All sessions are held in the Embassy Room of the Davidson Conference Center except where otherwise specified.

Monday, January 29

Registration & Breakfast
Vineyard Room, Davidson Conference Center

Introductory Remarks
  • Doug Lowenstein, Interactive Digital Software Association
  • Celia Pearce, University of Southern California, Annenberg Center for Communication

    The Computer as Storyteller: Procedural Narrative
    Games such as Sim City and Black & White use computers to create dynamic, behavior-based story environments. These techniques supplant the outmoded notion of "non-linear" narrative, with its constrained interactivity, in favor of a highly involving system that invites player collaboration and co-creation. This session looks at ways in which the right interchange of code, character and context can be used to create a malleable narrative environment that allows for a diverse array of player influence and involvement in an ongoing narrative construct.

  • J.C. Herz, author, Joystick Nation (Moderator)
  • Peter Molyneaux, Lionhead Studios, Black & White
  • Sean Beaty, Maxis, The Sims

    The Movie Game
    While some posit that games are becoming more cinematic, a much more compelling argument can be made that movies are becoming more game-like. Only a few movie-based games have fared well, and perhaps they did so because the stories from which they were derived were inherently game-like to begin with. Historically, films based on games have not fared well, but as games become more sophisticated, their cinematic progeny may also evolve. Nonetheless, films such as The Matrix, Run Lola Run, Time Code and eXistenZ, that borrow heavily from the aesthetic, structure, and grammar of games, have proved enormously popular, suggesting that filmmakers have a lot to learn from game designers. Filmmakers, game designers and critical thinkers come together to explore the past present and future interactions between these two media.

  • Marsha Kinder, USC School of Cinema-Television (Moderator)
  • Hal Barwood, LucasArts
  • David Perry, Shiny Entertainment

    Lunch & Keynote: Will Wright, Maxis, Creator of Sim City and The Sims Town & Gown

    Trans Media & Convergence
    The most successful content properties are those which can be franchised across a variety of diverse media. While some set their sights on the physical convergence of the computer and the television into a single device, trends suggest as more likely a future scenario with a larger array of more diverse content devices. Where once media were re-purposed for cross-platform adaptation, today's savvy content creators design with extensibility in mind. From playing cards, to console and PC games, to hand-held devices, to thinking toys that talk to your TV, to intelligent blocks, to video game soundtrack albums, this session explores cross-platform entertainment genres and how concepts are conceived and developed for extensibility.

    The Audience Takes Charge: Game Engines as Creative Tools
    A new generation of hard-core gamers are not only breaking the rules, they're making their own. Game players regularly engage in level-building, "skinning," and avatar creation, and some game engines have even gone "open source" to invite more player creativity. Emergent economies have evolved around the value of game assets and characters. Meanwhile, a new self-defined gamer/filmmaker/artist is using virtual worlds as a stage for live theater, as locations for linear films, and to create unique artistic expressions. These trends suggest a further blurring between player and author, as players take over the tools of creation and become creators themselves. This panel brings together game engine artists and the creators of the engines they use to discuss the ramifications of these new creative forms.

  • Eddo Stern, University of Southern California
  • Warren Spector, Ion Storm, Deus Ex

    Games and Cognition
    While controversies rage about whether games are good for kids, cognitive research shows that games can have a variety of emotional, behavioral and cognitive benefits. Health and educational professionals across the country have been looking at ways of using the excitement and interactivity of games to develop important cognitive, spatial, and other life skills for both children and adults. Interactive games and media are being used in a diverse array of applications, from training autistic kids to cross the street, to curing phobias, to treating Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome to early diagnosis for Alzheimer's disease. Researchers will look at the cognitive attributes of games and their use in a variety of clinical applications.

  • Dorothy Strickland, Do2Learn
  • Skip Rizzo, USC
  • Yasmin Kafai, UCLA

    Cocktail Reception
    Annenberg Center for Communication

    Tuesday, January 30

    8:30am-9:30am: Registration & Breakfast
    Vineyard Room, Davidson Conference Center

    Narrative Environments: Worlds that Tell Stories
    The early masterpiece Myst helped define the unique craft of visual storytelling through a navigable story space. Since then, Virtual Reality has emerged as a highly engaging narrative medium. Designers of narrative environments will discuss the art of developing dimensional and spatial expressions that suggest story and narrative, as well as how players and virtual characters encounter and unearth the narrative embedded in these environments.

  • Janet Murray, author, Hamlet on the Holodeck
  • Lorne Lanning, Oddworld Inhabitants
  • Raph Koster, Sony Online Entertainment
  • Tim Schafer, Double Fine Productions, Grim Fandango

    The Tail that Wags the Dog: Is Entertainment Driving Technology?
    The demands of interactive entertainment on computing have led to significant movements in technology. This session will explore the role that the game and interactive entertainment industry has had in shaping the direction of technology. From the capability of PC's to play back video and audio files, to the high-speed real-time graphics of today's game consoles and arcade machines, a large part of the consumer acclimation to digital media in the home can be attributed to interactive entertainment. In fact, the mid-'90s boom in home PC sales was directly attributable to the growth in availability of CD-ROM entertainment. Home video game systems compete with graphics supercomputers as the high-speed graphics engines used in today's game consoles are being retooled to create high performance, low-cost workstations for the graphics industry. Meanwhile, computer scientists and researchers are collaborating with game companies, which now provide the greatest employment opportunities in applied artificial intelligence. This session explores the role of game design in technological innovation and looks at trends and directions for the future.

  • Ken Perlin, New York University

    12:15pm-1:15pm: Buffet Lunch
    Vineyard Room, Davidson Conference Center

    Educating Game Designers
    Computer and video games are beginning to join film and television as a legitimate subject of critical study and academic training. Those vanguards who paved the way are now being followed by the emergence of a variety of new programs with roots as diverse as fine arts, computer science, cinema, theater, and media studiesis session showcases new and upcoming educational programs specifically aimed at developing both critical and practical skills in interactive entertainment and game design.

  • Henry Jenkins, MIT
  • Eric Zimmerman, gameLab and New York University
  • Robert Nideffer, UC Irvine
  • Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon University

    Self-Authorship: Role-Playing Games and Avatar-Based Worlds
    Role playing and avatar-based worlds are among the fastest growing genres of interactive entertainment. Self-authorship creates new challenges and opportunities as players become creators or co-creators of their own characters and stories in this new form of interactive theater. These movements have also given rise to emergent economies and social structures. Online community members use their self-created avatar worlds to generate new social and economic systems, while denizens of role-playing games are selling characters and goods online for real money. This session looks at both structured and unstructured environments where players create their own characters, roles, worlds and stories.

  • Matthew Ford, Microsoft, Asheron's Call
  • Geoffrey Zatkin, Verant, EverQuest
  • Steve di Paola, Stanford University, OnLive

    Games at Work: Simulation and Training
    Long before the advent of the computer, games have been used for simulation and training. From chess to jousting, adults have used games as a means of learning valuable, if not lifesaving skills. These early military simulations are precursors to modern VR training systems. In the age of computers, simulators have been used in a variety of applications. Every commercial airline pilot learns to fly by essentially playing a computer game. Today's military is now using modified consumer games to train soldiers, and recently gave a grant to USC to create a military/entertainment hybrid lab dedicated to using entertainment technologies and techniques in simulation and training. This session looks at the use of game in a variety of workplace training scenarios.
  • Terry Hackett, Jellyvision
  • Larry Tuch, USC Institute for Creative Technologies