In the second episode we talked about some of the lesser known Greek myths such as Theseus and Thanatos. The focus of episode 2 was to look for lesser know characters and stories of mythology and use them to provide a spark. In episode 3 I want to go in a different direction again, let’s take a look at Australian/Aboriginal mythology, and dig a little deeper.
In Australia there is a culture that has existed for around 50,000 years, the Aborigines are a unique people steeped in Mythology. The stories that they tell today have truly been passed down generation to generation, in their homes, or around their campfires, for thousands and thousands of years. Their stories of mythology are based on what they refer to as Dreamtime, the Dreamtime stories help to explain how things came to be, or provide guidance or morals for the children. Effectively the Mythology is created as a form of education in Aboriginal culture. As those children grow, they become responsible for telling the stories.
In the first episode we talked about a couple of the Roman myths, and commonly known characters such as Cupid and Mars. The focus of episode 1 was to look for common stories of mythology and use them to provide a spark or an idea for story or mechanics. In episode 2 I want to go in a different direction, let’s take a look at Greek mythology, and dig a little deeper.
Greek mythology is probably some of the most well known because of the movie industry. Movies such as 300, Clash of the Titans and Wrath of the Titans took some of the most common stories and brought them to the silver screen. Oh, did you think Sam Worthington was the first Perseus?
As a Game Designer interested in how stories can be told as part of a game experience, I have researched a lot into the foundations of stories and how they have influenced games and movies over the years. One of the foundations of that, is those that believe there are only so many stories to tell. 1
I found the idea that there is only 20 plots, to be interesting and it makes for a fun game when watching a movie or reading a book to see which plot they have chosen. When it comes to Interactive adventures and fantasy though, the bigger influence is not the story that is told, but the source of the story. With TV shows like Grimmand Once Upon a Time we are seeing a great resurgence in the classic Fairy Tales and Fables from days gone by. The area that most fascinates me is Mythology, those stories that reach way back to the roots of storytelling, those stories that were passed down generation to generation.
We have all heard stories of Sasquatch and Unicorns, however once you start digging, you start to realize that many of the characters and creatures of today’s games and movies go back centuries. Over the coming episodes of this series, I am going to take a look at some of the common and uncommon mythological beings and creatures that harken back to cultures based all around the world.
VFS Game Design‘s Head of Department, Dave Warfield, was interviewed recently by the online version of Edge Magazine about the Game Design program, designing games, Women in Games, and achieving success in the Game Industry. Edge Magazine is a multi-format video game magazine published by Future PLC in the UK. The online component was originally known as Next-Gen; the two properties were merged by Future PLC during a rebrand a few years ago. Edge is a leading magazine for the games industry.
The Edge contacted Dave for an interview via Skype from the UK after the success of some of the program’s students came to their attention. It’s a great piece, which also includes a shout out to Team Pixel Pi’s Pulse, which recently managed a successful Kickstarter campaign.
Here are a few highlights of the interview:
On the subject of Game Designers :
“They are the people with the creative vision who work with a team to work out what that vision is. Ultimately they are cat herders who have story skills, artistic skills and technical skills.”
On the subject of Game Design’s Community Site, Arcade:
“The Arcade is an important component of our student experience, it allows us to celebrate the work that our students have done. It allows people to look back at the types of things that have been achieved by our past students, and it allows us to bring together the game design community with interesting stories, games and information.”
On making a success in Games:
“Nowadays it’s a lot less about ‘give the guy a chance and see if he sinks or swims’. People don’t just get pulled out of QA and given a shot. It’s about making sure the next generation are prepared and have skills to shape the industry. I’d like to think I’m helping the next generation and I’m a part of that.”
Thanks very much to Diego Pons, Matt McTavish, Cavin Yen, and Jeffrie Wu for their time and for producing such a fun game. And thanks to Doug Tronsgard and Rob Davidson from Next Level Games (NLG) for helping to make this interview happen.
Each year VFS awards an outstanding candidate the Women in Game Scholarship to the Game Design program, which sets them on the way to being next generation game designers. But this year, for the 5th Annual edition, there is a bit of a surprise — the candidates were so impressive that we awarded it to four of them!
Pictured above, from left to right are: Janel Jolly of Canada, Jaymee Mak of Australia, Anna Prein from Russia and Nicha Jaijadesuk of Thailand.
Two winners will be arriving in April, and the other two will be arriving in June. All of the winners of the scholarship will be sharing their experience with everybody by way of blog posts to Arcade. You can read the posts of the current Women in Games Scholarship winner Kristina Soltvedt from Norway (who will graduate from VFS this June) here. Previous winners Shannon Lee of Canada, (now at BigPark Games), Annie Dickerson from USA, (currently at Grantoo), and Larissa Baptista from Brazil, (who won a Unity Award for best Student game and is currently with DeNa Studios) have graduated and are now making their mark in the games industry.
The landscape once dominated by behemoth AAA titles is almost gone.
Gamers have more choices. Social games and free-to-play models have transformed the game industry you thought you knew. And ballooning budgets for high-profile titles mean you need a blockbuster of Modern Warfare proportions to turn a profit.
As The Verge wrote in their July 22nd article: “Developing an AAA game is rapidly becoming one of the most expensive enterprises humans can undertake, outside of building battleships, launching space vehicles, or making movies.”
But here’s the thing. For the emerging game designer — or animator or sound editor, for that matter — none of this a bad thing. It actually means opportunity. Read More