EGW: 2014 Call for Participation

We are now open for submissions to the 2014 workshop!

Just in case you are new to the process (or need a refresher) the CFP below lists what kinds of games and prototypes we’re looking for. You can also check out the workshop’s background and influence, as check the history to see what kinds of games we’ve shown in the past. The deadline will be Saturday February 1st, 2014 at midnight. Good luck!

What is Experimental Gameplay?

Experimental games take interesting approaches to interactivity that haven’t been tried before. Since this definition is unavoidably vague, here are some examples to clarify.

This IS Experimental Gameplay:

  • Creating unexpected play experiences or promoting unique feelings within players through mechanics (Gravitation, Passage, The Marraige).
  • Generative games, where the gameplay or world changes based on choices the player makes (Spelunky, flOw).
  • Emergent gameplay, where the game systems interact to provide suprising situations (ROM CHECK FAIL, Portal).
  • Interactive storytelling, where the plot or dialog changes in a fine-grained manner, as opposed to discrete “branching points” (Facade).
  • Innovative user interfaces – natural language processing, image recognition, gestural control, new hardware devices (Guitar Hero, RENGA)
  • Novel multiplayer interactions (Journey)

This is NOT Experimental Gameplay:

  • Novel content, narrative, settings, character designs, artwork, audio or plots – unless they affect the core gameplay in a major way.
  • New hybrids of already-existing genres – unless the resulting gameplay is unexpectedly more than the sum of its parts.
  • Purely technical innovation, experimental business models or distribution mechanisms, or games for under-served audiences – unless the game itself is experimental as outlined above.

What kinds of prototypes are accepted?

Only playable prototypes are accepted.  They can be in any stage of development, so long as the experimental part of the gameplay is playable. The submission doesn’t need to be fun, but the experimental idea behind it has to be interesting and clear.

This is because we favor the process of experimentation over the success of results.  We look for work that demonstrates a deep exploration, as opposed to the shallow implementation of an interesting idea. Note: More than one prototype can be submitted by the same person – and we encourage this when a body of work  reflects a series of related or ongoing experiments.

How do I submit?

To be considered, please send the following information about your prototype to by February 1, 2014

  • Name and brief description of the prototype (max 300 words)
  • What makes this game’s mechanics experimental?
    • What would you show of it in the 7 minute slot it would get during EGW?
    • Describe how you feel about the current results. Note: This item is critical, because we focus more on the experiment itself than success or failure.
  • After completing this information, please include the following:
    • A video showing how the gameplay works (if applicable). Note that we are interested in seeing how the game works, not on whether you make a good trailer. We won’t publish the video.
    • Link/location where the prototype can be downloaded or played.

That’s about the size of it! Do not hesitate to contact the workshop via the email address listed above if you have questions about your submission or need clarification about the process. We look forward to hearing from you – and hope to see you at GDC. The EGW session will be held in the afternoon on  Friday March 21st – so save the date!

2014 CFP Opens January 1, 2014

Hello game design explorers!

Just a quick note to let you know that we will begin accepting submissions for this year’s Experimental Gameplay Workshop session starting on January 1, 2014. Submissions will close on February 1, 2014 at midnight. We will post the official CFP on New Year’s Day – but you can refer to last year’s CFP in the meantime.

The session will be held on the Friday of GDC 2014 (March 21st) – from 2:30-4:30 pm. As always, we look forward to your submissions and to a packed and exciting session!

2013 Session now ONLINE!

Fantastic news! The GDC Vault has posted this year’s workshop online – so in addition to reading what other people had to say about it or gazing longingly at some fantastic snapshots from the session – you can watch it for free right here!

Here are the games you will see (not necessarily in this order):

This year’s session was packed – and we’re so glad that we can share it with you even if you didn’t make the presentation in person. We’ve already begun planning for next year and incorporating some of the amazing ideas/suggestions about future versions of EGW we have already received in light of this year’s “challenge”. We will announce plans for next year (including an exciting new sister-session) as they become official.

In the mean time – keep on truckin. We look forward to seeing what 2014 has in store for game experimentation!!

2013 Session Announced!

The 2013 GDC session of Experimental Gameplay Workshop has officially been announced! We’ll be taking over room 2014 on Friday March 29th at 2:30 – 4:30! You can read a bit more about the session here on Gamasutra.

