Connections Conference “game design event”

The idea was floated to have “game design event” of some kind at this year’s Connections conference (23-26 July at NDU link here). The idea is to take a topic of timely interest and do either a “design-off” between two teams in a bout of “Iron Game Designer – America”, or a hold a workshop like event where the considerations of designing to represent the important aspects of that event are discussed and recorded, or something in between – a prototyping effort to produce something that can be taken away and polished for posting to the Connections site as a DTP game.

A lot of food for thought here! Comment and let the Connections conference organizers know what you think!


About Paul Vebber

"If you read about something, you have learned about it. If you can teach something, you have mastered it. Designing a useful game about something however, requires developing a deep understanding of how it relates to other things."
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8 Responses to Connections Conference “game design event”

  1. Rex Brynen says:

    I’ve already emailed Matt and Tim some ideas 😉

    My personal preference would be that there be a single group (drawn from political, military, intel, humanitarian, etc. backgrounds as well as wargaming professionals) focused on generating the contours of a game design, rather than efforts to produce a workable prototype in less than two days. The latter goal, I fear, would distract from the very interesting methodological issues in the rush to have it ready to go. (However, if people were prepared to spend all evening on a game design, it might be a possibility.)

    • Paul Vebber says:

      Another alternative is to post the topic like 6 weeks before the conference and have people bring designes to show off at demo night. A little award for the one voted “best of show”, perhaps?

    • brtrain says:

      I am with Rex – I think the most fruitful method would be to get a group together to discuss the design. Wouldn’t be any harm in introducing the topic somewhat in advance of the conference either; some people could/would go as far as presenting draft version of a game, or just some ideas.

  2. Rex Brynen says:

    One could distribute a read-ahead package on the issue to be examined.

    One could also have a contest AFTER Connections so that participants, informed and energized by the design discussion, could then try to develop finished games to be submitted within X weeks.

  3. I think a read-ahead package, with 2-3 different working groups looking into different types of designs might be interesting. One group working on an adjudicated BOGSAT, another a more traditional table-top design, and another on something else, all approaching the same topic from different angles.

  4. Rex Brynen says:

    Brant: I agree on the multiple groups. You could do that by assigning them game types OR by giving each audience a slightly different client group to generate the game for (senior policymakers, hobby gamers, classroom use, etc) and see what approach they adopt–and why.

  5. rmrpnnl says:

    I like the “start design at the conference, continue remotely after the conference” idea. It’s similar to some of the notions we’ve kicked around here in a gaming context. e.g., Assemble people physically to play a game for “face-time” familiarity building, then have them return to their home locations and continue to play the same or similar game remotely over an extended period of time. If memory serves, somebody suggested a similar idea at last year’s Connections (again in the context of playing a game, not in designing it, but in my experience those two processes are intertwined).

  6. Pete Pellegrino says:

    Kids at design schools like RISD do this over a sleep-deprived weekend with the goal of producing a prototype by the competition’s end. The emphasis here is competition – the very idea which McCarty Little championed as the driver behind effective wargaming two centuries ago. The outcomes of “design under pressure” can be very different than those that result from slow deliberation. Not better, not worse – just different.

    In the past we have used “quick design” activities with students in the war gaming elective. The idea of comparing design approaches is appealing and instructive. I use a comparison of the various games which have been developed over the years around the sinking of the Titanic as part of one of my talks on game design for new War Game Dept faculty – AFTER I have them give me a quick outline of their ideas for just such a game.

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