quarta-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2012

Essential books (and texts) about game design & gaming concepts - EPISODE V

In this moment I'm reading "Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames", a very good book from Ian Bogost. Click here to buy. Another essential edition to your library with great ideas for new researches.

And I want to share two important .PDF texts about persuasive technology below:

BERDICHEVSKY, Daniel & NEUENSCHWANDER, Erik. Toward an ethics of persuasive technology. Communications of the ACM, May 1999/Vol.42, No.5 (click here to download)

FOGG, B.J. Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do (Chapter 3: Computers as persuasive tools). Morgan Kaufmann: 2003. (click here to download)

quarta-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2012

Dungeons & Dragons: the eternal classic

I would like to write a special tribute to Dungeons & Dragons Role-Playing Game in my blog's 100th post. D&D was my first truly immersive experience in a non-digital game. I think my first contact with this RPG happened in 1989 (I was 10 years old) and it was an entrance door to the world of many other role-playing games.

Dungeons & Dragons is a very special game. As the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991, p.5) describes

Role-playing games are interactive. One player (the Dungeon Master) provides the narrative and some of the dialogue, but the other players, instead of sitting and envisioning what’s going on, actually participate. Each player controls the actions of a character in the story, decides on his actions, supplies his character’s dialogue, and makes decisions based on the character’s personality and his current game options. The Dungeons & Dragons game is a fantasy role-playing game. This means that it’s set in a world where men and women can wield powerful magic, where monsters like dragons thrive, and where heroes like Sinbad, Hercules, and Lancelot abound”.

D&D evolved and had many versions in different platforms like card games, video games, board games and a lot of books. Until today the game is a success and congregates a lot of fans.

The way I see it, Dungeons & Dragons has two essential components of immersion described by Roger Caillois in his book “Man, Play and Games” (1961): we are talking about the mimicry (the theatre, the role-playing, the interpretation of a character) and the alea (the rolling of the dice, the luck, the chance).

The magic literally occurs with a good narrative, the role of a character and the unexpected rolls of the polyhedral dice. The mix of these elements results in one of the most famous games in the world. It's a very rich game without doubt.

I believe RPG must be studied more broadly in the academic field. RPG can be an excellent tool for research and education.

What do you think about that?

Well, and to finish this post: long live to the Gaming Conceptz! Go gamers!


ALLSTON, Aaron & others. Dungeons & Dragons: Rules Cyclopedia. USA: TSR Inc, 1991.

CAILLOIS, Roger. Man, Play and Games. USA: Illinois University, 2001.

terça-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2012

Persuasive games

In a very objective way, persuasive games are games that influence players to take action through gameplay.

Despite being just another terminology in the world of games, I think it is important to pay attention to it.

According to Ian Bogost (author of "Persuasive Games”, founding partner of "Persuasive Games Company" and Professor of Digital Media at the Georgia Institute of Technology), games can communicate differently than other media; in this context they not only deliver messages, but also simulate experiences. While often thought to be just a leisure activity, games can also become rhetorical tools.

In the website http://www.persuasivegames.com we can find a lot of good examples of this gaming category. Some of them deserve special highlights, like "Windfall" - a very creative strategy game about building wind farms to create clean energy profitably. Another one is "Fatworld", a very curious game about the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S.

The great question about this subject is: does it work?

I think it’s early to answer this question and we need a lot of research in this area to have a more objective view. One thing is sure: games are not just for fun.

I really recommend Mr.Bogost's book to cast a light in this discussion. Enjoy!


BOGOST,Ian. Persuasive Games. The MIT Press, 2010 (paperback) http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/persuasive-games

sábado, 8 de dezembro de 2012

Great day with great content

Today was a day full of games here in São Paulo (Brazil). The event "Media On" brought Espen Aarseth (from Denmark) and Gonzalo Frasca (uruguay) for special presentations about ludology and games & culture.

Again, I had the opportunity to talk with these two masters. Great ideas and great inspiration.

Go gamers!

Click HERE for an exclusive interview with Aarseth and HERE for an exclusive interview with Frasca.

quarta-feira, 5 de dezembro de 2012

Paidia & Ludus

In a very synthetic vision, games can be placed on two opposite sides: paidia and ludus. Both expressions used by Roger Caillois in his book "Man, Play and Games".

Paidia means spontaneous play. It's free improvisation, like children creating rules in real time at the backyard, uncontrollable imagination giving life to fantasy worlds using cardboard boxes. Paidia is our childhood essence that arises in some moments of our adult lives.

Ludus means controlled play. Games with rules, manuals, limits and instructions are part of this context. In a game designing process, it's important to identify our audience in order to create a good balance between these two opposite sides (or no balance whatsoever).

The card game Dixit is a good example of balance between paidia and ludus. Let's check the summary of rules from the site Board Game Geek:

"One player is the storyteller for the turn. He looks at the 6 images in his hand. From one of these, he makes up a sentence and says it out loud (without showing the card to the other players). The other players select amongst their 6 images the one that best matches the sentence made up by the storyteller.

Then, each of them gives their selected card to the storyteller, without showing it to the others. The storyteller shuffles his card with all the received cards. All pictures are shown face up, randomly, and every player has to bet upon what picture was the storyteller's.

If nobody or everybody finds the correct picture, the storyteller scores 0, and each of the other players scores 2. Otherwise the storyteller and whoever found the correct answer scores 3. Players score 1 point for every vote for their own picture. The game ends when the deck is empty or if someone reaches 30 points,so he wins.Otherwise the greatest total wins the game".

In Dixit, the ludus components are the scoring, points and turns of the game. The paidia is the free and cathartic storytelling about the cards, every game of Dixit is different and becomes unique with different players.

Sometimes it's even possible to create chaos with rules.

