Watch Drew Davidson’s “Design for Fun: What Makes a Game Good, and a Good Game?” talk at MIT Media Lab
Drew Davidson likes to play with blocks in his sandbox, as he demonstrates in a show-and-tell to interactive media colleagues. In this case, the playground is an online game called Minecraft, a two-year-young internet sensation with millions of followers, developed single-handedly by a programmer named “Notch,” A.K.A. Markus Persson.
Walking the audience through the game, Davidson shows what makes it irresistibly playable for so many. He also shares his interest in talking “about games in a formalized way, other than saying this game is ‘awesome.’” Davidson wants to capture the game play experience, which he believes to be “radically different from anything else, because agency is involved.” Minecraft takes place in the course of a 20-minute ‘day,’ and in spite of crude graphics, rapidly immerses a player in an entire world where all the features of the landscape can be built or manipulated for different ends—an activity called ‘crafting.’ Players can chop blocks to create shelters, whack trees to make axes, pull wool off of sheep and grow wheat. This is not a simulation game: bad things happen at ‘night,’ so there is an element of suspense and strategy.
Drew Davidson is a professor, producer and player of interactive media. His background spans academic, industry and professional worlds and he is interested in stories across texts, comics, games and other media. He is the Director of the Entertainment Technology Center – Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University and the Editor of ETC Press