sexta-feira, 1 de fevereiro de 2019

Why do you play games?

In the first post of this year, I want to share some content from the book I’m reading at the moment: Playing smart - on games, intelligence, and artificial intelligence by Julius Togelius. The author discusses many aspects on how games challenge us and what we can expect from games that use artificial intelligence in the near future.

One of the first points discussed by Togelius is about the question I already brought many times in this site: why do we play games? It’s not easy to answer (and we have many different views for this subject) but I think it’s essential to gather multiple points of view to create a more solid opinion.

Togelius launches the question: why do you play games? And starts his answer with a very interesting argument that most of the time we are playing games for many reasons but all the time – despite the game we are playing – we are doing an exercise of intense planning.

Below, I want to share this excellent content from his book and recommend the reading for all the followers of this site:

Why do you play games? To relax, have a good time, lose yourself a bit? Perhaps as a way of socializing with friends? Almost certainly not as some sort of brain exercise. But let’s look at what you are really doing: You plan. In Chess, you are planning for your victory by imagining a sequence of several moves that you will take to reach checkmate, or at least capture one of your opponent’s pieces. If you are any good, you are also taking your opponent’s countermoves into account and making contingency plans if they do not fall into your elaborately laid traps. In Super Mario Bros., you are planning wheter to take the higher path, which brings more reward but is riskier, or the safer lower path. You are also planning to venture down that pipe that might bring you to a hidden treasure chamber, or to continue past it, depending on how much time you have left and how eager you are to finish the level. You may be planning to eat the power-up that lets you get through that wall so you can lick a switch that releases a bean from which you can grow a beanstalk that lets you climb up to that cloud you want to get to. In Angry Birds you are planning where to throw each bird so as to achieve maximum destruction with the fewest birds. If you crush the ice wall with the blue bird, you can then hit that cavity with the black bomb bird, collapsing the main structure, and finish off that cowardly hiding pig with your red bird. (TOGELIUS, 2019, kindle edition – position 412)



TOGELIUS, Julius. Playing smart - on games, intelligence, and artificial intelligence. London: The MIT Press, 2019.

sábado, 22 de dezembro de 2018

A Word About the Brazilian Gaming Market

(NOTE: this content is a teaser from my HCI's 2019 paper and the last post of this year)

The Brazilian gaming market is full of opportunities and peculiarities. The country is well-known abroad for being an emergent field where new game ideas can be explored, andalso for its high levels of piracy, unfortunately. In a certain way, the country is a unique “ecosystem” where different business models and creative processes can be explored, given the size and the diversity of its population, of almost 220 million people.

The gaming industry in Brazil is not consolidated though, and under many aspects it is still in an initial stage. As a first step into our discussion, we can highlight some attributes of the Brazilian gaming market, using as reference the data collected in an important survey named Game Brazil Research 2018 (Pesquisa Game Brasil 2018, in Portuguese), conducted by the company Sioux Games.

In its fifth edition, the research comprised interviews with 2853 people, in an attempt to investigate some demographic, consumption and behavioral aspects of the Brazilian gaming field. The first information we need to highlight is the fact that 75.5% of the Brazilian population plays games in a wide range of platforms, like smartphones, tablets, computers, consoles, portable consoles, etc.

According to this research, the gamer audience in Brazil is mainly cross-platform,with 74% of players experiencing games on more than one device. Smartphones lead the numbers as the most popular gaming platforms in Brazil (37.6%), while consoles occupy the second place (28.8%), followed by computers, in third place (26.4%).

Another interesting piece of information from Game Brazil Research 2018 concerns the self-image of the Brazilian gamer audience: only 6.1% of the respondents considered themselves to be “hardcore” gamers. Most of the interviewed people identified themselves as casual gamers.

It was also remarkable, in the research about mobile games, that 60.7% of respondents said they played while in transit (bus, subway or car).

Finally, it is noteworthy that 53.6% of Brazilian gamers are women, and among the female audience the favorite platform is mobile (59%), in which they spend an average of one to three hours a week playing games.

From these preliminary data, it is possible to understand that Brazil is a fertile ground for mobile games and a place with high potential for new gaming business in this field.

