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