A few days ago I made the tweet in the image above because I'm quite terrible at advertising and getting the word out. I'm sure most of my random tweets about the discussions I host get swallowed up in everyone's twitter feed. Surprisingly, after tweeting the above tweet, I got a few responses from interested people. Some wanted to know more, so here's the info:
I host game design and games criticism discussions regularly using google hangout. I've been hosting these meetings every week for over a year now. Over time the format has changed from a potluck roundtable where anyone could bring a topic to the table to a more structued walk through essential game design concepts based on my Design 101 articles. I've also hosted game and criticsm specific hangouts where we look closely at a single game or a single work of games criticsm.
And by "we" I mostly mean a handful of regular attendees who are now my friends. Sometimes the sessions are quite laid back. Other times we push ourselves to be more precise and clear with our statements. Though it may seem like an exclusive group, the only thing that separates us from others is our dedication. What does this really mean? It means despite the awkward moments, wandering off topic, and some passionate exchanges from time to time, we come back ready to learn and listen because we value games, gamers, and better communication.
None of these sessions are recorded. This gives us the freedom to ask "dumb" questions and suggest "stupid" answers all in efforts to lay our thoughts on the table and learn from it. Though debates and other objections (e.g. telling the internet how wrong it is) are a common fantasy for how people should talk about games, I've found such dramatic efforts are ineffective for getting to the heart of issues. In my experience laughter is more common than cutdowns and questions more common than quips. This and the familiar silence of serious thinking, for we tend to tackle design concepts that linger on the mind throughout the week.
We don't talk about story, or graphics, or triple AAAnything very much. We're focused on and fascinated by interactivity, systems, rules, and the meaning that can be conveyed through gameplay.
Saturday mornings are the "Game Design 101" meetings (every week). We are 14 sessions in, but each week is a fairly contained lesson.
Sunday evenings are playtesting meetings where we play each other's games and provide feedback (occasionally).
Game/Criticism specific meetings can take place any day, but are most likely to occur on the weekends. Last time we watched Egoraptors Sequelitis video on Zelda and chatted about it. Next up, a meeting to discuss Shovel Knight.
(all times based roughly around central US time)
If you're interested, Let's Talk.
ADarkDreamer (at) gmail (dot) com