GDC 10: Abusing Your Players Just for Fun

Game Design Conference 2010Game Design Conference 10 is in progress, and the blog posts are blooming:

Jonatan Soderstrom, aka “cactus,” stole the show at last year’s Independent Games Summit with his surreal, multimedia presentation entitled “The Four-Hour Game Design.”

(Also: if you don’t know who cactus is, I’d suggest you spend the next week playing through every game he’s ever made. They’re alternately wacky, fun, surreal, irritating, totally independent experiences.)

This year, cactus delivered a talk about, in his words, “abusive design, and why you’d want to be mean to your players.”

… So, why would you want to be mean to your players? According to Soderstrom, most games are really easy, and worrying about what your player may be feeling and if they feel comfortable can compromise your vision as a designer. It’s more fun to just be free, and do what you want to do without caring how the player will feel. You can also find new players if you do something unusual — a lot of people don’t like “normal” games.

Anthony Burch @ Destructoid

See also GDC 10.

Permanent Death

Game Design Conference 2010The phrase “permanent death” is exactly the kind of thing that is sure to catch my eye — a contradiction, a paradox, an amusing puzzle where two things go together strangely:

The organizers of this month’s Game Developers Conference have revealed the latest batch of newly-announced sessions, including a Game Design Challenge centered around permanent death.

… The always-entertaining Game Design Challenge will be back again at GDC, with famed developers including Airtight Games’ Kim Swift and Thatgamecompany’s Jenova Chen pitching their game ideas related to the topic of “real-life permadeath.” With games like Heavy Rain and Mass Effect 2 making waves by including the ability for characters to die permanently, it should be interesting to see the unique new ways the creators of Portal and Flower can approach the subject.

Dave Ruddin @

GDC Game Design Challenge 2010: Real-World Permadeath

The Game Developer’s conference runs March 9 – 13, 2010 in San Francisco.

Which reminds me:

Varley Ophiuchi HotlineJohn Varley uses the phrase “permanent death” to excellent effect in the opening of his novel The Ophiuchi Hotline

Daily Legal Bulletin, published by the Intersystem Office of Criminal Control Research. Aquarius 14, 568 O.E.

Case of Lilo-Alexander-Calypso vs. The People of Luna.

(Legal Summary — For immediate Release)
The State charges that Lilo-Alexander-Calypso, during the period of time 1/3/556 to 12/18/567, did willfully and knowingly conduct experiments upon human genetic material with the intent of artificially inducing mutations in said material. The State further alleges that defendant did produce human blastocytes and embryos reflecting potential structures atypical of the permitted spectrum of Humanity, in violation of the Unified Code of the Eight Worlds Confederation, Article Three (Crimes Against Humanity) Section Seven (Genetic Crimes). The State asks the penalty of permanent death.

The Ophiuchi Hotline by John Varley