Wednesday, February 24, 2016

My Affinity With Unity 3D


Introduction

As part of the graduate course work in INTE 5320 at University of Colorado Denver, and continued scholarship in games & learning, I’m sharing my experiences as a participant in an affinity space about games and games & learning. This is an ongoing project focused on affinity spaces and participatory cultures with syntheses of theory and the works of James Paul Gee and Elizabeth Hayes “Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning.”

Background

I’m a gamer, game artist, and wanna-be game creator or developer. I’ve “paid my dues” so to speak as an artist in the game industry for six plus years (see example of work here). There were moments of incredible satisfaction and joy in work. But since the mobile game market exploded (sometime between the iPhone 3 and 4), I can say my interest in the types of games I’m willing to be part of has dramatically declined. I started to ask myself why? Why would I want to spend my day making sprites for monotonous and boring clicker games? As an artist and gamer, I crave big worlds rich in beauty and steeped in history. But above all else, I want my work to mean something. I didn’t want to wake up one day and realize I spent my entire career making graphics for enhanced frontal lobotomies. I’m still on a five year hiatus from working full time in the games industry. I’ve been on a search for meaning and purpose beyond the bottom line, which brought me to University of Colorado Denver to study, among many other things, games and learning or GBL. My hope for games, in particular digital games, has been renewed. As I progress through my career as an instructional designer, I really hope I have the chance to be a part of a digital game development team once again, with a focus on education and value for human development.


Source:Unity Community

The Affinity Space Unity Community

To be more engaged with the video game development community again, I chose to take a closer look at Unity Community as an affinity space about the engine and games in general. I have used this engine before for a couple of brief projects but nothing too fancy. However what I do know about the engine is that it’s very intuitive and easy to learn with a robust community of avid players, tinkerers, and developers. There are also local developers in Colorado that I have worked with before who are using Unity to make games, as well as Colorado Unity Dev’s, who may offer a more face to face encounter with an affinity space about Unity.

The Unity Community offers many forums for discussion, but of primary focus for games and learning, I will participate in “Game Design,” “Teaching,” and “Works in Progress.” These forums offer rich opportunities to observe, learn, interact, reflect, and develop a sense of identity through participation in the affinity space. Although the ultimate goal of interacting with this space is educational in nature, I hope that I would have learnt enough about Unity to begin to create a game of my own interest-driven choice. My creations will further enhance my ability to participate in the space. I will no longer be observing and commenting, but actively contributing content. Which of course, community members are open to critique, in turn, offering a unique chance for myself to reflect upon my own learning experience.

Initial Impressions

I’ve only been involved with Unity Community for a couple of weeks. Because I’m not a prolific and well versed Unity developer, and because game design isn't my day job, I’m initially prone to being more observational in nature. If I was neck deep in a game and needed help figuring some nuances out, my engagement in this affinity space would probably be different. I’m a casual member only at this time. This gives me the luxury of being very intentional. I dove into the “Game Design” forum first to observe discussions about games. A thread already caught my eye as being directly relatable to course readings for INTE 5320. In cycle 3 of course readings in the Games & Learning course at UC Denver, there’s been lot’s of discussion about Ian Bogost and “Gamification is Bullshit.” Gigiwoo, a member of Unity Community, started a thread titled “[Discuss] The Design of Clicker Games!” In his initial post he mentioned Ian Bogost and his Cow Clicker game, a game that was inspired by sadistic satire of social games. Gigiwoo mentioned that clicker games, or “incremental games,” have become their own genre and he wants to know what we can learn from them. The thread of comments looks pretty impressive and people are really adding their critique of the genre seriously. It’s this ability to connect with other designers or developers who have so much experience and history with games that makes Unity Community compelling to me. I can’t wait to see what I will learn, who I will meet, and what I will do with this affinity space.