GDC 2008: Two Sessions Highlighted

There were a couple of sessions that I really enjoyed at the Game Developers Conference this year.

The first was “Game Studies Download 3.0“. The Game Studies Download first appeared at GDC 2006, which was the first GDC I attended. I’m quite interested in the various fields of game studies, having dabbled in it (read: dissertation research) during my Master’s degree. Bogost, Consalvo, and McGonigal delivered a fast-paced, information-rich and very interesting presentation. One of the interesting bits of research they highlighted were findings that showed that breaking immersion can actually make games more engaging. An example of this that I thought of is in Metal Gear Solid, when you’re fighting Psycho Mantis and he tells you he can read your past. The game reads your memory card and if you have certain Konami games, Psycho Mantis comments on it. I personally found this bit of the game really entertaining, and though it does break the fourth wall, it was memorable and cool. If you’re interested in the rest of the research top ten, check the link above.

The other session I especially enjoyed was “The BioWare Live Team: Building Community Through Technology“. French gave an overview of the development of the Live Team and what technical decisions they made to support their fan community. I gleaned a lot of great insights from it, particularly since I don’t work at a company that makes games. It was interesting to hear the rational behind decisions as well as what went right and wrong in the Live Team’s work with Neverwinter Nights.

The rest of GDC was pretty good, though I’m not as wide-eyed and excitable as I was at GDC 2006. Could it be that I’ve become a jaded games industry professional? I definitely was not as keen on collecting swag as I was two years ago. In fact, I don’t even know why I bothered to get the few free pens and assorted nonsense that I did come away with. Why the fuck do I need a yellow rubber duckie stamped with a company logo? I don’t know, but it’s a rubber duckie and I didn’t have one until now!