Game Studies Symposium at Kadıköy

Today I was a moderator at the Game Studies Symposium that took place at TAK (Kadıköy Design Workshop), and I had the honour to sit around the same table with a number of prominent figures from the turkish game studies and game development scene: Kerem Yavuz Demirbaş (IT Kopenhagen, Marmara U.), Tonguç Sezen (Georgia Tech, Bilgi U.), Diğdem Sezen (Georgia Tech, İstanbul U.), and Fasih Sayın (Crytek İstanbul, İstanbul U.). We had an interesting talk about game studies in front of a group of around 100 game developers, game researchers and game enthusiasts. Topics changed quickly and showed great variety, and the audience was keen to jump in with nice comments!

Before and after the event, I find the chance to talk many friends such as Ali Batı (a very talented and successful game developer from İstanbul) and Orçun Nişli (known for his work on the game Monochrome), and also some of the students that I worked together with at the BUG Game Dev Summer School back in 2012: Engin, Furkan, Atakan, Güney and Şan.

The organizer of the event was Güven Çatak, founder and executive at BUG Labs in Bahçeşehir U./İstanbul, in cooperation with Mehmet Kentel from the turkish critical game studies blog Fareler Oyunda. I’m thankful for the good time they made possible for us!

Global Game Jam 2011!

We’ve been again part of the Global Game Jam this year! Once more we had lots of fun during the 48 hours game development marathon.

The host at our location Gazimağusa was again the Eastern Mediterranean University. 17 people came together to start on a number of project and we were happy to complete one of the projects in time: A game title “Nerdic Geek Jam”; a parody of the 48 hours that a jammer goes through during the Global Game Jam.  The game is far from being perfect, has functionality problems, and most important, there are huge accessibility problems. Yet we see it as a foundation for further development efforts of the game.

Mature Games podcast at GDAM

Have you lately been following the developments over at Sande Chen’s Game Aspect of the Month (GDAM)? The blog is known for serving as a platform for discussion  for game designer and scholars alike. So far, GDAM featured many articles on subjects like player death, prototyping, and trends of simplicity. This month’s July rally, however, came with the launch of a brandnew feature: A podcast on mature games!

It had been revealed earlier that in the coming months we will be able to listen to more of such podcasts!

This month’s Mature Games session which is moderated by 2007 Writers Guild Award in Videgame Writing nominee Sande Chen, features NY-based writer CJ Kershner and designer-turned programmer Ryon Levitt from japanese game developer KOEI. Issues range from serious games to sex and violence, and the participants touch on games like Starcraft, Passage and Harry Potter. If you have a few spare minutes, just tune in, it’s definitely worth the time!

Beneath the Ground…

The biggest event of the week so far is some great news that I received just a few hours ago. The fanzine Beneath the Ground, the “intellectual wing” of the turkish game mag Oyungezer has decided to feature one of my articles as part of its February edition. They also made a little interview with me about the state of game industry and game research,  and my current game project IC2010.

Just to remind you: it’s all in turkish! :)

Project Update: IC2010

Today was a long anticipated day: Two of my friends whom work with me on the IC2010 project -Barış Parlan (graphic artist) and Cengiz Önkal (programmer)- returned from their military service and it was the first time for almost a year that we could hold a design meeting together! But as you might have guessed already, it was in first line a celebration of freedom! After a long year spent in green uniforms and grey buildings, my friends could finally enjoy a lax afternoon surrounded with computers, game consoles, books and other fun stuff! :) 

It was almost one and a half year ago when we first decided to get together and start with the IC2010 project, but soon after our project launch, my friends were set for their military service (I had mine already behind me) and the project was for most of its parts laid on ice. I continued to work on the game design aspect in my spare time of course, but often I felt that I cannot continue without their input, advice and consent. Now that they are back, the project will gain pace and I have no doubt that our demo will be ready for June 2010, exactly as we were planning it.

We had a lot of fun today and our “design meeting” served as a nice warm-up to the game issues at hand. Not to forget to mention the PES and Tekken sessions we held afterwards! :)

Since Barış will be away for another three weeks, we will mainly work with Cengiz and our focus will probably shift on the technical design side of things, but when Barış is fully back, we will also spend  time on figuring the visual aspects.

I’m so glad and excited!

New article on Game Auteurship at Kafaayarı

Kerem Demirbaş over at the turkish game studies clog Kafaayarı put up an article on game auteurship today. The article is based on his M.A thesis which he wrote during his time at the IT Kopenhagen. There was just recently a design conference in Istanbul where Kerem made a presentation on the topic and it’s great that we now have a comprehensive article about the issue online.

Give it a try!

Design Studio 101 (to 401, all in one!)

A friend of mine, Guita, is a teacher at the Department of Industrial Products Design at our university. It’s been quite a while now that I was looking for a chance to join her weekly design studio classes. Since “Design Studio” is a 8-hours-a-week course, I usually couldn’t join it because there were clashes with the courses that I had to teach at my own faculty. But after two semesters of waiting for the right time, finally lady luck smiled at me: There is no course clash this semester; I can join all 8 hours of her classes!

Today was the first day at the design studio and I must say that it was incredibly nice to be present there. I got up really very early with some big excitement, carefully prepared the stuff that I would need to use during conceptualisation and prototyping, and I was waiting ready in front of the studio gates at exactly 8.30. And then the big moment came: We entered the studio, took seats and the design lectures began.

We were a group of around 25 people: 3 teachers, me, and the rest were arichitecture, industrial design and interior design students. Some assignments had been given out mid-week and today we came with the ideas and concepts that we were asked to show up with. At the beginning the teachers held a brief lecture which was then followed by a brief general discussion. Then we stepped over into a brief discussion in which individual problems were addressed and help had been offered to those wo had suffered from “design block” during the week. And after that we were finally ready for the design work of the day and turned to our workdesks.

The atmosphere was very relaxed and friendly… people would walk around freely, listen to the music they like, use their laptops etc, chat, doodle on the boards etc… it all looked very different from the classes that I am used from our faculty (were people usually sit and listen with serious faces) but actually you could see how the minds of the students where busy in the background with the design problem that was posed at them. It was nice to obverve: a student who walks around for a few minutes with her walkman, then would go and talk to someone else for two minutes, then would go an do a quick search on a lap top, and at some point this person would suddenly sit at the workdesk, quickly take some notes or start drawing a three-dimensional object. She would then go around for some feedback or for a bit more brainstorming.

While these individual processes would go on everywhere, at another corner, you would see a group holding a brief discussion round,  or talking to the teachers. People were free in both, being individuals or being members of groups. It was a wonderful atmosphere.

One of the nice things was that the studio was open to students from all years. New and old students were mixed and they knew each other from the studio works in previous years. In other words, everyone, from Design Studio 101 to 401 was there! This was actually a very nice way to keep the students connected to each other, have them discuss, exchange ideas and help each other out. The more experienced students would sometimes lend some of their know-how and give the newbies enough help to keep them on track. It also helped to maintain a relaxed informal atmosphere which had always room for some little jokes and funny conversations.

It was peaceful and creative. I liked it a lot. And I thought that we at the Faculty of Communication need to create similar environments that give students more freedom and chance for creative exchange.

I’m very happy to be part of the design studio this semester. I believe that until late January I will learn a lot from this experience (also as a teacher who is looking for new, more engaging teaching methods in his courses). Also the many assignments will keep me busy and I will stay in touch with some excellent teachers that know their branch very well. I believe that industrial design’s focus on usability and its way to approach the “product”, will contribute a lot to my individual goal to become a great game designer.