For a child in the 1980s, playing a video game meant entering a world operating under confusing and effectively unknowable rules, in which anything could happen. This context lent enormous weight and mystery to every game, with no additional effort on the part of the developer. Nowadays, anything you might wonder about a game, you can look up online. Developers must work hard to make a game mysterious, even for players who are willing to play along. This talk will cover a number of techniques for doing so, and attempt to create a unifying philosophy for them.

Jim Crawford has been making video games for over twenty years, but nobody noticed until he moved to the Bay Area and started making friends with game journalists. Since making Frog Fractions, he’s told day jobs to screw off and is riding the making games train until the conductor realizes that he forgot to buy a ticket.