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Train GDC Talk is Now Free on

April 18, 2010

Due to your requests (really), my talk on Train has been moved to the free section of the GDC Vault. Thanks to GDC, Meggan Scavio and Think Services for making that happen.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Rob permalink
    April 18, 2010 8:11 pm

    Awesome, thank you very much!

  2. Adrian Lopez permalink
    April 19, 2010 8:20 pm

    Direct link:

    PS – I tweeted it to Roger Ebert:

  3. April 20, 2010 1:17 am

    Certainly one of my favorite talks at GDC. Definitely worthy of being seen by anyone, regardless of vault access.

  4. Adrian Leonheart(aspiring game designer) permalink
    April 23, 2010 11:31 pm

    One of the most thought provoking talks I have heard. Having played games for nearly most of my life I never really thought of games as anything more than “fun” or just as a leisure activity. This talk opened up my mind as to how games can be used to capture emotion and how emotion could be integrated into the core mechanic of the game rather than being sidelined and conveyed through cut scenes and text(which is how most digital games these days try to convey emotion to the player).

    I thought it was really cool how you stopped playing digital games(for 9 months) and went back to board games. I was thinking about doing something similar as for most of my life I have only really played digital games and have very little experience with board games(or non digital games in general). When I first started designing my own games I only ever thought of doing digital games(as i thought those were the best games to design these days – what with advancements in technology and all)

    A point which I realized while listening to your talk was my own perspective on what a game really is and how technology doesn’t necessarily affect your ability on designing a good game. As games can be thought of as experiences(emotional) and players can feel these experiences through the power of game play through a board game rather than relying on digital technology like animation, voice, sound and programming game logic . I now realize that all these things can sometimes hinder your ability to design a good game.

    Before watching this talk I really thought it would be a good idea to have a digital version of Train, mainly so that I and many others who wish to experience Train could. However I now think that if Train were made as a digital game it would lose some of its ability to capture emotion as in your earlier post you mentioned that the games interface is part of the game play.

    And by moving Train to a digital medium say a PC players would lose touch with the games core message(conveying emotion through game play). For example players would lose the ability to stuff the yellow pieces into the train carriage or put them in carefully as this would be handled through keyboard and mouse input. And then there’s that whole “smash the glass aspect” which would be awkward to do on a digital game. Quite simply put going from physical interaction of the game to players staring at a screen would reduce Trains overall emotional impact. It also makes me think that digital games which dont have the aspect of players having physical interaction with the game itself are at a disadvantage when compared to board games(which have this interaction built in natively).

    One question I would like to ask though is how did you go about play-testing Train in the design process? Did you only play test with your self or did you constantly refine the game based on input from others.

    I hope this all makes sense

    • May 3, 2010 3:15 pm

      I playtested Train with a group of students, my kids (using a different narrative) and Ian Schreiber ran a test for me in Columbus. All in all, it had about 10 tests before I released it.

  5. April 27, 2010 2:10 pm

    I was randomly watching videos at when I found this one about Train. I didn’t know your work, so I was surprised and amazed iwth it. Very inspiring!
    I’m glad that they moved it to the free section.

  6. May 26, 2010 2:07 pm

    I’m not sure if you remember me, but I visited here quite often at the time you were launching this blog. I’ve since stopped visiting for awhile, but your talk at GDC brought me back here. (Thanks to GDC for releasing it for free)

    With the talk, you’ve shaken my world with tremendous force that I basically had to think of gaming from the very beginning.

    There are so many to ask you, so many I think about, and so many thoughts I’ve come up with about game, but let me ask you this:

    What do you think of today’s video games? What do you think of the titles that receive critical acclaims, such as Super Mario Galaxy 2, Shadow of Colossus, and so on? Specifically, what do you think of them as *games*, not just video games? I used to love these games, until I listened to your talk; after the talk, I don’t think so anymore. They seem more like failed attempts (in wrong directions) to create something meaningful.

    My head is spinning with so many thoughts. I think you’ve caused me to go crazy. D:

    • June 19, 2010 1:16 am

      Hi Peter,

      Good to hear from you and sorry it’s take a while for my reply.

      Games have a super wide range, much like any form of art. It depends on what I want going in. I played a game called Loved tonight (, but next to me, Half Life 2 is on a machine. It’s a toss up. Perhaps the way you feel now is a direction you need to pursue to see what lies ahead there for you as a designer.


  7. rosamez permalink
    August 1, 2010 6:57 am

    Watched the video on the GDC site and… well, all I can say is: thank you.


  1. On Game Design (Train) « Random thoughts on everything

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