Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Putting the design in game design.

Lately I've been thinking a great deal about game design, although in a different style than some of my game designer friends. I now have a number friends working in the games industry – Alec Austin, a friend of mine from C3, is going to be a game designer for Activision this fall; Chris Casiano is graduating from MIT as a CMS major and is heading to Austin to work for Midway; Kristina Drzaic, one of my cohorts, is heading to Australia to work in the games industry this fall; David Edery, a cofounder of the C3 group, is now working for the Xbox Live Arcade group in Seattle; Nick Hunter, who graduated from MIT last year, is now working as a producer at EA; Kent Quirk is the founder of Cognitoy here in Boston and is working on games for change; Dan Roy, one of my cohorts at CMS, is heading to San Francisco to work on an edutainment game after graduation; Chris Weaver is a cofounder of Bethesda Softworks and served on my thesis committee. This list doesn't even include Philip Tan, Peter Rausch, Scot Osterweil, Alice Robison, Doris Rusch, Ravi Puroshotma, Ben Decker, or a bunch of other folks. Tons of gamemakers, tons of game players, and tons of people thinking about games. I am proud to be one of them, although my own interests are a little different from these guys.

Each of these folks have noted strengths and interests – Dan's huge on edutainment games, Alice and Doris are looking at games in academia, Peter's looking at games and philosophy, and Alec's fascinated by the rule systems that make up the underlying architecture of game mechanics themselves. Me, I'm thinking about interactive narratives and how to emphasize design in game design.

I'm fascinated by the aesthetics and story of games. I'm fascinated by the moods created by games like Shadow of the Colossus and some parts of World of WarCraft. I'm wondering where the high design games are, about where the sense of style in games will come from, where the sense of auteurship comes from and, all too often, goes. I'm interested in the Shigeru Miyamotos, the Fumito Uedas, and so on. I'm interested in using the systems for alternative uses, such as digital poetry. I'm interested in the rise of indie gaming on widespread console systems with new initiatives like XNA. I want to know what happens when you make a game that feels like an issue of Vanity Fair, or what happens when you shift the emphasis in the game away from the interactivity and more towards immersion in a sensual experience.

I have a theory that says that all of these people who hoot and holler about how interactivity is the be-all and end-all of these new media forms need to go back and re-examine their media history. When television first appeared, its primary use was 'remote viewing', and it was only later that innovators began using it to broadcast pre-recorded narrative entertainment. The Internet was first developed as a military application for communications and backups; look at how far it's grown past those initial models. I suspect that the games industry is headed for a similar course of development, if the infrastructure can be ironed out. The current market system for games is so ludicrously broken that I think only the digital download path can really offer the degree of continued commercial accessibility that the game industry requires to continue to grow.

I'm curious to see where all of this takes us, and where it's all going for the next couple of years. Suffice it to say that I'm in the right place at the right time for this whole thing – I'll post more about this once the ink dries, but I'll have something to announce here soon enough. Stay tuned!

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