Lost Levels is a radically-casual "unconference" picnic about games and play that aims to be hyper-inclusive: it is free, and anyone can run a session.
MARCH 20, 2014, in SAN FRANCISCO
LOCATION TBA, NEAR MOSCONE CENTER
PLEASE SIGN-UP (FREE) TO ATTEND (FREE) OR RUN A SESSION (FREE)
<-- We're also getting a permit this year. The fees are more than $3000. Please donate to our IndieGoGo if you can!
EMAIL US! or FOLLOW @LOOOST_LEVELS ON TWITTER!
2014 facilitated by: Mattie Brice, Harry Lee,
Toni Pizza, Ian Snyder, Robert Yang
2014 SESSIONS (PAST YEARS: 2013 - media | old site)
NOTE: THIS IS NOT REALLY A SCHEDULE NOR A CONFERENCE.
We don't formally schedule nor plan sessions. The list below is randomly shuffled. re-shuffle?
- It's not just a bunch of misaligned flickering magenta GIFs: The beauty of the polish turds
- (5 min, performance, Fernando Ramallo) I love polish. It's nice, shiny and smells good. BUT IT RUINED MY LIFE. I'll explain how improvisation brought some peace and fun into my everyday life as a creator and how #weirdkids and PANORAMICAL are shaped by a different kind of polish. A smelly one.
- (10 min, activity, Daphny) id like to facilitate a physical play session between the rounds of talks... like duck duck goose, or octopus tag, or red rover, or steal the bacon or even a tiny capture the flag game. if people are into having these games we can play again after all the talks are over (last year there was so much leftover time, why not play)
- Critical Level Design Analysis of the Cradle as Interpretive Dance
- (5 min, talk-performance, Robert Yang) The Cradle is the 3rd-to-last level of the game Thief 3. It is a giant Victorian orphanage slash psychiatric hospital slash haunted house, and it is one of the Greatest Levels Ever Made. Its greatness can only be communicated through the timeless medium of Interpretive Dance.
- The Importance of Diversity In and Off Games
- (5 min, talk, Elaine Gomez) I'm going to bring in some print outs of visualizations I've made for my research in gender and games and talk about why diversity is important in and off games.
- no idea yet
- (5 min, talk, Anna Anthropy) ugh i don't know
- The Banana Dogs GDC Challenge
- (5 min, casually ridiculous competition, Toni Pizza) In pairs or small groups (or solo w/selfies if that's your style), teams compete to recreate the infamous "Banana Dogs" comic strip using GDC (or honestly whatev) themes. Participants will be asked to send their submission photos into the workshop leader, photos will be edited into comic strips and displayed online. May the best Banana Dog impersonator win. A limited number of banana props will be available for use.
- Netrunner is terrible but it doesn't matter.
- (5 min, talk, George Buckenham) Also I make a more broadly applicable point about games, so if you don't play Netrunner that is fine.
- Ric Chivo's "Ten Responsibilities of a Game Developer"
- (10 min, keynote talk, "Ric Chivo") Stop FAILING at videogames today! Ric Chivo is here to help: he's gonna share the wisdom he's earned in his AAAA games career and his notorious departure to become one of the hotttest indies around... dropping real educational takeaways right like a BOMB onto the GDC Weirdo Track, informally known as "Lost Levels." Do you have no idea what gamers WANT from your game? Of course you don't: you think you're an artist! You'll never get rich like that, my friends. Learn how to be a RESPONSIBLE game developer and in no time you'll so polished that you'll blind booth babes just by smiling! Flow! Fun! Choices! Power! Fantasy! Learn how to do it ALL and DOMINATE your competition! Sexxxy!
- String theory and 11-dimensional membrane worlds
- (10 min, talk, Andi McClure) A brief introduction to M-theory, a scientific theory all about the idea our universe is a 4-dimensional bubble floating through a 11-dimensional multiverse full of other universe-bubbles, all of which have totally different physics, and which occasionally collide with each other. Science background not required.
- AI Workshop
- (10 min, workshop / discussion, Borut Pfeifer) People discuss and get advice for solving the AI & gameplay technical problems they're currently trying to solve.
- Purification In Progress
- (5 min, talk, Jonah Davidson) A rant session about story and subtlety in games (and all media). Will discuss at high speed tropes, story-telling methodologies, and content dispersion methods, and why you should chuck them all out the window. Rebuttals welcome afterward.
- Collective Art Jam
- (10 min, activity, Kathyrn Long) A group art project for everyone to participate in to make fun art! Current idea is give everyone sticky notes and let everyone draw something based on a common theme, and assemble into a single Lost Levels collage!
