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2020 GDC & Summer of Reacting

December 09, 2020 3:39 AM | Anonymous

Let's take a quick look back at our summer 2020 events. 

After so many of us were sent to work from home in March, we knew we had to figure out what to do in lieu of the Annual Institute--it was supposed to be the 20th, and a big celebration, at that. But, in true RTTP fashion: we planned our best, and then watched life unfold in front of us, heedless of our wishes.

So we did what Reactors do: we kept our Victory Objectives in mind, hustled, and came up with Plans B, C, D, and more! What we ended up with were eleven games offered over three months, both synchronously and asynchronously, for nearly 200 registrants: similar to what we’d aim for at an Institute. In addition to the games, we also offered training sessions on various software platforms for distance learning, Q& A panels with experienced faculty and students, and additional programs on emotional intelligence, adjusting game mechanisms, and specifics on how to adapt some of our most popular games.

We are incredibly grateful to all of our GMs, panelists, board members, and especially Board Chair Tony Crider, for the work they put in making this summer a learning experience worthy of the Reacting name.

As with everything in 2020, this year’s Game Development Conference was different. A virtual GDC turned out to be simultaneously different and the same.

Instead of gathering at Cabrini, we met via zoom each Thursday of July. We still managed to playtest three terrific games: Japanese Exclusion in California, 1906-20, Grandsons of Genghis: The Mongol Qurultai of 1246, and Egypt’s Liberal Experiment, 1925-27. We also held several ‘pitch sessions’ where game designers talked about their ideas and received feedback.

Playing on zoom was simultaneously challenging and enlightening. Emma Eck, a student intern at Newman, played stage manager behind the scenes, moving people into and out of breakout rooms, managing polls and allowing designers to concentrate on learning from game play. Not only did we learn about the games we were playtesting, but we learned more about how games work in an online world. And, as usual, Mark Carnes again celebrated someone else’s victory.

Sparked by the decision to go virtual, Jeff Fortney and Amy Curry took on the task of leading a task force to identify best practices for designing games for the on-line environment. That task force made a preliminary report at an online session in August and continues to work.

The transition to virtual was challenging and rewarding at the same time. But we hope that next year we’ll return in our traditional conference format. Covid allowing, we hope to see many of you at Cabrini in July of 2021.

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