For the last 30 years, entertainment has understood to be the core value of our industry and the interactive experiences we create, fuelling the growth of videogames as a medium from a niche hobby into one of the most celebrated and impactful to exist. Yet, while it is the central – and most visible – of the values we hold, it has never been the only one.
Others have included authenticity – which one can see from the painstaking research that goes into any major game based on history or the modern world, connection – as seen through the varied strategies employed by companies to help players develop a passion not only for characters in the games they play but in the greater worlds those games are set within, community, with games as a medium to help people build relationships with one another, and edification – that the stories and mechanics we so painstakingly craft can change minds and hearts, with an impact that goes beyond any one play session.
Yet these other values and their potential for spurring the next wave of growth for games are rarely discussed, leaving the question of whether game companies can successfully engage in academic and educational endeavours in any way beyond a surface-level treatment a mystery to many.
This panel seeks to address this knowledge gap, with practitioners from around the world who have made a career of looking beyond entertainment discussing projects they have worked on, the lessons they’ve learned, and the ways they see values beyond entertainment shaping the future of games. Projects to be discussed include Project Discovery in EVE Online, which takes citizen science and integrates it into the lore and mechanics of a working MMO, and Never Alone, through the medium of a game, let players immerse themselves in the ancestral worlds and lore of the indigenous peoples of Alaska.
In particular, the panel will discuss some of the best practices for working with communities of interest outside the industry (or in fields not traditionally considered part of game development), how the work they do has been (and can be) marketed to best effect, and how smaller developers (and outside stakeholders, like universities), lacking the resources of AAA studios, may benefit from exploring the possibilities of values beyond entertainment.