terça-feira, 30 de julho de 2013

The casual experience of DOTS

Created by Betaworks One Studio DOTS is a minimalist abstract game about connecting small dots in a 6x6 grid. DOTS is an excellent example of casual game category for mobile media (iPhone and iPad).

The idea of the game is very simple: join the little dots orthogonally and try to create a big chain, more dots equals more points. But DOTS has a special detail: each game lasts exactly one minute.

And the best part of the ludic experience is to try to be the number one in a global ranking. Many players are trying to overcome the score within the same amount of time.

Check the video below to understand the mechanics and gameplay:

Matching games are a great success since the early years of video games. As Trefay (2010, p.79) remembers us “we like to pattern match – our brains crave it. Games are essentially complex systems of patterns. (…) Games are comprised of pieces that can behave in unique, but prescribed manners. (…) Matching and sorting games provide a very basic form of pattern matching and bring it to the surface of the game. This makes them very accessible and well suited to casual games.”

The elegant gameplay of DOTS brings us a good reference to study casual dynamics. The simple interface and sound design offer us the idea that the basic could be, sometimes, better than the complex.

So, what are you waiting to play DOTS and be number one in the global ranking?


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

terça-feira, 23 de julho de 2013

Off-topic: Misinformation and trust on the social networking site Instagram

Well, this is not about games but it is about digital/social media. Here it goes: my paper to the ICA (International Communication Association) 2013 congress that happened in Málaga (Spain) last week.

I wrote this stuff alongside with my doctorate ‘mastermind’. =)

Check the content below:


Misinformation and trust on the social networking site Instagram
Related area 5: Trust in the media

Dr. Gisela G. S. Castro (Professor of Postgraduate Studies on Communication and Consumption Practices at ESPM/Sao Paulo, Brazil; castro.gisela@gmail.com)
M.A. Vicente M. Mastrocola (Postgraduate Research student and graduation level teacher at ESPM/Sao Paulo, Brazil; vincevader@gmail.com)

Taking communication and consumption as leading and intertwining landmarks of contemporary culture, this presentation discusses a relevant issue regarding misinformation and trust within the context of social media. Acknowledging the prominence of digital networks in today’s mediapolis (SILVERSTONE 2006), where mass self communication (CASTELLS 2009) poses new challenges to understanding current modes of sociability and consumption, our focus will be directed to Instagram, a mobile photo based application for Android and iOS systems, in the light of a recent hoax episode involving Brazilian Internet users of this social networking site.

Some figures may help illustrate Brazil’s role in the global consumption market. The country is the fifth largest in the world, it has the sixth largest population and it ranks seventh in terms of Internet usage. Brazilians are heavy Internet users, spending the largest average number of hours in the Internet (23 hours a week). The country currently has 240 million active mobile devices (30% smartphones and 70% mobile phones), for a population slightly over 190 million (link here).

The circumstances that trigger our discussion began to take place in 2012. On one occasion, rumor was spread on the web alerting users that Instagram Host Company actually owned and was willing to sell content posted on the digital social network. As information quickly spread, thousands of Brazilian web users reacted angrily against the site.

The misunderstanding occurred because company officials had recently published new rules and part of the textual information had been misunderstood. Moments after the negative buzz had spread virally through major digital social networks, company co-founder Kevin Systrom issued a statement explaining that the pictures would not be sold under any circumstances (link here).

Even after the official clarification had been delivered, a significant number of Brazilian users remained skeptical about the application causing Instagram to suffer a heavy impact on its levels of trust.

Due to its huge popularity, Instagram quickly formed an active community of Brazilian users, many of whom are keen fans of the application. Therefore, small changes in its interface or protocols will generate immediate response from its fan based community. As Sandvoss and Harrington (2007) remark, for better or for worse fans tend to engage with their passions not in a rationally detached but in an emotionally involved and invested way. Even the slightest conflict of trust may trigger the display of anger and revolt involving fan communities in social media networks.

With this work we aim to highlight how tarnished corporate image may be as a result of distrust generated by misinformation spread among social media users. As Castro (2012: 188) notes, as more and more people spend hours online, digital technology plays a key role on levels of affection, trust or mistrust, it is important for companies to engage their consumers as partners and fans. In this attempt, social media networks can pose as an opportunity as well as a potential risk.

