GDC 2012’s Advocacy Track debuts White House, ‘women in games’ lectures

white-house.jpgToday, Game Developers Conference 2012 organizers are highlighting the show’s new Advocacy Track, which will cover key issues facing the game industry, spanning White House-led initiatives to gender equality and beyond.

This special mini-track is new to the conference this year, and aims to improve the game industry by shedding light on pertinent social or cultural issues in the game biz that sometimes don’t get sufficient attention.

The sessions within this track will are open to All Access and Main Conference pass holders. Those interested in checking out these sessions can register for a pass on the official GDC website (online registration ends next Wednesday, February 29).

Here are just a few of the Advocacy Track’s most notable sessions:

– In “Games to Address National Challenges,” Constance Steinkuehler Squire, a senior policy analyst for the U.S. President’s White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, will detail how the Obama administration hopes to use video games to improve learning, physical health, mental well-being, and more.

Throughout the session, she will explore the government’s interest in games, review trends in game-related government investments, detail what game R&D looks like on the Federal level, possible partnerships in this sector, and future trends for the medium.

– In a talk addressing gender equality, Mare Sheppard of the indie game studio Metanet Software (N+) will explain why the game industry needs to view itself as a single community, rather than a segmented population with “others” and rigidly defined social structures.

Her intentionally provocatively-titled talk, “Why I Hate Women in Games Initiatives,” will specifically look at women in the game industry, noting that video game professionals need to embrace diversity in order to remain fresh, creative and adaptive. She will also consider what the industry needs to do to find a proper solution to this problem.

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GDC Play adds Game of Thrones, GardenQuest devs to showcase lineup

GameThrones.jpgGDC 2012 is drawing ever closer, and show organizers have chosen to highlight even more of the notable and eccentric game developers at the first-ever GDC Play showcase.

As outlined previously, GDC Play is a new program that gives emerging game developers a chance to show off their games to a host of specially invited industry decision makers, in addition to the 19,000-strong GDC attendee base.

The showcase itself will take place Tuesday March 7th through Thursday March 9th in the Esplanade Ballroom in the South Hall of Moscone Center in San Francisco, and all GDC attendees are welcome to check out the products and companies on display at specially designed IGF Pavilion-style kiosks and meeting rooms.

In addition, GDC 2012 All-Access Pass holders and exhibitors can also sign up in the recently announced GDC Business Matchmaking software and book meetings with GDC Play companies right now, or can turn up on site to check out the kiosks.

The GDC Play hall will also be home to the recently announced ‘History Of 3D Games’ exhibit from the Bay Area-based Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, also free to all GDC attendees.

Here are the latest organizer-highlighted companies at the band new GDC Play showcase:

– The social gaming startup 10-20 Media will host a booth at GDC Play to showcase GardenQuest, a 3D Facebook title about — as the name implies — gardening. The game itself will also include its own virtual economy in which real-world gardening brands and retailers can reach out to consumers with branded virtual goods, rewards, and more. The company is currently looking for potential partners to increase its social growth.

– Elsewhere, Australian developer Brawsome will demo the upcoming PC adventure game MacGuffin’s Curse. Overall, the team focuses on capturing the spirit of classic point-and-click titles for a modern audience. The studio is also interested in looking to the mobile realm, and it hopes to meet some interesting partners at GDC Play.

– Perhaps best known for titles such as Pro Cycling Manager, Loki, and Dungeon Party, the French team at Cyanide Studio will discuss its upcoming titles based on existing popular IP, including George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones (pictured), Games Workshop’s Blood Bowl, and Rackham’s Confrontation. At GDC Play, Cyanide plans to pitch original IPs to some potential publishing partners.

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GDC 2012 details Moriarty, Della Rocca, ‘Rant’ sessions in Education Summit

BM.jpgFor the latest update on the Game Developers Conference 2012, show organizers have detailed several sessions within the Education Summit, featuring adventure game veteran Brian Moriarty (pictured) on “sinister” game courses, a look at university based game incubation, and a series of rant sessions from the industry’s leading educators.

These sessions join a host of other talks within the show’s Education Summit, which will explore experimental educational techniques and influential game research that educators can bring back into the classroom.

