Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Count Down in Houston

Minus one hour and seven minutes to launch. Coincidentally in game development "launch" is the same term as applied in Houston, home of NASA's Mission Control. It looks like Mission Control here—the students' eyes glued to their screens, clicking and typing furiously. A larger monitor allows us to see their progress. Our new colleagues, the attendees who have assisted the process, keep checking in.

It is another remarkable experiment. Surprisingly technology, skill and the complexity of team created products is not what has made it the test it is. Those we have covered. Challenging elements have been:

1. the time factor - 2 games in 3 days.
2. coming to the topic with little knowledge ahead of time
3. creating for an audience that does not usually play games
4. open creation and the constant interruptions in the process

Because of what the team has brought to the project—deep knowledge of game design, technology and artistic skills, solid communication abilities—these challenges above are making the game products strong. 

The learner state the students are in due  to their lack of content knowledge has enabled them to cut through to the core of the content. The time element has made it essential to pare down the info to be delivered to the most impactful and meaningful elements. Working with the attendees and being in the choatic environment of the conference floor has given them a quick and deep understanding of the context and content. It has also given them the opportunity to know personally their audience.

And that audience has been generous. Last night the students were surprised by six pizzas delivered to their hotel where they worked until past midnight. This morning at 7:00 they were rewarded by a large Texas gift basket full of food and then a basket of fruit arrived. Mary Boone has generously accepted our invitation to co-moderate their presentation. Elliott Masie stopped in to give support. Brooke Bode, our Queen Bee, checks in and makes sure we have the support we need.

As I wrote to Mike Dupee, the concepts have welcoming, intuitive, approachable interfaces. The games balance complex forces and illustrate solutions borne of player's choices...and then allows them to replay and rearrange the solution to explore various results. The "green" game speaks more about answers. The "meet different" game is about process. We can't wait to share—but first we need lift-off.

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