Last month I went down to the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), where I had the honor of being a special guest speaker for a classroom packed with college students majoring in Game Design.
First of all, it's pretty amazing to me that you can even BE a college student majoring in Game Design, never mind the idea that they'd want to fly me in to talk to them about the subject. But they added Game Design as an option about seven years ago and currently have around 200 students majoring in Game Design.
Secondly, I was blown away by the resources and facilities of SCAD, both in general, and as regards their game design department. SCAD was founded relatively recently, in 1978, and instead of a traditional campus, SCAD occupies a scattered collective of buildings in downtown Savannah. As my primary host Bryan explained while giving me a short driving tour of the area, "the entire city is our campus." Which is awesome since Savannah is a beautiful city, and because their approach is to renovate old industrial buildings, re-purposing them as learning centers. (This gives their classrooms a wonderful urban style that constantly reminded me of the Powerhouse, for any Magnet alumni reading this.) Bryan took obvious delight in telling me that the Game Design building was originally a coffin factory. I'll say that again because it's just such an amazing phrase: Game Design *Building*.
They gave me a tour of the whole building and I was dazzled by the incredible array of hi-tech equipment they're set up with. Of course, since game design means videogames more often that tabletop games, this makes sense -- they need to have access to the cutting edge machines. It reminded me of long ago, working in an R&D lab at NASA, with all the latest hardware. But all that's a far cry from the real world of the entrepreneur.
Anyway, after a lovely dinner out with Bryan and some of my other hosts, we proceeded to the weekly meeting of the SCAD Game Development Network, the group I was there to speak to. This began with a short gaming session, in which the club members played each others' prototypes, and I let several groups try out current prototypes of my own, including Star Fluxx, IceDice, and Launchpad 23. I also reviewed 4 prototype games from students eager for my feedback, 3 board games and a computer game. I was impressed by everything I saw.
And then I gave my speech. Beforehand I drew up a one-page handout called How I Design a Game, and I basically just explained my own process, working my way through said chart. And it went really well! Everyone seemed very focused on my rambling stories, they laughed at all the right places, and afterwards I got a ton of thank yous and compliments.
One of the students, Slaton White, took notes on my yammerings and posted them on his blog.
In summary, it was a great trip. Attached is a copy of my handout... I plan to use this as the basis of my contribution to that secret Game Design book project I was just invited to participate in. Also of course, I'm ready now for the next time I'm asked to give a talk like this!