This is the archived SXSW 2012 schedule. Please see the current schedule here.

Designing Games for Documentary

#sxsw #docgames

We've drawn together a group of the most well respected and active designers in the field to guide participants through the process of designing games for documentary that people actually want to play. Let's share early ideas, initial concepts, and works-in-progress, as we go through the process of evaluating and developing documentary or non-fiction videogames.


Ashley York Co-founder & Producer Take Action Games

ASHLEY YORK is a mediamaker whose research interests include journalism, socially conscious media and digital activism. She has worked on Academy Award® nominated teams and served as a producer on documentary projects that have premiered at international film festivals as well as on A&E, IFC, HBO, Discovery International and the Sundance Channel. Most recently, she produced two documentary films, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, including Becoming Chaz, about Chaz Bono’s gender transition and Billy Luther’s GRAB, about the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico. Ashley has worked with award-winning documentary filmmakers, including Mark Jonathan Harris, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Judith Helfand and Kirby Dick. Ashley was a panelist on the topic of “interactive documentaries” at the 2010 SXSW Interactive Festival and 2009 Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival. She was a filmmaker in residence at the Working Film’s Content + Intent Documentary Institute at MASS MoCA as well as an artist in residence at theBay Area Video Coalition's Producer's Institute for New Media Technologies. She has worked as a field and casting producer for the Emmy Award Winning Series "Intervention" and is also a part time lecturer for the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she teaches workshops in multimedia authoring to students in the departments of gender studies and critical studies.

Ashley is also a co-founding member of the Los Angeles-based design collective, Take Action Games, which consists of a core group of award-winning producers, designers and creative directors and their work explores and embraces the intersection of activism, documentary, cinema, art and games. Our members are on the forefront of games and media for social awareness and advocacy and our work has received international acclaim for expanding the expressive power of games to engage an audience outside of casual and non-gamers. Take Action Games’ latest project was produced for a division of the United Nations and our other projects have garnered the Governor’s Award at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Emmys, won the Games For Change 2006 Audience Award, the 2007 Beacon Award from the Cable Television Public Affairs Association in the New Media Category, and the 2007 Canadian BANFF World Television Award for Best Internet Only Production. Their work has been incorporated into curricula for middle school, high school, after school programs, and college, and presented to members of Congress in Capitol Hill during the National Online Town Hall Meeting on Darfur. Articles about TAG have been featured in major media outlets such as BBC World, ABC, National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Washington Post and TIME Magazine.

Cindy Poremba Game Design Kokoromi

CINDY POREMBA, is a digital media researcher, creator and curator, interested in the intersection between creation practices and technology-- specifically how meaning is read through digital technologies. Her research explores documentary in videogames and digital media, art and independent videogames (particularly the new arcade movement), emerging artistic/cultural practice related to photography, videogames and robotic technologies, and research-creation methodology in interactive art and design. Cindy is a former faculty member in Simon Fraser University’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology (SIAT), and has published work in journals such as Eludamos and Games & Culture, as well as edited collections. She also organizes non-traditional exhibitions and arcade events as an independent curator and member of the Kokoromi game art collective. Cindy is currently a Postdoctoral Research fellow at the Georgia Institute for Technology. She is also co-curator for the Gaîté Lyrique’s 2012 summer exhibition.

Peter Brinson Gamemaker

Peter Brinson is a game developer, filmmaker and educator living in Los Angeles. His work explores the narrative possibilities found in animal protagonists, documentary play and collective ownership.

His films and games have exhibited in numerous venues, including the Museum of Modern Art, Independent Games Festival, Ars Electronica, Slamdance, Indiecade, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Games for Change, The Kitchen, and SIGGRAPH. He has been distributed by the Video Data Bank and Steam.

Brinson attended the University of North Carolina and the California Institute of the Arts.

Susana Ruiz USC Doctoral Researcher/Co-Founder, Take Action Games University of Southern California

Susana Ruiz is a media artist and designer as well as doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, focused on the areas of design and social justice, digital media and learning, and games and art practice. Ruiz is co-founder Take Action Games, a California-based award winning design studio specializing in games that address content of social and political significance. Take Action Games has produced a collection of projects using innovative design that traverses the intersections of art, computation, activism, ethics and documentary. Ruiz is a Games for Change advisory board member, received a BFA from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and an MFA from the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division.

Tony Walsh Founder Phantom Compass

Phantom Compass founder Tony Walsh is a multi-disciplined creative leader with over 15 years of experience in the interactive digital media industry. During his career, Walsh has been an artist, designer and writer on a number of award-winning and award-nominated interactive projects produced in Canada including This is Daniel Cook, the Regenesis and Fallen alternate reality games, Rollbots Online and Splatalot.

Between 2007 and 2011 he was a visiting mentor in cross-media labs held in Canada (for CBC and for Achilles Media), Australia (for AFTRS), and the U.S.A. (the Bay Area Video Coalition's Producers Institute). Through such programs, he has coached international participants in developing interactive entertainment, cross-platform documentaries, and factual games on topics including the U.S. criminal court system, human trafficking and Iraqi refugee integration in America.

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