Angry Bear 16 is Up! The Most Important Twitter Conversation Ever…

10 09 2009

I love me some Soren Johnson. For those of you unfamiliar with the name, he’s the brilliant mind behind much of the gaming goodness that was Civilization III and Civilization IV. As such, whenever he speaks at a conference or updates his personal blog, he’s always worth listening to. What I wasn’t expecting was Johnson’s July 16th entry (called “So this is what Twitter is for…”) regarding a fascinating Twitter exchange he had with some of the leading lights in game design regarding the relative importance of narrative versus actual gameplay.

According to Johnson, the conversation began in response to a somewhat controversial talk given by Too Human designer Denis Dyack at the Design 2009 conference. Johnson Tweeted to Dyack after the talk and was This was responded to by Harvey Smith. Then Clint Hocking Rob Fermier. Brenda Brathwaite and a host of other leading game designers that included Ian Bogost, David Jaffe, Damion Schubert and even John Romero started a long, complex conversation about the boundaries and importance of gameplay vs. narrative. It went on for a while.

(This week’s Angry Bear is my take on Dyack’s talk and the conversation that followed. At the risk of stepping on the toes of all these game designers whose work I’ve long admired, I’m going to say that while I understand where Denis is coming from, he’s drawn absolutely the wrong conclusion from his study. I’m hoping for some heated conversations this week.)
 
Check out the rest of the new column here!

And while you’re here, why not check out the rest of the Angry Bear Columns under the tab at the top of the page?

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The Most Important Twitter Conversation Ever (for Gamers)

7 09 2009

(Update: Sigh. I should have known that a post with a picture of Catherine Bell would be incredibly highly trafficked. If you’re at all interested in videogames and game design, why not click on the essay HERE and take a look around. There might be some fun stuff!)

I just discovered this July 16th post on the personal blog of Soren Johnson, the designer of Civilization IV and one of my personal gaming gods. I know, shame on me for not checking his blog in a while because what Soren has is always worth reading. Still, if you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s the transcript of an amazing Twitter conversation had by some of the leading lights in game design about a talk given by Denis Dyack at the Develop 2009 conference.

In the conference, Dyack said the following (Quoting from the Gamasutra story about the conference):

“Gameplay is not everything,” said Silicon Knights (Eternal Darkness) founder and president Denis Dyack. “If you look at the most popular games today, they are far more narrative-focused.”

“If games are to follow the trajectory of films, then the dominance of gameplay will diminish in place of an increased focus and importance on gaming’s stories and the ways in which they are told,” he added.

This apparently triggered a Tweet from Johnson to Dyack in which he asked:

SorenJohnson: Hey Denis, if you put the narrative in front of the gameplay, you are no longer making a game. You’re making a movie. http://bit.ly/193Qdz

This is what led to the conversation about the boundaries and importance of narrative and gameplay (the whole conversation is collected here) It’s a little confusing with a lot of crosstalk (This was a real time Twitter conversation after all) but it’s well worth reading through.

It’s also the subject of this week’s Angry Bear column. I may be a bit late to the conversation, but that doesn’t meant I can’t put my two cents in. This is the Internet after all. I’ll post and update when the new column is done.

(Yeah, I’m late. We spent the day at our friend’s house for a Labor Day BBQ. In penance, may I offer this awesome picture of the lovely Catherine Bell in a bikini.)

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