Workshop 1: Monday morning
Matthew Lee, Chair, IGDA Serious Games Special Interest Group (SIG)
The Art and Science of Serious Game Development
This intensive workshop will explore the science and craft of serious game development through hands-on activities, group discussion, analysis and critique. Working in small groups, attendees will immerse themselves in the iterative process of creating a serious game for a given theme and audience, from the basics of creative ideation to exploring how the contexts (design goals/technical tools, state of education, funding model, etc.) of development has implications not just for the gameplay and content of a serious game, but for how one is publicized and distributed. Each group will be presented with concrete exercises dependent on the initial approach and audience they have chosen, which may accommodate a new goal or requirement, resolving problematic interactions between purpose and design, or figuring out how to best market and distribute a game to new audience. In addition to these analysis-and-revision exercises, attendees will gain further practical experience through joint brainstorming sessions, critical analysis and discussion.
Presented by IGDA Serious Games, this workshop builds upon an approach that views games as systems dependent on the contexts in which they operate, systems that can be analyzed not only in terms of their mechanics, dynamics and aesthetics (how a game, through its design, can affect a single player), but in terms of how they fit into expectations, desires, and assumptions of the audience/community they seek to engage.
As a game designer, health professional, and chair of the IGDA Serious Games SIG, Matthew Lee is passionate about the potential games have to change the world and touch the lives of those who play them. In the long and tangled path that brought him to Serious Games, he’s been a Drama Therapist, Community Manager, Registered Nurse and a researcher studying network culture and social systems in communities of play.
One of the pioneers of research into network culture and an early, early explorer of Virtual Reality (in the days when that meant Second Life and OpenSim, not Google Cardboard and the Oculus Rift), Matthew has crafted powerful interactive learning experiences on a staggering number of platforms, for clients such as the American Nurses Foundation, the US State Department, the UN and others.
Today, in addition to his ongoing research and his role as Creative Director of AFK Studios, leading an award-winning team dedicated to tackling real-world problems through the power of games as virtual experiences, he serves as chair of the International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA) Serious Games SIG, where his work involves promoting inter-disciplinary collaboration, research into online communities and investigating the potential of integrating therapeutic and elements into existing mainstream media.
Workshop 2: Monday afternoon
Caleb Lewis, Write Club
Bardcraft and General Wordsmithery for Serious Games
Every day we consume hundreds of stories – each new morning we wake hungry for more. For thousands of years we’ve gathered to tell stories. Story has ever been our way of sharing knowledge, of understanding; of empathising; it helps us come to grips with the world.
And although stories are as old as spoken word, their form is constantly shifting as new technologies arise. From the Gutenberg press to the silver screen, the personal computer and the internet, our stories have continued to adapt and evolve. And just as television, once dismissed as cinema’s poor cousin, now enjoys a golden age, the supremacy of the video game is fast approaching, if not already here.
Although comparatively young, the medium is fast evolving and its potential is limited only by the imagination. Yet in our rush to master the intricacies of Unity, Game Maker and Unreal Engine, have we forgotten some of the basic fundamentals of storytelling?
Bardcraft and General Wordsmithery is a hands-on workshop for writers and designers aimed at blowing the dust off history and revisiting the great storytellers, from Aristotle to Shakespeare to Pixar. Along the way we’ll look at character development; realistic dialogue; exposition, conflict and the need for suspense. Lastly we’ll discuss the unique challenges of writing serious games, using several well-known games as examples.
This is a hands-on workshop for writers keen to brush up on their classical narrative while delving into new strategies for storytelling.
Caleb Lewis is a multi-award-winning playwright, produced across Australia and overseas. Mentored by Nick Enright (Cloudstreet; Lorenzo’s Oil) and Edward Albee (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), he is the inaugural winner of the Australian Writer’s Guild Award for Digital Narrative. Holding a deep fascination with story, ludology and game design, Lewis is interested in work that seeks to actively engage its audience and immerse them in a fully realised experience, which challenges preconceptions and rewards play, prompting us to question the patterns of our own lives and reflect on the lives of others.
As an artist committed to social change, he has worked across the country with young people, Indigenous Australians, recent migrants and is a longtime partner of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health. Currently studying at the University of British Columbia’s ‘Game Academy,’ Lewis is also undertaking a residency with UK innovators, ‘Blast Theory,’ before commencing further study next year. Further details available at www.caleb-lewis.com
Workshop 3: Tuesday morning
Chris Murphy, Epic Games
Introduction to VR Development
Virtual Reality is the new frontier for serious games and this presentation will go through the basics of setting up a VR project in Unreal Engine 4. This workshop will focus on empowering communicators and storytellers through Virtual Reality. We’ll explore key technologies and how to quickly and easily get them working for you in your serious games. This lecture will take a bare bones approach to implementation and cover everything from where to begin to best practices in VR. During the presentation we’ll work with the audience to demonstrate concepts live as they’re taught. This workshop is suitable for all game development disciplines: art, design, and programming. No prior knowledge of Unreal Engine 4 is necessary, but attendees should have working knowledge of the 3D game development pipeline.
Chris Murphy is an Evangelist for Epic Games and director of Pub Games. With over 10 years of experience with Unreal Engine, a Bachelor of Computer Science and a Bachelor of Multimedia, Chris has a broad skillset across a range of game development disciplines. Chris has game development credits across PC, PS4, iOS and Android. His most recent release was Primal Carnage: Extinction, for PC and PS4, and it has the distinctive title of being the first Australian project implementing the Steam Economy for inter-player sales and trading. Chris’ role as Evangelist for Epic Games is to help independent game developers build successful games with Unreal Engine 4 through support, training and education.