segunda-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2011

Styleclash - drawing game for IPad2

Visual artist and game designer Jochem van der Spek created Styleclash – The Painting Machine Construction Kit – a competitive abstract drawing game for the iPad2. Each player can construct a virtual drawing machine whose main properties can be manipulated, thus influencing the machine’s visual expressive output. By choosing your type of brush, pencil or crayon and specific drawing technique, your machine creates a unique drawing. Not the players but the machines battle against each other for stylistic dominance in the playing field.

Styleclash - drawing game for IPad2 from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo.

Interesting approach and simple interface. I think that's a perfect use of iPad for games.

And you? What do you think about that?

segunda-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2011

Quote of the day

The problems of puzzles are very near the problems of life, our whole life is solving puzzles. If you are hungry, you have to find something to eat. But everyday problems are very mixed - they're not clear. The Cube's problem depends just on you. You can solve it independently. But to find happiness in life, you're not independent. That's the only big difference.” - Ernő Rubik (Hungarian, Architect and creator of the Magic Cube)

quarta-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2011

Simple and elegant: the essence of game design

Two days ago I've visited (again) a video game exhibition in my city (São Paulo) named GAME ON. There's a lot of good stuff in the place from all periods of the history of video games.

From ATARI till Xbox 360 with Kinect the exhibition gives to us a complete panorama of evolution, technology, design, language, mechanics and market in the video games universe.

The visit inspired myself to write this post. I've played a lot of classics of my childhood in the fair: Pitfall (ATARI, Activison, 1985), Space Invaders (Arcade, Taito, 1978), Donkey Kong (Arcade, Nintendo, 1981), Pac Man (Arcade, Namco, 1980) and many others in different platforms.

But I want to talk about a particular one. I want to talk about PONG, one of the first well succeed games in the history and a game with a great importance in the contemporary scene of communication. PONG is part of a series of experiments in which people began to interact with screens and became more than mere spectators.

PONG it´s an example of simple and elegant game design. It´s simple because there´s only one rule printed in the arcade: "avoid missing ball for high score" and it´s elegant by the minimalist design/idea of a table tennis made with few elements in the screen.

Salen and Zimmerman in the preface of the book Rules of Play (page XIII and XIV) explain why PONG is a successful game. The authors explain that the game despite its almost primitive simplicity, creates meaningful play. PONG is simple to play, every game is unique, it´s social (requires two players to play) and finally it´s fun and cool.

PONG still alive today. We can see the idea and mechanics of this game in new versions, new layout, internet ads and a lot of other places. PONG is a proof that good game design can survive the time.

And you? What do you think about that?

Game over! =)


SALEN, Katie & ZIMMERMAN, Eric. Rules of Play: game design fundamentals. Massachusetts; The MIT Press, 2004

quarta-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2011

Games and movies. Movies and games.

A few posts ago (click here to read) I've published an interesting point of view about the key difference between games and movies in the words of the game designer Sid Meier.

In this post I want to highlight this idea with some quotations from the book Video Gane Spaces. In the words of Nitsche (page 57) the filmmaker says, 'Look, I'll show you.' The spacemaker says, 'Here, I'll help you discover'. And Jenkins suggests that we should "think of game designers less as storytellers than as narrative architects" (page 129) who "don´t simply tell stories; they design worlds and sculpt spaces" (ibid., 121).

I really like the idea of denominate the game designer a kind of spacemaker. In fact we are talking about spaces with interactions, rules and players.

Despite the differences is undeniable that the films strongly influence the games. And it is undeniable that games also greatly influence the films.

In a future post I want to discuss this aspect. I want to talk about the dynamics of how movies become games (eg Iron Man) and how games become movies (eg Silent Hill).

See you!


NITSCHE, Michael. VIDEO GAME SPACES - image, play and structure in 3D worlds. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2008.

JENKINS, Henry."Game Design as Narrative Architecture" In First Person: New Media as Story, Performance and Game, edited by Pat Harrington and Noah Wardrup-Fruin, 118-131. Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT Press, 2004.

domingo, 4 de dezembro de 2011

A good quote for today

"Playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles" - Bernard Suits (in The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia)

terça-feira, 29 de novembro de 2011

Five planes

I'm reading an interesting book: VIDEO GAME SPACES - image, play and structure in 3D worlds. I've found a very good approach about the interface between the game and the player(s).

The author theorizes about a "five planes" idea. These planes are:

1. rule-based as defined by the mathematical rules that set, for example, physics, sounds, artificial intelligence, and game-level architecture. Players do not have to understand the logic of the code but of the mediated game world. "Beyond the fantasy, there are always the rules" (TURKLE, 1984, p.83);

2. mediated space as defined by the presentation, which is the space of the image plane and the use of this image including the cinematic form of presentation;

3. fictional space that lives in the imagination, in other words, the space "imagined" by players from their comprehension of the available images;

4. play space, meaning space of the play, which includes the player and the video game hardware; and

5. social space defined by interaction with others, meaning the game space of other players affected (e.g., in a multiplayer title).

