Weszt Hart (Head of Player Dynamics, Riot Games) Getting company buy-in for fair play and Player Dynamics can be challenging. Fortunately, we can leverage many lessons and techniques from UX design, a field with a long history of “selling” itself. Weszt Hart from Riot Games will cover what fair play means for game companies; the history of UX and Player Dynamics at Riot; plus tools, models, and approaches that can help design get a seat at the table. The talk will include concrete examples from a number of UX and gaming companies.
Daniel Kelley (Associate Director, ADL’s Center for Technology and Society) 74% of adults in the US experience harassment in online games.65% of adults in the US experience severe harassment, which includes stalking, sexual harassment and physical threats.53% of adults were targeted on the basis on their identity.This data from Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL’s) Center for Technology and Society highlights a real problem with online games as digital social spaces, and the need to address the social nature of online games from a civil rights perspective in order to ensure justice and fair treatment for all people in online games.In this talk, an ADL expert will do a deep dive into this troubling data and discuss how online games as social platforms can learn from the mistakes of traditional social media to fight hate, discrimination, harassment and extremism in online game spaces.
Victoria Tran (Communications Director, Kitfox Games) Developers tend to know they want “a community”, AKA passionate fans of their game and studio, but neglect considering what kind of belongingness they want from them. And then those who do consider it might decide they want “positive”, “healthy”, and “engaged” communities, which is a great goal, but doesn’t concretely describe what actions to take. How do you get there? Beyond just “having good soft skills”, what structures encourage kindness? What makes a good rule set? How is trust created through faceless communication? Designing kinder communities is more than just about risk management. Its lifetime value will reward you – people will stick around for your future games to come, and recruit others to join. Let’s start the kindness revolution.
Eve Crevoshay (Executive Director, Take This) Attendees can expect a wide-ranging discussion on mental health in games: the mental health of people who make games, the portrayal of mental illness & mental health care in games, and the research on the impact of games on mental health. We’ll cover online toxicity & harassment, cultural myths in the industry, and current plans to tackle some of the most challenging issues in games. Alex Warwo, Editor of Gamasutra, will be joining this session as moderator.
Kimberly Voll (Co-Founder & Designer/Programmer/Researcher, Stray Bombay Company), Weszt Hart (Head of Player Dynamics, Riot Games) Over the last 40 years game design has largely focused on the mechanics of the game itself, rather than the complexity of human players, who bring their own needs, expectations, and interpretations into the game. This is especially apparent today with the dominance of online games and players’ increasing social expectations as we struggle to foster healthy player-to-player interactions that bring out the best in our games vs. the worst in our players. To help this talk introduces “Player Dynamics”, a design craft to address how player interactions and motivations create and enhance our in-game and meta-game experiences. Already an established part of Riot Games’ design department and increasingly at other companies, the talk will focus on the how and why, give applied examples, and equip designers with tools and frameworks to intentionally design for healthier player dynamics, whether launching a new title or improving an old one.
Kat Lo (Visiting Researcher, University of California, Irvine), Kate Edwards (CEO, Geogrify), Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Community Trust & Safety, Two Hat), Celia Hodent (Game UX Consultant, Independent) Beyond the regular (and mostly exaggerated) attacks our industry is getting regarding addiction, loot boxes, or violence, it is important for us to get a clear understanding of our ethical responsibilities as content providers. Discussions around ethics in the game industry are still too rare. Celia Hodent (Game UX Consultant, former director of UX at Epic Games), Kate Edwards (CEO at Geogrify, a consultancy which pioneered content culturalization), Kat Lo (Visiting Researcher at the University of California, Irvine), and Carlos Figueiredo (Director of Community Trust & Safety at Two Hat, and Co-Founder of the Fair Play Alliance), propose to dive into this topic by sharing their experience and perspectives. We will address how design impacts social behavior, how to recognize dark patterns, and how to assess the potential impact of the content we put in our games on players. The idea is to discuss the state of our industry as related to ethics and what we should strive to do better so that we can own the conversation about video games in our society.
Emily Greer (Founder & CEO, Double Loop Games) Over the last few years, many members of the game development community have come forward with upsetting stories of harassment and abuse, both recent & past. It’s easy to feel helpless, but thoughtful leaders can take many steps, large & small, to help minimize harassment & abuse, increase the likelihood that it will be reported, and handle it effectively when it happens. This talk will examine the patterns and conditions of harassment and give concrete strategies that not only counteract abuse but also make teams more effective, with reduced turnover and higher trust.
Victoria Setian (Senior Producer, Avalanche Studios) Research shows that ~50% of gamers are women and companies with diverse leadership are more profitable. With only 22% of game developers being female, there’s never been a better time to cultivate change. The session will cover how to increase the female talent pool, nurture our current female developers, and support their growth into leadership roles via research-backed actions and programs. Changing the game starts with how we run our productions and studios. Come and hear how you can shift your development practices with an eye towards the future.
John Hughes (Feel Engineer, thatgamecompany) The definition of “social” gameplay can be elusive and counterintuitive. What makes some online games so much more socially fulfilling than others? How do you create lasting connections between players in online games? This talk hopes to share some learnings from the development of thatgamecompany’s Social Adventure game, Sky: Children of the Light.