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meaningful play 2012 travel

Session Information

TitleDeveloping intuition about the physical world through games
Presenter(s)Greg Austic
TimeSaturday, October 20, 11:30a-12:30p
LocationGold B
DescriptionGames are an experience engine which produce repeated, structured experiences for the players. Intuition is lessons learned by your subconscious from many varied experiences and occurs in the background of your brain. These concepts are tied together by one word - experiences. All games build intuition by producing a spreadsheet of similar-but-slightly-different experiences which you brain pulls its intuition from. Therefore, games are also intuition engines.

Starting from this basic concept, this talk will discuss how thinking of games as intuition engines fundamentally changes game design in important and useful ways. Specifically, how does the intuition developed in games relate to intuition which may also be useful in life - and what are the most useful intuitions in real life anyway (I will argue that almost all professions develop a type of intuition which makes them excel at what they do - we should identify and create games around those types of intuition). How can we create games which map useful intuition in life as directly as possible, so that the intuition transfers immediately instead of by metaphor in the player's brain? Once players have developed intuition, how can we then provide them with the tools to then seek the theory behind that intuition? Imagine, for example, a great basketball player. As a 3-point specialist, she has amazing intuition about physics and F=MA - in fact, it would take a very expensive and complex robot to shoot 3 pointers as well as she can. However, she knows nothing about the theory of physics... so how can we design games which first develop intuition (shoot 3 pointers well), and then motivate players to learn the theory behind it (understand the F=MA)? Examples include intuition about electricity, chemistry, physics, and other subjects with important physical components.

The focus and examples in the talk will be on developing intuition in the physical world - that is, physical games (board games, group games, crowd-based games, etc). As human beings become more disconnected from the physical world, we are losing our intuition about that world. While the virtual world is an amazing and important space, I will argue that our knowledge and intuition of the physical world must always be as good or better. A variety of examples of games which partly or wholly accomplish this goal will be discussed.

Finally, I will voice a call to action to create games which develop meaningful, applicable intuition in the physical world and suggest strategies for making those games compelling for players.

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