The author synthetizes this idea in the image below:

The book is about video games but I think it's a good model to analyze any kind of game. And you? What do you think about that?


NITSCHE, Michael. VIDEO GAME SPACES - image, play and structure in 3D worlds. Massachusetts: MIT Press, 2008.

TURKLE, Sherry. The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984

segunda-feira, 28 de novembro de 2011

Ludologists love stories, too: notes from a debate that never took place

By Gonzalo Frasca (Thanks for share the text in my blog!)

During the last few years, a debate took place within the game scholars community. A debate that, it seems, opposed two groups: ludologists and narratologists. Ludologists are supposed to focus on game mechanics and reject any room in the field for analyzing games as narrative, while narratologists argue that games are closely connected to stories. This article aims at showing that this description of the participants is erroneous. What is more, this debate as presented never really took place because it was cluttered with a series of misunderstandings and misconceptions that need to be clarified if we want to seriously discuss the role of narrative in videogames.

Ludology, narratology, ludologist, narratologist, narrativism, narrativist.

This is an unusual article. My original intention was writing a paper on the role of narrative in videogames (through cutscenes and instructions) for conveying simulation rules. When I mentioned this to a colleague, he was shocked: he thought that, since I amknown as a ludologist, there was no way I could accept any role for narrative in games. Of course, I told him he was wrong and that such idea of ludology is totally erroneous. That misconception is, I think, a direct consequence of the so-called narratology versus ludology debate. I believe that this debate has been fueled by misunderstandings and that generated a series of inaccurate beliefs on the role of ludology, including that they radically reject any use of narrative theory in game studies.

Since I guess that I have been in a privileged position to witness the development of this debate over the last four years, I decided to write down a list of the most common misconceptions that it generated. It is not my main intention in this paper to support ludology but rather making explicit all the contradictions that prevented this debate from taking place. However, I do not pretend to be totally objective neither: I do not favor narrative as a privileged means for understanding videogames for reasons that have been previously exposed by several authors and are beyond the scope of this article. Finally, I would like to make clear that I will be speaking only for myself and I am the only responsible for all the opinions expressed in this article.

CLICK HERE to download the complete document.

Essential books about game design & gaming concepts - EPISODE III

Another six good books from my particular game design library to complement the first and the second posts of this subject. In the end of each topic of this post there´s a link to Google Books with previews.

Hamlet on the holodeck: the future of narrative in cyberspace by Janet Horowitz Murray (link)

Game interface design by Brent Fox (link)

Killing monsters: why children need fantasy, super heroes, and make-believe violence by Gerard Jones (link)

Man, play, and games by Roger Caillois (link)

Imagination and Play in the Electronic Age by Dorothy G. Singer, Jerome L. Singer (link)

Video game spaces: image, play, and structure in 3D game worlds by Michael Nitsche (link)

terça-feira, 22 de novembro de 2011

The game inside the game

By Vince

I’m playing Batman – Arkham City. Without a doubt – in my humble opinion – it’s the game of the year (despite some bad points of the script). I still prefer the first one (Batman – Arkham Asylum) but I’m really happy with the experience of Arkham City.

I think the game offers a good experience because of a lot of good features: excellent combat mechanics (with very funny combo sequences); beautiful ambient (the streets and buildings of Gotham are awesome); good selection of villains (ok, it’s easy with Batman); clever extra challenges; the mini games inside the main game - and I want to talk a little more about this last feature.

In Arkham City, like in Arkham Asylum, you have one main mission to accomplish and a lot of parallel missions hidden in the scenario. Some examples of this side missions are: solve puzzles from Riddler scattered around the map; find Azrael’s mystical signs; save political prisoners; save victims from the villain Deadshot; destroy gallons filled with poison; get skilled in the virtual reality flying training, etc.

This kind of extra content offers the player more hours of fun, more challenges to finish and more trophies/achievements to his or her social network. And offers the experience of the metagaming.

As we can find in Wikipedia metagaming is a broad term usually used to define any strategy, action or method used in a game which transcends a prescribed ruleset, uses external factors to affect the game, or goes beyond the supposed limits or environment set by the game.

And going beyond the extra games, Arkham City presents a very funny web tool: a searching engine (like Google) managed by Alfred Pennyworth (Batman´s right arm) in this address: .In the first Batman game it’s possible to access a “real” website of the Arkham Asylum in this address to expand the experience of the game outside the television screen.

I think this kind of practice is necessary nowadays to attend a very wide public. In “Collective Intelligence”, Pierre Levy offers a compelling vision of the new “knowledge space”, or what he calls “the cosmopedia” that might emerge as citizens more fully realize the potencials of the new media environment. The members of a thinking community search, inscribe, connect, consult, explore... Not only does the cosmopedia make available to the collective intellect all of the pertinent knowledge available to it at a given moment, but it also serves as a site of collective discussion, negociation, and development.

