James Spafford

James Spafford

Double Fine Productions

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James “Spaff” Spafford is Director of Marketing and Communication at Double Fine Productions, Tim Schafer’s legendary studio based in San Francisco, which is  part of Xbox Game Studios, and makers of many critically acclaimed games including Psychonauts, Costume Quest, and Brütal Legend.  Prior to Double Fine, Spaff worked in Community Management at studios such as Media Molecule, and NCSoft. James is a co-founding board member of Day of the Devs, a non-profit with a mission to promote creator driven, largely independently developed games.


James Spafford is speaking at the following session/s

Embracing Mental Health and Accessibility for Psychonauts 2

11:00am - 11:45am
Room 1

Despite being a light hearted adventure, Psychonauts 2 features sensitive themes such as addiction, trauma, and anxiety, which put Mental Health at the forefront of our minds throughout development. This lead us consider our player’s well being like we never had before. and over time, changed our own awareness and attitudes in ways that would have lasting effects not just on the game, but on the fabric of our studio too.

Once we realised that designing with these considerations was essentially another form of accessibility, we found ourselves chasing a goal of trying to make our game accessible as possible to as many people as possible, in every sense of the word.

The result is not perfect by any means, but Psychonauts 2 is the most accessible game in Double Fine’s history, and the process has had lasting effects on our studio’s approach to other connected elements, and will affect all our games from now onwards.

In this session we will explore our journey, the steps we took to create a better understanding of what we wanted to accomplish, and lessons we’re taking forward to continue to evolve our design philosophies around accessibility.

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