This year’s submission count was the highest ever – with over 130 submissions from a diverse number of countries, not to mention areas of creative exploration. As always, the session will focus on demonstrating the process by which experimental games are made – from initial inspirations to the process of prototyping, evaluating progress, and in some case walking away to start fresh.

We have a fantastic lineup of presenters this year that range from talented veteran designers to bright new independents. They will be showing digital prototypes that focus on sound and physics, new approaches to multiplayer and exploration mechanics, storytelling and narrative AI.

We’re especially excited to demonstrate a set of physical/digital hybrids built to explore how our bodies & brains engage with systems via unique play pieces, hardware and controllers – some of which will be playable after the session ends. We hope it provides a nice wrap-up to the conference, and sends you off into the sunset with a head full of crazy new ideas.

Mark your calendars – we’ll see you there!

GDC 2012: Hardware-tastic!

This year’s write-up must start with a tremendous thank-you to the amazing audio/visual staff at GDC 2012.

Because we had so many different types of games being demonstrated, and several were focused on alternative audio/visual mechanics, We had *several* evening sessions in the conference hall, setting up and testing the various games.    We simply could not have done it without your help.

The tireless folks over at Gamasutra wrote up a nice piece comparing us to a high fashion show (nice!!) and listing the prototypes in all their glory. My favorite photo from the event is definitely this shot of all of us on stage together – what a sight! Not sure that we can commit another insanity like the show that was our 2012 lineup – but you never know, do you?

See you in 2013!

IndieCade 2011

This year’s  IndieCade Festival of Independent Games featured a special Experimental Gameplay session.

Our annual GDC session typically focuses on rapid-fire demonstrations of digital games. In contrast, the IndieCade session is designed to give creators an opportunity for a more involved discussion about the processes and inspiration behind experimental work. This particular gathering brought together several experimental duos, to discuss their work and how it is influenced by the act of collaboration.

Eric Zimmerman and Nathalie Pozzi talked about their collaboration Starry Heavens, in the context of several projects they have been working on for festivals and museums. In addition, the panel discussed how  Nathalie’s background in architecture both compliments and challenges Eric’s sense of game design & design process.

Auriea Harvey and Michael Samyn who comprise Tale of Tales (participating in the session over Skype) introduced their in-progress work CnCnTrC.  Because this experiment explores intellectual and physical intimacy, Auriea and Michael each created half of it individually, and then combined the parts later.

Heather Kelley and Damien DiFede explored their long-standing relationship as collaborators – first   as part of the Kokoromi collective, and later on Body Heat (now OhMiBod app) project that allows users to use an iPod touch to control the OMiBod vibrator.Heather reflected upon her experiences as a travelling designer, touching on more recent museum installations, as well as her work with DareDroid.  In closing, Damien was then joined by his most recent collaborator Matt Piersall, to demonstrate Noddables – their protoype of an iPad jam-session/DJ toy (now Cosmic DJ).

Overall, the session touched on several deep and meaningful themes related to collaboration – including authorship, communication, critique and the joy of mutual discovery. We look forward to further sessions exploring how the work of experimental game designers can be discussed/demonstrated in new ways.

Packed House at GDC 2011

Congratulations and thank you to all the great folks who participated in the Experimental Gameplay session at GDC 2011! Another packed year – sorry if you didn’t get in before they declared us full!

Here are the creators and games that were shown:

Hanford Lemoore: Maquette. Maquette is a puzzle game where the enclosing game world is also visible to the player in as a miniaturized maquette. By manipulating objects at the smaller scale of this maquette, they can create changes in the world around them. For example: by placing a key found outside the maquette, the playe can create a key-shaped bridge in the full-scale version that surrounds it.

Michael Brough: The Sense of Connectedness. A game that deals with concepts of memory, thought, emotion and the passage of time.  This game was originally released as a “Masquerade” — where 4 designers released eachother’s games. You can read what Michael has to say about it here on his blog.

Nicolai Troshinsky: Loop Raccord. In this game, players splice together different segments of video to create a fluid action between panels of footage. The resulting rhythms are sometimes musical, often hypnotic. Update: Nominated for a Nuovo Award and and Indiecade 2011 Finalist, you can now play this game on your iPad!