So, what do you think about that?

sexta-feira, 30 de novembro de 2012

Brazilian gaming market

Good content to share: high level game facts from the brazilian national gamers survey.
Source: NEWZOO (2011)

terça-feira, 27 de novembro de 2012

The games of tomorrow needs answers that last

By Vince

Two weeks ago I was in Europe visiting some universities and making contacts for my future doctorate. I visited the University of Antwerpen (Belgium) to have a talk with Dr. Karolien Poels, and the IT University of Copenhagen (Denmark) to talk with Dr. Espen Aarseth.

I presented some highlights about Brazilian ludic interfaces to the researchers (you can see the files on THIS LINK). Both conversations were awesome and I got a lot of new good references for my research in the field of game design and gaming concepts. It’s very good to listen to the ideas of great minds from this area.

Nevertheless, I reached a conclusion after these two meetings: it’s important to discuss the impacts of the game culture in the contemporary world and understand those consequences for the future. We – from the gaming research field – need to be somewhat clairevoyant to identify the answers that will help us in the future. The games of tomorrow need answers that last.

A broad viewn is required to understand the game, the player, the gaming culture, the language and all things related to this subject. We need researches that give us a horizon to work better and create more accurate experiences.

Technology is an important piece in this context, but it is nothing without relevant content.

The game is only in the beginning. Let’s keep on rockin. Let’s undertand this wide world of possibilities. Let’s make good researches.

May the force be with us.

Go gamers!

terça-feira, 13 de novembro de 2012

Brazilian Ludic Interfaces: an internacional presentation

Right now I'm in Belgium giving a presentation at the University of Antwerp about BRAZILIAN LUDIC INTERFACES. Next week I will be in Denmark presenting the same content at the University of Copenhagen.

You can see the highlights of the presentation on the PDF below:

Or you can download the document with the complete contents through THIS LINK.

This is a unique opportunity to make new acquaintances and improve my research about the ludic field and ludic interfaces. Cross yours fingers for me!

Go gamers!

terça-feira, 6 de novembro de 2012

JOURNEY: an art framework to play

I really appreciate the work in the area of indie games. Every month we can see good examples of different kind of games in this field.

Some indie games have a very particular way of showing their gameplay. Some have a traditional interface, but others have very different ways of displaying their properties. The game Journey (2012) is one such example.

Journey is a video game developed by Thatgamecompany for PlayStation 3. In the game, the player controls a robed figure in a vast desert, journeying towards a mountain in the distance. Other players on the same journey can be discovered, one at a time, along the way; the two players can then assist each other, but are not allowed to communicate via speech or text and are not shown each other's names.

The only form of communication between the two players is through wordless "singing". This noise also imbues floating pieces of cloth found throughout the levels with magic powers, affecting the game world. The robed figure wears a trailing scarf which, when charged by approaching floating pieces of cloth, briefly allows the player to fly.

Journey was intended by the developers to evoke in the player a sense of smallness and wonder, and to forge an emotional connection between them and the anonymous players they meet along the way.

So we can say that Journey is a trip inside a gameplay. It's a different idea of game (like many others of the same kind) because it balances art (or introspective reflexion) and game. You can appreciate this game as an art framework, but your television is the museum.

With the constant growing of the gaming industry, I think we'll have more and more room to create experimental games like this one. With the expansion of the gaming field we can think outside the box to create new experiences beyond the traditional first person shooters or traditional side-scrolling games.

The indie games area looks perfect for this. Let's try this theory in our own games.

segunda-feira, 29 de outubro de 2012

Two good quotes from Raph Koster

Raph is one of my favorite authors. There are two excellent quotes from his book "A Theory of Fun for Game Design":

"When you're playing a game, it exercises your brain". (p.39)

"Since different brains have different strengths and weaknesses, different people will have different ideal games". (p.105)

About the author:

Raphael "Raph" Koster (born 7 September 1971) is an American entrepreneur, game designer, and author of A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Koster is widely recognized for his work as the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies. Since July 2006, he has been working as the founder and president of Metaplace (previously operating as Areae and acquired by social gaming company Playdom in 2010) producing an upcoming platform for online games also called Metaplace.


KOSTER, Raph. A theory of fun for game design. Arizona: Paraglyph Press, 2005.

terça-feira, 23 de outubro de 2012

Huizinga’s magic circle

In the fields of gaming concepts and game design there's a very important author for reference: I'm talking about Johan Huizinga and in this post I want to discuss a very important concept: the idea of the "magic circle".

Johan Huizinga (1872 – 1945) was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history. In his book "Homo Ludens" (1938) he discusses the possibility that playing is the primary formative element in human culture.

In this book, the author presents the idea of the "magic circle". As described by Adams and Rollings (2009, page 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.

Inside the magic circle, real-world events have special meanings, as in the example below (ADAMS & ROLLINGS, 2009, page 8):

The magic circle is a place of dreams and fantasy. It's an escape for everyday problems and chores. And the most important: everything inside the magic circle is, in some way, transformative. Each time a person leaves the magic circle they bring meaning and experience.

Huizinga (1955, page 10) wrote that all play moves and have their existance within a playground marked off beforehand, either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the ‘consecrated spot’ cannot be formally distinguished from the playground. The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc, are all in form and function playgrounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. They are all temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.

In the image below I try to create a visual representation of the idea of the magic circle:

These ideas are essential to study and understand the gaming universe around the players and the impacts of the game culture in the mediatic scene and how important it can be for the contemporary world.


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

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

terça-feira, 16 de outubro de 2012

Nintendo Wii U: First Impressions

Last week I tried the new Nintendo console Wii U at the Brasil Games Show fair (by the way, the biggest videogames fair in Latin America). After a long waiting, my friend Mauro Berimbau and I played a few games on the new platform. I'm going to share some opinions in this post.

In forty minutes we tried three games: New Super Mario Bros U, Nintendo Land (with the shuriken mini game) and Zombie U.

However, I don't want to make an analysis on the games. I want to highlight my very first impressions about the Wii U:

1. The tablet joystick is a little bit strange and big in a first moment. I really like the idea of a "second screen", but it's not very comfortable.

