If there’s anyone alive who ever looked forward to corporate training, I’ve never met him.
It never mattered the industry; mention the idea of a “corporate training session,” and eyes begin to glaze over at the thought of hours spent in a conference room listening to assorted speakers or staring at a PowerPoint presentation.
Not that the information passed along in the session wouldn’t be beneficial, but the key problems have always tended to be that the session’s format had to apply to multiple departments, or that the information was presented in a stagnant way.
At the moment, I’m sitting in the middle of Molyjam Deux, a worldwide game-development event in which legendary game designer Peter Molyneux has sent out a barrage of strange, semi-inspirational quotes, pushing game developers from around the world to create titles that somehow relate to them. Molyneux, who fathered titles such as Black and White, Fable, Dungeon Keeper and Populous, has long been considered one of the weirdest, coolest and most fun human beings in the video game industry. Roughly a dozen developers sat down since 6 p.m. last night, sorted themselves into groups, and began to work on whatever game idea floated through their heads.
One developer, borrowing off Molyneux’s quote about dogs, is presently designing a game in which you play the part of a dog wandering through a forest, interacting with the characters around you. The dog is eventually given access to a rocket launcher, leading others to suggest other weaponry for the dog, as well as to wonder aloud as to whether the dog should be given body armor, and how best to simulate the experience of a dog wandering through the woods.
Another group has begun creating a social simulator in which the user plays a private-school girl who must continuously adjust the length of her skirt to avoid being judged by her peers and faculty. With each social encounter, the standards applied to her change, the length of her skirt consequently representing her as promiscuous, prudish or acceptable to those around her.
As random as the game ideas may sound, and as strange as the final products may be, what’s happening in this room is everything that management and corporate trainers alike dream of. The developers have formed teams, identified what their talents are, and are both playing to their strengths as well as pushing themselves and what their game builds are capable of (especially within a mere 48 to 60-hour timeframe to have something playable that came be shown to an audience and then uploaded for distribution). Critical resources are being pulled as needed off sites like GitHub and Unity, and the room is quietly humming along with weird strands of pop-culture conversation, tech questions the participants are asking each other and people sharing ideas.
There’s no telling where this will lead come the final demonstration tomorrow night. (Given that one of the winning entries last year had the player as a floating bear in space that has to hug floating astronauts to death to retrieve their oxygen supply, just about anything is feasible.) But odds are they’ll be weird, demented and amazing—everything Peter Molyneux would want from the developers of this generation.
And if that’s not the goal of any department looking to bring amazing ideas out of its people, then it bloody well should be.