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.