GDC 2011: The social gaming sessions to watch

GDC 2011

The annual Game Developers Conference 2011 in San Francisco, California is rapidly coming up on February 28 through March 4. The country's largest gathering of professionals who make the games that entertain us has become the hot spot for social gaming conversations. This year, the Online and Social Gaming track contains some intriguing sessions that will appeal to those interested in social games. The session details have all been released, and we've pulled out a list of the most interesting sounding social gaming panels at GDC 2011.

City of Wonder: Postmortem by Troy Whitlock (Playdom) and Ben Liu (Playdom)

Attendees will learn about how City of Wonder used core game mechanics as the inspiration for compelling casual social gameplay. They will learn about the creative and development process for the features that helped make City of Wonder a success.

Social Mechanics for Social Games by Raph Koster (Playdom)

Learn about core human psychology driving social games, and walk away with a clear list of game mechanics that encourage social structures and human relationships, thereby driving retention.

Designing Games for the "43-Year-Old Woman" by Chris Trottier (Zynga)

If gamers are from Mars; moms are from elsewhere. Designing for them requires rejiggering the toolbox: magnifying some tools, adding others, and discarding a few. Chris (a failed hardcore gamer, closeted casual gamer, and 40-something mom) will share some observations that have helped her serve these (somewhat accidental) players.

Social Network Games in Retrospective - Are We Being Social? by Patricia Pizer (Consultant)

Ideas and principles for creating more engaging, more socially active games for social networks. Both practical and theoretical, attendees will have immediately implementable concepts for improving their games.

Cloning Social Games - Nothing New Here Or Is There? by Sean Kane (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP)

Attendees will be provided with the tools to determine when cloning another social game is legitimate and when it is potential infringement. This information will be paramount for developers in planning strategies to protect their social games while identifying what aspects of other social games may be ripe for legitimate imitation.

It's In the Game: The Making of FIFA SUPERSTARS by Jeferson Valadares (Playfish)

Attendees will leave with an understanding of what makes FIFA SUPERSTARS unique and the reasons behind the choices in the creation and evolution of this game.

No Freaking Respect! Social Game Developers Rant Back by Scott Jon Siegel (Playdom), Chris Hecker (definition six, inc.), Eric Zimmerman (Independent), Trip Hawkins (Digital Chocolate), Brenda Brathwaite (Lolapps), Ian Bogost (The Georgia Institute of Technology), Brian Reynolds (Zynga), Jason Della Rocca (Perimeter Partners) and Steve Meretzky (Playdom)

Do you REALLY think you know what social game designers care about? Think again. Come to this session prepared to have your assumptions questioned and your sensibilities shaken. Do not attend if you are squeamish about seeing panelists tear the game industry limb from limb.

Behavioral Economics and Social Games by Peter Fishman (Playdom)

Attendees will learn about social psychology research on departures from hyper-rational behavior, and how social games incorporate these lessons from psychology.

There are many more social and online game related talks, but these are the ones that seem the most interesting to us. We'll be covering these sessions, so you can expect - The Blog! to be the place to get your social gaming news during GDC 2011.
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