In an exclusive interview, games industry veterans Ian Bogost, Gordon Walton and Valerie Massey talk trends in gaming.
If you could choose one place in the world to talk gaming, from October 9 to 11 the smart decision would be Austin, Texas. The Game Developers Conference Online brings together a vast wealth of experience and talent to discuss a myriad of topics about the medium that we are so passionate for.
It was my distinct honor to interview three of the luminaries who will be speaking at GDC Online this year.
Gordon Walton has been involved in game development for 35 years. Currently the Vice President and Executive Producer for Playdom Austin, he has also been a lead contributor for companies including BioWare and Sony Online Entertainment. Among the 230 games he has helped to launch are Star Wars: The Old Republic, Star Wars: Galaxies, The Sims and Ultima Online.
Valarie Massey is an expert in community management direction and has worked on a variety of games for companies such as NCsoft and CCP. She helped build community management for EVE Online from the ground up and is currently the Director of Community Development at CLARA. Valerie is a passionate advocate for Get Well Gamers, a charity that provides video games to children’s hospitals.
Dr. Ian Bogost is a founder of Persuasive Games LLC as well as an award-winning designer and media philosopher who holds the position of Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He has written a number of books on the subject of games and is an influential voice in the industry.
May you live in interesting times
In what proved to be a fascinating and candid conversation, I began by asking the industry veterans what they saw as the most predominant trends in the industry. Gordon Walton was very clear on the most powerful influencer evident in the current market, “The number one trend in the industry is the proliferation of platforms and ways to play games, it’s just up so much. We’re seeing a lot of emerging platforms versus business as usual; it’s no longer business as usual. In particular, online games are accessible from every kind of device you can imagine.”
Walton continued to highlight the influx of players into the market, but the producers are still coming to terms with how to monetize that engagement, “The number of customers playing games, on aggregate, has never been larger than it is today, making money is just really challenging. In the big scheme of things it’s the best of times and the worst of times on some level.”
Continuing on from the idea of how new the circumstances are in the games industry, Valerie Massey put those trends in context with comparatively recent technological strides, “Living in the times we do now, is probably as close a thing as anyone will come to living when fire was discovered. The Internet blew the doors off all kinds of stuff. And granted, satellite is out too so you can go mobile and, as Gordon said, games are so portable now and all of that started because of the Internet.”
Though it is not just the number of players and the platforms that are growing in gaming, as Massey went on to explicate, “The reason why people play games and the potential of using games beyond just entertainment has just broadened exponentially. We see games being used in hospitals to help patients, especially children, heal faster, it helps with pain management, the whole Gamification thing, people using it for education purposes, for the military, you name it, so just the spectrum of what games are available and why people play them is just growing and growing.”