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Alexander King

Alexander King was once an analytics and strategy consultant, who used Excel, statistics and common sense in order to improve businesses. Now he puts those skills to much better use in making games!

Why are you studying games?
When I was six years old, my family had a glass coffee table. It had an imperceptible slant to it, not normally noticeable, but I discovered that a marble left on the surface would roll to one edge. Seizing on that design affordance, I would take sticky tack and build elaborate pachinko-like courses across the table (presumably to my parents' chagrin) and force siblings to watch the resulting marble races. While I haven't used putty-and-gravity as a medium for interactive systems very much since then, part of the reason I'm here is to continue a course of study I really started more than twenty years ago.
Describe your favorite project made by a classmate.
Too many to mention, but I've always really liked Michelle Senteio's "Space Girl" phaser game. It has this space disco sort of aesthetic that it is both upbeat and completely alien. I love it!
Describe your most embarrassing playtesting moment.
When we were testing Cyclops Look Away at IndieCade, a ten year old girl came by. After playing a game or two, she pointed at the titular cyclops and asked "is that... a monster?" with a tone of genuine curiosity. When we affirmed the one-eyed beast was indeed a monster, she thought about it for a moment, and then asked, "then what's his name?". When we wad no answer, she quietly thanked us for getting to play, and then got up and walked away disappointed. Always name your monsters.
What's your secret weapon?
I'd say Excel, but that's probably my least secret weapon.
How has the Game Center changed your thinking about games?
I don't believe I think too differently about games in and of themselves (though I probably do), but I certainly think very differently about how they're made. I thought games were mainly designed a priori, with a more or less full idea at the outset, and then the rest is just execution and polish. Instead... Frank Lantz said once that games are as much found objects as they are designed, and I think that's true. Prototyping, iterating and playtesting are all ways of bringing ideas to the fore that you could never have thought of in isolation. It's more like panning for gold or something, you have to shift through a lot of dross to expose new and exciting things.
What do you hope to accomplish after school?
A living wage.
What's the last great game you played and what's great about it?
Crusader Kings II, and nothing. Or, everything. It's complicated. It's so audacious in scope, it feels more like a thought experiment than an actual commercial product. It's core systems are so wildly innovative and fun that it very nearly negates all of its glaringly obvious fatal design flaws. Its real triumph though, is how successfully it marries simulation and strategy. It shows us that the most compelling systems to explore and master aren't abstract collections of formal rules, but the interaction of human beings.