I apologize for posting this so late, but I’ve had some problems retrieving my password to post on the blog.
Second day of the conference. We start in the morning with a couple of sessions of MIT research projects. There is definitely a good variety and each session is followed by a digging deeper section in which it is possible to talk individually to every single speaker to ask more questions about his or her project. All the projects presented are part of what was presented the previous night in the different booths. After lunch there are 3 breakout sessions. Two sessions are very appealing but they take place at the same time: one is about game design and tools to build a game and another one is about playing a game with a portable device with GPS system, an augmented reality game. During lunch I have a chance to talk to the co-director of the Civic Center for Future Media and I ask him to explain a little bit more the concept of Star Trek representing modern society. I also seek advice from him on which of the two breakout sessions to go to. He suggested to attend the augmented reality game session. So here I go to the session and I notice that only 5 people, including me, show up. It actually seems that a lot of people ditched the breakout sessions, which in my opinion were one of the best part of the conference. I liked the session because they were hands-on and not just listening and asking questions. Anyway. The augmented reality game was played in groups. Every group had a pocket PC with GPS navigation system. The device had a map of the MIT campus and a few points that had 6 interactive points. Once the players were in proximity of a point, a dialogue would pop-up. The scope of the game was to educate people about the possible consequences of global warming in Cambridge and the impact on the surroundings if certain decisions were taken to prevent global warming. It was interesting to play the game and then see what kind of tools could be used to create one adventure. The tools seemed pretty easy but the overall structure of the game could not be changed. I still thought it was an interesting way to have an augmented reality interactive multi-group game play.
The third day had two more sessions of MIT projects showcase which showed again some very interesting ideas. Especially the session on decentralized news was the most interesting for me. Cell phones and portable devices spreading news and information about the local community without the need of a centralized station. What followed that morning was finally what I was waiting for, getting together with the other games creators. I had a chance to meet the Gotham Gazzette group and Paul from the Oakland Jazzfest. Unfortunately only one external person was present at our session, and I wish that more people came about so we could have some external opinions. But it was still good to learn about the struggle and ideas of the two other groups. Many problems turned out to be the same: how to deal with real people being part of a game, using outside contractors, making a game challenging, avoiding too much text, limiting mouse clicks. It was also interesting to hear the motivation behind some game design and technical decisions. Overall this only discussion was worth a big chunk of the trip.
Overall it was great to be there, I thank the Knight Foundation for giving me a chance to network and participate, and the Center for Future Medias to host the event. They did a great job on the organizational side.