Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cascadia, Bioregionalism, and Sense of Place in Game Design (Lost Levels 2014)

Lost Levels is one of my very favorite yearly events, if an event can be called so in its second year of existence. Held in Yerba Buena Gardens on the thursday of the weeklong Game Developers Conference, it is a free and radically inclusive unconference/picnic. Crowds gather under arcadian boughs to hear speakers hold forth on deep or amusing topics, or to take part in discussions about what game studies is, or to engage in non-competitive dance-offs. It feeds the soul and reminds us of the communicative testament of not using powerpoint.

Naturally, I have gotten swept up in the proceedings, and given talks the last two years about topics which I care about but the average indie game developer/critic/weirdo might not be aware of. Last year I ranted for five minutes on “Postmodern Sports,” explaining the alienation of the college athlete and comparing Alabama football to a nineteenth-century army. This year, I talked about Cascadia, bioregionalism, and fostering a greater sense of place in game design.

Games writer Marshall Sandoval was in attendance, and recently mused on the topic of "Regional Authenticity" in this PopMatters post, so I figured it was time to write up my talk. This is faintly updated based on some more recent information, but it carries over the gist of what I meant to say.