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Chris Solarski’s presentation will explore a sensory design approach to game design and interactive media that is founded on traditional craft techniques (and inputs from acting theory, neuroscience, psychology, disability aesthetics, etc.) to heighten the player-audience’s physical experience of gameplay. You can think of sensory design as working inside-to-outside, which starts by defining the player’s kinaesthetic state (referring to physical activity-based aesthetics) before designing the mechanisms that evoke the desired sensations. Approaching the game development process from a sensory perspective—as opposed to a rules, objectives and mechanics-driven approach—enables readers to actively explore solutions to the following ideology: What if empathy, not conflict, was the organising principle of game design?
I started work in video games at Sony Computer Entertainment’s London Studio as a character and environment artist before making a career-defining detour into figurative oil painting. The unusual mix of game art and classical art eventually resulted in me authoring ‘Interactive Empathy and Embodiment’ (IEE)—a sensory design methodology that adapts traditional craft to interactive media with the aim of heightening kinaesthetic empathy and embodiment. I’ve authored two other books on game art and storytelling in games that are endorsed by the likes of ‘Assassin’s Creed’ founding member Stéphane Assadourian, and ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ level designer Max Pears. My work has been described as gaming’s equivalent to Robert McKee’s screenwriting classic, ‘Story,’ and Joseph Campbell’s universal storytelling structure. I’ve had the pleasure of presenting at the Smithsonian Museum’s landmark ‘The Art of Video Games’ exhibition, Disney Research, SXSW, Google and FMX, to name a few.