2. The graphics are average. New Super Mario Bros U is beautiful, but Zombie U could be better.

3. Everything made for Wii also works on Wii U (games, joysticks, accessories). That's a positive point.

4. It's clear to me: the Wii U focuses on families and casual players.

5. The tablet has a camera (there are games with camera interaction), the internet connection operates well, and the idea of the console is to be a kind of media hub. However, in my humble opinion, Nintendo is far from Xbox Live in the field of social networking.

6. The tablet joystick has potential with the second screen mode. But even PS Vita and Surface (Microsoft's tablet) have already been doing it.

I really want to buy the new console to play at home. I think I'll have new points of view about the product. Until there, let's enjoy a video about Wii U below.

Go gamers!

quarta-feira, 10 de outubro de 2012

New data about the brazilian gaming market

Brazil doesn’t have a formal gaming industry, and the country holds high levels of piracy. However, a recent survey made by a brazilian research institute shows that:

1 - There are 46 million gamers in Brazil (23% of the population);
2 - The most frequently used platforms: 67% console, 42% computer, 17% smartphone or tablet and 7% portable consoles.
3 - 47% of the gamer audience are women.
4 - The current market is US$ 500 million, but in 2016 the brazilian market is expected to reach US$ 2 billion.

There is no doubt that we have a potential market.

Then there is the question: why doesn't the market grow anymore?

The answer is: the lack of government incentives is delaying the development of the brazilian gaming industry. High taxes hinder progress. Bureaucracy keeps foreign companies away from our territory.

Isolated initiatives do not gain strength. What remains is to wait for better times.

terça-feira, 2 de outubro de 2012

About Super Hexagon

By Vince (@vincevader)

Super Hexagon is a minimal action game for iPhone and iPad created by game designer Terry Cavanagh, with soundtrack by Chipzel (a Northern Irish chip-musician).

It's a game in which you have to pay attention and enjoy the very creative gameplay. With very simple graphics, your goal is to escape from a weird maze with concentric walls while a repetitive music gives rythm to the movements.

Each game takes less than a minute to finish and the simple (and intuitive) interface makes you play more and more. Check the gameplay below:

Super hexagon is very successful among gamers and I think there are some reasons for this:

1) The game has the idea of "keep it simple".
2) The game has good content, intuitive mechanics and well defined interface.
3) Super Hexagon is elegant and can be considered a modern "Pong".
4) It is mobile, fast and can be played in any tedious moment.
5) It only costs one dollar.

Have you ever played Super Hexagon? Download it now and have a good experience. Enjoy!

quarta-feira, 26 de setembro de 2012

Ecological concepts in a game

By Vince (@vincevader)

Today I’ll talk a little bit about Climate Game a game that I developed for a brazilian company named Games For Business (check out the english site here >> http://www.games4b.com). Games For Business works in the area of serious games, that, following the thoughts of Nick Iuppa and Terry Borst, may be explained as a game with a professional, educational or pedagogical use. It's a kind of game that mixes storytelling with mechanics that mean to send a serious message to the players involved in the process.

Climate Game is a game that, when played with strategy, negotiation and diplomacy, challenges its players to save the world from imminent destruction. With everyone’s effort and awareness, the emission of carbonic gas can be reduced before it is too late.

This game is both of competition and cooperation. It promotes competition because the player who emits no carbonic gas at all is the winner. But the integrated work of all the other participants is essential in order not to exceed the gas limits of the greenhouse effect that the planet can put up with. If this limit is exceeded, the Earth’s temperature will have risen to a level where human life is not possible and everyone dies/loses.

Therefore, participants must have a good degree of knowledge regarding gas emission and the greenhouse effect and also be very good at negotiating and formulating strategies.

This kind of game won’t make you a specialist in ecology or in global warming, but can reinforce important concepts about the health of the planet. The game can teach basic ideas and stimulate the players to search for more information about the theme. I think this is the core of a good serious game.

And if you want to play good serious games with a lot of contemporary concepts, check this URL: http://www.molleindustria.org/ .



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

sexta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2012

One year of Gaming Conceptz and a special interview with Gonzalo Frasca

By Vince (@vincevader)

One year ago I started posting here about gaming concepts, game design, gamification/ludification, games and many more aspects of the ludic universe.

And, 84 posts later, the blog is still alive and kicking.

I want to thank you all for the feedback, e-mailing and the great acquaintances I made through the blog during this year.

And to celebrate the year one of the Gaming Conceptz we have a great interview with Gonzalo Frasca. Enjoy! Go gamers!

Gonzalo Frasca (Montevideo, 1972) is a game designer and academic researcher focusing on serious and political videogames. Frasca is originally from Uruguay, where he established Powerful Robot Games, a videogame studio in Montevideo. In video game theory, Frasca belongs to the group of so called "ludologists", who consider video games to be simulations based on rules. They see video games as the first simulational media for the masses - which means a paradigm shift in media consumption and production.

1) How You've become a serious games researcher?

I'm interested in games. Serious games try to take games even further. So, anybody who's interested in pushing the envelope in games should be interested in serious games. Even if most serious games do not succeed, just thinking about the questions they raise is enough to make us better designers.

2) What would be the best definition for ludology? And narratology?

Ludology is just a word for game and play research. It's as simple as that. There are several definitions of narratology, but basically it's the discipline that studies stories and storytelling.

3) We can see a "wave" of studies about the use of game mechanics in a lot of areas of knowledge. What's your point on the buzzword "gamification"?

I've seen a lot of buzzwords come and go. I think it's positive people are interested in applying games on other fields. If gamification is here to stay or will fade, time will tell. In general, I generally try not to trust recipes and most of what I've seen about gamification looks like a magic recipe to me. But I could be wrong.

4) The use of serious games for political campaigns and education has improved in the last years?

Not really. And that is an interesting question. The simple answer is that they are not relevant. I believe we're still waiting for critical mass. Sooner or later it'll happen. Specially in education. That's my current obsession. I would actually say that these days I'm more interested in education than in games. Well, actually, it's hard to see one without considering the other.