And you? What do you think about that?


LEVY, Pierre. Collective Inteligence: Mankind´s Emerging World in Cyberspace. UK: Cambridge-Perseus, 1997. p.217.

Interview with game designer Reiner Knizia (DIGRA 2011)

Games need to reflect our high-paced way of life. That’s what Reiner Knizia thinks. And if there’s someone who knows about these things, it’s Knizia. He designed over 200 games. Mostly board games, for which he received numerous awards. Submarine Channel talked to the enthusiastic game designer about the new dynamics of today’s games.

Board game designer Reiner Knizia interview from SubmarineChannel on Vimeo.

This interview was recorded at the THINK DESIGN PLAY // 5th DiGRA Conference on games and play, 2011.

sexta-feira, 18 de novembro de 2011

Sid Meier speaks

"There's a key difference between games and movies. In a game, the more attention that's focused on the player, the more successful it is. In a movie, you're really watching somebody else's story, so the better the story or the better the actor, the more interested you are in the movie. In a game, the more interesting you are as a player, the more successful the game is. So, in a way, things that work in movies are designed to impress you with what somebody else is doing. A good game impresses you with what you're doing. I think that's a fundamental difference that I as a game designer need to recede in the background. The more the player is thinking about the design or the designer, the less successful I've been, because I want the player to forget somebody designed this game, forget that this is a game, and believe that this is an experience that the player is having. Whereas in a movie, the more you're aware of the director or the stars, the more you're impressed with them - that helps the movie to be successful. In a way, trying to impress people with design or personality or whatever works to promote movies doesn't work with games because it takes the focus off the player who is supposed to be the star. The more the player is the star, the better a game you have."

Sid Meier*

*Sidney K. "Sid" Meier (born February 24, 1954) is a Canadian programmer and designer of several popular computer strategy games, most notably Civilization. He has won accolades for his contributions to the computer games industry.

segunda-feira, 14 de novembro de 2011

Essential books about game design & gaming concepts - EPISODE II

Another five good books to complement the previous post. In the end of each topic of this post there´s a link to Google Books with previews. Enjoy and send me new suggestions.

•Game design course: principles, practice, and techniques by Jim Thompson, Barnaby Berbank-Green & Nic Cusworth. (link)

•Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal. (link)

•Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature by Espen J. Aarseth. (link)

•Story and simulations for serious games: tales from the trenches by Nicholas V. Iuppa & Terry Borst. (link)

•Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture by Johan Huizinga. (link)

segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2011

Essential books about game design & gaming concepts - EPISODE I

I want to share some of my favorites books about games in this post, so I've created a first list with ten good titles. There are good references to academic research and how to create games. In the end of each topic of this post there´s a link to Google Books with previews. Enjoy and send me new suggestions.

•Fundamentals of game design by Ernest Adams. (link)

•Challenges for game designers by Brenda Brathwaite, Ian Schreiber. (link)

•A theory of fun for game design by Raph Koster. (link)

•Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games by Tracy Fullerton, Christopher Swain & Steven Hoffman. (link)

•Casual Game Design: Designing Play for the Gamer in ALL of Us by Gregory Trefry. (link)

•Half-real: video games between real rules and fictional worlds by Jesper Juul. (link)

•Game writing: narrative skills for videogames by Chris Mark Bateman. (link)

•Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell. (link)

•The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design by Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten. (link)

quinta-feira, 3 de novembro de 2011

Think about it

"Games are a mirror of our lives and times." - Reiner Knizia (at DIGRA 2011)

quarta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2011

Presentation about ludic interfaces

I'll show this presentation tomorrow in the Design Week of ESPM University (São Paulo/Brazil).

Ludic Interfaces

View more presentations from vincevader

terça-feira, 1 de novembro de 2011

Quotations of the day

Think about it:

One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games. And it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves.” — Carl G. Jung

My work is a game, a very serious game.” — M. C. Escher

Play is the highest form of research.” — Albert Einstein

segunda-feira, 31 de outubro de 2011

Games & Fans

I think it's impossible to talk about games without any mention to the figure of the FAN. And it´s important to remember that "FAN" comes from "FANatic". A very good book about this theme is "Fans, bloggers and gamers" from Henry Jenkis.

In this book (page 41), Jenkins presents to us a very important ideia about the role of the fan in the contemporary culture: One becomes a “fan” not by being a regular viewer of a particular program but by translating that viewing into some kind of cultural activity, by sharing feelings and thoughts about the program content with friends, by joining a “community” of other fans who share common interests. For fans, consumption naturally sparks production, reading generates writing, until the terms seem logically inseparable(...)

I'd like to go further and propose the idea that fans are the fuel of the gaming industry. Understanding the fans is as important as understanding the games will be created for them. Let's discuss!


