I went to the Art Game Labs panel on game development at the SFMOMA last night and my head is still spinning with the revolutionary topics that were discussed. Seriously, I think I’ll be chewing on this gristly chunk of ideas for a long time.

The panel began as a discussion on gamification of life and using games as a tool through which to access the art and culture offered by museums; basically, museums are increasingly turning to games as a way to break from the norm of museum culture and encourage visitors to engage with art on a more active level. The conversation quickly evolved from “games as a way to engage with artwork” into “games as artwork” where the games themselves become the museum pieces. This elevation from Game Designer to Game Artist seemed to please a few of the panel members.

The event featured 5 game designers and several of the games they had developed for the event. Of particular interest was the work of SF game design company Situate, who specialize in real-world social gaming. This is game design on a massive scale. Their games have turned the streets of San Francisco into a citywide game of tag or converted entire museums into interactive scavenger hunts. As an aspiring game designer, I often find myself looking for where to apply my passion and talents; do I focus on video game development? Social gaming? Board games? Situate’s discussion opened my mind to a whole new form of game — no-tech gaming that augments our own reality rather than relying on a vehicle to deliver the game to us, be it board, book or console.

Other panel members touched on the corporatization of the game industry and the elitist atmosphere at such events as GDC, bemoaning the loss of a truly independent game development culture.

Efforts to create a venue for the unsung indy developers were highlighted, such as rave-esque warehouse parties of Babycasltes in New York or the nascent Glitch Lab in LA. The lack of such a space in San Francisco, ground zero of game design, has my mind going in interesting directions.

If you have time, head over to SFMOMA and check out some of the games yourself. The panel is over, but the panelists’ games are still available for exploration.

In other news, I am working on turning this page into a portfolio/resume page and migrating my blog to a new site (name TBD). Still working on site design, but expect changes in the future.