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May 2013 Miscellany

Thoughts about some game-related topics that are not long enough for separate blog posts.
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As I read the rules for the 2013 Game Chef contest, the "self-plagiarism" component of this one struck me as bizarre:
"Rule on Previous Work
You may draw on concepts you have thought about or worked on before the contest, but everything you submit must be new work, not existing material. Plagiarism or self-plagiarism will get your game disqualified."

It reminded me of the education community, where "self-plagiarism" is regarded as wrong, and many teachers will flunk a student for doing it.
If you've done the work, why shouldn't you use it? Both in a class, and in a game design contest.

Game Chef is a sort of "Game Jam" for tabletop games, conducted over nine days, and judged by the participants. The games tend to be RPGs.
This year's contest starts 17 May. http://gamechef.wordpress.com/

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This year I was at PrezCon, will be at WBC, will be at GenCon as an "Industry Insider Guest of Honor", will not be at Origins. I didn't attend ECGC this year.

I will have games to playtest, of course.

I'm interested in talking with people about the nature of game design. (Which can be really interesting, believe me.) You don't need to be an expert, you don't even need to be a game designer, because the players are more important than the designers . . .

Convention seminars:
I'll be doing my usual talk at WBC ("Lew Pulsipher's Annual Game Design "Seminar"). As much as I can say (and hear) about game design in the time people want to listen (two hours plus, usually).  Since my book that's strictly about game design has been published, I'll focus more this year on the business of game licensing and marketing, including protection of intellectual property.  And a bit about self-publishing. Thursday, 4PM.

At GenCon: all in ICC 242
Game Design Business: Getting the Attention of Publishers 8/15/2013 7:00:00 PM
Game Design Business: Protecting your Intellectual Property 8/16/2013 3:00:00 PM
Game Design Business: Publishing (and Funding) 8/17/2013 1:00:00 PM
Of Course You Can Design a Game, But Can You Design a Good One? 8/18/2013 10:00:00 AM

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I've been reading the list of over 8,000 events for GenCon 2013. GenCon is a story convention at least as much as a game convention, and it may be instructive that it's much larger than other hobby game conventions in the USA. Stories are good for marketing, always epitomized by my experience looking through game libraries at conventions. Most of the games in game libraries are Euro-ish games. Many of them are essentially abstract games with atmospheres tacked on. But when you look at the game box, it's all about the atmosphere, you rarely learn much about the actual gameplay. Because stories sell games, though gameplay makes people play games repeatedly.

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Some college/university classes, like some games, are intended to be models of reality. But as with games, the classes are often so far removed from reality, they can no longer pretend to be models. They are abstract or purely theoretical. In the best classes that are aimed at real-world jobs (not all are) you do things that represent what you'd do in the real world.

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A brief review of my game design book is in ARBA vol 44 p. 16: (final sentence) "Although a single book cannot substitute for education in game creation or practice, this book provides useful tips and resources for game designers and those interested in entering the field." This is another professional, subscription only, journal so I cannot provide a URL (I got a non-convertible PDF from my publisher).

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I've always thought it might be frustrating to be a Hollywood screenwriter, because the directors get so much more credit than the writers. Yet even the best directors aren't going to make a good movie with a poor script.

I suspect the better directors are also better at recognizing good scripts and bad ones. Are the "auteurs" in video games better at recognizing exceptionally good game ideas from lesser ones?

And this all seems to be muddied by the advent of "creative directors" in video game production. The game designers appear to be shoved down to the status of mechanics adjusting bits of the game.

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