JENKINS, Henry. Fans, bloggers and gamers: exploring participatory culture. New York: NYU Press, 2006.

quinta-feira, 27 de outubro de 2011

Jesper Juul

Jesper Juul is a video game theorist and assistant professor in video game theory and design at the Centre for Computer Game Research Copenhagen where he also earned his PhD. His book Half-Real on video game theory was published by MIT Press in 2005. Additionally, he works as a multi-user chat systems and casual game developer. In the video below you can see Jesper talking a little bit about his book, games, game design and gaming concepts:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

He is one of my favorite authors and his book "Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds" has some excellent insights that I´ve used a lot in my classes in this year. Two quotes from this book that I want to highlight here are:

To play a video game is therefore to interact with real rules while imagining a fictional world, and a video game is a set of rules as well as a fictional world”.

These are the two things that video games are made of: real rules and fictional worlds”.

And I want to share an excellent diagram about the universe of the games from this book too:

And for last I want to leave a very interesting link from Jesper Juul´s site: its a "Dictionary of Video Game Theory". Click here to go to the URL.


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

segunda-feira, 24 de outubro de 2011

Defining Alternate Reality Games (ARGs)

"(...) a fictional genre that unites real life, treasure hunting, live-action, games and online communities. These games are an intense series of puzzles involving websites, clues in newspapers, phone calls from other characters and much more."

Dave Szulborski, author of "This is not a game, a guide to ARGs"

Companies are already using mechanics of this tool in their communication strategies. If you want to know more about ARGs access this site and see the excellent video case from "Batman Dark Night ARG" below.


quinta-feira, 20 de outubro de 2011

In-game advertising

By Laura Herrewijn (Guest author from University of Antwerp - Belgium)

Imagine two people, playing the same digital game. These players will not just engage in ready-made gameplay but will actively take part in the construction of their game experience by bringing their own desires, thoughts, feelings and meaning-making. Consequently, the digital game experience, including the emotional experience, of these two players will never be exactly the same. One player might experience a gaming episode as pleasant, while another is left with feelings of deep frustration. The question then is whether the different emotions and experiences a player encounters while playing a game have an effect on the way he or she processes elements of the game world, including in-game advertisements?

In-game advertising (IGA) refers to the use of digital games as a medium for the delivery of advertisements. The last couple of years, IGA has developed into one of the fastest growing forms of advertising in terms of yearly spending and anticipated growth, mostly due to the increasing popularity of digital games and the large target audience that can be reached through this medium (Bardzell et al., 2008; Yankee Group, 2006). Yet, although in-game advertising is considered a “hot topic” among advertisers and media firms, academic research concerning the subject is still in its infancy (Bardzell et al., 2008). Therefore, the aim of this article is to contribute to the research on the effectiveness of IGA.

There is considerable evidence that advertising effectiveness in traditional media (e.g. print, radio and television) is influenced by several context characteristics, like the different emotions people encounter or the physical and social environment they are in while being exposed to an advertisement (Bronner et al., 2007; Moorman, 2003; Van Reijmersdal et al., 2010). Yet, research on the effects of context characteristics on advertising in digital games is still limited.

The present text therefore focuses on the relationship that exists between the effectiveness of in-game advertising and one specific context characteristic: player experiences during gameplay. Specifically, the goal is to get an insight in the way emotions and experiences while playing digital games influence player responses to in-game advertising. Digital games have the potential to evoke a wide array of general (e.g. pleasure, arousal) and more specific emotional experiences (e.g. frustration, competence) (Ermi & Mäyrä, 2005; Poels et al., 2009). Prior advertising research studying traditional media already showed that both the general (Pavelchak et al., 1988) and specific (Griskevicius et al., 2009) emotions people feel while watching an advertisement affect the way the audience responds to the advertisement. Consequently, emotional experiences might also exert an influence on the way people process elements in a digital game environment, including in-game advertisements. (...)

Click here to download the complete .PDF text. Thanks, Laura!


Bardzell, J., Bardzell, S. and Pace, T. (2008) “Player Engagement and In-Game Advertising”. Available at (accessed November, 2009).

Bronner, F. E., Bronner, J. R. and Faasse, J. “In the Mood for Advertising”, in International Journal of Advertising vol. 26, no. 3 (2007), pp. 333-356.

Ermi, L. and Mäyrä, F. “Fundamental components of the gameplay experience: Analysing immersion”, in de Castell, S. and Jenson, J. (Eds.) “Changing Views: Worlds in Play” (2005), pp. 15-27. Selected papers of the 2005 Digital Games Research Association’s Second International Conference.

Griskevicius, V., Goldstein, N. J., Mortensen, C. R., Sundie, J. M., Cialdini, R. B. and Kenrick, D. T. “Fear and loving in Las Vegas: Evolution, emotion, and persuasion”, in Journal of Marketing Research vol. 46, no. 3 (2009), pp. 384-395.

