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One man attends a GDC panel where the ideas flow freely. Officially "Stretching Beyond Entertainment: The Role of Games in Personal and Social Change". Starring Rusel deMaria, Peter Molyneux, Will Wright, Bing Gordon, Lorne Lanning, Ed Fries and SomeGuy.

Jim McGinley, Blogger

April 3, 2009

10 Min Read

Arrive 5 minutes late. Titans mostly talking to each other. Panel format. Large audience.

 

Rusel deMaria
Nice. Thoughtful. Host let panel flow freely.

Peter Molyneux
Clever. Big Picture.

Will Wright
Cut-to-the-chase smart.

Bing Gordon
Attitude & Swagger. Gravelly voiced. Dash of drawl.

Lorne Lanning
Cool.

Ed Fries
Points good. Didn't feel I got to know him.

 

Peter

14 year old playing Fable 2. Went home with lady. Got into bed.
Woke up next day and found baby.
Mommy, I'll never go to bed without a condom again.
We are entertainment. Don't preach.

Ed

We're not good at it.

Lorne

We look at it like food. We could make twinkies, or something with nutritious value. We're wrapping garbage beautifully. Empty calories. What are they eating? Can you sleep at night? I have news, producers & publishers LIKE sleeping at night.

 

Lorne

If it's good, and not lofty and clueless ... people get behind it.

Rusel

I was forced to turn down a great job to be with kids/family...

Bing

Yeah... that unfortunately made you a millionaire and leader of a GDC panel.

 

Trouble keeping up with Joneses. Can't transcribe discussion fast enough.
Forced paraphrase. Attempt record essence honestly.

 

Bing

Told story of daughters playing sims. "daddy! daddy! zelda killed my mommy!"
"yes... a computer can make you cry."
[missed earlier setup, only able to record payoff]
Learn about math getting 2 virtual sims to hook up... what was the question?

 

Will

These negative experiences... by and large, people enjoy failure more than success. Interesting failure. You want to focus on experiences society is trying to avoid.

Rusel

like GTA?

Will

"YEAH! Play it a lot. I love the game!" It's an ecosystem.
You understand that these peoople have their own rules.
"We're selling sunglasses, different perspectives of the world."

Rusel

What if you could start a business in GTA and run it?

Lorne

You just added 20 million to the budget.

 

Peter

What is the worst thing we could do? It would provide "the opportunity to find out something about yourself". Play the game, think "God... this can never happen in this world." That's learning.

Bing

Victoria secret models, 72 of them, mumble...

Ed

Told fellow developer he wanted to make game about the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. Her response was that it would make a better movie than a game. I don't want to hear that. "The point was to make the player complicit in the action."

Will

I never felt guilty reading a book or watching a movie. Felt guilty playing black & white, and being bad.

Bing

How about if your wife comes and looks over your shoulder?

 

Lorne

We're full of shit. We LOVE blowing things away. We just need an excuse to kill everything - we're sociopathic. Need homeopathetic games. Just give you a little disease so your resistance is higher...
Should be focussed on sociohomeopathic games!

Bing?

you gonna trademark that?

Lorne

First ID games, designers wouldn't let you fail at the end because it would suck if you got to the end only to realize you failed. "no man, i want them to feel bad" When people got to the end of [Abe's Oddworld], and realized they doomed the character, I loved that.

You need to rescue guys to win, you fail without rescuing them. Since failure is an option, people rescue every last one. Got letter from mother stating that every time 8 year old kills Mudokon, 5 year old unplugs the Playstation.

 

Will

Need a game that's 10% first person shooter, 90% life in prison.

Rusel

Gang guys get shot because they didn't know it would hurt so much.
Maybe games could show guy you just shot writhing on the ground.

Lorne

Acid was blamed for people jumping off buildings...
if acid makes you jump off a building, it's a good filter system.

Peter

Games do have guys writhing on the ground in agony, but that's been done.
Not sure we can do much more in that regard
unless we unfurl a banner saying "don't do this"

 

Notes indicate conversation almost derailed by violence in media debate.

 

Rusel

What specific thing can we do in games that would be beneficial to people?

Peter

Co-operative games and MMO games have a really good social bonding message.
Things will be invented that link all the people around the world together.

Will

Real lost opportunity. 2 different cultures connect, they become orcs.

