Friday, March 12, 2010

SXSW Interactive, Day 1

So I had my first day at SXSW. I came by Thursday and got my pass early, and I'm glad I did - the line today was huge. I got a chance to see three panels and have a quick look at the ScreenBurn Arcade.

The first was "Take Over the World With XNA Indie Games", with Chris Williams presenting. Pretty small crowd, but I think people were still registering and getting their bearings at 2 PM. He did a very general overview of XNA, nothing new if you've checked it out before. But I hadn't heard of the Windows 7 phone though, that apparently has multi-touch and will support XNA, which might be an interesting combination. Learning about the peer approval process for Community Games was also new to me. Still, I was expecting more of a look at up-and-coming games, sales figures, that sort of thing. Still, it would probably be a good intro for someone that had never heard of it.

Next was "Drawing Board: Innovation Lessons from Cartooning", with Tom Fishburne. This wasn't one of the ScreenBurn panels, but I'm glad I sat in on it. The basic lessons I drew from it:
  1. You can't expect creativity to just come to you, you have to exercise your creative muscles and constantly be on the lookout for new ideas, you can't really force creativity.
  2. If your work is polarizing, that's not necessarily a bad thing. If you don't get any sort of response, or only neutral comments, you're probably doing something people have seen before, nothing innovative.
  3. Even niche subjects can have a broad appeal if you're doing a good enough job. Blogs can help to give context to inside jokes.
He also mentioned Russell Davies' blog post "How to be Interesting", which seems to boil down to the idea that people will find you interesting if you're interested in them, so have diverse interests and pay closer attention to the world around you, and be able to get people to talk about themselves. He suggesting regularly taking pictures, making blog posts, reading about subjects you haven't heard of, and just generally paying more attention. Makes sense to me.

The last panel was pretty interesting - "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility - The Future of Video Games". I wish this one could have been longer, it lost some time due to a false alarm evacuation of the room fifteen minutes in. Jesse Schell's "Design Outside the Box" presentation at DICE was brought up, and the general opinion of the panel members was that the use of achievement systems to foster good behavior was a good thing, if a little creepy if taken to extremes.

I wish this had been discussed more, it seems like such an interesting concept. They suggested that as long as individuals can control and mix and match the achievement systems they want to use, modifying them to fit their own ends, that achievement driven structures could be used for good, and I think I agree. I wonder if artificial achievements are all that appealing to people that aren't gamers or people with addictive personalities.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's round of panels, hopefully I'll have a chance to get a better look at the ScreenBurn Arcade. In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to presenting my entry for the ScreenBurn Game Design Contest at 3:30PM on Sunday. A little nervous, but still excited.
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