All times, sessions, and speakers are subject to change. All schedule times are in Central Daylight Time (GMT-5)
Saturday, September 12
The industry has nearly perfected the ways to create excitement and challenge in video games, but what do you need to create a game meant to help you relax and recover? We’ll tackle questions such as how to manage player choice without creating player frustration, and what sorts of things can end up stressing out or alienating a player. Join Kells Tate, co-developer of upcoming cute and cozy cat cafe game, Calico in exploring the different game systems and techniques that go into this unique low-stress game type.
12:30 PM - 1:20 PM : We’re Tired, Broke, and Burned Out: A Post-Mortem on Game Design Graduate School
In this series of microtalks, followed by a roundtable style panel discussion, the panelists discuss our time in games related academic programs (both as students and instructors) and how it affected our mental-state, creativity, wallets, and view of the industry. We also investigate alternative education systems, and what universities can do right now to allow students to maximize their potential while in school.
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM : Featured Games: A Lozenge (Live Q&A), Hot Pot For One (Video), & Heart of Enya (Video)
Approaching a three million player base 2D Pixel Art style game and going against the musical status quo. Honing in to compose something that is completely unique and incomparable to any other video game soundtracks that has existed before. This talk will be a deep dive into how Aground’s musical style was drafted, conceived and polished.
This talk is an exploration of how mindfulness and behavioral therapies can be applied to game development, workplace culture, and personal mental health. Learn how these topics are connected and gain skills you can practice daily to improve workplace wellbeing for yourself and your coworkers.
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM : Featured Games: Garden Story (Video), She Dreams Elsewhere (Video), Ever Forward (Video)
In the early weeks of March 2020, newly-confined to our living quarters and facing months of epidemiological and economic uncertainty, a group of creatives reacted by doing what they do best: making art together. This is the story of Apart, a social distancing-themed community poster show and multiplayer virtual gallery space comprising 150+ original works from designers around the world, permanently accessible in virtual reality and via web browsers, with proceeds benefiting the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 relief fund. In this talk, we’ll use recall the creative and technical processes behind the project – including a completely open source software stack, spinning up custom Blender supercomputers in the cloud, and how to deal with isolation through immersion – while weaving in our designers’ written and video testimony to frame the truly weird experience of creating something meaningful even while separated by a global pandemic.
Sunday, September 13
The way player agency is thought about in many design spaces can be limiting to the kinds of stories that we tell and the way we tell those stories. In this talk I make the case for ways that agency can be used as a lens to understand interactive narratives, rather than as a design goal, and what other stories that use alternative approaches to agency might look like.
Conversations around sex and sexuality shouldn’t be shied away from. How can we bring these topics into games? What are the design and safety considerations? How can we design an enjoyable experience that is not offensive and embarrassing? This panel will provide examples of games that have new and unique mechanics inspired by the topic of sex and kink. Robert Yang, designer of The Tea Room, Hurt Me Plenty, and the newly released, Hard Lads, will be joined by Lucian Kahn, co-editor of the “Honey and Hot Wax: An Anthology of Erotic Art Games” (Pelgrane Press), Kat Jones & Will Morningstar, designers of the alien-sex game You Inside Us, and Mary Georgescu and Yuxin Gao, two of the three founders of Eat Melon Studio, publishing the card game, Nothing to See Here!. Together they will review their design inspirations, process, and challenges.
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM : Featured Games: Honey & Hot Wax (Live Q&A), Gladius (Video), The Excellents (Video)
Inclusivity in video games has been something discussed for several years in depth, but the topic doesn’t come up as much in the board game industry. When it is, it’s often written off as a non-issue. In this talk I will be going over subjects such as designing themes, player interactions, artwork, and rules to be as inclusive as possible while not sacrificing your creative visions.
In 2006, Jonathan started using an open-source programming language called Processing, little did he know, it would change his life. He fell in love with the ethos of open-source communities. In 2018, Jonathan launched the Blinks Game System, an open-source smart tabletop game system on Kickstarter now supported by more than 2500 backers.
Growing a community is much like gardening, and open-source requires an active and loving gardener. In this talk, Jonathan will share his experience founding Move38, growing a community, and building a product and company around open-source games.
3:00 PM - 3:30 PM : Featured Games: Floppy Knights (Video), The Forest Cathedral (Video), Even In Arcadia (Video)
How do you make deeply personal games? How do you talk about these things with your loved ones? How do you not have a panic attack while editing gifs of yourself having a panic attack? Jack describes the development on Museum of Self, as well as their up coming untitled project.