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Use the GDC 2021 Session Viewer to browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by day, time, pass type, topic, and format. All registered attendees will be able to build their personal schedule directly within the event platform, once live early July 2021. All times are listed in Pacific Time.

Independent Games Summit: Ghost in the Machine: Authorial Voice in System Design, 'Frostpunk' & Beyond

Marta Fijak  (Creative Designer, Anshar Studios)

Date: Tuesday, July 20

Time: 1:20pm - 1:50pm

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Summits Pass, Independent Games Summit Pass

Topic: Independent Games

Format: Session

Vault Recording: Video

It's easy to see an agenda in a piece of narrative work, or to see a criticism of an issue portrayed in a digital painting. But can mathematics be an expression of our world view? And can system dynamics say how we feel about the things around us?

This talk from 11 Bit Studios lead designer Marta Fijak will talk about the expressive qualities of systems and game balance, how perceptive the audience is around this type of message, and shows how this design approach was used while designing the societal elements of Frostpunk.


This talk aims to show the responsibility of system designers - not in terms of creating engagement, but in meaning. It should provide attendees with a new approach to their games, from the perspective of "what kind of message my design conveys".

Intended Audience

This talk is mostly directed at people who design mechanics and systems, it can also prove valuable for people who create narration and work with system designers. This talk uses some theoretical concepts of design, but those which are key to the thesis are explained during the talk.