As one of GDC 2012’s eight specialized Summits, the Education Summit will take place during the first two days of the show — from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out any of the Summit content can do so by registering for an All Access or Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website.

Here are the newest education-focused talks to be added to GDC 2012’s Education Summit:

– In a session exploring experimental game design curricula, adventure game veteran Brian Moriarty (Wishbringer, Beyond Zork, Loom) will share his “sinister” method for teaching students about game development.

Moriarty’s talk, “Lehr und Kunst mit Perlenspiel,” will detail how he plunges his students deep into the trenches of game design, tasking them with developing five complete games over the course of a seven week term. He will argue that this peculiar strategy is surprisingly effective at equipping students with the knowledge they need to succeed in the game business.

– Elsewhere, regular GDC speaker and former IGDA executive director Jason Della Rocca will host “Incubating Indie Games at University.” Here, Della Rocca will look back on a recent eight-week course at Montreal’s Concordia University, in which indie developers and university staff worked together to develop a number of diverse game prototypes. The session will detail lessons learned from the experience, and will illustrate the importance of bridging the gap between game development and academia.

– In “Game Educators Rant!,” a group of leading teachers, scholars, and professors will share their insight and speak out on topics of their choosing, ranging from students, schools, pedagogy, the future of game education, and much more. Of course, given the nature of GDC’s rant sessions, the panelists are almost certain to explore some unexpected and unusual issues. Speakers will include prominent game designer and researcher Ian Bogost, UC Santa Cruz’ Michael Mateas, storied developer and writer Jesse Schell, WallFour’s Adam Russell, and New York University’s Jesper Juul.

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GDC 2012 details Game IT Summit talks featuring McGonigal, Bogost, more

JMG.jpgGame Developers Conference 2012 organizers have debuted a series of notable sessions within the first-ever Game IT Summit, featuring talks from prominent game developers and researchers such as Jane McGonigal (pictured), Ian Bogost, and much more.

This new Summit, scheduled for Monday, March 5, will examine how video games can help accomplish organizational roles through enterprise-focused game development.

Across its numerous sessions, the Game IT Summit will cover new ways to boost productivity, increase user engagement, and encourage group interaction through games.

As Summit advisor Ian Bogost puts it, this Summit isn’t about “gamification,” but about something far greater.

“Rather than think of Game IT as a less odious nickname for ‘gamification,’ think of it instead as a more deliberate and long-term commitment to the process of making and using games in the service of different industries.”

“This isn’t about the next hype cycle or trend, but about figuring out how to make use of games as infrastructure in the context of organizations,” he said.

Those interested in checking out the Game IT Summit can do so by registering for an All Access or Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website passes page.

The following are some of the notable sessions to be held within this new Summit:

– The Game IT Summit will open with a series of mini-talks focusing on how games can solve problems by encouraging group interaction. The session, “Game Structured Hiveminds: Organizing People & Solving Problems with Fun,” will cover a handful of new game-based projects that use crowdsourcing and collaboration to help researchers decode the human genome, coordinate civic logistics, and develop artificial intelligence. Speakers include Digitalmill’s Ben Sawyer (Virtual U), McGill University’s Jerome Waldispuhl, Entertainment Technology Center’s Evan Brown, and Citizen Logistics’ Joe Edelman.

– Elsewhere, a panel of speakers will present their responses to a challenge posed at GDC 2011 — to create games that help players stay healthy or fight physical and mental illness. In “Health IT! Enterprising Approaches to Combining Health and Games,” speakers such as Social Chocolate’s Jane McGonigal, ShapeUp’s Rajiv Kumar, and GreenGoose’s Brian Krejcarek will showcase games and technologies that promote mental, physical and social resilience, boost physical well-being, and much more.

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GDC 2012 highlights Sims Social, F2P design panel, Naughty Dog talks

sims-social.jpgAs part of a continuing series of updates for the 2012 Game Developers Conference, show organizers have revealed three new sessions within the Game Design track, featuring a panel with notable speakers such as David Edery (Spry Fox) and Ben Cousins (Ngmoco Sweden), and presentations on EA’s The Sims Social and Naughty Dog’s approach to psychologically-led design.

