Game Chats

Introduction to the Game Chats 

"Game Design - Game Thinking" inspires The Game Chats seasons on Design Talk.

The people involved in making the game chats series possible are: Shane Whelan (game designer and educator); Donncha Kavanagh (engineer and academic); Ruth Campion (3D artist); and Allen Higgins (engineer).

Our goal for this series of talks is to explore games, to discover their inspirations, to understand how they are built, how users respond, and to just generally raise the level of knowledge of games and the wider industry. To quote Katherine Isbister... 

"To have a rich and meaningful discussion about how games fit into our lives, how they work on us as human beings... [we need to] delve into the elements that make up the game experience in all its facets."
 How Games Move Us: Emotion by Design (2016)

We will be talking with writers, artists, designers, developers and entrepreneurs. Follow the podcast and listen in to find out about the game industry, game design and development. 

Each podcast is built around a short 20-40 minute talk on an influential game, theory or idea that we feel people should know more about and have a considered opinion on in the game industry.

Over time we hope to cover everything from the initial concept and genesis of a game, right through to publishing, running, maintaining and expanding the game universe. 

We cover topics such as...

The philosophy of games, play and fun; core concepts of play and the magic circle; try to answer the question "what is a game?"; the essence of game narrative; designing for player types; tapping into emotion as a design lens; the power of uncertainty and surprise; the game pipeline and design processes; tabletop and cardboard; the game story bible; designing for future versions and maintaining balance; game master and show runner; games as systems; scaling the online experience; a history of and future for platforms; emergence in games - breaking the rules; managing the development pipeline; linking the ideas of player and audience; deadlines, crunch and creative pressure; gamification good/bad/between? the art of games; LARPs; the essence of game, play and fun; question of the medium game+film; an industry ecosystem - AAA to Indie; the global economy of games industry; funding innovation; games I will play again; 

AND we are really interested in establishing game's canonical literature, the ludography and key readings for each of its diverse disciplines. For example: Bartle's article on player types or Vogler's Writer’s Journey (and by reference Campbell's mythic structure). 

A section of possible interview prompts to pick from. For a 30-40' interview with one or two guests you would only have time to cover 6 or 8 questions...

  • Would you call yourself a boardgamer, player, videogamer, card player, all of the above, other? 
  • If you could only bring one game with you on a trip with friends or family this year what would it be?
  • How did you know you wanted to be involved in this industry? 
  • If you had unlimited time and funds for a passion project, what would you design? 
  • What is a favourite thing, that you have created, and why? 
  • If you could go back and re-do a project, which one would you choose? 
  • What are the most challenging/rewarding parts of your job?
  • What was the most challenging project you worked on?
  • Are you a generalist or specialist?
  • Do you feel compelled to purchase other games, tools, software, technology, other things to keep up?
  • How does being involved in creating a game change your perspective on games?
  • Could you talk about how the different design specialisms work together? Writer, animator, artist, level design, programmer?
  • What are the commercial realities of game development today?
  • How do you find and build an audience? Responding to your audience. 
  • Do you have any advice on getting funding and making the best use of your investment?
  • Talk about how the dev pipeline acts as a coordinating dynamic between Game Design, Level Design, Art/Graphics, Story and Code?
  • What does a typical development day look like? 
  • How do the different aspects influence each other? Art, the narrative, the game, the levels, the feel?
  • Can you talk about a typical project, the interactions between artists, designer, level designers, narrative/writing?
    • Boundary Objects. A kind of interesting concept, I'm not sure, first proposed by Susan Leigh Starr ages back. It's kind of the idea that a shared object or representation acts as a coordination device, and also as a point of translation between people from different (professional) cultures. 
      • What do you think are game design’s boundary objects? 
        • Occasions or events?
        • Whiteboards, design sketches?
        • Project documentation?
        • Prototypes? 
        • The "game bible"?
        • A pitch document for investors?
    • Is outsourcing the future for game development?
    • If you could, what changes would you make to the industry? 
    • On Boardgames...
    • How did you get involved in the game business? What attracted you to it?
    • What do you find to be the most difficult thing to get right?
    • Is it an evergreen market or is demand growing? 
    • What do you think drives interest, the appetite, the growth of games?
    • Can you talk about the appeal of tabletop games? 
    • Is tabletop a growing segment? Why? Is it mainly a <country> phenomenon? An age/demographic? A market that based upon requisite variety?
    • What do you learn from the people who come into the shop?
    • How frequently do you change the shop layout? The web-shop layout?
    • Do you attend trade fairs like Spiel Messe Essen?
    • Does social media work well for the business?
    • Do you carry games made by local designers or prototypes?
    • Do you host or take part in local game nights/days/activities?
    • Do you host or take part in game play testing, proto-spiels, development jams?
    • Can you talk about discoverability of your own (game, business, service): importance of word of mouth, marketing to raise interest and connect with customers... Relevance or importance of e-commerce for a street shop? Relevance or importance of a street shop for e-commerce?

    The game chats edition of design talk has its own blog


    Isbister, K., 2016. How games move us: Emotion by design. Mit Press.