5) The world is going more and more ludic with new digital interfaces and social media. That's a fact. Are the companies and advertising agencies ready for these changes?

I'm not sure. Videogames are still considered cool per se, not because of what they can do. Again, we're still in the very early ages of this genre. I know it doesn't seem like it. It's not because of technology: it's about social conventions. The more we incorporate play into our culture, the easier it'll be. I know this sounds totally hippie and new agey. But play is basically about not being afraid of doing. Play literally will make us free.

6) Send a final message to the new researchers of the gaming concepts and game design field.

Play my new iOS game: Space Holiday (LINK HERE). It's not serious at all, not political: it's a plain, full puzzle game. It was a challenge I set to myself: I always liked puzzle games and I always thought it was the kind of game I couldn't make myself. I worked really hard to prove myself wrong.
In any case, stay away from labels: researcher, designer, creator, player - those categories overlap all the time. You can't be good at one without being good at the others.

sexta-feira, 14 de setembro de 2012

Social causes and ludic mechanics

This post is about a recent Brazilian advertising campaign for blood donation named “Meu Sangue Rubro Negro” (something like “My Red and Black Blood”). A friend of mine – Rodrigo Jatene from Leo Burnett agency – was the creative director of this campaign.

Basically, the idea was to use a football team (the Brazilian team “Vitória”) as a platform to encourage people to donate blood. For this, the team uniform was changed.

The red colour of the t-shirt was replaced with white, and only with blood donations the color will (gradually) change. The image below shows this process.

And the video below explains the campaign better (subtitles in english).

We can see the ludic element used in a social cause in this case. The idea of bringing the color back to the t-shirt based on the number of liters of donated blood is a fun way to mobilize people to get involved in a real social problem.

Maybe it's correct to say that with ludic interfaces even serious messages may become entertainment.

And you? What do think about that?

terça-feira, 4 de setembro de 2012


I'm a big fan of indie games like Braid and Limbo. The latest (free) addition to my collection is SLENDER.

SLENDER is a short experimental horror game based on the Slender Man mythos. The Slender Man is a faceless creature with long arms in a black suit. A living nightmare from horror tales for children.

SLENDER is a first person horror game created by independent studio Parsec Productions, where your only goal is to find 8 manuscripts about the paranormal creature.

The more directly you come in contact with the Slender Man, the faster your sanity drains away. You can’t look directly at the Slender Man, or your game is over. So it’s a kind of horror hide and seek game.

The game has a lot of good features:

1) Simple first person mechanics: you only need to walk and aim your flashlight at the scenery. Perfect gameplay;

2) Very fast: you can play the whole game in fifteen minutes, and each time you play it the manuscripts (the goal) are in different places;

3) Disturbing graphics and good horror atmosphere: it’s the perfect combination for a dark environment experience;

4) A good narrative: as Dille (2007, p.16) wrote, it is important to remember that the history is working in unison with gameplay. The more your story can be told through gameplay, the better. SLENDER has a good balance between horror narrative and the gameplay, you can feel really scared playing this game.

I’m very happy with indie initiatives like SLENDER. Let's support this cause!

Check the creepy trailer below:

And to download it for free from the official website, click here.


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

segunda-feira, 27 de agosto de 2012

Highlights from "The Grasshopper"

Some good quotes from this excellent book. Informations for reference: SUITS, Bernard. The grasshopper: games, life and utopia. Broadview Encore Editions: Toronto, 2005.

p.37 – Let us say, then, that games are goal-directed activities in which inefficient means are intentionally chosen. For example, in racing games one voluntarily goes all round the track in an effort to arrive at the finish line instead of ‘sensibly’ cutting straight across the field.

p.48/49 – My conclusion is that to play a game is to engage in activity directed towards bringing about a specific state of affair, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit more efficient in favour of less efficient means, and where such rules are accepted just because they make possibly such activity.

p.55 – Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.

p.59 – Cheaters at games are precisely like liars in everyday life.

p.120 – (about Role Playing Games) For at first it seemed that the performing of assumed roles was the essence of the kind of game we were trying to capture.

p. 130 – By amateurs I mean those for whom playing the game is an end itself, and by professionals I mean those who have in view some further purpose which is achievable by playing the game.

quinta-feira, 23 de agosto de 2012

quarta-feira, 22 de agosto de 2012

quinta-feira, 16 de agosto de 2012

A brief presentation of gaming market in Brazil

I received a mail from an american user asking me to put some information about gaming market in Brazil. So, I'll share some brief ideas about this subject.

First of all, Brazil doesn’t have a formal industry of games. In Brazil we have high levels of piracy, high taxes for foreigners products, and a Playstation 3 game could cost around U$ 90.

However, Brazil is a wide country (190 million people) and is the country with greatest navigation time in the internet of the world (22 hours a week). Brazil is the country has 200 millions of active mobile devices (30% smartphones and 70% mobile phones) so, internet and mobile are good platforms to develop games and entertainment.

I'll try to find some researches about our market (in english) to publish here.


quarta-feira, 15 de agosto de 2012

The Gamification of Death: How the Hardest Game Design Challenge Ever Demonstrates the Limits of Gaming

Video games can evoke powerful emotions, and deeply affect the people who play them. Plenty of games have already proven that the medium is capable of dealing with complex issues, but are there subjects that video games just aren't equipped to handle?

Margaret Robertson of the experimental game studio Hide&Seek explored this very question at GDC 2012, as she and her team ran into some real trouble when working on their interactive media experiment, Dreams of Your Life.

[Note: To access chapter selection, click the fullscreen button or check out the video on the GDC Vault website]

Source: Gama Sutra.

sexta-feira, 10 de agosto de 2012

'Mum, Dad, I want to be a Game Designer'

This is a presentation made at the SAND, (Swansea International Animation Festival), in November 2008 (little bit old but is very good), by the Global Head of Employment Brand, Matthew Jeffery. In this video here about game design, what game designers do and what skills you need to be one. As this video is of a complete presentation made it is 50 mins long.

