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Solving Problems like a Game Designer

YOW! 2020 Sydney

Did you know that the first bullet by an enemy in a first-person action shooter always misses you? Would you like to know why a game once had to stitch a whole train to act as the head of a player character? Did you know that in third person games, the first two-thirds of your health bar is worth fewer points than the last third?

Game Designers are some of the most creative and potent problem solvers in the tech field - many solutions being odd, surprising and most importantly: Focused on the user experience like no other. We are teachers, storytellers, therapists, matchmakers in ways that are surprising and innovative for anybody who needs to solve complex problems for humans or human and tech interaction. This talk aims to talk about and teach some of the ways Game Designers work, go over some of the most fascinating solutions we have found for our games and why they exist, and hopefully reframe ways people in adjacent industries can learn from the approach, just as we learn from other tech fields.
 

Jennifer Scheurle

Lead Game Designer

ArenaNet

United States

Jennifer Scheurle is a multi-award-winning, world-travelling Game Designer and public speaker who has worked on 8+ released titles since she started working in the industry 6 years ago. Born and raised in Germany and with a Bachelor of Arts (hons) in game development, she has played her role in Europe’s thriving indie game scene. She was named as one of the 100 most influential women in game development in 2016 by the Australian MCV Pacific, was named again in 2017 as one of the top 30 women in games by MCV as well as one of their 30 under 30 in the same year.

After being headhunted for her first job as a QA lead for the game Twin Komplex, Jennifer quickly acquired lead roles as a game designer, leading teams of up to 15 people in co-development and remote development for global collaborations.

A lead game design teacher at the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Sydney, Jennifer has also created a wide range of course material as one of three members of the curriculum development team for the institute all over Australia.

In the past 3 years, Jennifer has been very active in her communities, speaking at numerous events including NZGDC, PAX Aus, GCAP and GDC.

Currently working for Melbourne-based Opaque Space, Jennifer is leading the game design team, predominantly working on the internationally acclaimed Earthlight franchise. The Earthlight IP stands out for its innovation and high-fidelity in VR technology and gameplay with parts of it being used at NASA’s Hybrid Reality Lab for astronaut training. The game won Game of the Year at the Australian Game Developer Awards in 2017. Opaque Space won Studio of the Year at the same ceremony, praised for its innovation and expertise, anti-crunch culture and inclusive workplace.

Aside from that, Jennifer also creates for Flat Earth Games’ Objects in Space, which won the PAX Australia Indie Showcase in 2016 and her physical controller set was nominated for the Alt.Ctrl.GDC award at GDC in 2017.