conferences games design GDC 2008

GDC08: Scattershots of play – potential of indie games – 1


A very broad range of ideas on what should shape game design at a fundamental level. I greatly enjoyed this for the way it jumped to a bunch of related but competing ideals and perspectives.

Also very interesting for including a 20-minute section on How to Design for Alternate Reality Games (not billed as such, but that’s what it was: a theory on how to think when designing ARGs).


Section 1: Flow, and how to evaluate games
Section 2: Games break down into inputs and outputs
Section 3: Theories of design for Alternate Reality Games


[1] Kellee Santiago
[2] John Mak
[3] Pekko Koskinen

Section 1: Flow, and how to evaluate games

How do we measure games?

Katamari Damacy (KD) valued as “a few hours of short, sweet entertainment”, but also “something you go back to again and again”. How does that makes sense?

I spent more time playing KD than God of War (GoW), but the latter was $60 as opposed to $20.

Is time the way we should be measuring the value of a game?


Tried to design Flow as something you COULD play over and over again, but would potentially play very differently every time. Many players didn’t notice this because of the strong simple central gameplay.


Play value may be more important in terms of “how much longer afterwards you continue to remember / think about it”, like books and films that make you go away and think afterwards, long after you’re no longer experiencing the entertainment.


How you’ve been changed by reading a book is a way of measuring its value/effect, but this is something we don’t do with games.

This is sad, as games have much more potential to affect players.

Maybe its necessary to talk about the number of horus of gameplay, and the replayability, to market and sell game, but I don’t think it has any value for the design of games.


You play a game differently by knowing what’s going to happen next, so replayability actually is very important, potentially. e.g. why are you able to study and re-study a great book over and over again, how do you not get bored / seen it all after the first few times?


KD made me think how even we in the industry don’t place enough value on the “meaningful content” – the fact that we only set a price of $20 suggests we’re not thinking it ourselves.


If we approach the player as “was he entertained? Was he feeling good afterwards, was he taking anything in?”, with design I think we have to look sometimes at the ACTUAL effects that took place – what skills did the player experience, what did they learn while playing?


I don’t think about the player too much when I design games, but that’s because I guess I just design for myself, mostly.


It’s an interesting thought that you can make world design part of the game design. Designing the game-world so that the rewards are integrated into it. World could be small-enviroment, I mean it abstractly.


It’s just another tool, non-intrinsic rewards. It gives some extra meaning to the game. e.g. Geometery Wars (GW) uses points to show that it’s about perfecting a certain skill.


Extrinsic rewards either tap into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or into competitiveness.

If that’s what you WANT to tap into, go for extrinsics, otherwise you have to think more about what exactly the rewards are encourgaging in the player.


We don’t actually think how many rewardlike elements there in the game. For instance, in GW the size of explosopns., the graphic effects, are rewards in themselves. The glorious mega explosions are a special reward too.

2 replies on “GDC08: Scattershots of play – potential of indie games – 1”

Comments are closed.