After a massive day of presentations on the 6th, the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences wasn’t about to let the pace slip. There was one less presentation on the 7th to allow for the awards presentation at the end. A strict ‘no denim rule was applied for the awards, which I’m assuming would cut the attendance in half simply because these people own nothing other than jeans and slack fittings tees.
Gabe Newell had the opening keynote on day two, following his opening keynote on the previous day which he had co-hosted with J.J. Abrams. He had two core theses he wanted to explore, the first being the integral role of the PC for driving innovation in gaming. He followed that analysis with several predictions on how digital distribution platforms alongside new methods of consumption was going to alter the forms that games currently take, bringing in new formats for games that have yet to be explored.
Microsoft Games’ Executive Producer Kiki Wolfkill (who easily has the most appropriate name for working in gaming) and Franchise Development Director Frank O’Connor focused on communication when approaching the presentation on ‘Changing the Universe.’ Using their experience taking over the Halo franchise as a touchstone for the importance of transmedia was a big point in explaining the significance of having the community on board from day one (just count how many times they say ‘New York Times Best Seller).
President and Co-founder of Gearbox Studios Randy Pitchford used his childhood love of illusions to explain how game designers should be using the logic of magicians to give the audience a view into an implausible world they can involve themselves in. Randy used a bunch of psychological papers to explain the impact of choices and how designers can guide people’s long term impressions by composing the choices players can interact with.
Warren Spector, having just witnessed the demise of Disney Interactive under his brinkmanship, honestly spoke of the need to consider the aging market of gaming. Using his own personal preferences of games, Warren seems to have captured the zeitgeist for the 50+ crowd which grew up with games. Now they have different demands that frame what they can practically engage with and how they want to meld their tastes with these types of games.
Wargaming CEO and founder Victor Kislyi covered the ‘Evolution of Free To Play Games’ looking at the economics of free to play and how to make the marketing machine do the leg work for your company, your brand and of course, your game. Funnily enough he didn’t seem to think the game had to be particularly good in order to generate millions in income required to get to the point where your branding is making a significant proportion of your money.
For Jenova Chen, of thatgamecompany, the emotional core of games is attached to the sense of achievement that is unique to the gaming medium. From here, he believes you can analyze the market for emotions that are being displayed as well as those that are absent and from there you can develop mechanics that generate real emotion. This is a must for anyone who appreciates narrative construction or fiction writing in general.
Unfortunately ‘The Age of the Mobile Blockbuster: Launching Angry Birds Star Wars’ from Rovio’s Petri Järvilehto is missing from the presentations that were posted online to my knowledge. If you find it, point it out in the comments so we can complete our coverage.
Next was David Ting, General manager of eSports at IGN, a term he personally hates. Trawling through the kinds of stats that sport fans generally love, David looked at the massive growth in eSports as well as his personal endeavors to keep pushing that growth. He moved to the example of poker’s massive success of late and drew parallels between virtual gaming and card gaming.
The final presentation from the conference was Dan Connors of Telltale Games whose massive success with the Walking Dead operated as a platform to discuss episodic gaming. Differentiating ‘episodic’ from ‘appointment,’ Dan utilized a lot of the marketing strategy from television to describe how people’s comfort with this form of consumption can used for the greatest success. The end of this one is intense and has spoilers so watch out.
Then there were the awards! Before we get to the winners check out the promo video because it is epic.
The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick hosted the event with a whole bunch of charisma. It’s good to see a gaming event that is hosted by some one who actually cares about the medium as opposed to over hyped celebrities that are disconnected from the people who are turning up.
You can find a list of the various award categories and the games that won the award below:
- Action Game of the Year: Borderlands 2
- Mobile Game of the Year: Hero Academy
- Handheld Game of the Year: Paper Mario – Sticker Star
- Outstanding Achieving in Original Music Composition: Journey
- Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design: Journey
- Outstanding Achievement in Story: The Walking Dead
- Outstanding Character Performance: The Walking Dead – Lee Everett
- Downloadable Game of the Year: The Walking Dead
- Casual Game of the Year: Journey
- Web Based Game of the Year: SimCity Social
- Family Game of the Year: Skylanders Giants
- Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year: Mass Effect 3
- Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Outstanding Innovation in Gaming: Journey
- Sports Game of the Year: FIFA Soccer 13
- Racing Game of the Year: Need for Speed Most Wanted
- Fighting Game of the Year: PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
- Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay: Journey
- Outstanding Achievement in Connectivity: Halo 4
- Outstanding Achievement in Animation: Assassin’s Creed III
- Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction: Journey
- Outstanding Achievement in Visual Engineering: Halo 4
- Outstanding Achievement in Gameplay Engineering: XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- Adventure Game of the Year: The Walking Dead
- Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction: Journey
- Game of the Year: Journey
That’s everything. There was a lot of technical talk in the summit however a lot of these guys managed to inject some humor and real insights for you. I hope you enjoyed our coverage of this event and if you are curiosu about what happened on day one of the D.I.C.E. Summit then you can find coverage of that day here.