There are no massive game publishers in Brazil yet, and mobile platforms like App Store (Apple) and Play Store (Google) constitute interesting opportunities for game designers, indie studios and small gaming companies to showcase their work, in Brazil and abroad.


terça-feira, 4 de dezembro de 2018

A brief discussion about newsgames

In contemporary times, games have undoubtedly taken a protagonist role in different areas. We can find games as educational tools, in marketing campaigns, training employees in companies or just entertaining certain audiences. Games are a powerful media and a rich platform to share meaningful messages.

Based on these thoughts, games also can be used as a platform for journalism content. It is possible to think strategically the use of games to spread news, discuss current events or critically think about one specific subject discussed in the media. This category of game can be considered what some specialists call “newsgame”.

About the use of games in this field, it is relevant to emphasize that “journalism can and will embrace new modes of thinking about news in addition to new modes of production. Rather than just tack-on a games desk or hire an occasional developer on contract, we contend that newsgames will offer valuable contributions only when they are embraced as a viable method of practicing journalism – albeit a different kind of journalism than newspapers, television, and web pages offer” (BOGOST; FERRARI; SCHWEIZER, 2010, p.10).

In the book entitled “Newsgames: journalism at play” (2010), Bogost, Ferrari and Schweizer discuss several categories of this type of game. In this post I want to highlight one of them: the “current event games”. According to these authors, this kind of newsgame aims to dwell over some fact occurring in this moment in the world using a ludic interface.

One interesting case of “current event games” that we can bring to this post is the experimental game September 12th. Created by the Uruguayan game designer and researcher Gonzalo Frasca, September 12th suggests a reflection about the day after the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11th; the interface shows a Middle-Eastern village with some terrorists with weapons and civilians and the only thing you can do is aim and shoot bombs to kill the characters. The interesting thing is: every time you kill a terrorist you also kill civilians and other civilians around – when noticing the fact – become new terrorists in an infinite cycle of death and violence (BOGOST; FERRARI; SCHWEIZER, 2010, p.11, 12 & 13).

In the video below it is possible to understand the gameplay:

Once again, games are occupying an even more relevant role in the contemporary scenario. The gaming use for news is one more aspect to reflect on how ludic languages can reach different audiences in the quotidian life. If you are interested in this gaming category, I strongly suggest the site Molle Industria to try other examples of newsgames.



BOGOST, Ian; FERRARI, Simon; SCHWEIZER, Bobby. Newsgames: journalism at play. Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2010.

domingo, 4 de novembro de 2018

Three gaming interfaces to pay attention to

In this post, I want to discuss some gaming interfaces and user experience features in games. I will use my three favorite games for this present post, but the subject is broader and allows a bigger discussion that I intend to return to, next month.


In the horror-fiction game Dead Space, the interface is something to pay special attention to. The character’s (Isaac Clarke) main statuses are disposed in a very strategic way: the life meter is located on his back in the shape of a spinal light, the weapon ammunition is showed as a small number when you aim the gun and, finally, the game has an interesting resource that is a luminous laser to help you easily locate the way the character must go (and it saves time in the complex scenario maze).

HERO (Atari)

This one is a relic from the beginning of the video-gaming era. HERO is an interesting case of user experience (UX) and interface with very limited constrols. Atari’s joystick has only one button and one directional stick; with only two resources, HERO’s designers implemented a wide range of possibilities: when you press the red button in the joystick the character uses its laser vision to kill enemies; by pressing down the control stick the character launches a dynamite do open walls and, finally, when you hold the control stick up the character flies using a jetpack. A very rich interface and UX created using minimal resources.

Entwined (PS4)

One of my favorite indie games Entwined is a great case of interface and usability. All the gameplay is based on how you can manage the two control sticks from PlayStation’s joystick. During the whole experience, you must control the two mystic entities by only using circular movements; the user experience is focused on coordinating two different positions simultaneously (a challenge to your dexterity). Entwined is an incredibly created game, using only circular movements in two control sticks, a master class of game design.