Moorman, M. “Context considered. The relationship between media environments and advertising effects”, unpublished doctoral dissertation, Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam, 2003.

Pavelchak, M. A., Antil, J. H. and Munch, J. M. “The Super Bowl: an investigation into the relationship among program context, emotional experience, and ad recall”, in Journal of Consumer Research vol. 15, no. 3 (1988), pp. 360-367.

Poels, K., de Kort, Y. A. W. and IJsselsteijn, W. A. “Identification and Categorization of Digital Game Experiences. A Qualitative Study integrating Theoretical Insights and Player Perspectives”, working paper, Eindhoven University of Technology, 2009.

Van Reijmersdal, E., Smit, E. and Neijens, P. “How media factors affect audience responses to brand placement”, in International Journal of Advertising vol. 29, no. 2 (2010), pp. 279-302.

quarta-feira, 19 de outubro de 2011

Ludic interfaces

Let's discuss in this post a very contemporary concept: ludic interfaces. According to European Masters in Ludic Interfaces program: Ludic interfaces are playful interfaces. The notion of a homo ludens, introduced by Johan Huizinga, is the conceptual backbone of the tools we are looking at. Think of devices like the Wii console, solar power operated building facades, unconventional musical instrument controllers, game art devices.

The tools and concepts applied with the concept of ludic interfaces differ from traditional technological systems as they are playful, user-generated and user-driven, flexible, low-cost and cooperative. Ludic interfaces take the best from computer games, artistic experiment, interactive media, media conversion, social networks and modding cultures and result in tools that offer an ease of use and playfulness to cope with a rapidly changing society.

The american school "QUEST TO LEARN" shows us a good way to apply these ideas in the video below:

At its core, "ludic interfaces" is a subcategory of interfaces in general. The notion is not restricted to electronics or HCI, even if the terminology was developed in respect to digital technology. Various authors suggest to use the term "ludic interfaces" for non-digital phenomena, e.g. architectural facades, skins, wearable computers, media art.

We can use ludic interfaces in publicity/promotion. A ludic interface could be a brand experience. A ludic interface could be an advertising space for companies and people. We can use ludic interfaces to teach, to learn and to create experiences.


segunda-feira, 17 de outubro de 2011

Free book for download

I´m talking about this excellent book named "Tabletop: Analog Game Design" by Drew Davidson and Greg Costikyan. There are a lot of good texts with great explanations and researches of the universe of analog games.

In this volume, people of diverse backgrounds talk about tabletop games, game culture, and the intersection of games with learning, theater, and other forms. Some have chosen to write about their design process, others about games they admire, others about the culture of tabletop games and their fans. The results are various and individual, but all cast some light on what is a multivarious and fascinating set of game styles.


quinta-feira, 13 de outubro de 2011

Game design process: a second approach

By Vince

In a previous post I’ve talked about the process to create a board game. In this post I intent to discuss a different kind of game design process, I want to discuss the creation of a mobile phone game made in SMS (short message service).

The game discussed in this case is a promotional game made to a Brazilian mobile company named VIVO and the name of the game is “VIVO EM AÇÃO” (something like “live in action” in English). This promotional action was a detective game with a history focused on clues and enigmas; the player takes an investigator role and needs to solve a lot of mysteries to have more chances to gain the promotional prizes (PlayStations, mobile phones, backpacks, etc.).

The game is based in mobile text messages. So we needed to create a script with information architecture basis; the script of the game is made of what we can call “decision trees”.

This is very simple to understand: it’s very similar to an old role playing game book. You read a paragraph and the text shows you a bunch of options to go ahead in the narrative.

For instance:

Detective, you are in front of the university. What are you going to do? Option 1: enter the building; Option 2: search for clues around; 3) Option 3: try to enter the back door

So each chapter of the game (and we made five chapters) looks like this:

As a promotional game, it is important to create points in the narrative where we can offer pay services from the mobile company. So, we decided to put – as a help to the players – hints and tips of the game that the player can buy using services and other tools of the company.

The great challenge here is to create a game based only in limited text (because each message needed to have a maximum of 138 characters) and build an immersive and fun narrative to get the player inside the story.

This promotion had a great audience. Around 2 million of people participating in it, making it a successful Brazilian case.

It was a great challenge to create this game because of his limitations. But I think that limitations are an important piece of the game design process.

And you? What do think about that?

segunda-feira, 10 de outubro de 2011

Quote of the day

“I think of games as being an amplifier for the imagination, in the same way that a car amplifies our legs or a house amplifies our skin (…)”

Will Wright

domingo, 9 de outubro de 2011

DIGRA 2011. Keynote: Eric Zimmerman

The award-winning veteran game designer talking about game development in DIGRA Think Design Play Conference. It´s a very short movie with the core of the presentation.


sexta-feira, 7 de outubro de 2011

All games share four defining traits

No matter the platform, the games share some essential features. May be "Tic Tac Toe" or "Gears of War 3" you can find some similarities between them. Let's see four main points:

•The goal: is the specific outcome that players will work to achieve

•The rules: place limitations on how players can achieve the goal.

