segunda-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2016

Book: Levelling Up - The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames

Wow! I want to share very good news in this last post of the year: in 2015, I presented the paper “Observing Iterative Design on the Game Dominaedro”, that I wrote for the Video Game Cultures & The Future of Entertainment conference (VG7).

Yesterday, I received awesome news from the organizers: all the papers from the conference were compiled in a fantastic book named "Levelling Up: The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames". Edited by Brittany Kuhn and Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris, and published by Inter-Disciplinary Press (Oxford) the book is a wide discussion about gaming culture in the contemporary scenario. Check the cool cover below:

CLICK HERE to buy!

Below, you can read the book's synopsis:

"Videogames have come a long way from Super Mario Bros and Pong. After thirty years of technological advancements and academic criticisms, videogames have become a fertile ground for social change and virtual identity creation. Where big game companies like Bioware, Bethesda, and Rockstar Games have begun to include more inclusive narratives, independent game companies are beginning to delve into the field of ‘serious games,’ capitalising on the popularity and prevalence of social networking to inspire and assist non-game-related fields. While all of this is happening, a new subculture has become to dominate social media: that of the fanboy and the Let’s Play YouTube video phenomenon. It is a dynamic time in videogame studies, from the perspective of player, designer and theorist. However, with the advent of virtual reality, the question remains: where will videogames, and subsequently our society, ‘level up’ to next?"


segunda-feira, 19 de dezembro de 2016

A practical checklist for your gaming project

I’m a very methodical person. I like to organize everything in my everyday life and in my work. In this post, I want to share a small checklist I’ve created for my gaming projects. It’s a synthesis of the main points to remember in a game’s creative process and production. Check the fields and plan your work!

You can use it, copy it, add elements to it and share it. Just remember to give credits to @vincevader. Enjoy it!

Essential elements in the game design/production process Yes (√) No (X)
The concept and main idea are defined
I can tell the game idea in 20 seconds
The game has a narrative
In case of a narrative, it has a well-defined beginning and ending
The game is focused in pure mechanics, there’s no need of a narrative
The mechanic(s) is (are) well defined
I already constructed a simple pre-prototype (digital or analogical)
I already tested the game with imaginary players simulating a real match
I already made one first complete prototype (analogical or digital) that can be played by beta-testers
I already coordinated at least ten beta-test sessions with different players, using the first complete prototype
I applied modifications in the game after the beta-test sessions
I already created a more complete prototype that has most parts of the game’s final version
I made contact with other professionals (artists, programmers etc.) to finalize the game
I have a strategy to launch my game and disclose it in social networks, sites and other channels
I have a partner to distribute/sell the game
I’m satisfied with the final product
The game is ready to be launched


quinta-feira, 1 de dezembro de 2016

The Witness

Jonathan Blow is the game designer behind Braid, one awesome 2D platform game that uses time distortion as gameplay. In Braid, you can manipulate time to avoid death, solve puzzles, send a shadow to the future to perform an action, create “bubbles” of time lapse and many others cool mechanics. It’s one of my top 10 games. Check the trailer below:

In January of this year, Blow launched his new game: The Witness. Similar to Braid, it’s a puzzle game, but in a first person point of view. The mysterious narrative puts you in an abandoned and colorful island, full of digital screens. Each screen has a kind of an enigma that conducts you to the next one. Each puzzle solved gives you a small piece about the enigmatic history. You can check the main idea in the game’s trailer:

Points to highlight in the experience of the game:

1) Jonathan Blow recreates the classic mechanics of drawing a line through a labyrinth. Using colors, spatial restrictions, different shapes and logical reasoning, the game designer put the players’ mind to work, many times. The level of resolution of some puzzles is impressive.

2) The scenario is part of the narrative, and it works as a tool. Every single detail and object in the ambient contributes with the history. The island is full of statues and behind them there are hints for the plot. There are also some digital recorders with voices saying facts about the place. The colors of the trees, the direction of the light, the passing of time etc. everything could be an element for the story.

3) The game is full of references from movies, literature and other games. I found lots of similarities with Adolfo Bioy Casares’ “The Invention of Morel” book.

4) It’s a daring production. The Witness is a very artistic game. It explains little to the player and, most of the time, it’s essential to explore and use your mind to try to solve the puzzles.

I’m still playing the game, but the experience – till this moment – is strange, difficult and relaxing.


segunda-feira, 7 de novembro de 2016

INSIDE: an obscure ludic experience in a dark landscape

Limbo, created by the independent studio Playdead, was my favorite game in the year of 2010. I think I might have played the full game around seven or eight times. It’s a simple puzzle-platform 2D game, but the narrative and dark ambience won my attention in an epic level. Six years later, Playdead launched another big hit: INSIDE.

