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Video: Tackling real-world problems through game design in Life Is Strange

At GDC 2016, Michael Koch and Raoul Barbet (co-directors of Dontnod's episodic game Life Is Strange) explore how the interactive nature of video games can be used to tackle difficult subject matter.

As games grow ever more capable of depicting worlds with realistic fidelity, the question arises: when is it appropriate to tackle real-world issues in games? How can game designers do so effectively, and respectfully?

At GDC 2016 earlier this year, Michael Koch and Raoul Barbet -- the co-directors of Dontnod's episodic game Life Is Strange -- offered a frank postmortem of their attempt to do just that.

It's worth watching because the pair reveal how they approached the inclusion of emotional, often sensitive, and sometimes taboo real-world issues into the core narrative of the game. Examples from the game illustrate how the interactive nature of video games can be used to tackle difficult subject matter, potentially driving players to reflect upon intense questions and emotional challenges.

If you missed it in person, no worries -- you can now go back and watch the whole thing, completely free, via the official GDC YouTube channel.

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its new YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC, GDC Europe, and GDC Next already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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