Sessions at SXSW Interactive 2012 about Game Design

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Saturday 10th March 2012

  • Bridge the Gap Between Casual vs. Hardcore Games

    by Jack Buser and Scott Rohde

    With the emergence of highly accessible electronic games developed for Facebook and smartphones, there has been a clear democratization of electronic gaming that has led to many people discovering video games for the first time. It has also caused some to suggest that console game companies such as PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox could struggle to survive against the games targeting casual gamers from companies like Zynga and Glu. However, what these casual gamers are really showing is that the expansion of this technology is opening up new gameplay opportunities to the advantage of developers. Technology is progressing in many ways, helping developers improve the game experience. For example, technology is making games part of everyday life. Rendering technology is also becoming increasingly available and powerful. This combination creates game experiences that are more diverse, and many games are now blurring the line between casual and hardcore games.

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Saturday 10th March

    In Room 4-5, Palmer Event Center

    Coverage audio clip

  • Mobile Games: The Secret Sauce Is Social

    by Eiji Araki

    As the popularity of mobile games continues to experience rapid growth, social elements are emerging as the significant ingredient to successful games - and for good reason. They are the future of mobile gaming.With the proliferation of smartphones in America, it is the right time to usher in a next generation of mobile gaming that is social at its core. Eiji Araki, SVP of Product at GREE International, Japan's leading mobile social gaming platform with 5 years experience in making successful social games, will discuss user behavior and key game mechanisms that make games popular. Eiji will focus on the 3 essential parts of a game: user acquisition, engagement, and monetization in the context of both game design and social design. He will discuss the role of long and short term game cycles, the necessity for a social graph, the importance of fostering cooperation, competition, and communication, and platform requirements.

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday 10th March

    In Salon H, Hilton Austin Downtown

    Coverage audio clip

  • Surviving the Night: An International ARG Tell All

    by Brandon Schmittling, Sean Mahan, Thomas Lotze, Markus Hametner and Sam Lavigne

    Each Summer, thousands of people of all ages and interests participate in local variations of the alternate reality game known as "Journey to the End of the Night", a free, non-sponsored, community-supported race through the streets of major metropolitan cities. The rules are simple but the outcome is anything but: Players travel between checkpoints as fast as they can while avoiding being caught by chasers. Those who survive are rewarded while those who are caught become chasers themselves. Based on the successes of SFZero's model of collaborative gaming, Journey to the End of the Night has grown into an international cultural phenomenon and continues to fascinate new players year after year.

    This panel brings together game organizers from the EU and both coasts of the United States to discuss the motivation, planning, and concept development behind each Journey, the need for mass-culture events free of mainstream influence, use of mobile gaming technology, stories and unique insights from the field, and what has been learned from more than 20 combined years of planning and executing this unique alternate reality game.

    At 5:00pm to 6:00pm, Saturday 10th March

    In Room 1-2, Palmer Event Center

Sunday 11th March 2012

  • Make a Kinection: The Future of Interactive Design

    by Amish Patel

    Make the Kinection!

    Microsoft Kinect is the technology which is undoubtedly poised to unlock the next generation of digital design and allows us to bridge the gaps between physical and digital.

    As Kinect becomes more prevalent, more open and generally smarter we need to look at how this new technology expands our palette of interactive experiences.

    Join members of the XBOX Design team in a conversation about the essence of Kinect, the power it holds, its unique challenges, capabilities and a glimpse into the future!

    At 9:30am to 10:30am, Sunday 11th March

    In Salon J, Hilton Austin Downtown

    Coverage audio clip

  • User Research: Lessons from Borderlands

    by Stephanie Puri and Matthew Armstrong

    A few years ago, Gearbox Software started a user research department called "Truth" while developing Borderlands. The team started with 2 people, no budget and a stack of flyers. By treating our testers as part of a community, this program has gone from a few testers in a list to a database of thousands in a short time. Truth was vital to the success of Borderlands, and saw over 600 people participating in 170 sessions in the last year of development. Stephanie Puri (Truth Team Manager and User Researcher) and Matthew Armstrong (creator, designer, and director of Borderlands) share concrete examples from the development of Borderlands that demonstrate how anyone with a need for information and some creative thinking can get the feedback they need with the resources they have.

    At 11:00am to 12:00pm, Sunday 11th March

    In Room 4-5, Palmer Event Center

    Coverage audio clip

  • Designing Positive Daily Addictions

    by Tom Noland, Gigi Peterkin, David Rose and Christine Robins

    There’s no secret behind what makes for healthy living. Don’t smoke, eat right, and get some exercise to start. The problem is, being healthy feels a lot like work.
    So our core question: How can we make healthy behavior as seductive as a kiss or as addicting as a bag of potato chips? Once you go in for one, you can’t stop.
    This panel will shed light on what’s working – and what’s not – when it comes to using interactive tools to turn good health habits into actions people crave. We’ll explore the role of rewards and recognition; the forces such as love and fear; and the effectiveness of fun, enchantment and ambient integration.
    More specifically, we’ll take a close look at innovative programs that are helping to change people’s engagement in their health, and drive new habits; and we’ll also explore the successes of non-health programs such as Angry Birds for how we can translate their stickiness to health.
    And then we’ll talk about what happens when the “game” is over. Do people relapse? How can that be prevented – if at all?

    At 12:30pm to 1:30pm, Sunday 11th March

    In Classroom 204, AT&T Conference Center

    Coverage audio clip

  • The Power of Contemplative Play

    by Justin Hall, Ben Cerveny and Robin Hunicke

    Play is a human thing. Before games, even before language, we play. Play is the first tactic we use for understanding our environment and each other. Let's forget about "gamification" for a second (phew!) and look at where unstructured play can take us in digital experiences. Tablets and smartphones provide a whole new context for interaction, and by all accounts it seems that whatever experiences arise there, they will be far more playful than on the desktop. The networked entertainment system, already the site of much of the culture around 'gaming', is branching out to offer all sorts of different media experiences. How can play help make sense of this new landscape? Both Planetary by Bloom Studio and Journey by That Game Company explore new types of contemplative play and help define a new genre in gaming and applications.

    At 3:30pm to 4:30pm, Sunday 11th March

    In Room 1-2, Palmer Event Center

    Coverage audio clip

Tuesday 13th March 2012