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A developer's musings on game development and writing.

11 October, 2018

Streaming Podcast link: Social Design in Games

The latest Streaming Podcast is available! You can watch it embedded below:

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  1. Have y’all ever read the Lister and DeMarco book “Peopleware”? There is a section in it about making jelled teams that seems to me to have parallels to designing social aspects of games. Well, at least it was supposed to.
    In their own words:

    “What’s called for here is a concise chapter entitled “Making Teams
    Jell at Your Company.” It should have half a dozen simple prescriptions
    for good team formation. These prescriptions should be
    enough to guarantee jelled teams. In the planning stage of this work, that is
    exactly the chapter we expected to write. We were confident. How difficult
    could it be to cut to the heart of the matter and give the reader practical tools
    to aid the process of making teams jell? We would apply all our skills, all our
    experience; we would overwhelm the problem with logic and pure brilliance.
    That’s how it looked in the planning stage. . . .
    Between plan and execution, there were a few distressing encounters with
    reality. The first of these was that we just couldn’t come up with the six prescriptions
    needed for the chapter. We got stuck at zero. We’d been prepared
    to scale our expectations down a bit, but not this much. (“Zero Things You
    Can Do to Make Teams Jell”?) It seemed clear that something was wrong with
    the underlying notion of the chapter. What was wrong was the whole idea of
    making teams jell. You can’t make teams jell. You can hope they will jell; you
    can cross your fingers; you can act to improve the odds of jelling—but you
    can’t make it happen. The process is much too fragile to be controlled.”

    So instead they reversed the chapter, called it “Teamicide” and started listing ways to make sure jelled teams didn’t happen. This was considerably more productive. I believe that it is the same for designing for socialness. There are lots of things that you can do to damage socialness, (eg. make objectives you have to fight your own team members for) and it is harder to specify positive actions to get there.

    Comment by John Dougan — 16 October, 2018 @ 5:26 PM

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