Toby from Mudlark, who curated the day, started off with a bit of controversy: “I hate the word playful, I don’t want a playful bank.” Rumours abound that several ad creatives in the audiences mouthed “oh shit!” to each other at this moment.
Naomi Alderman kicked off by sparking debate around character development, saying (I paraphrase) “wouldn’t killing hundreds of people change me, just slightly?”. She felt that although she loved playing Red Dead Redemption her character was still the same old schmuck as at the beginning of her quest.
Paul Bennun from Somethin’ Else introduced their soon to be launched audio-only iphone app Papa Sangre and showed us a bit of Audio Ping Pong from loneconspirator. Bennun tweeted later that his conference takeaway was of “the warning that ‘gameification’ is softly softly becoming the new ‘social networking’ - which must be resisted by us, who actually make games.”
James Huggins from Made in Me showed us some snippets of their new children’s site The Land of Me. Geekdad from Wired did an interview with him recently where he said, “a Mum emailed us to say that she was worried that the software wasn’t engaging enough because every time she played it with her son they had fun for only 10-15 minutes and then ended up on the kitchen floor drawing monsters. We were happy to tell her that’s exactly what we’re after”.
Leila from Shiftrunstop interviewed 9 year old Bea on the ethics of games. Bea talked about Super Chick Sisters made by Peta, which she described as “ like Mario cart but there’s hamburgers with fangs”. She also likes Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin, but wishes they had deeper levels of meaning e.g. why aren’t the igloos slowly melting to reflect climate change?
Nicolas Nova talked about the evolution of game controllers and will soon bring out an ipad app with all the material he has collated.
Pat Kane touched on the idea of “dark play” and made Bea (the only nine year old in the room) cover her ears for a some youtube examples of wince-worthy jokes that had never heard of the phrase “crossing the line”.
Richard Hogg is contrary. Contrary by his own admission. His thoughts on life are explained by this helpful Venn diagram:
He loves games that others hate – totally frustrating and hard to complete such as Enviro-Bear 2000 and vvvvvv
Then, the foursquare debate started and we voted on “the rules”. Ian Ravenscroft tweeted from the crowd “Foursquare rules at #playful10. Drive-by checkins: NO, Bus checkins: YES, Auto-post to Twitter: NO, Check-ins at home: NO ;-)”. So there, we’ve decided.
Tom Muller of Muller agency came to speak on the request of Toby Barnes and their mutual appreciation for fonts. He mainly talked about comic books and has a lot of love for Ivan Brandon with his new wave of comic book design as integral rather than add-on.
Jonathon Smith (Head of Production for TT Games) referenced Spice Girls, Mad Men and “knobs and anti-knobs” (the technical terms for lego design in case you’re wondering) and talked about “how we play to discover how we may play”.
Gamecamp’s James Wallis came up on stage to talk about his winning Spots vs Stripes game based on ol’ fashioned chalk-drawn hopscotch and the amazingly brave Sally Manning (hairdresser by day, budding game designer by night) came on stage and told us about her winning entry based on egg and spoon races. Goes to show that there’s no such thing as a “new” game perhaps?
Leila and Roo from Shiftrunstop beamed in an accomplice from Canada via Skype “it’s only bloody Dominik Diamond!” and proceeded to quiz him on his 90s video game knowledge.
Sebastian Deterding brought his impressive knowledge and research on the theory of game making to the stage. He pleaded with us not to write a paper about games and split the chapters up into “levels” (noted) and warned against the perils of “gamification” - badges and points do not a game make. He said “Rewards are not achievements: would an ‘earn a million points’ game be fun?” Read his presentation here.
Margaret Robertson had been up all night. Not fiddling around with Powerpoint, but building us a bespoke #playful10 version of Minecraft, the building game that lets you make new worlds – and then smash them down. Best quote: “The rest of the world thinks games are about points, scoring, levels… BUT THEY ARE NOT! They are only indicators of the *progress* in games.” Good point (no pun intended). More stuff on Minecraft from Gameify
Bertrand Duplat from Les Editions Volumiques showed us how paper could be a new platform for games – most interesting was his “pawns” recognition system for the ipad or iphone where the technology turns into a gamepiece.
Failbetter games Alexis Kennedy talked about “embracing delicious misery” and their successful game, Echo Bazaar. Very interesting to hear they tweak content depending on what’s most popular (via sharing stats from facebook and twitter). I particularly liked the learning that “doing bad things is fun” and people will repeatedly do things that make their characters literally ‘rot in prison’, as this gives player more collaterol to share.
Finally, self-confessed “we work in the music industry” (why be ashamed guys?!) Dom Hodge and Dave Hayes from Frukt and Soundcloud showcased music-hacks such as Six degrees of Black Sabbath, Disco Snake and swing-Sting via the swingmaker.
Check out other blog posts on #playful10 by Dan Light, Gameify, Nicolas Nova and Anjali at Made by Many