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GDC 2010: Metaphysics of Game Design
Bar Harbor
alexx_kay
Metaphysics of Game Design
Will Wright

Alexx: This was sort of a surprise keynote. Wright wasn't sure he'd be able to make it, so this was listed in the schedule without any description, and with an obvious pseudonym for the speaker. Apparently the truth got around pretty widely as a rumor, but I stumbled in by accident, thinking the topic sounded intriguing. Not that the actual talk had a lot to do with metaphysics per se. It was exciting and entertaining, but also rather scattered, and trying to say too much in too little time. Is this an endemic problem with GDC keynote speakers? At least this talk, unlike Sid Meier's, was future-facing. Still, I didn't get many directly useful notes out of it.

I'm an independent game designer
independent = unemployed
game designer, frequently seen as moral equivalent of drug dealer
I think there is value to artists who are seen as renegades
Jack Thompson called me a child pornographer, which I took as a badge of honor

_Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance_
multiple perspectives are more valuable than solutions
collect many lenses through which to view the world

Can interpret a city many ways: story (batman)/play (toy city blocks)/visual (photography)/systemic (Sim City)

personal data that persists after a person's death used to be about 1K; has been growing at accelerating pace, and he expects to leave behind several terabytes

Games have undiscovered territory left
games are a subset of play, which itself has lots of territory
play is bleeding out into the real world more and more

interesting stuff is happening not in a single medium, but between them: interdisciplinary entertainment

[long sequence of production, from corporation, to design, to implementation, to test, to manufacturing, to ship, to purchase, to player, to...]
What we're ultimately selling is endorphins -- I *am* a drug dealer!

Roomba is an entertainment device disguised as a vacuum cleaner

Different platform types: Technology, culture, psychology
You can target small venn intersections:
e.g., young girls, in Germany, who play games on PCs. There's a huge competitive market for games about "My Horse and Me"
You can also go broad
lots of different cultures think that Avatar is about them

play builds models of the world
games test models

ads are false schemas: Buy our beer, and chicks will dig you

central place economic theory -- people competing for land
lately being replaced by human ecology economic theory -- land competing for people

entertaining hive minds
[Alexx: This was almost a throw-away comment, but I wish he'd elaborated more. I think he was suggesting that the audience for many entertainment forms is no longer individual consumers, but aggregate communities. It's an interesting idea. ARGs, for example, can't be 'played' by isolated individuals.]

Progress generally follows three sorts of curve: power law / s-curve / belll curve. Frequently futurists get things wrong because isolated bits of an s- or bell curve look like the beginning of a power law. Investors (and other optimists) like to encourage this thought, but it's usually wrong.

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The cramped nature isn't typical of keynotes, it's typical of Will Wright keynotes.

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