Things have been a bit of a blur, so I’ll just mention a couple of the highlights of day 3 of GDC.
Wednesday morning I slept late, after staying up all hours at the IGDA party. When I did finally wake up, I wasted what was left of the morning looking for a laundromat, since the hotel wanted to charge me per item for laundry, meaning that it would cost $108 to wash 4 days worth of clothes, which includes $3 per sock. For that kind of money I could burn my socks and buy twice as many replacements! But you’re not here to read about my socks.
I went to the Game Design Challenge which was fun and entertaining but not really particularly enlightening. I was touched by the awkward romantic experiences of Steve Meretzky, Heather Kelley and Erin Robinson, but I don’t think any of them really translated well to gameplay. I know the challenge is a pretty lighthearted event and I enjoyed it as such, but I would love to see it really tackled seriously.
Chris Hecker’s scattergun talk on “Meaning. Aesthetics and User-Generated Content” was too highly caffeinated to linger long on any single topic. I thing he was trying to argue for some particular position on the question of authorial intent vs user-discovered meaning, but I can’t say for sure what it was. I am leery about people who say that games “shouldn’t” be used to convey particular ideas. For starters, every game converys certain ideas just by existing and by being about one thing and not another. Every gameplay activity that rewards one outcome and punishes another makes a particular authorial statement.
Secondly, I see no reason why such games shouldn’t be made. Maybe won’t be very good or very popular, but that’s a matter for the author to deal with. If you don’t like playing such games, by all means don’t play them. You can even recommend your friends not to play them, but telling the author that they are somehow wrongheaded to even try to make them seems to be going too far to me.