Bing

Game designers are the great hope, we're training next leaders. WOW society. The most productive place you can be is a party. Just to have make sure your gold farming doesn't take place in China.

Kids spend 25 hours a week in jail we call school. Kids learn more stuff via gaming than they do in school. Games better place to learn algebra, reading... WOW better place to learn leadership. Sims better place to learn...

Run programs to train designers. 1/3 of students want to make games.
There are finally more good game designers than the business needs.
Gaming techniques here can actually educate and retrain.
Videogames can bail out the culture.

 

Rusel

Need to do this, in the context of a commercially successful game...

Lorne

Setting out to make a serious game is like setting out to make a game for girls.

Will

Games have a cultural cache, "let's play the recycle game" won't work.
Need to do this in such a way that we don't lose our renegade status.

Rusel

Games should be fun. Fun involved challenge. Challenge sometimes mean doing the dark side of things. Doesn't mean we can't make dark, dangerous rock & roll games. Teaching in games doesn't mean we get sanctomonious.
Embedded in the gameplay is something that teaches you.

Bing

Facebook games improve social cache/capability.
Social game developers... mumble
"when they want to show off, they try harder"
health, self esteen and mumble...

Will

It's asking players to build socially positive games [user generated content] 

 

Giant robot with long arms marches by. Singluar mission. left right left right hut hut hut.
Each arm deadly pendulum. Wait... he is human. Upper body still during giant strides.
Could bend steel. He's... pre-lining up for question. First GDC pre-line up.

 

Lorne

The notion that it has to be profitable is ass backward. We can redefine the educational system to be console based, but the US government doesn't invest in ANY of it. Helping to use technology to educate our kids and make them smarter, there's NO support for it.

Rusel

Pretend you're pitching the ideal game that you want to see happen, not necessarily yours [looks toward Ed]

Ed

Start at that end

Peter

[at that end] uhhhh....

Lorne

Build someting really big... aside from social.... Start really small and use that audience, rather than the masses. Make it small, and help the people help shape it. Will gets this... well... maybe not starting small.

Peter

"we're not doing bad..." There's untapped territory that can be exploited.

Lorne

Serious games competition at SoCal. Winner - mobile - India team - too many languages in India - even buying a train ticket is hard. Game was about getting to work. Gave players the information they needed to grow.

Bing

Got into games to live life random access rather than serially.
Groundhog Day game to allow daughters to pre-play lives.
WOW in a browser, so daughters can play with me.

Will

A game about how the world really works.

 

Rusel

Concept of adding moral nutition to things. Getting a granola bar as opposed to granola. Let's start with Playstation home. What would you add?

Bing

"well let's start with playstation home... pause... (laughter) for inspiration."

Peter

Give people the tools to be nasty, to comment on your lifestyle.

Lorne

Publisher: "Man, your game is DARK."
Me: "You're building games about war in Baghdad."
Publisher: "... but we're not blowing up babies."
Me: "Right. You're just making war fun."
(applause)

Ed

[something that provoked applause, missed due to typing]

 

Will

Game designers should be media designers.

Bing

Best game designers have the best bookshelves.

Peter

[something funny, too far behind to record]

 

Q & A
11 people lined up. GDC Win!

 

SomeGuy

Violence in games, i feel we danced around it.
"If games can affect people for good, then they can affect people for bad".

mood of room instantly changed. narc?

Lorne

9 courts rejected the violence argument. Those arguments lost in court.
If you're going to talk about violence in media, let's look at TV first.

SomeGuy

"you can't say games impact people, then say violence is not a problem"

Rusel

It's not just games, it's all media. It's a fallacy that violence in games leads to violence in real life. Read the first chapter of my book.

 

Lorne?

I've noticed that people watching the game have a problem with violence,
not people actually playing the game.

Rusel

If they're readers, there's a book for them.

Peter

As games get broader, watchers will come around.

Bing

Have child talk about challenges they're getting from game.
Sit down with your son running a WOW guild, you'll be impressed.

Ed

Mom said "all my kids want to do is play Pokemon!" I said "that is SO great!"
Need to educate people on the opportunity side of this.

 

Panel ended. Still 5 people in line including giant. Holding round table to continue discussion in Room 113. Everyone invited. Unable to attend. Need time to recover.

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