November 11, 2015
Why do we dedicate so much time to digital versions of ourselves – separate entities that can drain just as much attention and require more complex systems and processes than our physical selves, while we avoid necessary minutia in the real world?
Those of us in The Video Game Generation – every generation since and including X – are notorious for our aversion to maintenance of life’s little and big areas. It’s not that we can’t comprehend the importance of upkeep; we are just easily confounded by things from paperwork, task management and schedules to saving for retirement – as in, any activity that takes time and energy with no rewards other than life not falling immediately into chaos.
We hate it. We avoid it for as long as possible. We tell ourselves if we finish it we will reward ourselves with our favorite past time; video games.
Ironically, many popular mainstream games – those outside the hardcore gaming world yet omnipresent in the handheld devices of the masses – are resource management-driven games. Clash of Clans, Farmville, Hay Day, The Sims, Civilization and more are games that consist almost entirely of maintenance-based tasks.
We manage huge sprawling farms and within hours are producing yields that could feed small countries. We raise entire civilizations from nothing, raising, training, feeding, and deploying armies of thousands to raid other civilizations and take over their resources, only to do it all over again. We even create and manage small versions of ourselves and make sure their houses are in working order – raising and maintaining entire lives with jobs, schools, children, gardens, and everything else that comes with modern life – while shirking those same responsibilities in the real world.
In this talk we will explore this incredible contradiction. We discuss how to bridge the gap between our digital recreational lives and our boring physical ones. Is it possible that this bridge has the potential to increase our quality of life and make our real selves as happy and productive as our digital counterparts?
Games, like plays, may be written with intense detail or virtually none, leaving many elements to be sussed out by the director and actors. In context of play, design choices have the power to push players toward personal growth, but can just as easily trigger an allergic reaction when established systems do not meet expectations. Development teams must decide which details are essential to the intended function of the game, versus which ones restrain more than they enable a state of play. This kind of evaluation is never an easy task.
In creating the architect of a number of game systems and proceeding through numerous iterations of each, Robert LaCosse has conducted this kind of analysis first hand. He’s lived the give-and-take negotiation that is required to make systems embrace chaotic events and keep players engaged. As an Industrial Designer turned UX practitioner, Rob acknowledges the value applying these insights to other, non-game areas of design. He’ll discuss with us the heart of the matter across all HCI environments: the question of trust in and knowledge of the end user.
About the Speakers
Paul Culp is the co-founder and CEO of SuperGenius, a video game production studio in Oregon that helps companies like Activision, Telltale, Double Fine, and Gazillion ship some of the best games in the world. Paul has been leading teams for twenty years in the game industry and has helped ship countless titles for properties like The Walking Dead, Ultima Online, Tony Hawk, Skylanders, Tales of Monkey Island, The Sims, Broken Age, and The Marvel Universe. He has founded two studios during that time, both of which are considered the top of their fields in the US. He is currently working with Clackamas Community College to develop a comprehensive program preparing students for careers in video games.
Robert Lacosse currently serves as a User Experience Designer and Subject Matter Expert in games for Intel Corporation. His educational background includes industrial design, English, education, playwriting, and addiction studies. With 20 years experience in creating, running, and studying games, he is constantly working to expand the parameters of play in service of creating immersive experiences and player delight. His most recent product, “Blood Chemistry”, debuted at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in October 2014. In it, players were challenged to take on the role of a detective and piece together clues to eventually apprehend a party to murder.
Outside Intel, Robert has provided PR and design direction for GameStorm Game Convention, Westercon Game Convention, and Game Lab Oregon. The Victory Condition Arcade and Workshop, a project initially started with the support of Webvisions International Conference, has helped him keep a finger on the pulse of game design in Portland while increasing visibility of the game designer community and their products.
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