The Game Developers Conference happened a few months ago, so I suppose it is high time I posted something about it.
This past year, I organized for the second time the exhibition Doing it On the Table – a playable lounge of card and board games designed by videogame creators. The project lets me intermingle the design cultures of videogames and tabletop games – and it also gives GDC attendees a place to hang out and socialize through play. Games this year ranged from Tash-Kalar, a commercial release by designer Vlaada Chavtil to When Dragons Fight, an old-school chit-based wargame from David Wessman. More about the exhibition and the lineup of games can be found in this Gamasutra preview article.
I also co-hosted the annual rant session with Jason Della Roca. This was the 10th rant panel we have organized at GDC, this time titled Rant Apocalypse: The 10 Anniversary Mega Session. to celebrate we invited several of our favorite ranters from the past to hold forth on whatever topic they wanted. Presenters did not disappoint – from Chris Hecker holding the room hostage with a “pay to continue” business model to Brenda Romero making sure that developers understood that “Nobody wants your cock.” Other outstanding rants were hammered home by Ian Bogost, Heather Chaplin, Greg Costikyan, Justin Hall, Mitu Khandaker-Kokoris, and Frank Lantz. A detailed Gamasutra review of the panel can be found here. A full video of the session is also available in the GDC Vault, as part of their free offerings.
Although the exhibition happened last fall, I finally have put documentation online for the exhibition of Flatlands at the Museum of Design Atlanta. A collaboration with architect Nathalie Pozzi, Flatlands is a game installation where two players search through an archive of 200 game boards to find the right one that will please a judge. Both players play cards that change and modify the judge’s criteria over time.
Flatlands was part of XYZ – Alternative Voices in Game Design, and Nathalie and I want to thank the curators Celia Pearce, Cindy Poremba, Adam Rafinski, John Sharp, and Akira Thompson for including us in the show and also for helping tremendously with the installation.
I’m especially excited about this amazing video shot and edited by The Raftermen in Atlanta. It gives a great sense of Nathalie’s space design and the overall experience of the game. You can more documentation about Flatlands, including complete game rules, on my project website.
This is something to see.
I am still processing the over-the-top, completely ridiculous and completely awesome video trailer that Philipe Nouhra and my publisher FunForge created for my new boardgame Quantum. You can see the video here on Boardgamegeek.com and it really does resemble nothing so much as a film trailer for a high-budget science-fiction film. (OK, maybe a rough cut with some of the scenes still storyboarded in – but you get the idea.)
Since my company Gamelab closed about four years ago, as a designer I have returned to my roots creating experimental games – my architectural installations with Nathalie Pozzi, and digital experiments with the Brooklyn Game Ensemble, the Leisure Society, and Local No. 12. That’s why it feels a little strange to be part of what feels like a “AAA boardgame” marketing campaign for Quantum.
But yet – I love it. Yes, it’s a boardgame. But it’s a boardgame with a kick-ass cinematic trailer. Possibly the most crazy-awesome video in the history of tabletop games. Nice work, Philipe.
Like the gleaming, spinning 3D chrome letters ask… Are you ready for Quantum?
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!
This post contains links to some of my favorite talks I’ve given over the last several months. If you are looking to geek out on game design, you have come to the right place.
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