Put the mechanics and gameplay from Limbo in a blender. Add some dystopian elements from George Orwell’s “1984” novel and mix in a pinch of technological horror. There you have it: INSIDE. The gaming plot is about a nameless red-shirted boy that must survive in a hostile futuristic ambient, trying to avoid well-equipped guards, killer dogs and natural disasters. As the story goes, you will discover parts of a huge conspiracy that aims to create an abominable creature. To go further in the narrative, the player must solve puzzles using things that are scattered on the scene; sometimes, they seem pretty obvious and sometimes not too much. I want to highlight the “mind control” puzzles where you put a device on the boy’s head to gather zombie-type characters from the scenario to help you (a very similar mechanics from the game Swapper).

Check the gaming atmosphere and gameplay in the video below:

The soundtrack is another incredible feature from the game. During all the experience, you can hear a very disturbing soundscape. INSIDE’s soundtrack is very similar to Zoät·Aon’s album “Star Autopsy” and Robert Rich and Lustmord’s “Synergistic Perceptions”.

is not a horror game, but it can create a unique atmosphere of fear and despair with the strategic use of its dark scenario, obscure music, horrible deaths and dangers in the journey. Saint (2014, p.3) argues that the mixture of fear and the sense of impotency (two basic features of this game) can create an aura of horror and a deep dive in the game’s reality. But, in this context, it’s important to remember that the “term horror is extremely broad and covers an expansive range of themes, experiences and reactions” (MARSHALL, 2014, p.60). INSIDE offers a different specter of horror/fear/terror. It’s subtler and demands the use of the players’ imagination to complete some points from the narrative.

In other words, INSIDE’s context works with the immersion in the dark reality of the game and the empathy we can feel for the fragile character fighting the dangers.

When we feel with other individuals or characters we not only use our imagination in order to undertake a shift in our cognitive perspective and imaginatively to experience the world from their point of view but we also use our imagination to adopt the assumed emotional state of the target individual. That means, when moviegoers or readers* feel empathy with a character, they perceive the events in the story from the spatio-temporal position of that character and at the same time experience emotions that match those of the target character in terms of quality, albeit maybe not in terms of quantity” (TRIEBEL, 2014, p.5).

INSIDE is a masterpiece to discuss questions about game design and narrative. It’s an awesome example of how the classic platform format still can be creative, immersive and full of meaning. In this ambient full of “ludic fear” there’s a crucial question: why do some players search for fear and other bad feelings in games? To solve this puzzle, we quote Suits (2005, p.55) who says, “Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”.

*We can include gamers in this context


MARSHAL, James L.. The potential and limits of a visual arts practice. IN: SMITH, Shilinka; HILL, Shona. Transforming fear, horror and terror: multidisciplinary reflections. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary press, 2014.

SAINT, Michelle. Horror in art, horror in life: its nature and its value. IN: SMITH, Shilinka; HILL, Shona. Transforming fear, horror and terror: multidisciplinary reflections. Oxford: Inter-disciplinary press, 2014.

SUITS, Bernard. The grasshopper: games, life and utopia. Toronto: Broadview Encore Editions, 2005.

TRIEBEL, Doreen. Manipulating empathic responses in horror fiction. IN: KATTELMAN, Beth; HODALSKA, Magdalena. Frightful Witnessing: the rhetoric and (re)presentation of fear, horror and terror. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2014.

domingo, 30 de outubro de 2016

A Brief History of Graphics

An awesome class about gaming graphics. A great timeline to understand the history of videogames.


sexta-feira, 21 de outubro de 2016

Book: Play Anything - the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, and the secret of games

I bought a new book for my ludic library: Play Anything - the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, and the secret of games. Written by the game designer and philosopher Ian Bogost, the book is an awesome discussion about limitation, boredom, games and fun.

You can buy on Amazon. Click here.

Check the synopsis below:

How filling life with play—whether soccer or lawn mowing, counting sheep or tossing Angry Birds—forges a new path for creativity and joy in our impatient age.

Life is no game. It’s demanding, boring, and rarely fun. But what if we’ve got games wrong? Playing anything—whether an instrument, a sport, or a video game—takes hard work and makes absurd demands. Where’s the fun in that?

In Play Anything, acclaimed philosopher and award-winning game designer Ian Bogost reveals that play isn’t a mindless escape from boring reality. Instead, play is what happens when we accept limitations, narrow our focus, and—consequently—have fun. Which is also how to live a good life. Manipulating cards to make a poker hand is no different than treating chores and obligations as tools but which we can discover new happiness.

