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Linden's Short: Ask yourself if your work is truthful

Authenticity matters and games creators should ensure their work is truthful, says Linden Lab's Emily Short, who's moved by the trend of individual authenticity she's observed at this year's GDC.
Authenticity matters and games creators should ensure their work is truthful, says Linden Lab's Emily Short. "This GDC, to me, to an amazing degree has been about authenticity in games, telling the truth, and finding your voice," says Short, who's been moved by Cart Life's IGF win, its creator's subsequent decision to promote another game in his booth, and presentation's like Manveer Heir's microtalk, where he shared a deeply personal experience. She says: "There is something really critical to the design about asking yourself, 'is my game telling the truth'," she says. Short, among the foremost contributors to the field of interactive fiction and social simulation, was at GDC to present a postmortem of Versu, the choice-based storytelling tool her team's creating at Linden. "It's not 'telling the truth' about everything, or being literally true, it's about, 'am I being truthful in some way?' Is it expressing some kind of reality that's accurate?" Versu currently supports complex interactive narrative simulation within the world of Jane Austen, and in her own experience Short says that helped her address truthfulness: "Even when I was inclined to go off on tangents. [or] 'make this funny trope happen', when I came back to Austen, that forced me to address her truth, even if I didn't have my own in that moment." It's something to ask oneself when designing story and interaction -- or when creating expressive work: "Is this true? Is this a system that can tell the truth?" she says. "I think that's fundamentally important.

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