•The feedback system: tells players how close they are to achieving the goal.

•The voluntary participation: requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback.

McGONIGAL, Jane. The reality is broken. London: The Penguin Press, 2011, pg. 21

quarta-feira, 5 de outubro de 2011

# Why study games?

In this post I intend to show seven points of view to answer this question. There are some interesting links to download .PDF documents in the end of topics. Enjoy!

1.First of all, in the last eight years the game industry has grown more than any other in entertainment and games have overdone cinema revenues and are now the third industry in the world, being beat only by weapons and automobilistic industries.

2.Globally, the online gamer community – including console, PC, and mobile phone gamimg – counts more than 4 million gamers in the Middle East, 10 million in Rússia, 105 million in Índia, 10 million in Vietnam, 10 million in México, 13 million in Central and South América, 15 million in Austrália, 17 million in Soth Korea, 100 million in Europe, and 200 million in China.
Source: Games Segmentation 2008 Market Research Report (download link)

3.With all of this play, we have turned digital games (PC, consoles, mobile phones, etc.) into what is expected to be a $68 billion industry annually by the year 2012.
Source: NewZoo Amsterdam 2010 (download link)

4.In the USA:
• 97% of youth play computer and video games;
• 69% of all heads of household play computer and video games;
• 40% of all gamers are women;
• One out of four gamers is over the age of fifty;
• The average game player is thirty-five years old and has been playing for 12 years;
• Most gamers expect to continue playing games for the rest of their lives.
Source: ESA Essential Facts 2010 (download link)

5.Collectivelly, the planet is now spending more than 3 billion hours a week gaming.
Source: McGONIGAL, Jane. The reality is broken. London: The Penguin Press, 2011, pg. 5

6.In 2010 the first person shooter game"Call of Duty: Black Ops” has sold over U$ 1 billion in the first month.

7.The truth is this: in today´s society, computer and video games are fulfilling genuine human needs that the real world is currently unable to satisfy. Games are providing rewards that reality is not. They are teaching and inspiring and enganging us in ways that reality is not. They are bringing us together in ways that reality is not.
Source: McGONIGAL, Jane. The reality is broken. London: The Penguin Press, 2011, pg. 4

segunda-feira, 3 de outubro de 2011

Game design process: an approach

By Vince

I would like to discuss game design in this post. More specifically, the design of a boardgame. It’s a game I’ve created and it’ll be published next month here in Brazil.

The game I'll use as an example in this post is YN (this is greek for "earth"). However, the game suffered a lot of changes from its creation until it was published. I want to show the different phases of this game design process.

Also, I would like to emphasize that this is just one way we can use to create games. I believe each game designer has his/her own techniques to create game ideas and gaming concepts.

STAGE 1: write ideas, rough draft and pre-prototype them

First of all, I believe it is important to have a notebook to write your ideas. In this moment, use the force and let your mind flow, start to write every important thing. I use to call this process “single player brainstorm”.

While writing the ideas try to draw some rough drafts of the core idea of the game. It’s the first tests of mechanics and dynamics.

In the case of YN, I was thinking of an area control game with dices and dominos sequence mechanics. I’ve made a lot of studies and drawings to reach the balance of core mechanics, board layout, number of dices to each player and the most important: seeing if the game works

I think it's important – in this moment - to consider the idea that game design is the process of creating the content and rules of a game, and good game design is the process of creating goals that a player feels motivated to reach and rules that a player must follow as he makes meaningful decisions in pursuit of those goals. (BRATHWAITE & SCHREIBER, 2009)

So, in a few days I had a lot of rules notations and a pre-prototype board to start a beta test with some friends. In the picture below it’s possible to see the first model of the game (without an official name at this moment) made with paper, pen and a bunch of white dices.

STAGE 2: prototype with simple layout

Well, if the pre-prototype works I think it’s fine to make a better version of the product. It’s time to make a real prototype in the computer using a minimum of layout just to give the game a clear aspect.

I always use Photoshop to create my prototypes. There’s a lot of tools in the software and it’s possible to make fast layouts in its interface.

In this part of the process I had an idea for the name of the game. I called it “Hatszög” (it means hexagon in Hungarian, I know it´s weird, but I am a hungarian language student) and I made a better board, bought good dices and even made a box with a simple illustration. And an important thing: in this moment the game had its rule book ready.

In the next picture it’s possible to see the prototype with a simple layout.

STAGE 3: final and published version

So, we reach the third and final part of our game design process. A Brazilian company named HIDRA GAMES asked for an idea for a collection of abstracts games. This company already had a first game named AERO (with the idea of AIR element as the main theme) and was searching for a mechanics for the second game of the series: YN (with the EARTH theme).

