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Digital Dragons 2020 - Game Design Lecture

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Choosing Roman philosopher Lucio Anneo Seneca’s writings as the starting point for this talk, I’ll offer you my perspective on creativity and fabricating ideas, deeply conscious of how sometimes “less is more”. In the same vein as Ancient Roman thinkers and artists, I want to expose a serendipitous, sustainable approach to creative process in game design and development.

Publicada em: Design
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Digital Dragons 2020 - Game Design Lecture

  1. 1. De Otio: How an Ancient Roman philosopher can improve your craft as a Game Designer Digital Dragons - 2020 Lecture Guglielmo De Gregori, Lead Designer (Studio V)
  2. 2. Who I am and what I do ● Game Designer ● Versed in all-around game creation (writing, code, art) ● Currently working on historical visual novel Dark Renaissance ● History and Fine arts lover ● Fascinated by psychology, creativity and cognitive processes ● Game Jams enthusiasm ● Pretty much Italian
  3. 3. Otium vs. Negotium John William Waterhouse - Dolce Far Niente (1880)
  4. 4. De otio: what Seneca thought about productive laziness "Nature has assigned us a place and has placed us in its center, giving us the ability to see what surrounds us... above the upright position it has placed the head up and a jointed neck, so that it can be observed more easily..." "Thought breaks down the barriers of the sky, it is not satisfied with knowing what is shown to the eye ”.
  5. 5. Leonardo da Vinci: an hyperactive slacker
  6. 6. What the lockdown has taught me about time management Lockdown and smart working: even more difficult to determine difference between work and free time! My takeaways: ● You will always coexist with yourself and your creativity ● Creating may imply struggle and obsession: so, it’s OK being struggling and obsessed! ● Productive time for me needs to coexist with contemplative time (otium) or the “productive laziness” ● And sometimes doing absolutely nothing is good, though ● Feeling of guilt are a capitalist burden ● Self-regulation is key. The only approach that works is the one that works for you
  7. 7. John Carmack’s take: obsession is fulfilling “Whatever the grand strategy for success is, it gets broken down into lots of smaller tasks. When you hit a wall on one task, you could say “that’s it, I’m done for the day” and head home, or you could switch over to something else that has a different rhythm and get more accomplished. Even when you are clearly not at your peak, there is always plenty to do that doesn’t require your best, and it would actually be a waste to spend your best time on it. You can also “go to the gym” for your work by studying, exploring, and experimenting, spending more hours in service to the goal.” “Given two equally talented people, the one that pursues a goal obsessively, for well over 40 hours a week, is going to achieve more. They might be less happy and healthy, but I’m not even sure about that. Obsession can be rather fulfilling, although probably not across an entire lifetime.”
  8. 8. Immanuel Kant and his famous walks "Without my regular walks at eight in the evening, neither the "Critique of Pure Reason nor the Critique of Practical Reason would have seen the light”
  9. 9. Gaming Industry: Art vs. Productive Processes ● Video Games are a creative industry with artistic ambitions. ● It is based on underlying creative processes managed by human minds. ● We all have our commissioners: just like Leonardo. ● Work-life balance and self regulation includes slacking off: no need to be guilty. ● When it comes to games we still see a lot of abuse on long shift, burning out, unpaid hours of work.
  10. 10. Art as a personal struggle ● Video games are art and art is made by people. ● Art is personal struggle, sometimes suffering, sometimes joy. Yet, is based on (relative) freedom. ● If people suffer, games will be evidently plagued by the suffering of people. ● Even if you not notice the suffering, it is no ethical behaviour. Consider this: Animal crossing was delayed and that was such an hit and became a benchmark for wholesome games making people cope with the lockdown.
  11. 11. Human mind is the most valuable game engine ● No magic at all: your mind is a machine able to produce data and adopt behaviours with impact on the apparently physical world. ● Creating implies using your mind just as you would use your favorite game engine. ● You need to be aware of what this computer needs. ● Remember: no boundaries between you and your work. Would you throw your computer out of the window and expect it to work? You need to take care of yourself just like you would care of your computer
  12. 12. Conclusions ● You're not giving leisure to yourself or to your employees because they will fare better. This is not an equation, not impersonal: you’re not an hamster on a wheel. ● You’re always entitled to being momentarily unproductive because, as an an artist, you rely on a cognitive process that is fueled by otium. ● Your apparent non-productivity is part of the process: there’s not turning off button for creative mind. ● You're not giving the stick and the carrot to yourself: you're creating a safe ecosystem where you’re able to live your artistic self all the time, truly achieving the quest for being yourself.
  13. 13. Sources Group Report: Coziness in Games: An Exploration of Safety, Softness, and Satisfied Needs https://www.projecthorseshoe.com/reports/featured/ph17r3.htm Vittorio Sgarbi’s discourses on Leonardo (Italian only) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPoQKiZSRnI John Carmack’s thread on productivity https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10845832
  14. 14. Personal Contacts Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShinjiSuzumiya Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/qohele_t Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/guglielmodegregori1