What do you think about that?

quarta-feira, 1 de agosto de 2012

About Cognitive Apprenticeship and Games

"When you play the Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception game on the PlayStation 3, you don't tell Nathan Drake what to shoot, you don't direct him where to go, and you don't give him commands to follow. No, you don't control Nathan Drake because you ARE Nathan Drake. By operating the character in the game, you learn the implicit rules of the world you inhabit".


KAPP, Karl. The Gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco: Pfeifer, 2012. (pages 69 and 70)

terça-feira, 31 de julho de 2012

quinta-feira, 26 de julho de 2012

The Valve handbook for new employees

Amazing document about the working methodology of Valve. Click on the image below to download the full content.

About the company: Valve is an entertainment software and technology company founded in 1996. In addition to creating several of the world’s most award-winning games like Portal and Half-Life, Valve is also a developer of leading-edge technologies including the Source® game engine and Steam®, the premier online gaming platform. Valve also is the creator of Steam, the pioneering game platform that distributes and manages over 1,800 games directly to a community of more than 40 million players around the world.

Official site http://www.valvesoftware.com/.

segunda-feira, 9 de julho de 2012

Off Book: Video Games

by PBS Arts

Video games are more important than they seem. They are a storytelling medium, a place for self-expression. The age-old tradition of gaming teaches us strategy, maneuvering, and the importance of making choices. From the cinematic experiences of mainstream gaming, to the hyper-personal environments of indie games, gaming activity defines the way we live and interact with information, and each other.

Eric Zimmerman, Game Designer
Jesper Juul, Game Studies Scholar
Leigh Alexander, Game Journalist
Syed Salahuddin, Game Designer and Curator

Follow Off Book:
Twitter: @pbsoffbook
Tumblr: pbsarts.tumblr.com/
Produced by Kornhaber Brown: kornhaberbrown.com

quarta-feira, 4 de julho de 2012

Game interface

Here comes some good quotes from the book Game Interface Design. I believe they are essential ideas to assist the process of creating games. Let's check these points.

Even more important than the visual aspect of interface design is the funcionality. A poor interface can ruin the entire video game experience. The game experience will be negative if the user is confused and can't figure out how to navigate the front-end menu or if he can't understand where to find information while playing the game. (page 2)

Interface planning helps game design. A detailed plan for a video game interface can really help drive game design. Fleshing out all of the details in the menus and the HUD (heads-up display) will force many game-lay decisions to be made early. (page 10)

Simplicity and organization should still be your design goal. The user will enjoy being able to look at a screen and instantly know what to do. Keep your design simple. (page 69)


FOX, Brent. Game interface design. Boston: Thomson Course Technology, 2005.

quarta-feira, 27 de junho de 2012

What is Gamification?

Some definitions from the book "Gamification of learning and instruction":

"Process of using game thinking and mechanics to engage audiences and solve problens." - Gabe Zichermann, author of Game-based Marketing

"Using game tecniques to make activities more engaging and fun." - Amy Jo Kim, author of Community building on the web

"The broad trend of employing game mechanics to non-game environments such as innovation, marketing, training, employee performance, health and social change." - The Gartner Group

"Is the use of game play mechanics for non-game applications (also know as 'funware')." - Wikipedia

Combining elements from these definitions and getting rid of the emphasis of getting people todo things they ordinarily consider boring, results in defining the term gamification as:

"Gamification is using game-based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning, and solve problems." - Karl Kapp

What Gamification is not

Only badges, points and rewards; trivialization of learning; new ( the military has been using "war games" simulations, and goal-driven experiences to train personnel for centuries).


KAPP, Karl. The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, 2012. pages 10 & 12

terça-feira, 26 de junho de 2012

Essential books about game design & gaming concepts - EPISODE IV

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

The gamification of learning and instruction by Karl M. Kapp (link)

The Grasshooper by Bernard Suits (link)

quarta-feira, 13 de junho de 2012

Cannes Creativity Festival 2012

The world's most important festival of creative advertising will happen this month in Cannes.

There is a new category for the festival: mobile games. And a game that I've created for .MOBI agency is competing in this cattegory!

Check the video case below.

And cross yours fingers for me! I'll be there.


segunda-feira, 11 de junho de 2012

E3 2012 - The E3 of Disillusion

I want to share an excellent text from the site Gama Sutra (original link here)
by Kris

I started writing an article that was along the lines of "The top five takeaways of E3 2012." That included trends such as connectivity and integration of products (SmartGlass, PS3/Vita cross-play), Sony and Nintendo's lack of a spotlight on dedicated handhelds, and how there was little at E3 in the way of emerging business models and platforms.

Forget that, this is how I really feel.

E3 2012 was finally the E3 of my disillusionment with the so-called triple-A video game industry. And yes, it really did take this long.

On the grand stage in L.A., at the event that I've heard called the "Super Bowl of Video Games," the world's biggest video game publishers made clear at whom they would direct hundreds of millions of dollars of investment: Bloodthirsty, sex-starved teen males who'll high-five at a headshot and a free T-shirt.

What sealed the deal for me was this apparent obsession with violence and vulgarity. Violence in media doesn't bother me. Some of my favorite media (including games) utilizes violence in a very directed way. Self-aware gratuitousness can get a point across. Use violence as a satirical tool, by all means. Use it as a way to develop a tame character into one that becomes a psychopathic murderer.

But why use violence as a tool for narrative or storytelling, when using it as a marketing bullet point is so much easier?

Outside of Nintendo's dry product overviews, the main press conferences at E3 looked like a pissing match of who could say "fuck" more (ooo, bad words!), and who could show off the fanciest, highest-fidelity, most realistic up-close-and-personal (and virtually non-interactive) kill animations.

