LIFT08: Robin Hunicke (Game Design) [en]

*steph-note: live blogged notes, may be incomplete, etc.*

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Computers aren’t really fun. Frustrating. Games and AI, on the other hand, are.

Building and sharing is better than just building by your self.

A little bit of vocabulary to think about how games work, now.

Fun is a problematic word. Means different things to different people.

System: MDA

– Mechanics = rules as system, any game has rules
– Dynamics = what happens when the player interacts with the rules, without a player a game is just a set of rules
– Aesthetics = resulting experience, what comes from all these things together

Why kill books to make digital books? Why kill games to make digital games?

Games we played:

– dolls
– fort/army
– charades
– tag
– spin the bottle
– 4 square
– soccer

What is true about all these is that they involve groups of people. People are fun. Competition, mock violence, lies, hidden information, misinformation, love, family…

Power is hard to simulate. Magic circle.

What about digital games? Here’s what you might do in a game.

Start somewhere, do an activity, and when you’re good enough at it, you get a star. Progress! You get to upgrade: more weapons, cooler pants, more friends. Over and over again. (Scary!)

Not unlike going to work every day until you get a promotion, or going on dates until you get engaged.

Some popular aesthetics:

– I am a surgeon in a soap opera emergency room (Trauma Center)
– I am a girl discovering her past, which is strangely haunted (Trace Memory)
– I am an attorney solving odd crimes and protecting the innocent (Phoenix Wright – Ace Attorney)
– I am a warrior in a war-torn land (…)

There is a reason these aesthetics get explored in games.

What are we learning?

Making things we get out of games seem more and more real: hard work! The aesthetics can override the mechanics: ex, the Wii.

Take the power of something that’s pretty complex, simplify it into a smaller form, you get something magical. The market is saying they want more of that.

Facebook is a game. One of the most compelling social applications out there.

– chatty
– social
– automatic
– selective
– fast
– repetitive
– rewarding

Adding friends, chatting, adding, chatting, adding, chatting…

It’s a huge franchise from a games perspective.


– more friends
– graffiti
– gifts
– hugs
– laughter
– wins
– pictures

Work and rewards

It lets me decide how to use it. Lets me decide what the game is about. I don’t have to have the hugs application. Facebook is about me the human being, about the people who use it.

Aesthetic on Facebook: I am a person living a fun life… 🙂 I am loved.

Do you give hugs?

LIFT08 155 Robin Hunicke

Flickr, Dopplr. Not giving people actual points, but giving them space to create and play.

– I vote
– I invest
– …

Small steps: mobile, creative, communicative, always almost now.

House of the future. Aesthetics that are available to me. Game design is literacy. All apps can do this. Smile more.