So “Hatszög” turned into YN and a lot of things changed. In the mechanics we added a new element: a stone token that creates different setups on the board; so now it’s possible to put a sequence of dices from your pool and sometimes block the opponent’s strategy (and we made a lot of new beta testing sessions to adjust this new feature in the game). Just to remember and explain, the goal of the game is to place the biggest amount of dices as possible in the board, with the purpose to finish the game with the smaller sum of numbers on the remaining dices.

Well, the name has changed and the game gained a brilliant art from Marcelo Bissoli (a specialist in boardgame layout). He made a lot of changes like removing hexagons and putting circles in place. Marcelo also made a very beautiful volcanic background to the board and a spectacular box with a very vibrant and strong logo. Now we a have a finished game in all phases.

And the text behind YN’s box tells us: “Billions of years ago, when the earth was just an incandescent globe that began to cool - big masses of rocks and ores, that were before in a liquid state, started to solidify, creating what we call today a terrestrial crust. The magma, still boiling and liquid, started big waves around an unstable soil and this huge rock layers collided and rose from the soil, creating the mountains. In YN a player will experience the idea of creating these mountain rages using dices in a scenario that simulates the Earth at its formation process”.

Let´s see a little bit of the final layout of the game:

In a few words I think I transmitted the core idea of a game design process. I intend to show, in another post, the game design process to a narrative game, more specifically a mobile phone game where the player uses only SMS (short message service) to play. There are a lot of differences to show.

Viszontlátásra! =)

BRATHWAITE, Brenda & SCHREIBER, Ian. CHALLENGES FOR GAME DESIGNERS: non-digital exercises for vídeo game designers. USA: Cengage, 2009.

sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2011

Games inside movies - episode I

There's a lot of good movies with games as the main plot. I want to show some of my favorites in this blog. In this first post I´ll show to you three great productions.

I'm talking about: The Game (1997), Existenz (1999) and Gamer (2009).

THE GAME (David Fincher, 1997). Is the story of a wealthy financier named Nicholas Van Orton that gets a strange birthday present from wayward brother Conrad: a live-action game that consumes his life. There are good references about ARGs (Alternate Reality Game) and transmedia storytelling in this movie.

EXISTENZ (David Cronenberg, 1999). A game designer on the run from assassins must play her latest virtual reality creation with a marketing trainee to determine if the game has been damaged. Very weird movie.

GAMER (Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor, 2009). In a future mind-controlling game, death row convicts are forced to battle in a 'doom'-type environment. Convict Kable, controlled by Simon, a skilled teenage gamer, must survive 30 sessions in order to be set free. This one is not a favorite of mine, but still a very fun movie.


terça-feira, 27 de setembro de 2011

My DIGRA 2011 publication: Using a game as an advertising piece for a brazilian politics campaign

I´ll share my DIGRA 2011 publication in this blog. I presented this case in 15th september (2011) in the Think Design Play Conference at Utrecht School of Arts and Technology (Hilversum). Enjoy!

We seek to analyze the use of a game as an advertising piece for a brazilian politics
campaign. We discuss the impact of a game in the mediatic scene of internet and how
important it can be for a new political scene in the contemporary world. Keywords: Serious game, internet, politcs, casual game

In this presentation we seek to analyze the use of a game as an advertising piece for a politics campaign. We are talking about the game “Pacto pelo Pará” (Pact for Pará –
Pará is a brazilian state), that was used on the elective campaign of governor Simão
Jatene in the year of 2010.

The game consists in a very intuitive interface, based on the well-known internet game
named Bejeweled. It has four stages and instead of gems, social problems (education,
sportes, healthcare) are presented, to be solved. The player needs to click in similar
ortogonal icons to eliminate them of the screen. A lateral score shows how much of the
objectives were accomplished. In the picture below, it´s possible to see the game interface.

Figure 1: the interface of the game. There´s a time counter, a score for points and a bonus multiplier. The icons in the center of the screen reflects social problems to be solved. (design and code by Cenildon Muradi Jr.)

The player, at the end of each stage, has the opportunity of sending their collaboration on a 140-character text form. The opinions expressed by each player at the end of each stage are put in a weblog and belong to an idea of a collaborative government. Obviously there’s a filter to ban the posting of offensive content. At the end of the fourth stage, the player has the opportunity of taking a picture using their webcam along with the point record achieved in the game, and challenging a friend to make a higher score. In the picture below, it´s possible to see this feature of the game.

Figure 2: in the end of a stage it's possible to send opinions, critics and praise about the social problems to the political group.

For a better understanding of the game there´s an internet adress for it in

This game fits on the Casual Game category, that, according to Gregory Trefay, can be
defined as games that are quick to play, accessibles and with a simple mechanics. In this kind of game: the rules and goals must be clear; players need to be able to quickly reach proficiency; casual game play adapts to a player´s life and schedule; game concepts borrow familiar content and themes from life.

