GDC 2009 - Day 5.2 - My First Date with Dusty, Rich, Steve and Wendy

One married man attends a GDC panel about "The Dating Game". Specifically, why don't people play games on a first date? Generally, why are games still only for nerds? Starring Dustin Clingman, Richard Dansky, Steve Meretzky and a brave Wendy Despain.
12:00pm - 1:00pm   The Dating Game

Attended on whim based solely on title.
Tip: Don't pack your GDC program guide.
Thought we'd design a dating game.
Instead relived teenage years. Strange, tingly feelings.
Dustin Clingman aka. Dusty
Our MC. "Cowboy Thinkologist". Approachable. Dash of Academia.

Richard Dansky
Sharp. Straightforward. Might let you join him for beers.

Steve Meretzky
Legend. Made interactive fiction before it was called IF. Legitimate geek.

Wendy Despain
Smart. Normal. Fearless. What's she doing here? :)
3 married men and 1 single female. Explosive mix.
People don't play games on their first date. Why not?
We're not talking a group date or a blind date, just a good old one-on-one date.
Panel is not the answer, it's about opening the conversation.
Richard Saw young couple (probably) on first date at the Aristocrats.
If people could go see that on first date,
why don't people play games on a first date?
Dusty First Date defined:
The initial face to face meeting in which a potential attraction is explored.
Expected outcome is to learn more about the other participant with the intention of determining future compatibility.
That's a first date - if you're Spock.
Steve At movies definitley easier to slip your arm around the girl.
Wendy Established social norms for how movies work.
You might touch his hand when going for the popcorn
[audience laughs, unsure why]
Richard Movies happen on neutral territory.
You don't bring a first date to your house to watch DVDs.
Games are at somebody's house. If you leave early, it's a major issue.
Wendy [someone mentioned Dave & Buster's for a first date]
Dave & Buster's is a carnival atmosphere. It's too public. It's too bright.
[appeared surprised, perhaps disgusted by thought]
Richard Needs to be a shared experience. In Rock Band, someone is always doing it better. Need to find a way to ensure both people share and enjoy equally.
i.e. if i can't get past this puzzle, i'll look like an idiot in front of my date
Steve [suggested a shared activity toy]
Wendy Games can be so much better at getting to know each other.
Audience Facebook has already solved this. In some ways, it is the first date.
Steve Maybe Facebook gives to much info before the first date.
Wendy I'd rather know up front he likes to kill puppies.
Get the distinct impression that Wendy and Steve are very different people.
What Wendy would consider a proper first date is very different from Steve.
i.e. Steve would probably play games on a first date, much to Wendy's horror.
Richard Your interaction is with a controller and the TV, not with the person in front of you. This needs to be solved. Need something where the level of competition can be minimized.
Steve [Steve suggests Jenga]
Wendy Jenga... only on the computer...
What's the name of computer Jenga? 'Cuz I KNOW Jenga.
Wendy's body language indicates she totally disagrees with everything Steve says.
Steve is to the left side of Wendy. She is angled away from him, and rarely looks his way.
This observation coming from oblivious 39 year old male programmer.
Audience People attend carnivals on a first date.
+1 to Opinion of Audience. Success probably due to small amount of time playing games.
Will Wendy reconsider Dave and Buster's?
Wendy Everyone knows what a "date genre" movie is, but we don't have that in games. Movie poster gives you a pretty good idea of what's in the movie. It let's you AND your date know what to expect. Whereas content in videogames in unpredictable. The box tells you nothing.

Date movies are warm and fizzy, and give you warm feelings about the person sitting next to you ... "not you steve". We're not talkng about "chick flicks", we're talking about dating games.

Not to generalize, but most games are made by white males.
[ackward silence fells room of mostly white males]
Audience That carnival idea shouldn't be thrown out so quickly. Japan referenced,
apparently their carnivals are overflowing with videogames.
Richard Carnival gives you ability to show off & display your prowess,
but not at the expense of the other person.
Audience Games are extremely good at group dates.
The problem is the current 1 to 1 requirement.
"I used to play basketball with girls."
Wendy A group date is not the same thing as a first date.
14 to 16 year old boys go on group dates with girls.
If you're in your 20s and 30s you should NOT be going on group dates.
"perhaps my own personal bias toward being alone with a guy now and then."
-1 to Opinion of Audience for basketball comment.

Greatest GDC 2009 Audience Interaction
Audience: I flirt with iFog.
Dusty: iFart?
Audience: iFog... Hah! I just realized you were being sarcastic!
Dusty: um... i'm not sure that i was.

Wendy You're right about the iPhone [being great for dating].
I see a lot of people playing it with one hand.
[collapses laughing on desk]
Dusty Can present day games replace film as a dating standard?
Richard Nope [paraphrased]
Steve In a mixed gender couple, girls stop playing.
Games won't be accepted until girls keep playing.
Audience What about the first date MMO? It's not the same as a physical date, but does serve some of the purposes. You can go exploring with a virtual partner.
Richard Grinding MMOs is great preperation for a long term relationship [laughter]
Wendy Let's not use grinding [collapses laughing on desk]
Audience I would suggest that MMOs would make a good virtual first date.
[Wendy shaking head]
Wendy I've played MUDS.
Guys thought they were dating me for years - yet I'm 35 and single.
Audience Women have no interest in mastering an arbitrary ruleset. Look at Scrabble.
Casually, a huge number of women play it.
Competitively, it's almost all male.
My wife loves Burnout & Skate, because they reward failure.
Me I would suggest your wife loved Burnout & Skate,
because they are the only games she can play.
Most games still require classic arcade skill.
Audience People have found their soul mates thanks to common ground found playing
"The ESP Game"... it's unintentional that you're trying to date.
I think that's key.
1st Female
[ackward teenage silence fills room]
I went to an arcade on my first date, and I liked it.
We sat together in a booth. It was a Star Trek gun game.
We fought the hordes together, and bonded at the moment of victory.
"We did this together! YAY!!!"
No mention of further gun action in booth.
Blame Wendy for encouraging this kind of comment.
Audience Women like tactile feedback, as evidenced by the Wii.
Women don't like to know a lot about a topic...
Audience ... so much as why a topic is important to other people.
good save
Need to create game people can totally ignore (like a movie).
"Ninjabread Man" perhaps ultimate first date game.

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