Design, Games, and Game Design (feat. SpyParty)

I gave a talk at UC Berkeley called Design, Games, & Game Design (feat. SpyParty). It was for the UC Berkeley School of Information's Design Futures Lecture Series, and I was invited by the excellent Elizabeth Goodman.

The talk was a mix of general design stuff, game design stuff, and SpyParty design stuff. Among other things...

  • I talked about the basic design → build → test loop, and how I don't think you can separate out the design and build steps if you're making something deep and new and (especially) interactive. I mentioned how Valve doesn't hire single-discipline designers for this reason.
  • I went over three kinds of user tests, depth testing, kleenex testing, and focus testing, and how you should never do the last one of those.
  • I talked about Metrics Fetishism again; since this was a Design talk, it seemed appropriate.
  • I claimed games are at about 1905 in terms of the history of film, making anologies between current games and deep and important works like The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants at the Zandvoort Beach and The Little Train Robbery (aka. The Great Train Robbery 2: This Time With Kids!)
  • I lauded Ico's hand holding mechanic, again.
  • I whipped out the Korean characters for Gosu, 고수.
  • I outlined two approaches to creating games with more emotional depth: top-down and bottom-up, and I discussed why I think bottom-up is a better approach. Games need to be able to communicate with players using a wider and deeper set of emotions. Just like film and music communicate emotionally in completely different ways, but are both incredibly deep, I think games will be as different from other art and entertainment forms as they are from each other, but we have a long way to go.
  • I answered questions for longer than the actual lecture!

I also spent some time talking about my aesthetic goals for SpyParty, which include:

  • perception vs. deception & performance
  • attention as a resource
  • consequential decisions with partial information
  • deduction vs. intuition
  • analysis paralysis vs. extinct by instinct
  • extreme asymmetry
  • intense focus on player-skills about human behavior


And, I talked more about the Blizzard-inspired Depth-first, Accessibility-later development model I'm following, including forcing people to read the four-page instruction manual before they can play.


Here are the synced audio and slides, with 40 minutes of Q&A at the end:

Welp, the web service I was using for the slide syncing died, so I'll have to redo it on youtube I guess.

Here are the raw ppt and mp3.

Also, Tom Curtis was there and wrote about the lecture at Gamasutra.

I posted a link to this page on the SpyParty blog, which support comments, so you can head over there if you have something to say about the talk.

Elizabeth recorded video of the talk, which I've embedded here:

And finally, because one cannot get enough of Fred Ott's Sneeze:

This page was last edited on 11 August 2011, at 02:02.