As part of the discipline-specific Game Design track, these talks will feature some of the industry’s top designers, who will offer insight on using new technologies, designing gameplay systems, refining in-game mechanics, and much more.

The sessions will take place alongside the rest of GDC 2012’s Main Conference, which will be held Wednesday, March 7th to Friday, March 9th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out any of the content within the Main Conference can do so by registering for an All Access or Main Conference pass on the official GDC website passes page.

The following are some of the newest lectures to be added to GDC 2012’s Main Conference:

– In a major panel dubbed, “Designing for Free: How Free-to-Play Games Blur the Line Between Design and Business,” four talented game designers will discuss how to blend fun game design with the business needs of this emerging free-to-play model.

The session will be moderated by Quarter to Three’s Tom Chick, and will feature Spry Fox’s David Edery (Triple Town), Ngmoco Sweden’s Ben Cousins (Battlefield Play4Free), Dragon Age Legends and Civilization IV designer Soren Johnson, and LucasArts’ Matthias Worch, all of whom will discuss the inherent design challenges that come with free to play games

– Elsewhere, Ray Mazza, creative director at EA’s Playfish, will look back at the studio’s recent Facebook hit, The Sims Social (pictured). During his talk, “Life is a Social Game: Lessons Learned Bringing The Sims to Facebook,” Mazza will outline how the team adapted the popular big-budget franchise to social platforms, and he will discuss the game’s emphasis on player-to-player interaction, an essential factor in its eventual success.

– Finally, noted Naughty Dog lead game designer Richard Lemarchand (Uncharted franchise) will discuss how to improve game design by focusing on the psychological forces that drive a player’s attention. The talk, “Attention, Not Immersion: Making Your Games Better with Psychology and Playtesting, the Uncharted Way,” will pick apart the overlapping phenomena of entrancement, compulsion and depth, offering insight on how to better hold a player’s attention and, hopefully, make games that are more fun to play.

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GDC 2012 details newest Localization Summit talks

headphones.jpgGame Developers Conference 2012 show organizers have unveiled a trio of newer sessions for the Localization Summit, featuring Square Enix on multi-language development, Crytek on minimizing risk, and a series of microtalks on the key issues surrounding game localization.

These sessions join a number of other exciting talks for the event’s Localization Summit, which will cover topics ranging from emerging translation strategies, tips for maximizing ROI, and how to expand a game’s global reach.

As one of GDC 2012’s eight specialized Summits, the Localization Summit will take place during the first two days of the show — from Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Those interested in checking out any of the Summit content can do so by registering for an All Access or Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website.

Here are the newest localization-focused talks to be added to GDC 2012’s lineup:

– In “Audio Localization Done Right: Simultaneous Scripting and Recording,” Square Enix audio programmer Hikaru Taniyama and localization translator Masaharu Shibayama will showcase the Final Fantasy creator’s internal localization tool to demonstrate how to enable simultaneous audio script translation and multi-language recording. Through this presentation, the speakers will demonstrate some key tips for streamlining the localization process and allocating developer resources.

– Elsewhere, Crytek localization manager Judith Matz will shed some light on what localization entails, and what other developers should take care of before the process takes place. The talk, titled “Crysis Management: Localization from a Developer’s Perspective,” will pinpoint critical localization risks that arise during game production, and will offer some strategies to prevent these risks from turning into real disasters.

– Finally, the Localization Summit will host its very first series of microtalks on the key issues facing the discipline. During “Localization Microtalks: Around the World with Five Topics in Sixty Minutes,” speakers from U-Trax, NekoNeko, GamersFirst, Quirkat, and Monotype Imaging will discuss marketing, typographic considerations, indie adaptations, and much more.

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GDC 2012 debuts ‘Poster Sessions’ on game jams, smart builds, more

Poster-Sessions.jpgFor today’s update on the 2012 Game Developers Conference, show organizers have detailed this year’s series of “Poster Sessions,” which offer small-scale, intimate presentations from BioWare, Crystal Dynamics and others on new programming techniques, design strategies, production tips, and much more.

As the name implies, the GDC Poster Sessions are presented in front of a physical poster, and speakers will outline their thesis to a small group of attendees, often engaging in one-on-one discourse throughout the session.

