Recently in Talk Category

I recently spoke at the Games For Change Festival's "Games for Change 101.5: A Workshop for Making Social Issue Games" day. 

The talk went ... well, I had a catastrophe, but it was one that I planned for.  I went into the presentation worried that I'd sent off a draft of my PowerPoint rather than the final version, and that the last slide would be empty.  So I crafted a joke to laugh it off, and went in.  As I opened the presentation, I established that the final slide was okay.  Then, partway through and running late, I came across ... slide #5 duplicated instead of slide #6.  I made the prepared joke --"Like I said, you need to test, because you will be wrong the first time.  And now I'm back on schedule."  Super classy!

Besides that, the talk went well.  For my first-ever talk at a professional conference/convention, it was great!  I was talking well within my domain, spoke well and was relatively at ease.  I've got some high standards for what makes a good presentation, and while I have a long way to go yet to live up to them, I hit a few key points in this talk:  I like slides that don't duplicate what the speaker is saying.  I prefer slides to summarize and provide a counterpoint or commentary to the spoken presentation.  (Did that.)  I like slides that provide visual jokes. (Didn't get that.)  I like presentations that are grounded in what I know but make me see things in a new way (Didn't).  I like presentations that are chock full of 1500 ideas so that a few of them resonate or say something in a lovely concise manner (Did).

The proper final version of my talk is here in several formats:

A few weeks ago, I was invited to speak in a "Game Slam" at the Games4Change conference.  The session was modeled after PechaKucha and other microtalks.  Each of the twelve speakers had exactly 4 minutes to talk about whatever they'd like, related hopefully to game design and Games4Change.

Since GDC 2010, I've had a bee in my bonnet about motivation and rewards in video games.  Chris Hecker gave a great talk at GDC that questioned achievements systems and suggested, based on decades of psychology and education research, that certain kinds of rewards can actually decrease the ability and motivation (read: fun, in a game) of the player.

It was a compelling argument, and then I had to face it directly as we started to tackle an advancement system for Gamestar Mechanic that includes achievements. 

I considered two topics: one thinking about the various levels at which action within the game and action by the player can align (or not), and this.  Practicality won: I wanted not only to discuss this with others, but to come up with some sort of solution.

So here is my game slam talk in several forms:
Interestingly, several of the speakers spoke around the topic of motivation and extrinsic/exogenous rewards.  I don't know whether Nick Fortugno, Jesper Juul, or Naomi Clark will post their talks, but if they do, they're part of the same conversation.  Many thanks to Richard LeMarchand and Colleen Macklin for inviting my newbie self to speak.

One more thing about that talk.  I really like the microtalk format, at least when there's plenty of time to then talk with the speakers.  Preparing a microtalk is like writing a sonnet or haiku: you've got to figure out the absolute core of what you really want to say, and then craft a presentation of it which is richly allusive and wastes not a word or thought.  I changed the emphasis of this talk four times as I figured out what the real heart of the issue was, and how I could present that within four minutes.

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