Ranging from Internet culture to moral philosophy, from ancient poetics to modern consumerism, Play Anything reveals how today’s chaotic world can only be tamed—and enjoyed—when we first impose boundaries on ourselves.


domingo, 9 de outubro de 2016

Horizon Chase – a Brazilian game

As a Brazilian game designer, I like to discuss and bring some Brazilian gaming examples to this blog. Today, I want to talk about Horizon Chase, one very cool game that is a tribute to classic arcade racers.

Created by Aquiris Games Studio and launched in 2015, the game won many prizes and it’s a master class on how to use mobile media to give players a good experience. Check the trailer and gameplay below:

Some important game features to highlight:

1) Horizon Chase is a causal game and its gameplay is created in a simple and intuitive way;
2) Graphics are completely adjusted to the gameplay – the roads, cars and landscapes work together in a very intuitive mechanics;
3) Freeware model for gaming distribution (the studio created this product to win prizes and acquire “symbolic currency”);
4) Horizon Chase dialogues with new and old gamers with its retro mechanics, with a cool, modern layout.

The Brazilian gaming market is coming up with great ideas every year and mobile platforms are a good possibility for many companies. We don’t have a triple A industry here, but there are other options to show the work to the world.

Click here to access the site and download it for free on Apple and Android platforms.


quinta-feira, 22 de setembro de 2016

Rock Flickz: download it now!

This month, my new mobile game, Rock Flickz, was released. I already talked a little bit about the game in this post and now you can download it in the App Store and Play Store for free.

I created this game in a partnership with the digital agency Sioux, from São Paulo and the site Shovel Music. Rock Flickz is a casual experience with a “match the color” mechanics. In the background, players can listen to music from Brazilian independent bands and share their impressions about them. The game has a business model structured in advertising and partnership with a music site named Shovel.

Download it now! Experience a true Brazilian indie game filled with Brazilian indie music! Click here to access the official site.

One more important information: today we celebrate FIVE YEARS of Gaming Conceptz*! Cheers, my friends!


*Check the first post here.

terça-feira, 13 de setembro de 2016

The importance of wireframes in the creative process of gaming

Information architecture is the basis for many digital products in the contemporary scenario. Apps, games, sites, bank phones and many other platforms are designed following the principles of this discipline.

We have many definitions for information architecture, but one that fits better in this post’s subject comes from Rosenfeld and Morville (2002, p.4): I.A. is “an emerging discipline and community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape”. When we talk about I.A. we are talking about carefully planning a project. One architect will never build a house without a plan, a map or blueprints – so, we will never build a game without instructions, plans, rules, prototypes or models.

In this post, I want to emphasize the importance of wireframes in the creative process of a digital mobile game. After the definition of the concept, the development of rules and the first tests of the game, it’s fundamental to structure one grid with the basic gaming features and mechanics.

I will use my new game Rock Flickz as an example for this post: after the definition of a theme and a “match the color” mechanics, we started to work on the wireframes – simple structures that indicate the core movements and contents of the game. The function of a wireframe is not to “block” the structure, but to build the functionality of the game. Check below some wireframes with the basic mechanics, menu and main screens from the game (and in the end, the final interface).

So, before the complex codes and final layouts, it’s important to plan – in a simple way – how the game works. It may not be as cool, but it is a fundamental guide to bring the product to life.

It’s important to highlight that wireframes are one curious intersection between the prototype and the final version. It’s a tool to gain time and minimize errors. It’s one methodological process that can be used in analogical and digital game.



ROSENFELD, Louis; MORVILEE, Peter. Information architecture for the world wide web. Sebastopol: O’Reilly, 2002.

segunda-feira, 29 de agosto de 2016

Eight steps for great puzzle designing

Scott Kim is a designer who creates puzzles for print media, websites and computer games. He is a big reference in this very specific field of ludic studies. Ernest Adams, in his book Fundamentals of Puzzle and Casual Game Design (2014), references Kim’s work talking about the “eight steps to create a good puzzle”. I want to highlight some ideas in these eight essential points.

1. Find inspiration: seems obvious, but it’s a nuclear part of the process. To solve lots of puzzles could be a great inspiration, but to search for ideas in other fields is another interesting way to create enigmas. Literature, movies, comics, toys and TV series are some examples of where to find inspiration.

2. Simplify: “keep it simple” is a mantra for game designers. After creating the main idea of a puzzle, it’s important to remove the excesses. Exploring the features of the platform (console, board game, mobile media etc.) can give you creative solutions for puzzle design.

