Game Developers Conference 2012 organizers have revealed the first Summit sessions for the San Francisco show, with highlights including Playdom on the lack of iconic social game characters, SingStar co-creator Paulina Bozek on changing player behavior, and indie studio Untold Entertainment on Ponycorn Adventure's viral success.
The GDC Summits will take place Monday, March 5 through Tuesday, March 6, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and will offer specialized looks into emerging or otherwise influential sectors of the games industry.
This year, GDC will feature a total of eight Summits, with topics including AI, Localization, Education, Independent Games, Smartphone & Tablet Games, and Social & Online Games -- new to the show this year are the Game IT Summit and Games for Change @ GDC.
The initial sessions and lectures featured at the GDC 2012 Summits include the following:
- In the Social & Online Games Summit, Playdom VP and studio head Kenny Shea Dinkin will host "Character Assassination," a talk examining the (lack of) iconic characters in social gaming.
Dinkin will argue that while social games attract millions of users, there aren't many memorable characters in this space, especially compared to more traditional platforms. With this in mind, he will examine the narrative possibilities that exist within social games, and explore what it would take to make a beloved social game character.
- Over in the Game IT Summit, Paulina Bozek, SingStar co-creator and CEO of Inensu, will take a close look at how her company's fashion app modifies player behavior by encouraging them to embrace their own style over buying into the latest trends. The talk, dubbed, "Applying Game and Social Mechanics to Sustainable Fashion: Closet Swap Case Study," will examine the ways in which the social app Closet Swap works toward positive behavioral change while still creating an experience that is rewarding and fun.
- Finally, Ryan Henson Creighton, president of Untold Entertainment, will host the Independent Games Summit talk, "Ponycorns: Catching Lightning in a Jar." Reflecting on his studio's Sissy's Magical Ponycorn Adventure (pictured), Creighton will outline how the game -- which was co-developed by his five year old daughter -- found viral success, noting the ways in which the team sustained excitement for the game via merchandising, contests, press outreach, and more.
Using this experience, he will teach other developers how to generate excitement for upcoming projects, maintain existing success, and turn surprise hits into powerful brands.