Week Eleven (Christmas Break)

The end of this week marks the start of our Christmas break. I return to university again in three weeks’ time. By then I’m planning to have created all the content for my GDD and updated my prototypes. I can then focus on getting my work ready for hand in by improving my portfolio.

On Thursday, we were joined by Samantha Kingston, founder of Virtual Umbrella. A virtual reality agency that promotes diversity in the industry. She spoke about her introduction to the game business and what prompted her to leave her job to start her own company. Simple curiosity was what introduced her to virtual reality in the first place. While being interviewed for a social media position at nDreams, she noticed a virtual reality headset in the corner of the room and asked to try it on. This was her first introduction to the technology and the origin of her interest in VR. Despite being hired for a social media position, she threw herself into learning everything about game development. It’s this desire to learn which the company appreciated, prompting a promotion to QA testing.

She soon found herself attending VR meetups on behalf of nDreams, but noticed that she was often the only woman in a room full of predominantly white men. This disparity is what prompted her to leave nDreams and start her own company with the goal of introducing more people to this technology.

Her talk was great and she offered some useful insight into a technology which is still figuring itself out. Her passion for VR and the change she is making, is what drives her forward.

“I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t love it and feel like I’m making a change.”

She also spoke about the ethics and responsibility developers should have when creating VR experiences. How developers should focus on making things better and how to make this technology beneficial, but not something which people rely on. She spoke more broadly about diversity in the game industry and highlighted that a lack of diversity is still present. During VR and gaming events, she would often be asked questions like:

“Are you here with your boyfriend?”

“Are you lost?”

It was great to hear about her experience in the industry and how she is attempting to make a difference. Her advice about starting a company was also fascinating, but what I found most interesting was her perspective on what VR is becoming and the social dimension to what VR could offer.

The development of my GDD is now in full stride. With my creative writing work finished I’m now able to focus completely on the GDD itself. I have most of the content in place and I’m now attempting to include my prototypes within it. This has been quite tricky so far, but I feel like I should be able to manage. What I’m finding difficult is figuring out the best way to keep the player’s progress through my GDD saved between scenes and how players will navigate between the GDD and the prototypes. I think once I have a working idea of how this will function, I will get some feedback from the rest of the group.

Currently, my GDD is quite visually basic, but I’m contemplating creating some animations and backgrounds to give it a more complete feel. However, this depends on how much time I have left once I have included all the content. I feel like this is the most important aspect, so I want to focus on getting that right first.

On Friday, I had a chance to talk with Adam about the current state of my project and what my concerns for it were. I received some encouraging feedback on what I’m doing so far and got some insight into some changes that I could make. Adam felt like the particle system which visualised the homeless statistics looked too much like fireworks, so I’m planning to change them so it’s more obvious that they represent people. I may also include a key which tells people directly that each particle represents a person. I also spoke to him about my thoughts on adding some more images and music to the GDD. He felt like there could be room for some more images and that I should test whether including music would detract from the experience or is beneficial to it. He also suggested that I include the sources for my stats and quotes in the sections in which they appear. I was planning to include them at the end, but I think this approach would be better. I was also concerned that I wasn’t producing enough documentation in regards to the SleepClear game itself. Adam explained that these “GDDs” are specific to each of us and that they might not be comparable to other students work, it all depends on our individual project. I was worried because my project is quite different from anyone else’s, but I was reassured that I was going in the right direction.

Overall, this week has been very productive, I think this is because I could focus solely on my GDD. I think completing my creative writing work really enabled me to concentrate on this project entirely.

Week Twelve