These half-hour talks will be held three or four at a time in the second floor overlook of the West Hall of San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where GDC is being held. They will repeat twice over the course of an hour, giving attendees a chance to check out multiple sessions, even if their time slots overlap.

All Poster Sessions will take place between during lunch hours on Wednesday to Friday, March 7th to 9th, as part of GDC’s Main Conference. The following are some of the standout Poster Sessions for the upcoming show:

– BioWare software developer Dave Schaefer will offer some programming-focused tips to help streamline development and prevent unexpected errors. His talk, “No Broken Builds: Increasing Team Velocity with Preflight,” will detail how BioWare revamped its pipeline for Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age 2 to implement automated preflight tests, allowing programmers to easily test their work and maintain momentum.

– Game jams can prove an excellent opportunity to flex your creative muscles and experiment with new ideas, and Tagged Inc. junior game designer Auston Montville argues they can be useful even to full-fledged game studios. In “Game Studios Can (and Should) Jam Too!,” Montville will outline Tagged’s internal game jams, noting how they can inspire employees and spark renewed creativity.

– Elsewhere, Seth Gibson, a senior technical artist at Crystal Dynamics, will host “You Got Art In My Test Suite!” Here, he will explain how to develop test suites for Python based tools interfaces, and how to incorporate unit test content into existing test suites using a series of useful Python features.

– Game designer Joshua DeBonis of Sortasoft will present an interesting design strategy to help spark new ideas with a talk dubbed “Game Design in Parallel.” DeBonis will argue that by designing two games around a similar subject or idea, developers can more easily solve design problems by looking at two complementary concepts.

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GDC 2012 details first-ever Games for Change @ GDC Summit

G4C-GDC.jpgToday, Game Developers Conference 2012 show organizers have chosen to detail the brand-new Games for Change @ GDC Summit, which features talks with Eidos life president Ian Livingstone, Sojo Studios on its charity-focused WeTopia, a panel of designers on how games can explore love as a thematic focus, and more.

This new Summit, scheduled for Tuesday, March 6th, and organized in partnership with the non-profit group Games for Change, will examine how video games can serve as critical tools in humanitarian and educational efforts.

In addition, the Summit gives funders, NGOs, government agencies, and educators a chance to meet and collaborate with some of the leading developers from the independent and commercial sector to further the development of games that promote social good.

Those interested in checking out the notable content within Games for Change @ GDC can do so by registering for an All Access for Summits & Tutorials pass on the official GDC website passes page.

The following are some of the major talks on offer at Games for Change @ GDC:

– In “From Dungeons to Downing Street – How Games are Growing Up for Good!,” Games Workshop co-founder and Eidos life president Ian Livingstone will outline how video games can help players learn about solving puzzles, making decisions, and more. He will also discuss his efforts to demonstrate the positive elements of video games, and improve the perception of the industry within the UK government.

– Elsewhere, Sojo Studios founder and CEO Lincoln Brown will detail WeTopia, a recent social game that donates much of its profits to charitable organizations around the world. The talk, “WeTopia: Game Companies & Nonprofits Creating New Business Models,” will examine the game’s hybrid business model and its numerous relationships with private investment partners and non-profit charity groups.

– In the panel, “How Designing for Love Can Change the World,” six notable game designers will explore how video games can explore love as a primary thematic element. Within this session, speakers such as Social Chocolate’s Jane McGonigal and Chelsea Howe, Zoonami’s Martin Hollis, Heart Shaped Games’ Scott Brodie, The Tiniest Shark’s Mitu Khandaker, and Namco Bandai’s Michael Molinari will work with UC Santa Cruz’s Jane Pinckard to explore how game mechanics can revolve around love and affection, how these games can affect a player’s emotions, and more.

– According to Jan L. Plass from NYU’s Games for Learning Institute, even the most educational-focused video games need finely-tuned mechanics to capture a player’s attention. In his talk, “AAA Game Mechanics Inspiring Learning and Assessment Mechanics,” he will consider what educational games can learn from blockbuster, AAA releases, and will showcase some strategies for designing game mechanics based on the learning sciences.

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GDC 2012 debuts Game Design Challenge, Skylanders, Deus Ex sessions

skylanders.jpgThis week, Game Developers Conference 2012 show organizers have announced new talks, including Activision on the innovative Skylanders, this year’s Game Design Challenge participants, and a Deus Ex: Human Revolution design postmortem, as well as a talk on IGF Grand Prize nominee Frozen Synapse.

