Games: current state of the art

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

On Wednesday, June 13th, 2012, I attended the meetup of the Silicon Valley’s IGDA (International Game Developers Association) at San Francisco’s Autodesk office. This IGDA meetup had several talks lined up from four people.

First and foremost was a talk by an Autodesk representative about Autodesk’s initiative in supporting game developers with content creation and game environment tools. Autodesk has traditionally contributed through content creation tools such as 3DS, Maya, and Softimage. Autodesk has also added in game environment tools, which includes Beast lighting tool, Kynapse artificial intelligence for characters, HumanIK, and Scaleform. Many of these content creation and game environment tools were acquired from other companies rather than built in house. The presenter also emphasized a cooperation with Unity, the preferred platform by game developers for cross-platform development.

The next talk was presented by a lady who discussed terms in measuring a game’s effectiveness. This talk was presented as a series of unlinked ideas so I didn’t get much out of it.

The third talk was presented by another lady who described her career in managing art for game studios. She talked about several game projects she worked on. As I have not followed the game titles in the past decade, I did not understand the significance or importance of these games. A notable shift was from in-house graphics to outsourced teams in China and India with few local managers.

The final talk was a presentation about the history of games, not just computer games. The presenter’s definition of a game is a game board (constructed environment) and a set of rules. The first game in the Western world is Cribbage in the 17th century. Subsequent games were developed over the years including The Map Game, Journey through Europe  Mansion of Happiness, Game of Life, Liman collection, H.G. Wells Little Wars, Parker Brothers Monopoly, H.G. Wells Little Wars, Risk, Life, Magic, and Dungeons and Dragons. In the latter half of the 20th century, the many independent game developers in the USA have all been consolidated in a single company, Hasboro. Hasboro’s primary interest is in making a quick buck, thus a lot of inventiveness in games has been replaced by cheap entertaining games that earn revenue (e.g., IMO Justin Beiber’s kisses, drinking card games). In contrast, the presenter noted that Germans still produce a lot of novel games, most notably Settlers of Catalan and Carcassone. Russia or Germany produced Werewolf, a social game where wolves kill villagers and villagers have to identify the wolves in daytime. A possible reason why Germany still has these games is because of the German family life, which involves family social activities after dinner.