Serious Players Make and Play Serious Games

The Serious Play Conference begins in two weeks in Seattle (August 19).  And what a great place to have a conference about serious play.  Seattle hosted a world’s fair in 1962 that ignited the country about the enchantment of science.  Everyone was invited, and everyone came.  Today, Seattle’s historic Space Needle and the location of the fair is a thriving civic center.  Our founders had a vision.  Use entertainment to teach a serious subject and ignite everyone’s imagination.  That tradition is literally in our blood, and in our water.  What a great place to keep the serious play tradition alive.

So, the Software Game Association, 2b3d Studios and Digipen are inviting the luminaries and serious player dreamers to Seattle.  We are hosting the conference at Digipen Institute of Technology – a dedicated world-renowned leader in education and research in computer interactive technologies. Ran Hinrichs, 2b3d Studios CEO will be emcee.  The SGA is the executive producer of this playful event.  Our keynoters, speakers and attendees make up an intriguing line-up of serious people, who play serious games. They come from all walks of life.

Jesse Schell is a luminary in serious play and will be keynoting.  I first met Jesse at Carnegie Mellon, as he had just been recruited by Don Marinelli and Randy Pausch, author of the Last Lecture to supercharge their Entertainment Technology Center program.  Jesse is on fire, and his associations with Walt Disney Imagineering, CMU, Freihofer’s Mime Circus and the Juggler’s Guild is renown.  Jesse is a serious player. If Jesse Schell isn’t in the play yard, we won’t have as much fun.  When he’s there we might even encourage him to juggle more than the art of game design.

Nolan Key Bushnell is a serious player. Nolan will be keynoting. Nolan is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain.  I first met Nolan at the Defense GameTech User’s Conference in Orlando last April.  Nolan has turned his battleship to Serious Play with his Brain Rush company, in which he has been studying neuroscience to convert gaming addiction into serious play and serious learning.  Now that is my quote, not his, or maybe that was his quote and is now ours.  Without Nolan, we wouldn’t have the daVinci factor in the conference.

Mihayl Csikszentmihalyi will be keynoting.  Csikszentmihayli’s flow model is the secret to keeping the player motivated in a serious game.  In the field, we say intrinsically motivated.  That means, we are in flow, and we’re happy when we are in flow.  We all know when we are in flow.  But, do we know why we are in flow? Mihayl says we need to meet three conditions: set goals, provide feedback, and teach the player the right skills.  If your serious game misses those cornerstones, think it through again.  Mihaly is a pioneer in understanding happiness and creativity.  Serious players need to experience great outcomes when they learn, and they need to be in flow.  Flow is good business because the player learns new skills and emotionally engages in the play space.  His Fligby leadership game is a great example.  I first met Mihaly as a graduate student at UCLA in a book.  Then, I met him at every conference I attended on learning.  And now I can’t talk to a serious player who doesn’t mention the need to create flow in their game. Without Mihaly at the serious play conference, we would be missing the river.

James Rosser is a keynoter.  I first met James at Elliot Masie’s huge Learning Conference, this is a more traditional learning conference, but Butch (aka James Rosser) came in one year and ignited the future with talking about Are Video Games Better at Laparoscopic Surgerical Tasks.  He cited superior eye-hand coordination, faster raction times, superior spatial visualization skills.  Former President of the Society  of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons said serious games might make better surgeons.

Now you have to come.  I’m very excited about continuing the tradition of our forward looking city and our luminary colleagues to advance serious play.

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