It also enters the category of Serious Game, that following the thoughts of Nick Iuppa and Terry Borst, is explained as a game with a professional, educational or pedagogical use. a kind of game that mixes storttelling with a mechanics to send a serious message to the players envolved in the process.

We recently observed that the campaign for the U. S. President Barack Obama, amongst many other tools, used games and advertising inside games (in-game advertising) in it. We notice the importance of using a gamelike language to reach the digital-native audience. On the game Pacto pelo Pará, we notice the importance of using the game as an instrument of gathering, with an interface for social network and thus, becoming a viral marketing tool for the candidate’s campaign.

In this context, we use the idea of Johan Huizinga, author of the book Homo Ludens, in which he explains that in the human nature there is a tendency to play games or other ludic activities.

With this work, we sought to collaborate with the entertainment industry and the gamedeveloping area, specifically politic games.

View more presentations from vincevader


HUIZINGA, Johan. Homo Ludens. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2005.

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

TREFY, Gregory; KAUFMANN, Morgan. Casual Game Design. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann, 2010

PopCap Games. (2000). Bejeweled. [Intrenet, first version], PopCap Games, USA: played january, 2011.

segunda-feira, 26 de setembro de 2011

Quote of the day

“Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”

SUITS, Bernard. The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia. EUA: Broadview Press, 2005

domingo, 25 de setembro de 2011

A little bit of ADVERGAMES

Advergame is "advertise" + "game". It´s a kind of strategy for marketing communication that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes, to common games that have ads in its interface.

The internet and the video game consoles are great environments to use this strategy. Mobile media (cellphones, iPads, iPhones) are already being tested by companies that chose this marketing strategy too.

When we are talking about advergames it´s important to highlight two main concepts: in-game advertising and product placement.

IN-GAME ADVERTISING: it's just a replica of the real world ad brought into the virtual world, using banners, posters, radio spots and billboards. SSX3, the snowboarding game from Electronic Arts, shows Honda and Seven-Up billboards.

PRODUCT-PLACEMENT: it's about putting the product into the game context. The characters in the game Devil May Cry wear Diesel pants. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow" the character uses a Sony Ericsson p900 smartphone to solve missions, the player literally lives the virtual experience of using the device. In Worms 3D, from SEGA, the characters drink Red Bull in order to jump higher.

So, game could be publicity/promotion. Could be a brand experience. Could be an advertising space for companies. Now on to your opinion!

sexta-feira, 23 de setembro de 2011

What is Game Design?

I´ll talk a little bit about game design in this post. I think it's an important discussion to bring to the blog.

Game design is a process of: imagining a game; defining how it works; describing the elements that are going to be part of the game (concept, art, foundation); passing these data on to the team that will produce it.

And we can't forget to talk about game key-components . Game key-components are: core mechanics (the kernel of the game); the challenges and actions ; interface (how the player interacts with the game ); and storytelling engine (the immersive screenplay itself).

The graph below show us this idea:

We can use this ideas in any platform: board games, video games, war games, etc. It´s important to have a good sinergy between the player, the interface and the core mechanics.

If you like this concepts i'll suggest a very good book named Fundamentals of Game Design (ADAMS, Ernest. Fundamentals of Game Design. New Riders: 2009).


quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2011

How about "ludification"?

By Vince

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate at Think Design Play DIGRA 2011, a congress in the city of Hilversum, Holland. During the three days of the event, many themes were discussed, among them: the main tendencies for the game industry, the use of games in education and politics, new interactive interfaces using game mechanics and the influence of violence in electronic games. I took part on a “advertising and games” panel, where I exposed some cases and concepts of games used in political campaigns, from a category called “serious games”.

I had the chance to participate in many panels and see excelent key notes, but it was during a presentation of Professor Espen Aarseth – a major figure in the emerging fields of video game studies and electronic literature – that I had the insight that led me to start writing on this blog.

Aarseth criticized the use of the term “gamification” in the present scenario, meaning that there’s much more in the term - we are forgetting some previous and extremely important concepts when we talk about inserting game mechanics in a non-game atmosphere.

In order to continue Aarseth’s argument, I propose a term to dwell on: "ludification", instead of "gamification". When we discuss "gamification", we are only talking about games, and I believe the idea is to go beyond that. When we use the word ludus – latin for “play” – we realize that the idea is to instert much more than just game mechanics for processes that are not games.

I believe that, when talking about "ludification", we are thinking of playful interfaces in a broader way. It can be a game mechanic, as well as a deeper way of telling a story. I can be common element to the language of games, like the rolling of a dice, as well as it can be a cartoon in a different context.

My point is that this is the century of playfulness, and more than just thinking of a way to offer games to a diverse audience, we should learn how to offer varied languages of entertainment – where the game is also inserted.

Now on to your opinion!