3. Create a construction set: this third item is about prototypes and fast tests. With an idea on your mind, start to construct models (analogical or digital ones) and test this initial version. Test, test, test and test it again. Test alone and call other players to test.

4. Define the rules: Adams (2014, p.10) says that rules are “the key part of puzzle design. Most puzzles are characterized in terms of four things: the board (Is it a grid? A network? Is it regular? Or is there no board at all?), the pieces (How are they shaped? What pictures are on them? Where do they come from?), the moves (What is allowed and what is not? Are they sequential or simultaneous? What side effects do they have?), and the good or victory condition (Does it have to be an exact match, or will a partial one do?

5. Build the puzzles: when the mechanics is ready and functional it’s time to create the final version of the puzzle (analogical or digital). Here we need to pay attention to the first aesthetical details, information architecture and clear instructions for the player.

6. Test: is the final version done? Then test, test, test, and test it again. To find zero faults is difficult but it is always the desired outcome.

7. Devise a sequence: in a game with many puzzles - or many levels with puzzles – it’s good to create a logical order for them. Raising difficulty with some hints between the challenges is an interesting way to work the challenges of your game.

8. Pay attention to presentation: sounds, graphics and other details will make the difference in the puzzle experience. A good puzzle folded in a poor layout could be terrible for the players. Here, multidisciplinary work is essential.

Finally, it’s important to remember that, especially in digital games, puzzles can reach a new level of challenge using some impossible features or breaking the laws of physics. But in analogic games it’s possible to find interesting solutions, like in the “Codex Silenda”, a wooden book that compels you to solve puzzles to turn the pages.

In the video below, the designer behind the idea shows us a little bit of his creative process for this product.



ADAMS, Ernest. Fundamentals of Puzzle and Casual Game Design. San Francisco: Pearson, 2014.

terça-feira, 16 de agosto de 2016

How Super Mario Mastered Level Design

This video from Extra Credits is an awesome game design class using the level 1-1 from Super Mario Bros as an example. We can learn many important features with this classic game. It's a simple level but full of good references to think about game design.

Check the content below:


domingo, 7 de agosto de 2016

What we can learn from Atari's Keystone Kapers

I always like to replay some old classic games from the Atari generation. Not only because of the nostalgia, but to find some simple game design solutions to inspire myself to create new ludic stuff.

This week, I was playing the excellent KEYSTONE KAPERS (Activision, 1983) and I'll talk a little bit about some interesting features from this game, in this post.

I played this game a lot when I was a child and it is a masterpiece until today. The narrative is about a cop chasing a thief inside a kind of a shopping mall. Before discussing some highlights from the game, I invite you to watch the gameplay; please, pay special attention to the brilliant multi-floor scenario linked by a lift.

For a game from the beginning of the 1980's KEYSTONE KAPERS is a very advanced ludic experience. Three important game design points to observe in this title are:

1. Multiple interesting dangers with increasing difficulty throughout the levels. The scenario is always the same, as well as the speed of the two characters; so, objects thrown by the villain against the hero move differently. The shopping cart moves in a straight line, the balls kick, the airplane occupies the top of the floor etc. with a progressing level of speed. About this, Brathwaite and Schreiber (2009, p.100) remember us that "video games that have a sequence of levels, simply start off easy and become progressively more difficult as times goes on" and we can see this feature in classic arcade games.

2. Twitch decision-making. KEYSTONE KAPERS starts slow and becomes fast level by level (as we can see in the previous video). In the beginning of the game, it's possible to run only on the floors, use the stairs and catch the thief. However, in the high levels you must use the lift to capture the villain. Brathwaite and Schreiber (2009, p.101,102) teach us that there are five basic twitch mechanics: pure speed, timing, precision, avoidance, and time pressure. In some way, we can identify these five elements in the gaming interface.

3. Minimal and clear art direction integrated with the gameplay. Everybody knows how difficult it was to create games for Atari platform using minimal resources and few bits for programming, sounds and interface. In KEYSTONE KAPERS, we have a very strategic use of every single element. It's possible to clearly identify all the objects, the scenario, the characters and the gaming interface elements (points, lives etc.). All these features cooperate to create a good gameplay; a good art direction establishes logical dynamics for a good gameplay experience.

Once more, we can find inspiration in some treasures from the past. I usually call it "ludic archeology". If you want to read more about this subject, click here.