It's really kind of a shame. If you actually got to see some of these games beyond the trailers and scripted gameplay demos at E3, some actually weren't non-stop slaughter-fests, at least not to the degree to which trailers implied. Some of the violence, in context, made sense.

But if you were an average Joe who strolled into one of these E3 press conferences, and saw hundreds of people hoot and holler when a guy's face gets blown off in high-resolution detail, you might think you walked into an ancient Roman coliseum.

E3 2012 was unabashed pandering to the lowest common denominator, more than ever before. The video game industry wants to be respected as a medium that can be held up to the same creative standards as a New York Times best-selling book or an Oscar-winning movie. Instead, the games industry is complacent in further developing its relegation as a semi-interactive Michael Bay mocking bird.

I want to tell people who watched the livestreams of the press conferences that this is not representative of today's video game industry. There is so much good, so much innovation, so much progression that is happening in other areas of the industry. And people in these emerging areas are actually making some bank.

Attend a conference like CES, you can get an idea of what is sharpening the cutting edge. Go to Game Developers Conference, and you can hear the people who are working directly on games, and understand the challenges they are up against in an industry that is almost overwhelmingly -- yet beautifully -- dynamic in terms of business and creative.

Go to E3 and try to identify trends, you'll soon realize that you're looking into the past. E3 2012 could've been E3 2006. It is a museum without the informative placards. It's an archaeologist's dream. It's a reality show starring a washed-up rockstar. It's old gameplay. Old themes. A parade of old business models meant to pacify retailers, patting them on the head to assure them that they will be as relevant five years from now as they are today. E3 2012 was a fool's circus, more than any other E3 that I've been to. It insulted my intelligence, and insulted my enthusiasm for video games.

I have a friend who is working on a rather well-publicized game for a major handheld platform. He saw the intricate neck-stabbings, the bows and arrows, the line-up-your-reticle-on-that-guy's-head-and-repeat "gameplay," and the press-a-button-to-begin-a-kill-animation "game design." He said that seeing these games made him think, "I sure am glad that I'm making an actual video game." Anyone else who is making actual video games should be just as proud.

If you witnessed E3 as an intelligent enthusiast of video games, you realized the sad truth: The joy is dead, delight is gone. Joy and delight just aren't worth the monetary investment anymore for big-budget games. Joy and delight are replaced by "I fucked your shit up, and I'm a bad-ass, let's crack open a Dew." It took all of these games in one place for me to finally, reluctantly, admit that this is what triple-A video games are now. At least that's how E3 and triple-A game publishers apparently want to portray the world of video games. Are you not entertained?

terça-feira, 5 de junho de 2012

More about ludic interfaces

By Vince

BORJOMI, a georgian mineral water, launched a few weeks ago an awesome site with a great ludic interface. The creative team of the site found a very clever way to talk about the main feature of the product.

The mineral water has a curious differential: its source lays under 8 kilometers from the surface, so the water has a high level of purity.

There was a great challenge in this case and the solution for this advertising piece was not so obvious, but the creative team had a great idea: to create the deepest site of the internet.

They created a site that allows the user to scroll the screen for (real) eight kilometers. Looks weird, but it is true and you can check this on the URL http://thedeepestsite.com/ and on the video below.

If you have patience to "dig" the screen to the end, you will find the mysterious and pure source of water BORJOMI. As a prize you can write your name in a kind of hall of fame and tell the fact in your Facebook timeline to your friends.

An important feature of the site: anytime you want, it's possible to save your progress by using your Facebook login and password.

The BORJOMI's site is an excellent example of ludic interface. It is not a game, but it uses characteristics of games as "save", "badges", "ranking" and "mechanics" to promote a brand. This case shows us that is possible to put ludicity in many differents aspects of advertising and marketing.

I want to bring more gaming advertising cases to the blog. Wait for news.


sábado, 2 de junho de 2012

Video game origins

By Vince

A long time ago, in the beggining of the 80's started a great video game revolution with the Atari system.

A lot of titles from this time became the first inspiration for modern genres.

It's possible to see the first insights for FPSs and RPGs in these primitive interfaces.

Let's check some curious examples:

Battle Zone X Battlefield 3

Dark Chambers X Diablo 3

Enduro X Forza

Pitfall X Limbo

Tennis X Virtua Tennis 3

It's possible to create a huge list. Send suggestions and enjoy!


terça-feira, 29 de maio de 2012

Game design process: a third approach

By Vince

In this present post I want to discuss the details about the creation of my new board game, PYRAMYZ.

PYRAMYZ is an independent title that will be hopefully launched next month. It is an abstract game for two players that uses pyramidal dice (D4) as pieces and has an area control game mechanics.

The inspiration for part of the game mechanics came from “Chinese checkers”, a very traditional abstract game where the pieces jump other pieces (or a row of pieces) to reach the player’s side on the board.

(Art by Marcelo Bissoli)

In PYRAMYZ, first of all, players must choose the color “black” or color “white”. This part is important because each player earns points by having the dice on top of their color spaces. It is possible to get points joining dice with the same color adjacent (orthogonally), when this happens the players achieve the number of points of the dice upon the respective color spaces.

The objective is to achieve the higher number of points.

In this game a player can put the dice from a bag on the board or move a die that has been placed on the board. A roll is required to put a die in the game , because the random number on the D4 will be the number of spaces the piece can move (orthogonally) by the board. A die will spawn from five special areas with different color.

For this game I created four prototypes with different dynamics, layouts and rules. It’s important to have many views in a game design process to choose the bestconnection between them. I started with a triangular board but it was not good, the traditional orthogonal grid proved to be the best option.

In this part of the creative process I defend the use of simple prototypes. It’s essential to use simple drawings, ordinary material and have total focus on the game mechanics.

After a lot of tests and a minimum certainty about the functionality of the game I recommend to generate a better prototype/layout. And remember: beta testing is not about playing your game alone by hundred times, it is about putting one hundred people to play once and have a lot of different feedbacks.

