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PRACTICE 2014 recap

This year’s PRACTICE, the game design con­fer­ence at NYU Game­cen­ter, was as great as expect­ed. It’s real­ly nice to be sur­round­ed by game design­ers for a cou­ple of days and to be able to dis­cuss game design in detail. As Frank Lantz put it in the intro­duc­tion: “Game design is a sick­ness and the only cure is more game design.”

The over­all lev­el was great but here is a list of ses­sions that espe­cial­ly stood out for me. I would rec­om­mend check­ing out the record­ings of these talks when they are up.

Holly Gramazio

Hol­ly Gra­mazio did an excel­lent overview of per­va­sive games, cov­er­ing both its his­to­ry and the myr­i­ad of games that she has cre­at­ed and facil­i­tat­ed. She divid­ed per­va­sive games into three main cat­e­gories: ‘the scav­enger hunt’, ‘the blind­fold game’ and ‘tak­ing cer­tain kind of pic­tures’ and high­light­ed prob­lems with all of these, many of which were pret­ty familiar.

David Kana­ga pled for a for­mal­ism that push­es things for­ward in a pre­sen­ta­tion that used the his­to­ry of phi­los­o­phy as a mind bomb. David’s writ­ing has been a great inspi­ra­tion for us and it was nice to see his meta-phi­los­o­phy being pre­sent­ed in real life.

Saman­tha Kalman ran us through years of pro­to­types that final­ly led to Sen­tris. To see this devel­op­ment was illu­mi­nat­ing from per­spec­tives of game design, inter­face design and music the­o­ry. I don’t think there are pro­fes­sion­al or casu­al music apps that have a sim­i­lar approach to acces­si­bil­i­ty and iter­a­tive development.

Netrunner teaching

Lukas Litzsinger went over the reboot of Netrun­ner and the numer­ous design deci­sions that went into that. Netrun­ner is a stu­dio favourite that is more or less com­pul­so­ry for game design­ers to play. Hear­ing this talk when you’re in the process of pro­duc­ing a card game your­self was pret­ty intimidating.

Zach Gage gave a high-den­si­ty talk using sci­ence about how to design games for prob­lem solvers and how to turn peo­ple into bet­ter prob­lem solvers. It boiled down to cre­at­ing sand­box­es for peo­ple to play in and be able to form their own mod­els before being faced with prob­lems. The slides are online already and I rec­om­mend work­ing through them yourself.

These talks should prove a good taste of what PRACTICE was about. I’m already look­ing for­ward to next year’s event.

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