quarta-feira, 30 de outubro de 2013

Top Ten Tips for Boardgame Designers

Good stuff from the Dice Tower site. Tom Vasel, Zee Garcia, and Sam Healey give advice to aspiring boardgame designers. Have fun!

Recap for everybody:

10. Do your Research;
9. You will not make much money;
8. No one is going to steal your brilliant idea;
7. Be inspired by other game, do not just copy them;
6. Match your theme with the game mechanics;
5. Listen to developer and publisher, they want your game to succeed;
4. Streamline your game, remove unnecessary aspects (keep it fun);
3. Listen to your play testers, but don't design by committee (it's your game);
2. Design the game your way, there is no "one way" to do it;
1. Play test your game along the way! (use honest people who aren't afraid to hurt your feelings).

quarta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2013

Beyond Two Souls

I put away GTA V (for a while) to start playing BEYOND TWO SOULS (2013), that is the new interactive drama action-adventure video game for PlayStation, developed by French publisher Quantic Dream.

In the publisher’s site is the plot of the game: “Born with a connection to a mysterious entity (named Aiden) with incredible powers, Jodie was different. In an adventure spanning 15 years of her life, your actions will determine Jodie's fate as she faces extraordinary challenges, danger, and heart wrenching loss on a journey to discover the truth of who she is. Beyond promises an emotionally-charged journey unlike any video game before.

As the publisher's previous project, HEAVY RAIN (2009), in BEYOND TWO SOULS the player is invited to experience a kind of a movie with special commands. The game works in what we can call “decision trees” and the narrative is driven by choices the player makes.

The idea of these “decision trees” is to offer the players some choices to create uncertainty and unpredictability among the narrative. Sometimes you have time to choose what to do, sometimes there’s time pressure to choose one way and at moments you have to choose some actions just to add charming flavour to the universe of the game.

To create a perfect balance between game and interactive movie, Quantic Dream brings real famous actors to the production, and you can see Willem Dafoe and Ellen Page acting side by side, but in a different interface. It’s not new; we have lots of games with famous real actors, but BEYOND TWO SOULS brings a new experience in using this cast to create the atmosphere of the game. Check the trailer below:

The narrative is the main point of the game and in BEYOND TWO SOULS players have a chance to use a second screen experience downloading an special app in mobile phone that gives some complement interaction to the story. The connection between different narrative elements give to the game a unique kind of experience.

As Dille and Platten (2007, p.52) remind us, there are a pallet of media elements (voice, sound effects, music, cinematic, text, graphics, commands, etc.) to tell a gaming story. The authors also say “think of them as story elements. Don’t forget – story in video game is anything that helps you immerse yourself into the game-playing experience. Story isn’t just characters and dialogue. An interface element can be a storytelling device”.

In the last year, we saw many games with a focus on the narrative and I’m very excited with the evolution that kind of game will have in the generation of consoles.

Now on to your opinion.


DILLE, Flint; PLATTEN, John Zuur. The ultimate guide to video game writing and design. New York: Skip Press, 2007

quarta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2013

quarta-feira, 9 de outubro de 2013

The new generation

Ludic interfaces are leading and intertwining landmarks of contemporary culture. In the last thirty years or so, gaming culture has become a major trend. From videogame consoles connected to the internet to playing traditional board games, people are increasingly experiencing the field of entertainment.

The contemporary multiplatform environment, with so many connections to different devices, becomes a privileged ambient for the wide use of gaming language.

The new category of mass self-communication (CASTELLS 2009) poses further challenges to understanding current modes of sociability and consumption inside this field. As Castells says (2009:135), the great amount of content access by multiple platforms - digital TV, tablets, smartphones, video games etc. - offered to the public is one essential characteristic of global communication in the digital age. In this digital scenario, many governments, citizens, business groups and entertainment companies have begun to explore the advantages and have started to integrate these multiple platforms in their everyday communication processes.

Why mention all this? The new generation of consoles that will be arriving in the end of the year is a mirror of this process. The Xbox One and The Playstation 4 will surely create new ways of selling entertainment. Not only through the high sophisticated games, but integrating the gaming experience in an ecosystem with television, internet, voice command and social media.

We have many languages involved in this process, but undoubtedly the language of entertainment has a very important role in this context. It’s still early to make predictions, but I bet we will have a significant revolution in the way to make entertainment with this new generation of consoles.