In two previous posts I’ve talked about the process to create another board game and a SMS mobile game (links here and here). I recommend the reading of both posts to complete the idea of this one.

Wait for news about the PYRAMYZ’s launching!

segunda-feira, 21 de maio de 2012

Keep it simple

By Vince

This post is a kind of an advice for new game designers and game developing enthusiast.

Nowadays, we have a broad market for many categories of games and this is very good because we can target different kinds of players. Every game designer one day, possibly, dreamed about the chance of developing a complex console/PC game for a very specific type of player: the heavy user gamer.

But, don’t forget that a wide part of gaming consumption comes from casual gamers. The high numbers of casual/simple game downloads from platforms like App Store (Apple) and Play Store (Google) give us a clue of the enormous potential in this area.

More than 200 million people worldwide play casual games via Internet, and it’s impossible to forget the high numbers of casual gamers in mobile devices too.

The essence of the success in this area is the mantra: keep it simple. But “simple” (or casual) is not a synonymous of “poor”, and creating good simple/casual games is a great challenge for game designers. The “Angry Birds”, “Temple Run” and “Draw Something” are good proofs of this idea.

Keep the casual player on your mind all the time and don’t forget that a casual game requires good content, intuitive mechanics and well defined interface. It must be wonderful to create the new “Battlefield” complex FPS game, but it must be wonderful to create the new “Angry Birds” casual game too.

To finish this post I have a good hint for you: visit the site of the “Casual Games Association” (LINK HERE) to get more information about this growing entertainment market.

And I want to share this excellent presentation from Newzoo: the “Trend Report: Casual Social Games - February 2012

View more presentations from Newzoo

Go (casual) gamers!

terça-feira, 15 de maio de 2012

The game and the mind

By Vince

Do you like to reunite your friends for hours of intense battles in RISK? Do you find amusing dueling against a rival in MORTAL KOMBAT for Playstation 3? Or for you the real emotion comes from an intense POKER night?

When we think about these situations, a good question arises: why do we like to play games so much?

We can find some answers in the excellent book "Everything bad is good for you" from the author Steven Johnson.

Johnson is graduated in Semiotic at Brown University and in English Literacy by Columbia University. He is known to defend the full access of games, TV series, internet and social media to young audience. The author defends that these stuff has different intellectual and cognitive features, but is not inferior to activities like reading a book.

As Johnson says “the dirty little secret of gaming is how much time you spend not having fun. You may be frustrated; you may be confused and disoriented; you may be struck. When you put the game down and move back into the real world, you may find yourself mentally working through the problem you’ve been wrestling with, as though you were worrying a loose tooth. If this mindless escapism, it’s a strangely masochistic version. Who wants to escape to a world that irritates you 90 percent of the time?”. (page 26)

We are talking here about the game and the mind. We are talking about reward.

Where our brain wiring is concerned, the craving instinct triggers a desire to explore. The system says, in effect: “Can’t find the reward you were promised? Perhaps if you just look a little harder you’ll be in luck – it’s got to be around here somewhere.” (JOHNSON, page 35)

Why do we like to play games so much? Reward is one of the possible answers.


JOHNSON, Steven. Everything bad is good for you: why popular culture is making us smarter. London: Penguin Books, 2006.

segunda-feira, 7 de maio de 2012

Hints & tips for a good game prototype – Part I (card game)

By Vince

A good idea for a game needs a good prototype. In the first tests of your game is totally understandable the use of sketches, roughs and non-finished materials, but a formal presentation to a publisher needs more care.

In this post I´ll talk about analogical prototype. More precisely how to create a card game prototype.

I like to create cards in three layers of paper:

1) First layer: the back from the card (with some kind of pattern or the logotype of the game) printed with laser jet in a good opaque paper;
2) Second layer: I like to put a middle layer using a thick paper. It’s important to maintain your card resistant and plain;
3) Third layer: the front of the card with the content of the game in the same way of the first layer.

Check the diagram below:

In the end it’s important to keep your cards protected from physical damage. I strongly recommend putting the cards inside plastic protector sleeves.

Your game will look more professional and your idea certainly will be clearer to the publisher or your beta test group.


quarta-feira, 2 de maio de 2012

Health & games

By Vince

I want to dedicate this post to my friend Marcelo de Vasconcellos (link here), a brazilian researcher with an interesting work with the theme “videogames as means of communication in health”.

I’ll talk about DIDGET in this text. DIDGET is a medical apparatus with blood glucose monitoring system launched by pharmaceutical company Bayer in a partnership with NINTENDO. It was launched in 2010, but I think it's still a good case for discussion.

This health project highlights the concept of “ludification” and reinforces the idea of the use of elements from the ludic universe in another areas of knowledge.

DIDGET connects with the Nintendo DS system and rewards consistent testing with unlockable minigames. The system does not require a Nintendo DS to operate but has this special feature with the videogame. The site GamaSutra describes better the functioning of the medical apparatus: “when connected to the Game Boy Advance cartridge slot on Nintendo DS and DS Lite systems, DIDGET converts blood glucose test results into reward points”.

My friend Marcelo de Vasconcellos posted another good example of games in health area in his site. It’s about Intera, a software that works with Microsoft’s Kinect to be used during surgeries. The video below is in Portuguese, but the images speak for themselves.

I believe in a near future full of ludic interface interaction in the health area. I think we’ll see more and more uses for game mechanics and gaming concepts inside this field. Why? Because game is not only about fun, game is a language to be used in different and unusual fields of knowledge.

GamaSutra (link here)
Marcelo de Vasconcellos (link here)

quarta-feira, 25 de abril de 2012

Story of my (game designer) life

A long time ago in the city of São Paulo (Brazil), around 14 years in the past, there was a great Comic & RPG encounter happening. I was in the event with a bunch of good nerd friends.

At the time we had the opportunity to attend a presentation of the author Michael Mulvihill, best known for publishing awesome RPG books like "Shadowrun" and "Battletech", which, by the way, were part of my adolescence.