- Sound as a Commodity
- (10 min, talk, Liz Ryerson) i rant about music and how sound is employed/how to employ sound in popular music because MUSIC, GAMES, IT'S ALL THE SAME IF YOU THINK ABOUT IT~!
- Video Game Zine Making Workshop
- (10 min, workshop, Aquma) Let's make some video game fan zines! We'll make small books that cover topics and games the traditional press and publishers don't see as being profitable. We'll talk about layout, paper-folding techniques, distribution (physical and digital), story idea brainstorming, etc. Let's scribble on scratch paper, cut up some video game magazines, and then tape everything together in ways that we deem fit. If we can find a Xerox nearby, we'll even make copies. It's gonna be cool.
- How to Start Your Own Game Jam
- (5 min, talk, Andrew Ferguson) I'm going to talk for 2-3 minutes about how someone with zero experience running game jams or making games can get started and do both easily. This is going to be based on my experiences founding & running the WTF Are We Doing Game Jam ( http://wtfgamejam.com/2013/ ) last year. I'll hopefully be able to tell you how to duplicate this modest success IN YOUR OWN HOME. Then I'm going to take a couple questions. Maybe they'll be related, maybe they'll just be about my rad shoes. Then I'm probably going to give everybody candy and fall over in the grass because adrenaline.
- eSports are pretty cool
- (5 min, talk, Taylor Cocke) Look, I dig eSports and I don't care who knows. I'll talk about how rad they are in some capacity.
- (5 min, play session, Ilya Zarembsky) Game materials are all around us; in fact, they are even growing on us. We will cut/shave our hair and make a huge hairball out of everyone's hair and play a game with it. I will provide buzzers and vaseline to hold the hair together. If enough people participate, I will shave off my beard.
- The art of memory & the craft of savegames
- (10 min, talk, Jake Elliott) You can shoot a polaroid, wave it in the air, and moments later learn that you captured a mid-flight seagull shit. Or, like, this is 2014 -- you can take that photo on your phone but not discover the seagull shit until months later, flipping through photos half-drunk and nostalgic on your gross couch.
Videogame save files aren't like polaroids; there are no happy accidents. They store a very specific and explicitly-defined snapshot of "now" -- a digital memory, carefully defined. Game designers often have to carefully decide what that memory means in the context of their game. We track the player's position, right? Or just the nearest "checkpoint." The quantity of, I don't know, ammo? The weather? Where in the sky are the 2-poly seagull billboards? Other times, designers just inherit that definition from their game's engine, and have to plan around those arbitrary constraints.
Pretty weird, right? Yes. It is pretty weird. BUT, people have been constructing mechanical systems of memory for thousands of years! Let's talk about the ancient "art of memory," antiquated physical, spiritual, and logical mechanics for memorization, and finally drink deep from the river Lethe to learn the mercifully nihilistic "art of forgetting."
- (5 min, talk, JP LeBreton) Sometimes it's good to make things where you're not at all sure whether you'll succeed.
- "Autopsy of a Market" AKA picking the Comics Industry's corpse to learn from their mistakes
- (5 min, talk, Nicolas Barrière-Kucharski) A comparative look at how the mainstream American comic book industry marginalized itself into irrelevance by catering to one unique group and how the video game industry is currently trying go on business as usual.by repeating the same destructive cultural and demographic patterns.
- What is "avant-garde"?
- (10 min, discussion, Lana Polansky) I would like to have a discussion with whoever shows up, I guess, about what we think of when we consider the "avant-garde" in games. I want to get to hear some examples of what other people consider "avant-garde" in games but also why they think that. I also want to dissect what we mean by terms like "innovative" and "cutting edge" and if a game is considered "avant-garde," then I want to put that in context: namely, if something is radically new, then in relation to what? "Avant-garde" is a relative term so what do we think of as establishment art in videogames? So, by contrast, what would we identify as anti-establishment art in games? What does it stand for, what does it look like and who makes it? (Also, how can this be related to other legacies in art, like art nouveau or jugendstil or dada, for instance?)
- YOU'RE ALL AMATEURS
- (5 min, talk, Scott Anderson) A brief overview of the past, present and potential future of the game industry.
- (5 min, talk, Chad Toprak) aaahhhh, so many ell-em-pees, what is this, so confusing, whatdoido. this talk comes with free keywords: curation, space, context, design, culture, community, literacy, celebration, homogony, inclusivity, permission, spectacle, fun, not-fun. chad makes, curates and pee-haych-dees ell-em-pees. (disclaimer: ell-em-pee means LMP, not to be confused with ell-em-en-oh-pee) <3
- The Code Behind Psychedelics
- (5 min, talk, Cale Bradbury) This talk will go over the visual effects psychedelics can have on your eyes/brain and how they can be represented through code and math.