On the three cases related in the post, we can clearly see the ideas of how games must strategically use concepts from the user experience field. To finish this conversation I want to share some content from the site nForm about this subject:

The user experience is not one simple action – it is an interconnected cycle of attempting to satisfy hopes, dreams, needs and desires. This takes the shape of individuals comparing their expectations to the outcomes generated by their interaction with a system. Managing expectations then becomes key to successfully providing a satisfying “return on experience” that delights users and generates shared, sustainable value”.


segunda-feira, 15 de outubro de 2018

Five excellent documentaries about gaming culture and gaming industry

1-) Indie Game: The Movie - is the first feature documentary film about making video games. It looks specifically at the underdogs of the video game industry, indie game developers, who sacrifice money, health and sanity to realize their lifelong dreams of sharing their visions with the world.

2-) Screenland - A documentary series that immerses viewers in the artists, makers, designers, players and coders who are revolutionizing the new digital worlds through screens all around us.

3-) Atari: Game Over - For the documentary, the filmmakers excavated the landfill site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, where many E.T. game cartridges were buried. The excavation dig took several months of preparation, and was finally carried out on April 26, 2014. Although the digging had only been planned to go as deep as 18 feet, it actually went to 30 feet. Around 1,300 of the approximately 700,000 games buried were unearthed.

4-) King Of Kong A fistful Of Quarters - the documentary follows Steve Wiebe in his attempts to take the high score record for the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong from the previous holder, Billy Mitchell.

5-) AlphaGo - In October 2015, AlphaGo became the first computer Go program to beat a human professional Go player without handicaps on a full-sized 19×19 board. This documentary shows this awesome battle between human versus machine.


segunda-feira, 1 de outubro de 2018

About hyper casual games

In 2014, I wrote a post titled “Casual games for casual players”, analyzing important features a good casual game must have. This category of games had a boom with the rise of mobile media (smartphones and tablets). Probably the most iconic case that we can discuss here is the Angry Birds phenomenon: a beautiful game with rules you can understand in a second, a high level of replay, and available for a cheap price. Angry Birds became a model in the app stores and after that we could observe a great number of casual games that explored different business models using these simple mechanics.

We have many casual games in different platforms today, but there’s a new idea rising strongly: the hyper casual games concept. These categories of games, according to Johannes Heinze are “games that are lightweight and instantly playable”. Note the difference: the hyper casual are instantly playable; this makes a big difference in today’s gaming context.

Companies like Voodoo and Ketchapp Games (both French) are two good examples of how to explore business models using hyper casual games. They are creating very simple and addicting games. You play them and, if you like them, there’s a possibility to buy a premium version of the game without ads, or you can play it and watch the ads.

One good example of this kind of game is the awesome Helix Jump (one of my favorites). Check the gameplay trailer below:

Here in Brazil, companies like Sioux are investing in this gaming category. They launched a very interesting title named Overjump. Do the exercise: watch the video and notice that in the first 8 seconds you already understand the mechanics.

The most important point of this discussion is the rising of hyper casual games parallel to a big triple A titles showing us that we are living a great moment in the gaming industry: a moment full of opportunities.


segunda-feira, 3 de setembro de 2018

Game Design activity sessions – Part 1: remodelling a space war on a blank paper sheet

When I was a child, there was a game we used to play during the free time in between classes. It doesn’t have an official name, but my friends and I always called it “Space War”. Basically, the game’s main idea is:

1) in a regular blank paper trace a dividing line right in the middle of it;

2) Each player (and it’s a two player game) draws 3 to 6 spaceships (represented by triangles) randomly on their side;

3) the oldest player starts: they must draw a small circle on their side, this is called a “shot”;

4) on the next step, this player must fold the paper sheet;

5) after folding the paper the player must guess the place their opponent drew the “shot” and draw another small circle pressing the pen firmly on the area;

6) finally, the player must unfold the paper to check if the “shot” hit the target (the spaceship/triangle); then, it’s the other player’s turn to play. Important rule: one “shot” only hits a spaceship if it is completely inside the triangle area.

The diagram below shows, in images, the basic rules and game dynamics:

Ok! After trying this game and understanding it, your mission in this exercise is: trying to modify the basic gaming mechanics by adding power cards and dice, giving the ships new abilities and trying to create more uncertainty in a match. Think big and modify the space game with creativity (and try to think of a less stupid name for it).

You can share the results with me by mail, if you want >>