Here begins my long slow recap of GDC wherein I will ultimately get around to posting all of my various slides and presentation materials, as well as different commentary on the sessions I saw and what I thought was valuable about GDC this year.
First up is my quick recap of the Game Design Workshop tutorial. The GDW this year was the best yet, even eclipsing last years. It seemed a little smaller, but that might just be because we (ie: Mahk) were better organized and there were some structural changes that made it run more smoothly (I think I foolishly resisted making those changes last year... my bad).
It's clear to me (and not just from GDC) that the quality of students, new grads and recently-employed game developers is going up rapidly. I am pretty sure the rest of the GDW 'faculty' agrees with me on this. It is humbling - even a little bit intimidating - to see these smart new people rolling in and showing us that they have already learned much (or all) of the theory that underpins the workshop... good thing it's not a talky thing - but rather a practical, hands-on thing, or we'd be outta business (whether we all end up out of business in the broader sense remains to be seen).
Speaking of practical and hands-on, above is one of the groups that signed up for my elective 'Family Dynamics'. Family Dynamics is an exercise that asks each team to take a random graph which represents the relationship between two unnamed variables (ie: a mechanic) and a random word from a heavily loaded list of things related to families (ie: an aesthetic) and attempt to join the two using limited materials and their own design sensibilities.
The above team made a game about 'impotence' using a two-part graph that plotted (what they defined as) fertility and a progression through three-stages of emotional and physical arousal to try and explore how it might feel to struggle to conceive a child under the pressures that can build up in a family relationship over time.
It was an excruciatingly difficult exercise, I think, and not all of the teams made it through. The point is not really to succeed, though - it's to learn and I hope everybody did. Either way, whatever I come up with next year will likely be a bit less insane.
If you have any interest in reviewing the exercise materials, or in replicating the exercise yourself, feel free to download the parts I am able to make available, over on the left.