Parties, hiding in The W, and Ian Livingstone - our first-timer's take on GDC continues

Will Luton’s GDC 2012: Day Two

Red American Musical Hall is the kind of opulent space that you could imagine filled with revelling Victorians goofed up on opium and watching show girls. Last night it held a dandy-fronted jazz funk band, a vegan buffet and the effortless cool of Backflip Studios.

The Backflip Bash was characterised by relaxed, easy atmosphere, which reflects the new wave of mobile devs. A little more corporate, however, was the W3i sponsored Pocket Gamer party, which featured a DJ spinning Euro pop and house tunes to projected slides and entrées.

This party was made by the quality of the attendees, a complete who’s who of the mobile games industry. Plus some great gin.

Today was my first booked biz meeting of the conference. I had been informed that the place to do these is in the lobby of the W Hotel on the corner of 3rd and Howard, as it becomes an unofficial GDC meeting den. I would highly recommend it for any last minute meetings, where privacy is not a concern.

The first talk I caught was by Chris Bell, a designer on Journey for Thatgamecompany. He spoke with incredible authority on how we can engineer friendship between players in a game by designing rulesets in such away as to encourage, or even force, friendship without impeding it with language barriers.

“A single rule can pollute an entire system” he said on a decision to make cooperation in a Final Fantasy MMO language based, as it segregated players between English and Japanese language only.

The talk was a pretty extensive drill down in to emotions within games that I, as a designer, had never considered trying to invoke. As a medium we’re still very young and arguable don’t ideal with the range of emotions that others do. Perhaps because of the complexity of what we create, requiring lots of different disciplines coming to together to build a huge system.

This is a theme that was touched upon by Eidos’ Life President Ian Livingstone Games for Change summit talk. Ian gave a big overview on what is happening in the UK industry for good, looking specifically at the Playmob’s virtual economy charity donation platform Giverboard, games charities GamesAid and Special Effect, Raspberry Pi and his own NextGen report.

The place of charity in the industry is something I fully support. Which is why Mobile Pie will be running 10K for GamesAid this May. Those looking to support the cause can make a donation to the Mobile Pie Runners at We’re tantalisingly close to our £1,000 target.

The Livingstone audience gave a hearty round of applause on the news the Michael Gove, following lobbying from industry and media pressure, has stated that Computer Science will soon make part of the curriculum.

In between session I also met with NimbleBit’s super cool David Marsh who I interviewed in some dev-on-dev action. NimbleBit are a team I hugely respect and I think that it will make great listen once it’s up on Develop.

Tonight is more parties. I will be at the Pocket Gamer Awards where Mobile Pie are nominated for the best developer award. The competition in the category is insanely good, so it is fantastic just to have the nomination. There’s also the Touch Arcade and GREE events that I will be at. Hope to see some of you there.

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