Shaping Things and game design

Thanks Julian for pointing me on Raph Koster's thought about Bruce Sterling's Shaping Things. The blogpost deals with the connection game designers can draw from the book. Here are some exerpts I found pertinent:

Gizmos are what we live in and around today: networked objects, highly featured and accreting more every day, user-alterable, and essentially interfaces more than objects. Those who use them are now end-users. (...) Our use of metrics in the game industry is nigh on nonexistent. We know close to nothing about how exactly people play our games. Despite the fact that we play on connected computers, running software that is full of event triggers that could be datamined, we still playtest by locking a few dozen people in a room and asking them what they think. Regarded in that fashion, it’s simply astounding that the games are working at all. (...) We tend to datamine a fairly good set of metrics from our games, but they are almost all aimed at tuning the game, rather than being aimed at understanding the player. One of the comments that Bruce makes about gizmos is that they invite the user into the process (...) The passive consumer is a dying breed. (...) Bruce goes on to discuss rapid prototyping, which he dismisses as primitive. His real goal is something he calls “fabbing,” which is basically the apotheosis of the current 3d printers. But it strikes me that just as virtual spaces with user modeling are pretty good pre-visualizers, it’s objects in a virtual world like Second Life that are really true spimes: ‘fabbed,’ in his sense, by being created just by specifying them; often higher in detail in the spec than can actually be rendered; networked and capable of intercommunication, tracking their own history, and so on; and even possibly transparent, in the event of the ability to copy some of the script code off of one.

Why do I blog this? the connection between the book and game design is not explicit of course but Koster has interesting points, especially about active consumerism ('consumactor' as we saw at Lift06) and the potential of virtual world to be pre-spimes.