elude, the game I served as Game Director on this past summer, has been described as 'terrifying and beautiful'. I'm glad someone out there was able to play the game and glean this experience from it, because at times, the process of developing it felt like that! Luckily, starting Tuesday, September 7th, you'll be able to witness the process in a 10-part series we call Making a GAMBIT Game which captures the 10-week process, from the interns' orientation in Singapore through the 9 weeks spent at MIT in Cambridge, MA developing the game.
elude was created during the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab's fourth summer session by nine interns of varying ages and backgrounds (three from the US and six from Singapore), GAMBIT postdoctoral researcher Doris C. Rusch, and her collaborator, T. Atilla Ceranoglu from Harvard Medical School. Like all of the games created at the lab, ours was created to answer a particular research question for the researcher. For Doris, the question was: could the basic mechanics of depression be modeled within a game? To answer this question, she designed a model of depression and with the team mapped it onto established game mechanics.
My main task as the Game Director for the project was to make sure that the game addressed the research question and that the team maintained realistic goals throughout the process. Whenever there was a point of contention between the requirements of the researchers and the will of the team, I served as judge, jury, and executioner (or at least that's how it felt at times!)
This video project shows the highs and lows of the development process; producer Generoso Fierro and editor Garrett Beazley pulled no punches in showing all of the problems we faced. For most of us on the team, this was our first video game project. This was my first as 'Director' - meaning that some important decisions were mine to make and that it was ultimately my responsibility to ensure the game would ship at the end of the 9 weeks. Watching this footage now, after the game is finished, I now understand why we ran into the problems we had. I also understand our successes as well. I hope that my teammates learned as much as I did. Making games, making a GAMBIT game, is hard rewarding work!
The publishing of elude on our website does not mark the end of the original research question. I will be working with Doris and Atilla to use the game in the intended clinical context. Doris is no longer with the lab, as she's moved back to Austria, but she does intend on further exploring the issues brought up by this game. We'll have more from her about her experiences making the game on the GAMBIT website later this month!
"Game Design Meets Therapy", epsiode 5 in our Research Video Podcast in which Doris explains the research background behind elude.