Community Influence: Lost Levels Talk

March 25, 2014

On Thursday, March 20, the “Lost Levels” unconference was held again just outside of GDC. Ryan Oliver of Pinnguaq gave the following talk at the event (while, not quite… this is the speech that was written… the reality of standing up and yelling in a park led to some points being missed). In the interest of getting the full text out and for those that could not attend (plus, we’d love your feedback on these ideas), the talk is reprinted here in full.

We purposefully chose to root our company in Pangnirtung, Nunavut not just because it is our home but because of what it does to our way of doing business. We are surrounded by a language, a culture and people that simply through it’s very existence creates a unique business model unseen anywhere else in the world. The language we speak goes beyond the actual oral language, but the way we work with each other and the language we do business in. The place we live changes the way we approach projects, the way we develop goals and most importantly the type of games we make and howe we make them.

Last year I attended GDC and by the Thursday I was sick of it. Sick of the monatization talks, sick of hearing how many different ways I could squeeze extra pennies out of customers without new content and sick of inadvertently joining middle wear company mailing lists. I stumbled into this park and came across Lost Levels and it saved the conference for me. The culture in this park, the language the people were speaking was what I’d been longing to hear. This is a group of people that really cares about games, about experience and about expression and I wanted to provide this talk to give back to the community that did so much for my experience last year.

Each one of us is apart of different cultures, sub-cultures and groups. Each one of those cultures and groups bring different things to the way you go about your daily life. The way your cultures and subcultures tells it’s stories, builds it’s sustainability and speaks it’s language effects the way you see the and interpret the world.

Games need your voice and your language in the market. Whether you come from the LGBT community, any ethnic or cultural “minority”, or even just like me, you grew up a suburban white kid; your experiences are needed to tell the stories of the next great games. I’d like to encourage you to stay true to the community and culture you come from, to let it influence you not only in the way you tell stories and the way you speak in your games but in the way you make games and go through the development process itself.

Lost Levels is a community unto itself. We’re joined by /home/ chaos. Everyone gets a chance to speak and the values of the community tend to revolve around creativity, support and love. Imagine a game built this way? Imagine a game built in the narrative of this community. One in which every member had an equal opportunity to speak and other team members an opportunity to “vote with their feet” as we do here. Where no topic was off limits. It would be crazy. It wouldn’t necessarily be great, but it would represent this community and there is a world out there that is sick of what the mainstream is offering. There is a market out there of people who are sick of the standard market practices and need what you’re offering.

Listen to where you come from and let it influence everything you do. I want, we all want to hear your stories as you’ve lived them and as you’ve interpreted them.

Thank you.

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