For better or for worse, the Manifesto for a Ludic Century – an essay I posted on Kotaku.com several months ago – continues to reverberate within game circles. This past November, the NYU Game Center where I teach hosted a debate over some of the ideas in the essay. You can watch the full video here, featuring Heather Chaplin, Ben Johnson, Abe Stein, and myself. No blood is drawn, but there is plenty of productive combat.
Heather since published a short interview with me about the Ludic Century for the MacArthur Foundation’s Spotlight Blog. In it, we chat about games, literacy, and the three elements of the Ludic Century – systems, play, and design.
And there’s more. Last night, I was delighted to watch brilliant media scholar McKenzie Wark expertly dissect the Ludic Century as part of the events series “Videogames Theory Criticism” at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. It was equal parts painful and illuminating – like watching a veteran surgeon operate on your own body. Highly recommended.
Last fall at the start of the school year, legendary game designer and play theorist Bernie DeKoven visited the NYU Game Center for a lecture and workshop. I just came across these photos from his visit on the NYU Game Center flickr site and wanted to share them here.
Bernie had asked me to co-lead the 2-hour New Games session, and it was humbling to work side by side with him – like Mohammed Ali asking you to spar a few rounds. We led the 50 or so participants through Rock Paper Scissors Tag, Vampire, Prui, and many other classic New Games.
Bernie also recently published a new book – A Playful Path – with ETC press. It’s a spiritual successor to his groundbreaking book The Well-Played Game, full of stories and insights about living the playful life.
Last night Charles Pratt and I played sports commentators at the first official event of the recently relocated NYU Game Center – an exhibition tournament of the indie arcade game Killer Queen. A 5 vs. 5 game housed in a beautiful custom cabinet, Killer Queen is the creation of NYC game designers Josh DeBonis and Nik Mikros. Commissioned by the NYU Game Center’s No Quarter exhibition that Charles curates every year, Killer Queen is a mash-up of platform jumper, real-time strategy, and the classic 80s game Joust. Although it has the deceptively simple look of a 16-bit console game, Kill Queen encourages each 5-player team to use deep strategy and fast-action skills to best the opposing team and reach one of the three distinct winning conditions.
Streamed live on twitch.tv, Charles and I provided play-by-play commentary and analysis for about two hours – from the preliminary bouts to the nail-biting championship. It was challenging, exhausting, and incredibly enjoyable. I have a new appreciation for the rigors of eSports announcers! The video from the tournament has been archived here. The first 40 minutes are set-up and practice matches, so you might want to skip the beginning of the stream (we have some audio problems at the start). Nik and Josh hold KIller Queen tournaments once a month – so please come join us next time!
Over the last few months, I’ve been on a few excellent podcasts that I wanted to share here.
- The strategic minds at the Ludology Podcast – Ryan Sturm and Geoff Engelstein – had an in-depth discussion with me about the idea of emergence – the way that unexpected patterns emerge out of complex systems – and what that has to do with playing and designing games.
- Internet funnyman and geek connoisseur Jeff Rubin devoted a podcast episode to the NYU Game Center, where he drilled me on the details of our game design MFA program and other aspects of our curriculum and community.
- I also had a great conversation with Wes Wilson and Spencer Williams at Core Elements, discussing the intersection of real life and games and drilling into the idea of the “Ludic Century” and the special relationship that games have to the times in which we live.
Last weekend, PRACTICE happened. The conference – which I helped plan and organize with the other good folks at the NYU Game Center – brought together board and card game designers, videogame designers, and even the Secretary of the NCAA Rules Committee for a weekend of passionate presentations and debate about game design. But don’t take my word for it. Here is some of the great coverage that we’ve gotten on the conference.
Thanks to everyone that attended the conference – you are the ones that made it so special. We are already talking about next year’s PRACTICE conference. Hope to see you there!