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GDC 07 Day 1

By dcacho
Monday, March 5th, 2007 at 4:40 pm in Gieson Cacho.

The first two days of the conference will be focused on the alternative side of industry: gaming on cell phones and serious (i.e. non-entertainment) games.

I sat in on a few of the serious-games sessions, most of which showed the diversity in the field. They were held in dimly lit halls with a sparse crowd clumped here and there. Folks had out their laptops and feverishly typed down words. Others just sat back and nodded their heads at the pronouncements.

When you’re in such a young field, a few name terms are bound to come up. The first I heard was “illuderacy” coined by Jesse Schell, a professor of entertainment technology at Carnegie Mellon University. The second new word I heard was “drama games,” which was mentioned in a session by Santiago Siri.

According to Schell, a person who is “illuderate” doesn’t understand the technique and science behind games. He mentioned this in context to the education potential of the medium.

Right now, games are being used as teaching tools for soldiers and doctors, but when it comes to the classroom of children, games are seen as something that doesn’t belong. There’s a disconnect there. “Games aren’t seen as a teaching tool” was a sentiment expressed by more than a few folks.

In Siri’s session, he talked about “drama games” a.k.a. gameplay that didn’t focus on what he said was “eating, killing and running.” (We’re looking at you, “Gears of War.”) In the presentation, he promoted a more dialogue-based game similar to other adventure titles.

Using an interactive storytelling tool, he showed off a political game called Utopia. In it, he explored how dialogue and gestures can be used to advance in the game.

Elsewhere on the floor, forklifts were moving things around on the Expo Hall. It looks like that part of the conference won’t open until Wednesday. Meanwhile, Microsoft has four teams trying to make a video game in 36 hours using its new XNA tool set.

There are two guys from Minneapolis competing against one person from the U.K., another from Brazil and a two-man team from Germany. For some reason, I could see a reality show come out of this. I just wonder how a 36-hour game looks like.

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