genomics
personal glory or collaboration? the code is the one interested in collaboration
the coder wants to block code propagation while the code wants to propagate – use this to shape the contest design
for the coder, make participation easy, reward vanity, many cheap prizes, and darkness period
for the code, encourage copying, highlight changes, punish complexity, anti-obfuscation tools
think of the code as genomic in a biological sense
liberating to think of the code as an entity with its own agenda
well-written code is manipulating you to make more code like it
“a chicken is only an egg’s way of making another egg” –> “a hacker is only a code’s way of making more code”
fitness function is how fast did it run, but performance, too; blending them at a cost function
how would you evaluate future recyclability
A Creative Community for Young Programmers and Game Designers: Boku – Matt Maclaurin
he tried to figure out what computers are for
– creating new worlds
– inventing new languages
– udnerstanding cognition
– evoking wonder
software as an expressive medium
code as a medium
– the only truly modern medium
simulation is the fundamental basis of cognition
it’s a good description of how we think; we don’t think like a text engine
playing magical stuff makes you want to make magical stuff
then they get exposed to code – ugh
some history about programming environments (logo, etc.)
Boku’s approach
– start with a working simulation
– real-world objects and verbs
– throw out everything (loops, variables, most control structures)
– no typing (uses an XBox controller instead)
– make the exerpience fluid and immediate
could debate whether or not this is really programming
start off in a blank world where nothing is going on until you participate
demoed Boku – very cool, don’t ever see the code
adding actions adds the narrative; just having one bot eat an apple while the other one tries to kick made it into a contest without even adding any contest code
lets you easily create barriers and boundaries (like mountains)
early testing:
– 11 is a great age for this
– some as young as 7 can program
– community is critical (inspiration, learning)
– kids really dig shooting
– world editing
– is programming a core literacy?
– is computation a core literacy, and is programming the only manifestation of it?
– do we need conflict?
– is it okay for kids to act out violent fantasies?
– what “verbs” should boku have?
– what is the intersection between storytelling and game design?
– how to define authorship?
Alternate Realities – Susan Bonds
“42 Entertainment creates trans-media narratives for highly participatory experiences through a variety of both online and offline mechanisms”
distributed narrative
i love bees
one of the biggest rewards for this type of entertainment is just playing it
world as platform
– everything can be used to tell a piece of the story, which takes the pressure off any one piece to carry the whole tale
levels of audience (inverse triangle)
– casual, level 1 (more and more people entering here); modest level of interaction, mostly online participation, broadest audience reach
– active, level 2 (significant level of interaction, online and some offline)
– enthusiast, level 3 (very high level of interaction, participation across media into the real world, “tip of the wedge” super-engaged audience that can create entertainment for the other two levels)
has found that the community will form on its own
– the power of one can fuel the power of the many
– “hive mind” – people will collaborate based on shared goals and interests
can take traditional marketing materials and doing something different with it
“hide in plain sight”
used “Year Zero” example from Nine Inch Nails (
even giving out buttons at listening parties became clues
how can you make people think? how can it used for social experience?
an important part of the ARG was mpowering players to make the themes of themusic their own. this was facilitated through two sites – Art is Resistance and Open Source Resistance, the latter of which accepts user generated art and has even published in magazines and online.
when a story starts coming at you through the channels of your “real” life you start to see your life through the lens of that story
at the end, you saw a file of the players with “case numbers” as accomplices
all of their communities are organic and set up by the communities themselves
audience question: can you use these systems to engender positive/normative behavior?
“it doesn’t matter what you believe, as long as you speak up”
people are looking for a roadmap to activism

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