Scared Yet: A Discussion of Horror in Games

Scared Yet: A Discussion of Horror in Games
PAX South 2016


Rym appeared at PAX South 2016 alongside several smart people on a panel about horror in games, moderated by Kris Straub!

Jump scare! Kris Straub (Broodhollow, Candle Cove) and a panel of esteemed horror and video game enthusiasts hold an informal roundtable on where fear works best in gaming, and where it doesn't make the cut. Come for the frightening… stay for the enlightening! Nope, that was bad. Please delete that.

PANELISTS:
Kris Straub [Chainsawsuit], Alanah Pearce [Editor, IGN], Dabe Alan [Penny Arcade], Rym DeCoster [Producer, GeekNights], Alex Steacy [Loading Ready Run]

PAX Australia - How to Win

PAX Australia - How to Win

It seems obvious that, when playing a game of skill, one attempts to win. Interestingly, this is often not the case, and even skilled gamers rarely analyze to any real depth the underlying mechanics and strategy of a given game. By deconstructing the games we play, you too can make them far less fun for yourself and beat the everliving hell out of your friends. We'll hit the theory pretty heavily, but also specific examples from games like "Stratego," "Settlers of Catan," and even "Football."

Presented at the Penny Arcade Expo Australia 2014 on Friday in the Fruitbat Theatre.

Bad Games - PAX South

Bad Games
PAX South 2015

We’ve all played “bad” games, but what truly makes a game “bad?” Is one’s miserable experience not simply subjective opinion? It turns out that the problem is not in defining what makes a game “bad,” but in what makes a game a “game.” Candyland teaches children colors and counting, but is terrible for a serious tournament. Dungeons & Dragons is great for that heroic fantasy adventure, but not so much for your future cyberpunk transhumanist court drama.

Why No One Will Game with You

Why No One Will Game with You
Presented by GeekNights at PAX East 2014 on Friday at 1:00pm in the Badger Theatre.

In gaming forums around the world, variations of the same thread forever grace the front page: "Looking for a Gaming Group." Games are ubiquitous, barriers to entry are ever-lower, and the Internet (never mind conventions like PAX) provide what should be a sea of gamers ready and willing to play games with us. So why all the trouble? Why, in 2013, is it still so hard to form a gaming group? Why won't anyone play Air Hockey with me?

In exploring the "LFG" space, there are a myriad of issues which come to light. Skill gaps leave players stranded. Matchmaking systems hurt as much as they help. The longer tail of games available spreads niche audiences further into increasingly specific sub-sub-sub-genres. Play styles differ. (Indeed, in some groups it is impolite to spend more than ten seconds on one's turn, while in others spending less than ten MINUTES is the height of rudeness)!

Let's explore why it's so hard (or why it SEEMS to hard) to find people to play games!

Indie RPG Spotlight - Action Castle

Jared Sorensen's Action Castle is a modern take on old computer adventure games like Zork. Distributed turns, many players controlling one character, multiple endings: one would be hard pressed to say that this is not, in some sense, a "role playing game." It is an idiogame in a classic sense.

There are now many more games in the Parsely Games series. Action Castle was just the beginning.

Indie RPG Spotlight - Dread

Indie RPG Spotlight - Dread

Dread is a special role playing game. It doesn't use dice or cards for conflict resolution. It uses a Jenga tower. The mechanics of this lead players into the careful buildup of tension, the punctuated climax (where someone typically dies), the backing off, and the resumed slow build. In a sense, this role playing game elegantly uses its rules to emulate the structure of that particular tension-driven style of horror story. It is an excellent example of mechanism design, in the sense that the rules are designed to lead players toward a particular outcome regardless of their individual intents or abilities.

Well, aside from their abilities at Jenga itself.

Rym and Scott of GeekNights presented "Beyond Dungeons & Dragons" at PAX Australia 2013. (They've previously presented this at ConnectiCon 2008, PAX Prime 2008, PAX Prime 2009, PAX East 2010, MAGFest X, and dozens of other conventions). This is a short excerpt from that full lecture, spotlighting one of the specific game examples they used.

Full Lecture

Indie RPG Spotlight - Inspectres

Inspectres is an indie RPG by Jared Sorensen. Its mechanics focus on who controls the narrative at different points (depending on player success or failure), in order to essentially make Ghostbusters (the movie) happen in tabletop RPG form.

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