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|Session Name:||The Importance of Cultural Touchstones in Game Design Practice|
|Company Name(s):||UC Irvine|
|Track / Format:||Production|
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|Overview:||Like all creative professionals, game developers pull ideas from the world around them. Video games and other cultural content like films, comics, music, art, books and analog life experiences are all used as reference points for conceptualizing ideas and communicating them to dev teams. These "cultural touchstones" become a crucial part of everyday game studio practice, impacting everything from production efficiency to the studio's local culture and values. The potential impact of cultural touchstones on game design will be explored through a case study based on two years of ethnographic research with Red 5 Studios, Inc. during the production of Firefall. We will discuss how cultural touchstones can shape design vocabulary, influence how effectively a team communicates, and provide a basis for a whole studio's socialization. We will also look at how curating a team's cultural touchstones can maximize the benefits of a diverse team and contribute to mindful design.|