- the problem with cooperative games
- (10 min, talk, Michael brough) k I'll talk about a common phenomenon in cooperative board games: the way they can easily degenerate into one player telling everyone else what to do, and about how some games try to avoid this. then I'll get everyone worried by going off on a tangent about something other than games! but don't worry, I will mention games again.
- The Game Developer's Guide To Ideology
- (10 min, talk, Ivan Safrin) No tool exists without an accompanying ideology, whether explicitly imbued with one by its creator or assigned by those who use it. Our choice of tools (and in the context of art, our choice of medium) is always a choice of that accessory system of thought. Video game tools and platforms especially, are part of a complex system of ideals prescribed by the technology that makes them possible and the industry that creates them. How do we choose the right tools if we want to develop video games outside of traditional political and socio-economic structures?
- Being New: My Perspective Entering Indie Games
- (10 min, talk, Jodediah Holems) I'm making my first non-jam-sized game ever while juggling a full college course load, social presence, and sleeplessness. I'm following all the reputable indie devs I can get my hands on through Twitter. I'm reading Gamasutra religiously. I feel connected at the same time nobody knows me, and I'm putting into motion a series of extroverted actions (including this talk) that are completely uncharacteristic and frightening. These are my thoughts.
- SOMETHING ABOUT PLAYTESTIN
- (5 min, talk, Andy Wallace) Playtesting is super important, right? Yes probably but it's super annoying or hard sometimes AND I HAVE SOMEHTING TO SAY ABOUT IT
- Why [Game] is Gr8
- (5 min, talk, Brendan Keogh) Last year during the second round of talks I gave an impromptu talk about why ZiGGURAT is awesome. It was really fun to just talk about why a game I really like is great without any lofty goals of fixing games criticism or anything. Just appreciating a good thing. I'm going to do that again. I haven't decided what game I'll do it about yet. Maybe I'll hold a vote. Maybe either Driver: San Francisco or Binary Domain or Flappy Bird or, if Harry is close enough, Stickets. Just to make him blush (see picture for demonstration).
- What the heck is the use of game studies? no really!
- (5 min, talk, Ben Abraham) I have no idea what the point of game studies is but apparently I am in game studies???? People like/dislike game studies??? Come along and tell me what the point of the game studies is and maybe we can talk about what to do with or about game studies. Game studies. Game studyes. Game studisse. Gaem Studis.
- Game Jams: One Jam To Bind Us
- (5 min, talk, Lucy Morris) I will use this talk to spread my fervent, frothing-at-the-mouth evangelism for game jams as both a long time organizer and participant, 1.) as a way for us to thoroughly & creatively explore different genres in gaming, 2.) to bring unlikelies together and 3.) as a great, positive way to spread advocacy about issues. May include actual jam if I can find some.
- Henka Twist Caper
- (10 min, performance / demo, Shawn Pierre) Twist your body. Twist the controller. Stay in the box. Find the sweet spot. Stop everyone else.
- Secrets Secrets are Fun
- (5 min, talk, Teddy Diefenbach) It's great to be an indie developer. You can be as open as you'd like about your game, show work in progress to connect with your potential players, and get feedback from more people because you don't have to be all corporate and secretive. BUT you can also keep fun secrets from your players. Let's talk about all the kinds of secrets, and the way you can or shouldn't give hints.
- Videogame Jockeying Micro-Seminar
- (5 min, talk performance, Nando Sarmiento) In the world there are DJs... VJs... but, why aren't there any "VGJs"? That is, Videogame Jockeys? A whole new category, addressing the return of the "cool" Game Master. Using my game Tough Coded as example, I will explain why Videogame Jockeying is not only good for your game's quality (to get instant feedback) but also for your games ultimate exposure (showing it at events and the such).
- A Plea for E-Books. A... Pleabooks? (No. Sorry.)
- (5 min, talk, Taylor Morris) Reading is pretty great, you guys- so I want to get more good quality bookish content into as many hands as possible. The physical medium is obviously totally sweet and probably still better overall but it doesn't travel nearly as fast or as cheap. This talk is going to be a ramble about the huge variety of digital distribution and how to make your stuff as accessible and available as possible. Also asking for money is pretty hard so let's practice that!
