I was part of the “Fast and the Furious” session this year at Develop Conference Brighton presenting to an audience of beer fuelled conference-goers and it was very fun indeed. There were 5 speakers competing for a session spot next year and we each had a 3 minute rant about a topic. Then the audience decided.

It was a great experience and I really enjoyed my time there. However, it does seem that the session is not available on the YouTube channel yet so I thought I would upload my transcript here for anyone that wanted to have a look.

If you’ve ever used the Internet you’ll know that one of the fundamental rules is that you don’t read the comments anywhere.

Fanboys and fangirls run rampant, standing on their cyber soapbox, spouting nonsense about things that dont even exist! Things like “the PlayBox has seven megaengines per core so the graphics will look even more cromulent!”

Developers know it’s not true, but we can’t say anything because we’re completely NDA’d.

Then THEY find out it’s not true. And they cry. It’s terrible.

And we’ve all had that familiar feeling when a new game is announced, hyped to the extreme and it looks like nothing we’ve ever seen before. We get excited, jump around and breathe fire on anyone stupid enough to criticise it.

Then it gets released. And we cry. Because it’s terrible.

And this one happened just last year at a games expo! My girlfriend was playing a new platformer. You could tell the developers couldn’t wait for the player to move to the right, towards all of the mystic wonders they finely crafted in their glorious game world.

But she went left. The game crashed. They cried. It was terrible.

How can we avoid all the “terrible”?

I’ve been looking at scepticism a lot recently, and I think its principles can apply to pretty much anything. It’s different from cynicism. Cynics find the worst in everything. Sceptics simply have doubts about claims and I think that’s particularly important for the games industry.

It’s in our nature to be emotional creatures. And that’s absolutely fine. But sometimes we just need to tap into some of our Vulkan like logic.
By knowing our own biases we can avoid many assumptions and logical traps that can be our undoing. These traps are called fallacies and if you can spot them you can usually tell when someone is talking sense. Or if they’re full of utter shit!

But there are some things different parts of the industry can do to avoid these pitfalls.

Designers: dont assume that what you want your users to do is actually what they’ll do. It almost never works like that!

Coders: dont assume the latest greatest technique in graphics is the best thing ever. Regardless of who the academic paper is written by!

Players: dont assume that what you’ve been told by other players is absolutely true and never subject to change. The industry thrives on change and adaptation. But it’s also important to know that all change isn’t necessarily good.

There is so much to scepticism that can be applied to the industry. If I’m back next year you’ll find out how to avoid these thinking traps, back up your reasoning and give it more credence, and spot when someone’s logic is flawed, which isn’t always immediately obvious . Basically, I’ll tell you how to argue on the Internet. And win.