All of these talks fall within the show’s Game Design track, one of the seven main tracks at the jam-packed Main Conference taking place Wednesday, March 7th to Friday, March 9th. Here, the industry’s top designers will share their techniques for getting the most out of modern technologies, defining new gameplay systems, refining in-game mechanics, and more.

Those interested in checking out all of the notable content within the Main Conference can do so by registering for an All Access or Main Conference pass on the official GDC website passes page.

The following are some of the newest lectures to be added to GDC 2012’s Main Conference:

– Activision’s Skylanders transmedia franchise has recently taken the toy and video game industries by storm, and senior design specialist Mike Stout will detail its development in “Reaching Into the Toy-Chest: A Look into Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure‘s Design.”

This talk will outline the highs and lows of Skylanders‘ creation (pictured), detailing how Activision developed a game with 32 playable characters, integrated the experience with a full line of toys, and reacted to the game’s overwhelming success.

– In addition, GDC’s classic Game Design Challenge will return to give developers a chance to showcase their best designs based on a given theme. Last year, participants were asked to create a game that was also a religion, a stand-out talk that was so fascinating that it became a Wired magazine article.

This time, they will be asked to design a game that has a measurably positive impact on its players — and can be played in 60 seconds or less. Last year’s champion, indie developer Jason Rohrer (Passage, Between), will take on two new challengers – Uncharted franchise lead game designer Richard Lemarchand and Sinistar and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis co-creator Noah Falstein. GDC attendees will vote to determine which one comes out on top.

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GDC 2012 reveals Super Mario 3D Land, Resident Evil Revelations postmortems

Mario3D.jpgGame Developers Conference 2012 show organizers have revealed major new Japanese-helmed talks giving postmortems of Super Mario 3D Land and Resident Evil Revelations, also detailing the other translated talks for the event.

Once again this year, GDC is the only Western conference to feature a series of Japanese-language talks from some of the region’s most influential developers. In order to bring this content to GDC’s English-speaking attendees, the show has partnered with prominent localization firm 8-4, which has sourced speakers and will provide simultaneous English translations for all of these Japanese talks.

With this expanded partnership, GDC has ramped up the amount and quality of the simultaneously translated Japanese and English presentations. These talks will all take place between March 7 through March 9 in the San Francisco Moscone Center’s North Hall, Room 132, and are part of GDC’s robust Main Conference.

Here are the latest Japanese-language talks to be featured at GDC 2012, including two major new announcements:

– As part of GDC’s Game Design track, Nintendo game director Koichi Hayashida will detail the use of stereoscopic visuals drove the design and development of the recent 3DS hit Super Mario 3D Land. In his talk, “Thinking In 3D: The Development of Super Mario 3D Land,” Hayashida will share his insight on developing for and understanding the fundamentals of 3D-enabled devices. In addition, he will share several key development philosophies learned from Mario creator and legendary Nintendo designer, Shigeru Miyamoto.

– Elsewhere in the Game Design track, Capcom producer Masachika Kawata will host “Revealing the Truth About Resident Evil Revelations.” Here, he will explain why Capcom chose to bring this major franchise to Nintendo’s newest 3DS handheld, and will delve into how the team made some key changes to the game’s controls and design, while maintaining the series’ classic survival horror feel.

– In yet another Game Design talk, Mikio Watanabe, the vice president and COO of shoot ’em up game developer Cave, will host “Retro and Japanese Social Games on Smartphones.” This session will detail how Cave adapted several of its classic bullet-hell shooters to modern smartphones, while simultaneously exploring the current Japanese mobile game business, and what Western developers should be careful of when bringing their games to Japan.

In addition to the above sessions, GDC 2012 will also feature translated Japanese-language talks featuring Groove Coaster and Space Invaders Infinity Gene creator Reisuke Ishida on unique game design, Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune on the future of Japanese development, Sony’s Yoshiaki Yamaguchi on developing Gravity Rush for the PlayStation Vita, and a special Classic Game Postmortem from Harvest Moon creator Yasuhiro Wada.

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