Frank Lantz - Director of NYU's Game Center and Creator of Universal Paperclips | Summary and Q&A

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Frank Lantz - Director of NYU's Game Center and Creator of Universal Paperclips


Game designer discusses the importance of gaps and simulations in game design, the role of games in thinking and doing, and the potential of VR.

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Key Insights

  • 🎮 Games as simulations and the value of the "gap" between simulation and reality: Games have elements of simulation, but the real value comes from the difference between the simulated experience and real life. The gap allows for reflection and perspective.
  • 🎨 The role of art in games: Like paintings, games use artistic license to create meaning and beauty by abstracting and creating a space separate from the ordinary world. Games allow players to indulge in thinking and doing for its own sake, without the constraints of real life.
  • đŸ‘Ĩ The broad spectrum of games: Games include a variety of experiences, from strategy games that emphasize cognitive problem-solving to more intuitive physical responses. All games provide opportunities for players to solve problems, think and do, and reflect on their actions.
  • 📱 Skepticism around VR as the ultimate goal of games: The focus on immersion and simulation in VR may not be the ultimate goal of game design. VR may have potential, but there is currently a lack of established work that effectively fulfills the passion associated with VR.
  • 🎮 The unpredictability of game trends: It is difficult to predict trends in the game industry, similar to trends in other entertainment fields. The success of games often relies on factors such as the quality of the game and its timing within the market.
  • 🎲 The potential of indie games: Indie games offer a space for experimentation and unconventional ideas. While success in the indie game market is not guaranteed, there is still potential for innovative and groundbreaking games to emerge.
  • 🌍 Connection between games and the world: Games are an art form that exists in conversation with the world, drawing inspiration from various cultural aspects. Games have the ability to create connections, evoke emotions, and explore different perspectives.
  • 💡 The importance of taste and thoughtful game design: Taste and thoughtful design are crucial elements for game designers. Understanding one's own tastes and being able to create work that resonates with others can lead to successful game design.
  • 🕹ī¸ Recommended games: Some recommended games include "Universal Paperclips," "Cinco House," "Apoptosis," "Her Story," "What Remains of Edith Finch," and "Everything" by David O'Reilly. Each game offers a unique and immersive experience, exploring different genres and storytelling techniques.


I was watching one of your talks earlier this week and you said something that essentially in game design the most compelling experiences are made out of gaps but then in another talk you said games of the aesthetic form of thinking and doing and if you think about thinking and doing in real life it's not that many gaps so how do these two things w... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: What is the difference between the seamless simulation approach and the gap-focused approach to game design?

The seamless simulation approach focuses on creating games that are identical to the real world, while the gap-focused approach acknowledges the value in the gap between simulation and reality and uses it to generate meaningful experiences.

Q: How does painting relate to the idea of gaps in game design?

Just like a painting captures the essence but retains a gap between the object and its representation, games use simulation to generate meaning through the gap between simulation and the real thing.

Q: Can you explain the concept of thinking and doing in games?

Games provide an opportunity for players to engage in active problem-solving and decision-making, allowing them to think and act as active agents in the game world.

Q: What is the role of immersion and simulation in VR games?

While VR games emphasize immersion and simulation, the speaker remains skeptical about the extent to which VR can fully replicate the gap between simulation and reality. He believes there is an opportunity for designers to fulfill the passion people have for VR and create work that resonates with their interests.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The value in games comes from the gap between simulation and reality, rather than a seamless simulation.

  • Games are a way to reflect on and explore various aspects of life, from problem-solving to physical activities.

  • The craft of game design lies in creating spaces that generate interesting and meaningful experiences through the combination of simulation and the real thing.

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