So I've been back a couple weeks and finally have a moment to write.
A lot of my time has been taken up by Guitar Hero 2. Still haven't beaten the last song on expert yet. I won't tell you what it is. It's a surprise! Made me a little misty eyed, though. That and the first encore, which took me back to when Peter Akemann, Nick Doran, Tony Osterman, Ed Del Castillo, and Lewis Call (the only one who didn't end up in the games industry...) and I were in a band called *Infectious Waste* (side note: Don Likeness and I formed a band the following year called *Slice Through The Frozen Nasty Bird*) in college and we played that very song at a party at Nick's beach house. Good times.
Speaking of games making you a little misty eyed, Lord Puttnam (I didn't know who he was at the time) opened up the GameCity with a sort of opening ceremony deal and gave a nice talk about how videogames are an exciting emerging art form - and he looked forward to when we'd have our *Birth of A Nation* and we'd see videogames that make you cry.
I mildly resented the implication that videogames are where films were pre *Birth of A Nation* (we've had *many* genre-redefining videogames and don't think we can any longer consider them circus entertainment, although I hope there are more genre-redefining games to come) and one of the audience members said they bawled their eyes out over Final Fantasy VII but still, Puttnam's heart's in the right place, and the theme of the talk, the elevation of videogames, the nobility of videogames, pervaded the whole festival. No dark basement with greasy, pimply-faced 133t hax0rs here - in fact, quite the opposite, there was a piano recital in a church, a retrospective on Sega music, for example. Elevating. Noble.
Got to hang with the Introversion guys (loved Uplink - even wrote a review of it once which I can't seem to find now) and the guys behind the award winning *High Score* documentary. A line from the movie: "If you get good at one thing, you'll learn how to get good at more things."
Which ties in nicely with the talk I gave on what we learn from games. Somewhere, allegedly, there's a podcast of that talk but I have no idea where. To sum up, we rarely learn what we're supposed to learn: SimCity doesn't teach you urban planning, Guitar Hero doesn't teach you how to play guitar, Chess doesn't teach you military strategy, etc. But in the process of mastering a game we learn things about learning - things I outlined in my talk included the value of practice, the value of "reading the FAQ" (consulting books, teachers, friends), and ways to break out of a local maximum when you feel you've plateaued. I used Guitar Hero as an illustrative example. And I was really only scratching the surface - after I gave the talk I came up with a handful more examples.