Report – Games Masterclass – Max Scott-Slade
The Games Industry is booming. It’s bigger than film and TV combined, but it’s saturated and tough. Max Scott-Slade of the developer Glitchers led this session, and led with the question ‘what is your game for, what purpose does it serve?’
- You need to be clear about what makes your game different
- Slapping on ‘game elements’ to your product or project is not enough – the product has to be designed from the ground up around the concept, story, mission or IP
- Games are a great way to collect masses of data
- Collaboration, Clarity, Empowerment, Storytelling and Security are paramount
Using the example of Sea Hero Quest, Max explained how games can be used to explore and perhaps help solve serious issues. In the case of Sea Hero Quest (where memory and navigation skills are essential), the game is designed from the outset to be a way to capture masses of data to help research into dementia.
Yet rather than simply dressing up a research tool into a dull game, by bringing together experienced game designers with scientific researchers, the end result is a fun game that encourages repeat play and simultaneously delivers the equivalent of 12,000 years of lab based research. What?! How?… 1 million users is how.
The key factors in driving success for Sea Hero Quest were:
Collaboration – With researchers, scientists, game designers, funders prepared to be open and honest, learn from each other and ‘leave their egos at the door’.
Clarity – Scientists want data, designers want a fun game. Clarity and adherence on mission statement, tone and purpose ensure the product meets the brief and has a clear marketing message too. Everything drove towards building a fun navigation game (tool) that will deliver a step change in relevant data collection for dementia research.
Empowerment – The game has a cause that fans rally around. The message ‘2 minutes of your time delivers five hours of lab based R&D data’ is powerful. Giving players updates as to research progress helps them stay involved.
Storytelling – The game must not feel like a dry ‘test’. It needs compelling narrative and fun to drive replayability. It needs to feel like a game. As Max said ‘we worked hard to hide the science’.
Security – With any data collection comes data protection and a legislative minefield. Be clear what you are collecting, why and how. Collect only what you need, not what you might like, make it anonymous and give the fans every opportunity to opt out whenever they wish.
The narrative has to some extent been ‘games are violent, addictive and bad for children’. A growing body of evidence and opinion says ‘not so’. There is evidence around games encouraging spatial awareness, memory, intellectual and social skills. To do so whilst informing and helping solve serious issues in society as well is a win-win on a massive scale.
By designing a game from first concept to address a particular issue or subject in a fun and engaging way, Glitchers have really accomplished something very special. Max finished by posing the question to everyone in the audience (and at CMC) ‘Think about it – How could games help in your field?’
By Guest Blogger Andy Jones