The first whole day at the conference was mainly about getting to know each other, and defining the videogame aspect of our topic. We had several discussion groups where we went over what our expectations for the conference were, what were we uncertain about, and what we could contribute to the conference itself. All the exercises were geared toward building trust and creating a feeling of community among us. Our first online forays were into Twitter (#gameoverhate), although we eventually settled on reddit as our private message platform of choice.
Welcome to Rapture.
As fun as the organized group discussions were, I found that the most interesting conversations happened over lunch and during the few breaks we had. Some was off-topic, sure, but there was also a lot of talk that helped with understanding people's backgrounds and even creating new seeds of co-operation. I actually ended up wishing for more free time during the day, since it felt like casual interaction was too limited (and not just because my brain was overwhelmed by all the new awesomeness). By the end of the day I was so exhausted, I just stared at the wall blankly and didn't hear half of the things said to me.
The Wall of Doom
The whole day culminated in the creation of Clans. First, we were tasked with making our own character sheets, where we created a game persona for ourselves (complete with class, weapons, strength and profile picture) which also reflected our real-life persona. We needed to think about how our game personas related to our real-life personas, and take our real-life strengths which we turned into the character's ingame strength.
Then, we took those characters and randomly divided into five Clans, coming up with a Clan name and a Clan emblem/symbol. Our gaming hours and some extra activities would be related to our Clans, and we could gather points from activities to bring more fame to our Clan (kind of like the Houses in Harry Potter, complete with a winner at the end of the conference). We also get extra points for doing random awesome stuff for our Clans, such as videos, blog posts or comics.
Internet, meet Exterminodia. +1 points.
Personally, I was a bit worried that the Clan system would make things too competitive and lessen people's free interaction with each other. Some Clans clearly seemed to work better together than others, mainly because of a few very active individuals. Still, the assignments were very much fun, even if there was some initial confusion about what needed to be done. All in all it's an interesting idea, but I've yet to see if it properly works out.
In retrospect, it was a very busy day! I'm going to be such a zombie in the evenings for the rest of the week, if the first day is anything to go by...
The lovely views keep me sane.