Stephen Lavelle: Opera Omnia. This game explores notions of history, and how history is created to justify actual events, after they have occurred. In the game, the player must figure out how to “explain” certain end states by manipulating what happened before them – effectively creating new histories in the process. This game was demonstrated at the session by Daniel Benmergui

Agustin Perez Fernandez: Mantra. In this experimental game (currently unreleased to the public), the player must move the mouse in a clockwise circle as pulsing sound and streaming visuals occupy their eyes and ears. The object of the game is to induce a state of meditation or non-attention, similar to that the creator experienced in the context of a meditation retreat.

Jason Rohrer: Inside a Star-Filled Sky. Jason debuted his “recursive, tactical shooter” at the session. In it, the player maniuplates a small creature through top-down mazes attempting to vanquish all the creatures it encounters. The player can descend into other creatures   to fight them (in a new level created by their shape) and achieve their powers. They can also transcend   the current level to fight new creatures and acquire new powerups in levels “above” them. Trippy!

Andy Schatz: The Abrupt Goodbye. In this presentation Andy showed some of his own experimental work on user-generated content, as well as Farbs’ experimental wiki-based game Playpen. Farbs joined the group for Q&A to discuss both the potential and frustration of user-generated gameplay.

And for the first time ever, EGW also featured a live game! USC IMD students Mihir Sheth & Asher Vollmer led audience members in an impromptu game of Ninja. Rules for the game, along with Andy Nealan’s Grow 21 were given away to the audience as well – to encourage continued experimentation in the non-digital realm.

Update: check out a summary of the session here on Gamasutra.Thanks again to everyone who participated and of course, those of you who came to the session.   See you at IndieCade – and GDC 2012!

EGW History

Note: On the older versions of the site, these were all listed as separate entries – but in the interest of consolidating all the links, here’s a short history of EGW from 2010-2002. In a nutshell, lots of people have packed into lots of tiny rooms to see odd little games – some of which turned out to be quite popular.

2010: Well ok, this year was an exception. We actually decided not to host the EGW that year (mostly due to a lack of strong submissions). Instead, there was an hour-long Nuovo session that focused on the more experimental IGF finalists. We needed a break anyway…

2009: We had a bunch of great games – including Shadow Physics. Let’s all give a lovely round of applause to Destructoid , the Onion, and Grumpy Tech Guy who took some time to write the session up.

2008: We finished on time (highly unusual)! 800+ developers got to see a wonderful set of demonstrations – including Jon’s expert play-through of some of the hardest levels in Space Giraffe (truly an amazing display of talent). Check out Robin’s write-up and photos – and Gamasutra’s coverage of the event.

2007: Kim Swift joined us for a sneak-peak at the then-unreleased Portal – much to the delight of everyone in the (larger, darker and significantly less overheated) workshop session. We also saw more of Jon’s game Braid, and a bit of Flower as well! Here is Gamasutra’s take on what it was like!

2006: We had an *excellent* demo from Harmonix, of the never-shipped freestyle jamming mode from Guitar Hero. The room was absolutely packed (see image above from that year), and some people couldn’t get to the session before the fire marshalls closed the doors for good. Too bad – because Eric smashed his toy guitar after ripping out a pretty amazing solo. Here is the Gamasutra coverage.

2005: the CMU team that eventually became indie developer 2DBoy gave a presentation covering their university projects in experimental gameplay! We saw Mark Healy’s project Ragdoll Kung Fu, as well as an IndieGameJam all about characters. Robin’s post about the event is here.

2004: Keita Takahashi demonstrated the yet-unreleased game Katamari Damacy! We also showed a big slate of physics-based Indie Game Jam (2) games – which included a game inspired by “Waiting for Godot”, and a game about Iyengar Yoga! Here is Robin’s writeup of the demonstrations and her photos from the Indie Game Jam.

2003: In the second year of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop – we demoed a set of Indie Game Jam (1) games that used shadow tech. We also got a fantastic demonstration of Matsuura Masaya’s rhythm game Mojib Ribbon – which used speech synthesis to generate the vocal track, and pioneered a “paper and watercolor” art style later seen in games like Okami. Robin’s pix from the Jam are here.

2002: was the inaugural year of the Experimental Gameplay Workshop – and the debut of the Indie Game Jam. This is where the magic all began!