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SXSW 2008 Session Picks

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10 must-vote sessions for the upcoming South by Southwest Interactive Conference and Festival

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South by Southwest or SXSW in Austin, TX, is best known for its music and indie film showcases. However, its "http://2008.sxsw.com/interactive/">Interactive Conference and Festival, which includes the game-related Screenburn Festival, is gaining prominence. 2008 marks Screenburn’s third year, and
if you’re keen to experience what the Austin Game Developers Conference was like before it got big, SXSW would be it. Last year, Will Wright was the Screenburn keynote speaker, and game
luminaries like Warren Spector, Raph Koster, and Richard Garriott all spoke in rooms the size of a GDC roundtable room. The Interactive Festival will be held March 7-11 in 2008.

Uniquely, SXSW allows the voting public to help determine its Interactive conference program. If you want the conference to truly reflect the needs of the game development community, hop to it.
Voting via the Panel Picker ends at 11:59 PM on September 21, 2007, so vote now!

Just in case you haven’t time to slog through all 734 proposed Interactive sessions, I’ve created a list of 10 must-vote sessions for SXSW Interactive 2008. Whether you’re
interested in social networking and MMOs; new forms of gameplay; emotion and games; game production; or game culture, you’ll find something of interest at SXSW 2008… if you vote.

Social Networking, Virtual Worlds and MMOs

Social networking and virtual worlds are hot topics for today. Why? Because they’re mainstream. Here’s a bunch of people who can be indoctrinated into MMOs. Better yet, let’s
merge social networking and MMOs together! What lessons can we take from social networking sites to make our games more social? Now that our online games are more social, how do we manage the
community? What else is happening in virtual worlds?

MMO Meets Web 2.0
David Cook, Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment

Things are changing fast in the online world. Social networks, blogs, and powerhouses like Google are exploring the potentials of structured play and persistent worlds. On the other side, MMOs are
learning to open their doors to user-generated content and online communities. What's the future for new content when these two worlds collide?

Social Design Strategies
Emily Chang, Ideacodes

Now that social networking is quickly becoming a regular feature set, designers need to understand the dynamics of designing experiences that encourage social behavior, while giving individuals a
sense of privacy, personal gain, and ownership. How do you create a symbiotic relationship that maximizes discovery, game-play, connections, and communication? We'll examine a breadth of examples and
explore their pros and cons.

Community & Loyalty: Gamers to Flamers, Lurkers to Workers
Rebecca Newton, Habbo

The basics of Community Management online. This includes nuts and bolts information such as site moderation, what to know before you launch, hiring, firing, managing members, dealing with problem
members, engaging your members, as well as driving traffic through content partnerships, engagement through driving page views in your community.

Making Money in Virtual Worlds
Daniel Terdiman, CNET News.com

In this session, we will discuss how anyone can make real money in virtual worlds. Using Second Life and There.com as examples, we will look at how enterprising people have managed to earn
full-time livings in the fashion, real estate and construction businesses and we will talk about how those people have done so.

New Forms of Play

Now that everything electronic is converging, we can make games that use the real-world as a playing field. Are alternate reality games likely to become commonplace? What other forms of play and
games are possible?

What Can the Video Games Industry Learn From Alternate Reality Games?
Tony Walsh, secretlair.com

Learn how elements of the increasingly-popular "Alternate Reality Game" genre, which uses multiple media and platforms to present Byzantine interactive narratives, can help foster innovation and
diversification in the traditional video games industry. International experts in the field share practical tips and tricks based on previous successes.

Dataplay: Living Games
Justin Hall, PMOG

Our movements in real space and virtual space are tracked by pedometers, GPS units, keystroke loggers, spyware and myware. How can we have fun with all our data trails? I will discuss examples of
surveillance data-driven entertainment including our "Passively Multiplayer Online Game": PMOG transforms the existing topography of the Internet into a game world for players to vandalize, annotate,
and curate.

Emotion and Games

Admittedly, I’m biased, as I’ve included my own session here. But out of all of the proposals on storytelling, the Writers Cabal proposal speaks more about incorporating passion within
the entire structure of the game. Not just in the writing, but in the environments and gameplay. Be more demanding: look for emotional engagement at all levels.

Emotional Design: Getting the Human Touch in Software
August de los Reyes, Microsoft

The commercial world is changing. Capabilities, features, and functions are becoming obsolete. Emotional engagement and compelling experiences will distinguish the successful consumer products of
the future. This session presents a classic but innovative theory of human emotion that has simple and practical implications for both design and research. Learn how this thinking is being applied at
Microsoft from a gaming, hardware design and software design perspective.

Creating Passionate Games: A Multidisciplinary Approach
Sande Chen and Anne Toole, Writers Cabal

How do you incorporate passion into your games? Learn several techniques to heighten dramatic moments through gameplay, art direction, and narrative. We'll help you articulate your passion and
translate it into a game experience that is both fun and memorable for the player.

Best Practices in Game Production

Your beta’s your chance to show off your game and your hard work. The hype, um, viral marketing generated by your player-testers is priceless.

Games Under Construction: Run Your Beta Right
Jon Hanna, Kaneva

Are game betas really all about testing? Most betas end up being a missed opportunity to showcase your game and/or product in a highly effective manner. Though it takes planning, betas can be more
than just about testing and can be used as an effective marketing strategy. This panel will explore examples of effective and ineffective betas, and discuss best practices and tactics on how to run
your beta right, both for games and other commercial software products.

The Culture of Games

Sometimes, it’s interesting to get academic and think about the impact of games and virtual worlds. How have games changed society? Who’s playing games and has game culture

Virtual Scandals and Sacrilege: Who's Griefing Now?
Heitor Alvelos, University of Porto, Portugal

This panel focuses on transgression, sacrilege and scandal in virtual and immersive environments, from the use of Manchester Cathedral in Playstation's "Resistance" to the "feces-spewing
obscenity" attack on John Edwards' Second Life HQ. We will look at derisive and aggressive subversions of corporate/religious/political/institutional content, often blending with and surpassing their
"official" counterparts.

Remember, voting via the Panel Picker ends at 11:59 PM on September 21, 2007, so vote now! See you in Austin!

About the Author:
A Grammy-nominated producer, writer, and consultant, Sande Chen is a Co-Conspirator at Writers Cabal. Her past game credits include 1999 Independent Games
Festival winner TERMINUS. She is the co-author of Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform. In 2006, she was profiled on NextGen's list of the Game Industry's 100 Most Influential


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