Explore game design and development at the Games && Symposium

On Saturday, November 12, five guest speakers spoke on campus about game design and development at Games &&, a symposium hosted by visual arts lecturer Tim Szetela.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and the Council on Science and Technology and supported by the John Sacret Young ’69 Lecture Series fund.

Nicole He, a game developer and creative technologist working with the National Film Board of Canada, gave a talk entitled “Making Weird Art In Creative Technology vs. Video Games”.

“My job at Kickstarter was to meet a lot of creative people doing really creative and interesting things,” she said of one of her first jobs in the industry. “I was like, I guess my job is to help these people, but what if I could be these people?”

She showed participants a short video of a project called “Tinder Robot True Loveand said the video had a significant impact on his career, earning him invitations to festivals and conferences, and later a job at Google Creative Lab.

“There is something about games that moves people deeply. He has this power. People are willing to suspend disbelief and engage in something for a long time in a way that they are not for almost any other media, and they are willing to pay for it,” he said. -she adds.

The next lecture, titled “Media and Methods for Video Game Urbanism”, was given by Luke Caspar Pearson and Sandra Youkhana, collectively known as You+Pea. They are the co-founders of the Videogame Urbanism studio at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.

Pearson and Youkhana’s focus on architecture in video games is driven by a desire to break down barriers, they said at the event.

“Architecture is a discipline that is legally protected in many countries,” Pearson said. “Agency of virtual worlds, I think, is a way for us to break down some of these kinds of professional boundaries and we can take advantage of the fact that architects use these technologies a lot in their work anyway.”

Luke Caspar Pearson and Sandra Youkhana talk about London Developers Toolkit ‘2.0’.
Jackie Zhou/The Daily Princetonian

Pearson and Youkhana presented their game titled “London Developers Toolkit ‘2.0,’a game described on their website as a “‘satirical app’/rogue startup platform investigating the burgeoning skyline of phallic residential developments across London.”

“[The game is] talk about a very serious problem facing London as a city,” Pearson said. “There are hundreds of these new buildings. Architectural oversight seems to be quite limited, and they’re not really for people who live in London. They attract outside investment and a lot of these things are never actually occupied.

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After a lunch break at Matthews Acting Studio, Robert Vinluan, Senior Game Designer at The New York Times, opened up about how unconventional the start of his career was.

“I wanted to talk about some sort of game-making process in a place like The New York Times, which is not a place people think makes games,” he said.

“I’m going to take you back to when I first started working on the games team,” he said. “At the time…it was just a crossword and the crossword was an app and a newly digital product.”

According to Vinluan, the Times’ “first big hit” in the games department was Spelling Bee.

Robert Vinluan speaking at the Games && Symposium.
Jackie Zhou/The Daily Princetonian

Afterwards, Salome Asega, director of NEW INC at the New Museum, gave a lecture entitled “Collective Futures”.

Asega discussed his plans at the Iyapo repository.

“This repository is named after Lilith Iyapo, who is sort of a central character in Octavia Butler’s [science fiction series] “Xenogenesis,” she said. “Through what we called the August Wilson Center Lab, we tweaked our workshop curriculum and added three new tracks that allowed time for exposure and hands-on exploration of the tools we use in our studio. .” Asega has focused on one track in particular: digital fabrication.

Monster truck that looks like a rat made by Salome Asega.
Photo courtesy of Salomé Asega

The final speaker was Mattie Brice, Visiting Assistant Professor at the NYU Game Center, who gave a talk titled “Video Games Didn’t Save Us: A Need for New Design(s)”, emphasizing its vision as a video game developer.

“When we kind of think of games, we think of empowerment, we think of choice, we think of agency, and exploration and agency,” she said. “But I feel like there was something wrong with the way those ideas and tenants and qualities were applied to change the job.”

Brice expanded on the importance of rethinking design goals in video games.

“A common criticism of [social impact games] is it [they] aren’t fun enough for people to learn and build,” she said. “However, the fun really irons out a lot of the nuances and a lot of the action you can do in that space if it’s all going to be fun.”

Audience member Nemo Newman ’23 told the Daily Princetonian, “Seeing how interactive arts can be applied and how people think about it is really interesting, especially as an artistic practice rather than an effort. economical for commercial games. ”

Szetela, the organizer, told ‘The Prince’ that “I think there’s something particularly special about games in their potential to be creative, creative tools of expression somewhat similar to animation. somehow.”

Regarding the choice of speakers, Szetela said, “My goal was to bring a wide variety of perspectives, practices, technologies, types of art and types of design.”

“I think our idea of ​​games is expanding,” he said. “There are a lot of potential connection points in other areas, and I think that’s another area where Princeton in particular could be on the verge of doing some interesting collaborations, thinking about how games could connect to other areas of study.”

The symposium was held on the first floor of 185 Nassau Street, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday, November 12.

Jackie Zhou is a news contributor for the “Prince”. Please send all corrections to the corrections on dailyprincetonian.com.