rockym93 dot net

archive · tags · feed

Panel Beating

10 November 201504:48PMpaxtravel

The thing that this year's event really illustrated to me was the extent to which 2013 was an alpha test. The first PAX Australia was in a very different venue, and it wasn't quite big enough. Despite queueing for ages, getting into panels was pretty unlikely. For this year, though, that was vastly improved. The venue is perfect - logically laid out, and actually big enough. So this year, for the first time ever, I actually got to see a panel at PAX.

In fact, I didn't just get to see a panel. I got to see the keynote. Which last time I had to watch on the flight home, ripped from Youtube. That was a nice change.

The keynote was a pretty interesting way to kick everything off without actually saying all that much. At least not for me. The essence of the thing was Warren Spector, of Deus Ex fame, exhorting gamers to consider games on their merits as their own medium rather than comparing them to films, and trying to convince developers to stop trying to be filmmakers. Games, he said, were about interactivity and player choice, they were the ultimate in audience participation and collaborative storytelling, and we should be skeptical of anything trying to be otherwise.

All of which I've heard before, in a uni course on the subject.

The takeaway for me was kind of a corollary to that. Games are now bigger than cinema. Gaming is the dominant art form, not just a niche. So understanding how to use it to tell the stories we want to tell and craft the experiences that we want to share isn't just important for making the most of games. This is the medium that, for better or worse, is going to be the way we tell stories for at least this few decades, if not this century. Figuring it out, both as producers and consumers (and yeah, how that line blurs when you're playing, not just consuming) is going to become basic literacy for a huge chunk of our culture for all time. We owe it to everyone who is going to study the great works of this era as literature to figure this stuff out, to nail it, to start making interesting things that might be able to survive the tests of time. The state of the art right now is, mostly, not art, and we owe it to the fabric of the culture we're creating to actually do something cool with this.

None of which was in the talk, but anyway.

Two other panels kind of stood out to me.

One was the Nano Jam, where a motley assortment of designers, an artist, and a musician, attempted to concept out as many games as possible in 45 minutes.

nano jam

This was bloody hilarious to watch, but also, in the context of the above, kind of depressing. What I would've liked to see was cool game ideas, totally wacked out mechanics, and weird concept art. And yes, a decent dose of humour. What I got was an incredibly funny panel of talented people who kind of phoned in every randomly drawn set of concepts by pasting memes on to one or more existing app store style game genres.

Maybe I was expecting too much? Maybe I was hoping for more of an actual game jam type thing, with an emphasis on creativity rather than a stand-up comedy show? Or - hey - maybe the creative juices just weren't flowing for them that day.

On the other hand, maybe I'm not actually missing out on much in the way of mobile gaming by locking myself up in my Windows-y tower.

So yeah, I had higher hopes for that one than it perhaps deserved, but I think I did learn something about mobile game development culture.

The counterpoint to this was Dragon Friends, which I was planning on skipping, because hey, I know what D&D is, right? How different can it be to watch it live on stage? Plus it backed right on to the closing ceremony, and I didn't want to miss out on the final round of the Omegathon*.

I decided to check it out when I found out that WA senator Scott Ludlam would be joining in the game.

It turns out if you get funny enough people, and a talented enough game master, and a hall full of people who understand the rules and the tropes (and aren't going to bring any of the stigma that the game traditionally carries in with them), and then sprinkle live background music on top, that D&D is actually a pretty great spectator sport.

dragon friends

And the senator brought his own dice, which if you ask me, is an excellent reason to vote for him.

Their backlog is all podcasted, and it is amazing.

*(More on the Omegathon tomorrow.)

< Self Control Live Culture >