'Future of games' conference GDC Next has added more exciting talks to its inaugural lineup: Raph Koster on the expanding definition and audience of games, Ouya's Julie Uhrman on 'Why Now Is the Best Time Ever to Be a Game Developer,' and Three Donkeys's Skaff Elias (a key figure in the creation of Magic: The Gathering) on tweaking luck and skill in game design.
This new event aims to highlight the future of video game development, with session tracks organized around 'Next Generation Game Platforms', 'Free To Play & New Business Models', and 'Smartphone & Tablet Games', as well as cloud and indie game tracks.
For veteran designer Raph Koster (Ultima Online), the future of games is already here -- and they're far exceeding the medium's traditional boundaries and expectations. Amidst gamified restaurants, immersive narrative experiences, political statements, and more, there are conflicts between audience subcultures and within the development community. Players get mad when a title isn't what they expected. Developers grow angry as they watch the encroachment of business practices they dislike.
In a titled talk 'Playing with "Game",' Koster will offer a craft-centric approach to these fundamental game dev questions: What do we make, who do we make it for, and how can we best make what we want? He will present a framework for thinking about varied types of interactive experiences, and the four types of problems that make for compelling play, along with practical design checklists and techniques for different kinds of game experiences.
Are we in a golden age of game development? Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman thinks so, and she'll explain why in her talk 'Why Now Is the Best Time Ever to Be a Game Developer,'. Expect Uhrman to discuss the many opportunities opening up in 2013 and 2014 for all independent game creators, and explain how to get devs' creativity into living rooms quicker, cheaper, and with less red tape.
Lastly, Three Donkeys owner Skaff Elias (former brand and business manager for Magic: The Gathering) will show how to identify luck and skill in your game, and balance them appropriately in a talk titled 'Luck and Skill in Games.' Both luck and skill can be just as much a function of the players as the game, Elias argues, and this talk will explore what factors may lead a designer to want to change them.
Be sure to check out the GDC Next Session Scheduler to see the other announced talks and begin your planning. Previously announced talks include Sony on free-to-play for PS4, Square Enix on its Collective publishing platform, and sponsored sessions from Tencent, Google, GREE.
Online registration is in full swing for GDC Next and the co-located ADC; register now and save up to $200 on ADC, GDC Next, or a combined VIP All Access Pass. For all the latest news on GDC Next, subscribe for updates via Facebook, Twitter, or RSS. Also, check out ADC's recently announced talks: Square product design lead Martin Pedrick on developing new design tools to move past wireframes and photo editors, and Sequence CEO Jojo Roy on app developers' opportunities to create new experiences using embedded sensor-driven data (and associated common pitfalls).