GDC + VRDC 2019 Session Scheduler

View, browse and sort the ever-growing list of sessions by pass type, track, 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.

Ten Years with Thoreau: What a Hermit Can Teach About Game Design

Tracy Fullerton (Director, USC Game Innovation Lab)

Pass Type: All Access, GDC Conference + Summits, GDC Summits, Indie Games Summit - Get your pass now!

Topic: Independent Games Summit

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

Designer Tracy Fullerton discusses the design challenges behind of translating Henry David Thoreau's classic work Walden into a game and what game designers can learn about creating experimental play from this 19th century philosopher-hermit. This session will discuss specific design problems with translation of a work, which is at its core a rejection of the common aspirations that underlie traditional living, and, by extension, traditional gameplay systems. How can the designer set player expectations in a game world where more is not necessarily better; where time is both a resource to be managed and a simple stream to be experienced, and where the value of actions, items and rewards may not be as simple as they first seem?


Takeaways for the session include techniques for designing nontraditional gameplay, including unorthodox goal structures, the creation of mechanics to support player introspection, and issues created by an unconventional story arc.

Intended Audience

Designers interested in creating gameplay that expresses alternative philosophies of success. Those curious about translating ideas from books into games. And pretty much anyone interested in taking epic risks on a passion project.