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GDC Austin – Day 1 *Updated 11:10*

By Michael | September 15, 2008 at 9:17 am

Time – 9:17am

I’ve braved hurricane Ike on my trek to this year’s Austin GDC, Game Developers Conference for the uninitiated, held this week at the Austin Convention Center. GDC is a bastion of the game industry professionals where they come to network, learn, and see firsthand what is happening in the Business of games.

This year’s GDC theme is “Learn to Evolve” with lectures, panels, and speaker tracks focusing on writing, audio and online gaming, with a healthy portion of business and marketing thrown in for good measure, such as “Comparing Virtual Property Models – A Business and Legal Perspective.” Pure, unadulterated boredom for most, but that sounds better than dessert to me. This three-day affair will also provide ample opportunity for these makers of interactive entertainment to socialize with a plethora of nightly parties and social events.

As the days go by RPG Land will be here to bring you any news as it happens. But we’re going to try something new today; YOU RPG Land fans will help us decide our coverage. Throughout Day 1 there will be several sessions and we are allowing you to vote on which I, our trepid reporter, will cover. What are you interested in? What would you like to know more about?

To vote for today’s session simply go to our GDC forum thread and reply with your choices of sessions. Not registered for our forums? Now is as good a time as any, Just Click here to register.

The sessions for today,

A Sessions:

* Blazing the Trail for Hot Game Dialog – Audio Track
* Comparing Virtual Property Models: A Business and Legal Perspective – Business Track
* Learning to Play: The Importance of Learning Styles and Gender in MMOs – Design Lecture
* Living with a Legacy – Design Lecture
* Designing for Player Sociability – Social Networking & Community
* Casual Game Testing Best Practices and Pitfalls – Technology Track
* OMG, Multithreading is Easier Than Network Code – Technology Track
* Online Gaming From an Executive Perspective – Services Session
* More Interactivity: A Storytelling Workshop – Writing for Games
* The Play is the Thing: Interactive Storytelling from the World of Improve Comedy – Writing for Games

Session B

* A Generative, Adaptive Music System for MMO Games – Audio
* Marketing vs. Production: Marketing PWNS, Every Time – Business
* Interactive Actors That Express Emotions – Design
* Sticky from the Start – Design
* Zombie Survival Seminar: A Case Study on Short Timelines, Limited Resources and Achieving Big Results – Design
* Online Games Under Construction: Run Your Beta Right
* A Future Told: Writing for Cinematic Design

Session C:

* From Feudalism to Enlightenment: Building a Better EULA – Business
* Pirates of the Burning Sea: A Post-Partum – Business
* Easy is F&#@ing Hard: Game Design Fundamentals for Mass-Market Games – Design
* Social Networks and Virtual Worlds: A Shared Future? – Social Networking
* Galatea 3.0 Designing and Writing Great Game Characters – Writing for Games
* Them’s Playing Words: Video Game Adaption Workshop

This will be an experiment, based on how much participation I get today determines whether I turn myself back into your hands tomorrow. So login and vote now!

Also, Sessions may change or cancel without notice. If you would like more info about the sessions or to read descriptions you can do so here.

Time – 10:44am

The first session is completed, “The Psychology of an MMO Gamer” was a panel composed of community managers from Bioware, Turbine, and Flying Lab software as well as two Doctors of Psychology from the University of Texas, Dr. Samuel Gosling and Dr. James Pennebaker. This panel’s objective was to discuss how people behave online vs. the real world.

The panel began their discussion on an issue all of the community managers seemed to have experienced, Players faking their own death or illness. The main concession was that while these are serious matters and should always be dealt with privately regardless of whether the event was real or faked was the best course of action. Reasons for faking this were generally thought to be a “plea for attention from the community.” Low key was the key here, by not feeding the fire it can be dealt with privately while lowering the chances of copycats and how often gamers take glee in pressing these taboo buttons.

One of the more interesting anecdotes came in the discussion on griefing when one of the panel members discussed her daughter’s sixth birthday, during which she had pudding. When the mother went for a spoonful of pudding the child insisted on a particular spoon, the parent used the spoon only to be regaled with laughter from her daughter who had licked the spoon prior to offering it, “I’ve raised a 6-year-old griefer.” The panel was using the working definition of griefing as “deliberately interrupting someone’s play experience negatively.”

The reasons for griefing where discussed with no real consensus being reached but popular theories were out of humor, to receive desired attention, or “to just get a rise” out of people. Often times it would seem as though griefers sometimes invite the griefing through a dramatic attitude or their gullibility and that often times simple knowledge of the /ignore command is sufficient to negating much of the griefing.

The Doctors found the roles of the Community Managers to be fascinating as they are, in their many roles, therapist, the legal system, and policing system of the community. This totalitarian sort of rule however brings its own set of problems and one of the popular community management methods being discussed and implemented is peer based and community based pressure to allow the community to self monitor and police whether through positive/negative reputation ratings, a reputation score, or other methods.

Topics: Austin GDC, Specials