GDC is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by pass type, topic, and format. With this Session Scheduler, you can build your schedule in advance and access it during the show via export or with the GDC Mobile App, once live. Sessions do fill up so please arrive early to sessions that you would like to attend. Adding a session to your schedule does not guarantee you a seat.

Fair Play Summit: Leveraging Social Physics to Architect Stronger Communities

Daniel Cook (Chief Creative Officer, Spry Fox)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Core Pass, Summits Pass, Expo Plus Pass, Expo Pass, Audio Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Advocacy

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: Intermediate

Many game systems naively violate basic social psychology principles that govern how humans interact in a safe, consensual fashion. The result is ad hoc social structures that often immediately collapse into toxicity. By understanding the natural social physics of how humans form relationships, we design more stable communities that explicitly acknowledge that process of trust and relationship formation. Daniel Cook covers the design implications of Dunbar's layers, the importance of trust, group dynamics and other well-replicated findings from social psychology. Concrete examples are provided of both failures and successes from various multiplayer games including his projects: Steambirds Alliance, Realm of the Mad God, Alphabear Hustle and Beartopia.


Attendees leave with a working understanding of key social psychology constraints that have major, yet non-intuitive impacts on their multiplayer designs. They'll have design tools for identifying, naming and reasoning about dangerous social failure points that result in the endless generation of toxicity.

Intended Audience

The primary audience is game designers involved with social systems. However, the lessons are broadly interesting to anyone working on a multiplayer online game since it provides key insights into how players actually function in social environments.