I watched the presentation of Mr. Mulvihill, which proved extremely inspiring for all those who were there, and wanted to give life to their own games.

When the lecture ended, I asked for an autograph and asked him a question: "Mr. Mulvihill, what is required to be a good game designer? ". And he answered me:

Years later, I've found this paper inside an old drawer and realized how much truth there was in those words. I think the idea is to play games, experience games and interact with ludic interfaces all the time. The message of Mr. Mulvihill is about getting good references and repertoire because this is essential to create good gaming projects.

So we can apply these concepts in several areas of knowledge and create good experiences.

So, play games and have fun.

sexta-feira, 20 de abril de 2012

Game Design Exercises

By Vince

The idea of this post is present two game design exercises. I want to entice the audience of my blog to create new games from classical game mechanics. It can be difficult in a first moment but don’t put a muzzle in your creativity; slight changes in traditional game mechanics could generate something new and fun.

The first exercise is from a very good book named “Challenges for Game Designers” and the challenge proposed is: try to create a TIC-TAC-TOE for three players. You can modify rules and put new elements (like cards or dice) but the core of the game must be the same. Try to make a digital or analogical prototype of your game.

Following the previous idea, in the second exercise I want to propose the creation of a new dynamic for the classic game PONG. I’ve made this exercise and created the PONT, a solitary flash game. Check the project online (link here).

In my version of PONG there are two basic modifications:

1) the ball is an asterisk that changes color all the time (sometimes the color of the ball is very similar to the background color) and the player needs to pay double attention to the interface.

2) the racket horizontally changes size and does a wave movement (up and down) all the time. It’s another factor that requires more concentration from the player.

The image below shows these features of the game:

And let’s work! I’ll be glad if the exercises help you having new ideas and build good prototypes. Make yourself comfortable to send me your ideas in the mail vincevader@gmail.com.


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

sexta-feira, 13 de abril de 2012

Knowledge from Reiner Knizia

Some good stuff from the Twitter of Reiner Knizia, one of my favorites game designers:

1.) My First Principle of Game Design: Start somewhere new and you have the greatest chance to end up somewhere new!

2.) Lead a game to worldwide success: keep it simple that people understand it; make it different that people recognize it; but keep it familiar.

3.) To design good games, you need peace in your heart - even for a first-person shooter.

Follow Knizia on Twitter (@ReinerKnizia), click here.

terça-feira, 10 de abril de 2012

Common elements between games

By Vince

In this present post I want to discuss a wide notion of essential elements that we can find in any kind of game. Take a few seconds to make a brief reflection: Which are the similarities between “Quake” and “Poker”?

Quake is a classic first person shooter with a deep story about a massive alien war in a high technological future. Poker is a traditional and abstract card game about creating card sequences to earn points.

Both games are very unique but – in a first moment – have nothing in common. But I think it’s possible to establish a list of common elements amongst two games. Let’s check some possibilities:

1) First of all, both games have a purpose. In Quake You need to destroy aliens and in Poker You have to make the best card sequences.

2) Both games have players and rules. In Quake You can play against the computer alone or in a multiplayer session; Poker needs at least two players and gets better with five or six people playing. But essentially all the players need to follow the rules that define boundaries. If You are not following the rules You are cheating and this is not fair play.

3) Both games have limited resources. In Quake are life, stamina and ammunition. In Poker is the deck of cards with four cards of each kind.

4) Game mechanics: in Quake your character aims and shoots to kill aliens stage by stage with a wide range of weapons. In Poker you pick cards trying to create the best combos and eliminate opponents.

5) We have conflicts and possibility of fun in both cases.

I think it’s possible to generate a wide list with a lot of similarities, but instead of it I want to purpose an exercise to You: search your memory and try to find two games of very different categories; in the next step, try to create a list of common elements as You saw above.

Good work!


segunda-feira, 2 de abril de 2012

Games + Brazil

by Vince

Last week I was checking old posts from the blog when I noticied a great fault: there are very few information about brazilian videogame market here (and I'm from Brazil).

So I've decided to write more about this subject, even with the low number of official researches we have in brazilian territory.

I want to share a good information in this post. It's about the number of brazilians with videogame consoles at home.

One research presented in an important brazilian videogame fair named "GameWorld" revealed that 60 million people have at least one videogame console at home. It is almost 33% of Brazil's population.

The research revealed another curious fact: 48% of the players buy illegal games and only 17% of the sales occurs at game shops.

The company "NC Games" with an important research institute (IBOPE) did the survey.

So, its good news to our market and more than sufficient to prove that is possible to develop a brazilian videogame industry.



Click here to read about the research (portuguese)

sexta-feira, 30 de março de 2012

A new book for my library

Arrived today another title for my game design shelf. I want to discuss more about gamification and I think this book has a good point of view. Buy here (link).

And below the book description:

"What do Foursquare, Zynga, Nike+, and Groupon have in common? These and many other brands use gamification to deliver a sticky, viral, and engaging experience to their customers. This book provides the design strategy and tactics you need to integrate game mechanics into any kind of consumer-facing website or mobile app. Learn how to use core game concepts, design patterns, and meaningful code samples to a create fun and captivating social environment.

Whether you're an executive, developer, producer, or product specialist, Gamification by Design will show you how game mechanics can help you build customer loyalty


segunda-feira, 26 de março de 2012


In this moment I'm writing a book named "LUDIFICATOR". It's a quick reference guide for the newbie game designers. I hope someday this content will be translated to english.

In the third chapter of my book I bring an idea I've discussed in the first post of this blog (link here): the idea of Ludification.

And now I have a good graph to illustrate this concept, as you can see below:

I'm trying to explain that the idea of Lufication is better than Gamification because in my point of view, the Game is inside the Ludic Field.

In my book I tried to demonstrate that it is more adequate to call activities with game mechanics as Ludic Interfaces.

Hang on! The book is coming out soon!

Scientific article: your brain on videogames

Wow! It's the 50th post! ;-)