Informed by academic studies on communication and consumer culture, with special emphasis on digital social networks, our empirical research is based on the virtual ethnographic approach (HINE 2000; KOZINETS 2009). The challenge here is to explore the process of making connections while crisscrossing boundaries related to online and offline corporate as well as interpersonal routines and sensibilities.

We welcome the opportunity to present this relevant discussion as a means of contributing to the ongoing efforts in exploring the role played by the media – especially social media – in constructing and deconstructing ever shifting levels of trust and distrust in today’s culture of consumption.


CASTRO, Gisela G. S. Entretenimento, sociabilidade e consumo nas redes sociais: ativando o consumidor-fã. IN: CASAQUI, V. e ROCHA, R. M. Estéticas midiáticas e narrativas do consumo. Porto Alegre: Sulina, 2012, p. 187 - 206.

CASTELLS, Manuel. Communication Power. Oxford, N. York: Oxford Press, 2009.

FEATHERSTONE, Mike. Consumer culture and postmodernism. London: Sage, 2007.

GRAY, J.; SANDVOSS, C.; HARRINGTON, L. (eds.). Fandom: identities and communities in a mediated world. NYU Press, 2007.

HINE, Christine. Virtual ethnography. London: Sage Publications, 2000.

KOZINETS, Robert V. Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage, 2009.

SCHOLZ, Trebor (Ed.). Digital Labor: the internet as playground and factory. Routledge, 2013.

SILVERSTONE, Roger. Media and Morality: on the rise of the mediapolis. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2006.

quarta-feira, 10 de julho de 2013

Last of us

Recently I’ve finished the fu**ing awesome LAST OF US (Naughty Dog, 2013) for Playstation 3. LAST OF US is a survival horror action-adventure game where the player takes control of Joel, a character trekking across a post-apocalyptic United States in 2033, in order to escort the young Ellie to a friendly resistance group, the Fireflies.

During the long path to the Fireflies base, the characters must defend themselves against zombies contaminated by fungus spores, bandits, soldiers and a great sort of other enemies. Briefly that’s the main idea of the game.

Why the game is awesome in my opinion as a gamer and game designer? Check some points below:

1) The game balances action, tension and emotion in a unique way. Sometimes you need to solve a little puzzle, sometimes you need to run like hell, and sometimes you have little ammo and lots of zombies around you. LAST OF US puts the player in a kind of ‘wave’ of content and you stay attached to the narrative of the game (a great feature to comment, by the way).

2) The narrative is a good mix between gameplay and cinematography action. It’s not an open world game but the player can experience moments of free action around the scenarios without loosing focus on the main mission. As Bateman (2007, p.107) says “many games now combine open and closed storytelling. They offer the player a chance to play a series of defined story missions alongside the chance to explore a world in whatever order that player wants”.

3) Good characters. As Dille and Platten remind us (2007, p.65-67) there are major types of characters that can exist within a game: the main hero (in that case Joel), the allies (the girl Ellie and others), neutral characters (the background characters), and the enemies (LAST OF US doesn’t have final stage bosses, only packs of enemies all the time). The characters, even the evil ones, are well structured and create empathy with the player.

4) A good end. Some people loved and some people hated the end of the game. I’m on the first group. I don’t want to give out any spoilers but the end is awesome in my opinion. It works with the personality of the hero (Joel) in a rare way we can see in modern games.

It’s immersive. It’s violent. It’s an epic product for a videogame platform. Prepare to be surprised. Make every bullet of your ammo count in this game, and prepare yourself for new ways we will massively have in the new generation of consoles.

Check the game trailer below:


BATEMAN, Chris (editor). Game Writing: narrative skills for videogames. Boston: Thomson, 2007.

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

quarta-feira, 3 de julho de 2013

Knowledge for game designers

"Do weird and difficult things" — Masaya Matsuura, Game Designer.

"Focus groups tell you what people like, but they don't tell you what people want" — Ron Gilbert, Game Designer.

"Play testing by people outside of the development team typically comes too late to have a major impact on the final product" — Jeff Orkin, Game Researcher.

"What game is worth doing that's not creatively risky?" — Tim Schafer, Game Designer

Source: Quotes for game designers