- Strategy Games as Fascist Modernity
- (10 min, talk, Jordan Marshak) I would like to explore the ways in which Strategy games embody Fascist ideas about self, society, and philosophy, briefly discussing things like the way in which they organize control and agency, and their nature of value and how those closely replicate Fascist ideas that most of us would find extremely alienating in our "real lives". I'll raise questions about the ways in which the logic of Fascism (real Fascism) continues to play out in our contemporary world, but also about the "pleasure" of Fascism--after all, many people (including myself), play and enjoy these "Fascist" games, just as many people historically supported Fascist regimes. Why?
- Arctic Indigenous Stories
- (5 min, talk, Ryan Oliver) I make games in the Canadian Arctic. We tell stories that are unique to Inuit culture. I'll talk about the importance of telling the stories of where you are from and the unique experiences there in.
- Masterpiece Theatre: Drill Killer Edition
- (10 min, talk, Cherry) thecatamites' DRILL KILLER as a drama adapted for lawn picnic audiences. http://www.freeindiegam.es/2012/03/drill-killer-thecatamites/
- Shake It Up!
- (5 min, workshop, Kaho Abe & Ramsey Nasser) When the can is shaken, small bubbles of carbon dioxide (CO2) gets mixed inside the liquid. When the can is opened, these bubbles expand quickly and try to force their way up and out of the can, taking the liquid with them. In other words, BOOM!
- Games as Engines of Mundanity
- (5 min, talk, Ian Snyder) Imagine yourself on a mountaintop. The clear night sky is above you, filled with countless stars. A cold wind carries air to you from hundreds of miles North. Now, imagine a perfect simulation of this mountain in your computer. Imagine returning to it again and again and again, carving the scene into your mind through repeated strokes like initials in a tree. Imagine that, through careful study, you attain perfect knowledge of this mountain. When you visit the mountain again, nothing strikes you as new, nothing novel. You feel bigger than the mountain. You feel large and powerful. You look at the stars and marvel at how much you know about these stars. The mountain has become mundane. It no longer surprises you, it no longer makes you feel small. Nor can you possibly return to that feeling of smallness anymore.
- Solving the Same Problem Over and Over
- (5 min, workshop, James Hoffmann) An observation on how progress emerges from structured chaos.
- Professor Oak's Dance Off Reloaded!
- (5 min, danceoff, Sos) Let's all partake in this traditional dance of Professor Oak yet again! Yes!
- Beyond Ace Attorney, or: Dismantling Sexual Normativity in Games
- (10 min, talk + discussion, Kris Ligman) There's a lot of talk about including queer characters of various stripes in games, and this is great. However, not everyone is a sexual being -- asexuality is a valid orientation many people identify with, yet it is difficult (sometimes nearly impossible!) to find examples of ace characters in our media. Let's put our heads together to think outside the sexual box!
- GaymerX: a 10 minute post mortem
- (10 min, talk, Matt Conn) We did GaymerX - I have some feeling about it!
- Invisible Walls, Puffy Clouds, and the Unheavenly World Behind Them
- (10 min, talk, Paolo Pedercini) As the aphorism goes "the map is not the territory": whenever game makers try to model or reference reality, they inevitably operate reductions and limit the scope of the simulated world. We are all familiar with the notion of invisible wall, but beyond the mere spatial dimension, game systems have even more invisible and treacherous boundaries. The politics and the system of value of a game often depends on where we draw these conceptual borders and on the way we decide to disguise them.
- Greatest Hits From The Growtopia Support Desk
- (5 min, talk, Solee Hommel) Solee will regale you with the most interesting and/or dramatic support desk correspondence of the last year of Growtopia, and speak briefly on what Growtopia has taught us about customer support.
- Warning: Contains Spoilers for the Movie Version of "The Mist"
- (5 min, talk, Mike Hommel) I can't tell you, it's spoilers. But basically, I want to tell you a rags to riches story about a young boy growing up in the projects, found by Sandra Bullock and taught to play the violin for the President of the United States. That young boy was me. I mean, not literally, or even figuratively, but I made a game and found success when I thought I had to give up and move on to the food service industry. You can too!
- I hate the term "virtual"
- (5 min, rant, Andrew Grant Wilson) Videogames and virtual, the terms go together like peanut butter and jelly! So delicious is the combination that it has become hard to talk about one without invoking the other. And you know what? Fuck that shit. Join me as I give a light-hearted talk on how "virtual" is often completely and utterly inaccurate, inappropriate and damaging when used to describe the things (like videogames) we offhandedly and confidently label as being so. Several definitions were harmed in the making of this talk.