PS: I played Xbox One and Playstation 4 at F.R.O.G congress 2013! Awesome experience.


CASTELLS, M. Communication power. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

quarta-feira, 2 de outubro de 2013

F.R.O.G (Future and Reality of Gaming) Congress - Vienna, September 2013

Last week I was at Vienna (Austria) presenting a poster at the F.R.O.G (Future and Reality of Gaming) congress. Awesome keynotes and fantastic content in three days full of games in this beautiful city.

Vienna’s annual Games Conference offers an open and international platform for leading game studies researchers and scholars, game designers, researchers and scholars from various other fields, education professionals, and gamers from around the world. The main objective of FROG13 was to explore the “Context Matters” in regard to questions of player communities, challenging or problematic play settings, game theory and development, impact of games and cultural facets of play.

And now I would like to share the content that I presented at the congress. I hope you enjoy.

ECOLOGICAL CONCEPTS IN A BOARD GAME: How to discuss serious causes using ludic interfaces

Author: MsC. Vicente Martin Mastrocola (ESPM/Brazil)
E-mail: vincevader@gmail.com


In this presentation we seek to analyze the use of game mechanics for serious causes. We discuss, using a brazilian board game named Climate Game, how we can use a playful and ludic interface to cast a message for a serious cause and how a game could work with ideas about global warming in a fun/educational way. In this context, we use the idea of magic circle proposed by Johan Huizinga, author of the book Homo Ludens, in which the author explains how a physical space could be a place for playing, meaning and experience.

In this presentation we also discuss the impact of a ludic interface in the mediatic scenario, the gaming culture and how important it can be for the contemporary world.



Homo Ludens, entertainment and games

First of all, the notion of homo ludens, introduced by the dutch historian Johan Huizinga, is the conceptual backbone for this work, where we seek to analyze the use of game mechanics, ludic concepts, and game thinking applied to a brazilian board game with ecological theme named Climate Game. This game uses a playful and ludic interface to cast a message for a serious cause, and works with ideas about global warming in a fun/educational way.

In his book "Homo Ludens" (1955) Huizinga discusses the possibility that playing is the primary formative element in human culture. The author also presents the idea of the magic circle, one important subject for our discussion.

As described by Adams and Rollings (2009, p.8), Huizinga did not use the term as a generic name for the concept: his text refers to the actual playground, or a physical space for playing, meaning and experience. As the authors says, inside the magic circle, real-world events have special meanings. In the real world you kick a ball into a net but in the magic circle you score a goal.

Huizinga (1955, page 10) wrote that the arena, the card-table, the stage, the screen, etc, are all function playgrounds. They are all temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.

As Ehrmann says (1968, p.55) in an antropology of play, the latest cannot be defined by isolating it on the basis of its relationship to an a priori reality and culture. To define play is, at the same time and in the same movement, to define reality and culture.

The Climate Game

The Climate Game is a production from a brazilian company named Games For Business that works in the area of serious games, that, following the thoughts of Nick Iuppa and Terry Borst (2007), may be explained as games with a professional, educational or pedagogical use. Climate Game is a game that challenges its players to save the world from global warming. This game is both of competition and cooperation. It promotes competition because the player who emits no carbonic gas at all wins. But the integrated work of all the other participants is essential in order not to exceed the gas limits of the greenhouse effect.

Therefore, participants have lots of puzzles to solve together and, as Juul says (2005, p.8) games are usually well-structured problems, and this has led them to be used in several other fields.

This kind of game will not transform a player into a specialist in ecology or in global warming, but it can reinforce important concepts about the planet’s health. This game can teach basic ideas and stimulate the players to search for more information about the theme.

By this brief overview we can conclude that game mechanics can be a meaningful space for significative experiences. It seems that these ideas are essential to study and understand the gaming universe and the impacts of the game culture in the contemporary world.



ADAMS, Ernest; ROLLINGS, Andrew. Fundamentals of Game Design. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009

EHRMANN, Jacques. Homo Ludens Revisited. Yale French Studies, No 41. Game, Play, Literature (1968). pp. 31-57. (click here for download)

HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Boston: The Beacon Press, 1955.

IUPPA, Nick & BORST, Terry. Story and simulations for serious games: tales from the trenches. Burlington: Focal Press, 2007.

JUUL, Jesper. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. USA: MIT Press, 2005.

Climate Game english site >> click here.