ARTICLES | October 11th, 2007
London Games Festival Presents The Return of Sense of Play

Pixel-Lab and the London Games Festival Fringe are proud to announce the return of Sense of Play, a one-day symposium which explores the gentle and not-so-gentle art of computer game design. Looking beyond the current generation of game technologies and platforms, the event aims to promote lively debate on the nature of game design and the role of the game designer: what this means to different people both inside and outside the computer games industry.

Sense of Play 07 features keynotes from game design veteran and online multiplayer pioneer Raph Koster, whose current project Metaplace promises once again to break even more new ground in online game world design; Georg Backer of Lionhead Studios, who has been instrumental in embedding drama and emotional impact in the design of Fable 2; and Stephen Goss, newly appointed Head of Design at UK games publishing giant Eidos.

The event is sponsored by the University College for the Creative Arts. UCCA?s Master of Arts in Digital Game Design based in its Farnham campus has been a pioneering force in the education and fostering of emerging game design talent for the last four years.

Sense of Play 07 promotes and champions new thinking in game design, where the ?thinking? involves both human designers and the software systems they create. Included are sessions from Adam Russell, former AI expert at Eurocom, who looks at how a game?s artificial intelligence affects player behaviour; David Hayward from the Pixel-lab consultancy whose latest work uncovers the so called ?Uncanny Valley? in AI, in which an automated character?s behaviour falls off in its believability as it approaches an approximated model of ?realism?; and Jon Weinbren of Imaginary Productions and UCCA Farnham?s Head of Game Design, who will give an overview of some current creative and technical research challenges from both an academic and industry perspective.

A panel discussion probes the role of the game designer in an industry that many believe to be in something of a state of flux. It also looks at game design training and education: given that game designers are considered to be key to the medium?s creative future, how can we best equip emerging talent to square up to the considerable challenges they face as the industry evolves?

The symposium will be complemented by a showcase of new work from recent graduates of the MA Digital Games Design programme at UCCA Farnham. In addition, Frank Boyd and collaborators from the Festival Fringe?s Play/Time ARG Lab will be presenting ideas and projects which have been developed during this week-long workshop.

Commenting on his involvement, Raph Koster describes Sense of Play as ??an important forum for exploring issues in game design, because the games we make today are helping to shape the minds of a generation?.

Rob Cooper, Ubisoft?s Managing Director for Northern Europe adds: ?Ubisoft believes that creativity and innovation is the most important function of our business at the moment. Sense of play provides a unique foundation to look at ways we can all push the boundaries of game design and interactive storytelling, and we are really excited to be supporting this event as part of the London Games Festival Fringe.?

Sense of Play symposium takes place on Friday 26th October, 20076 9.15am ? 5.00pm at The Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D 3NE .

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