Monday, February 06, 2006

Game Design Master Class - Jun 23rd, 2005

I presented a game design workshop as part of the IGDA Brisbane Chapter Master Class on Sunday, 19th June 2005.

It was the first in a series of Master Classes organized by the local chapter and it was an amazing success. Prior to arriving on Sunday I knew we had 24 RSVPS to attend. I figured maybe half of those would be interested in design, but just in case I printed off 30 copies of my class notes.

Boy, did I underestimate the gaming community in Brisbane! I don't have the final numbers, but early estimates are that between 70 and 100 people turned up for the afternoon sessions that covered design, art, production and programming.

Just yesterday I was told that Queensland represents 45% of the Australian game development community - which is the highest percentage concentration of game developers in the country. Of course, you learn not to trust such statistics, but after Sunday I'm inclined to believe it. When I began making games in Brisbane in the early nineties, you could count the number of developers in Brisbane on one hand (of course, when I wrote and published my first game in my hometown of Kyogle in 1984, you could count the number of developers there on one finger!). But now there are over 400 individuals in Brisbane who earn a wage making video games. Small fry compared to San Francisco, but pretty impressive none the less.

Anyway, the workshop I did was inspired by a GDC workshop that Eric Zimmerman gave a few years back. I have to thank Eric and the team that day for opening my eyes that little bit wider. It's great to make games and still be able to learn new things.

If you want to check out the workshop I gave, you can download it here:

Basically it's all about creative brainstorming. The idea is to get people to take a popular game like Battleship and redefine it by changing the genre and some rules. What happens is that people are free to think outside the box and end up creating some interesting game play mechanics they normally wouldn't if they were thinking about wartime battle ships.

We had a lot of great game ideas on the day, ranging from medical emergency games to zombie horror games to a romance game in which you try and woo the girl of your dreams by presenting her with chocolates, flowers and long walks on the beach. They sound strange, but they actually work. And all of this was created within an hour.

Now that I've seen the thriving community we have here in Brisbane, I can't wait to do another design master class. This time I'll come prepared.

By the way, feel free to use the workshop material. I'd be interested to hear what sort of games you come up with.


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