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

segunda-feira, 25 de julho de 2016


We will have an important gaming launching in August: ABZÛ. Created by Giant Squid Games and 505 Games, the game will be a relaxing exploration inside a strange and mystical submarine world. I saw a prototype of this game in 2014 during the E3 fair (Los Angeles). Usually I don't post about gaming launchings but I'm very anxious for this one. I think that ABZÛ will be an art framework to play. One experience similar to the game Journey.

The official release of the game describes the experience as "an epic descent into the depths of the sea, where players will explore beautifully rendered ocean environments with fluid swimming controls. The experience draws inspiration from the deep innate narrative that we all carry within our subconscious: the story of ABZÛ is a universal myth that resonates across cultures. The name references a concept from the oldest mythologies; it is the combination of the two ancient words AB, meaning ocean, and ZÛ, meaning to know. ABZÛ is the ocean of wisdom".

Check the stunning trailer and gameplay below:

Click here to access the official site.


segunda-feira, 11 de julho de 2016

Level up + power up!

In 2013, I started my doctorate in ESPM (São Paulo) studying the intersections between communication, technology and consume. At that time, when I was planning the main activities for the four-year course, I had decided that 2016 would be the year to make an old dream come true: to spend some time studying and living abroad.

During the first two years of the doctorate (and the previous year), I made excellent contacts in many European universities in cities like Antwerp, Copenhagen, Prague, Oxford, Budapest, Bratislava and others. These contacts were fundamental to start my journey, which I like to call my "side quest adventure".

In the middle of 2015, I started to activate my contacts to establish the first steps of my trip. After some time, I received an invitation from the Paneurópska vysoká škola to go to Bratislava (Slovakia) and study during the first semester of 2016. A formal agreement was signed between ESPM and PEU, creating interesting bonds for further researches and partnerships.

Me and the "man at work" statue (Bratislava)

So, in the beginning of this year, I travelled to Bratislava and, since then, I'm living in this awesome city where I already made great friends and discovered why Slovakia is called "big small country".

The whole semester was very rich and full of good experiences. Just to highlight some of them: 1) I gave some marketing/communication strategy classes for graduation students in Paneurópska vysoká škola (Bratislava); 2) I made a presentation about game design at the Alpen Adria Universität in Klagenfurt (Austria); 3) I presented one lecture about gaming interface at the Charles University in Prague (Czech Republic); 4) I attended an advergaming conference at Bucharest (Romania); 5) I wrote an article about wearable technologies for the Global Media Journal Slovak edition; 6) One text that I wrote with my friend Marcelo Vasconcellos about gaming concepts for the health area was published as a chapter in a book titled "Mapping the Digital", edited by Oxford University; 7) Finally, I progressed a lot on my doctorate thesis in this excellent time for thinking and reflecting.

I want to wish all the best for everybody that made this dream possible. =)

Tomorrow, I'm going back to Brazil.
Now it's time to finish the doctorate.
With many experience points.
On a higher level.
Ready for the next stage.


terça-feira, 28 de junho de 2016

Using Instagram as a gaming platform

Is it possible to create games using Instagram features? The answer is: yes.

The Turkish cookie brand Biskrem created the "Biskrem Instagram Adventure", a game that uses features from Instagram, such as maps, photos, videos, hashtags, tagging, search, direct messages etc..

The narrative is very fun and mixes aliens with time travel. Check the video case below to better understand the promotional idea.

This example dialogues with the advergaming concept we’ve already discussed here and here. It's another good case of how we can put entertainment and ludic content in marketing/communication campaigns.

And an important thing: this is the post number #250! Epic win!


domingo, 12 de junho de 2016

Book: Mapping the Digital - Cultures and Territories of Play

I want to share good news in this post: in 2014, I presented the paper “Health, consumption and entertainment: the Nike brand embodied as a playful experience”, that I wrote along with my friend Marcelo Vasconcellos for the Video Game Cultures & The Future of Entertainment conference (VG6).

This week, I received awesome news: all the papers from the conference were compiled in a fantastic book named Mapping the Digital - Cultures and Territories of Play. Edited by Lindsey Joyce and Brian Quinn, and published by Inter-Disciplinary Press (Oxford) the book is a wide discussion about the state of play and the state of games in contemporary culture.

This is what I call a level upgrade!

CLICK HERE to buy!

Below, you can read the book's synopsis:

"Mappings the Digital: Cultures and Territories of Play is an interdisciplinary discussion about the state of play and the state of games in contemporary culture. This volume takes a critical look and how our cultures and territories are being renegotiated through our engagement with digital media, games, and tools. This volume argues broadly that our tangible world, and our understanding of it, are being renegotiated and remapped by the digital worlds with which we engaged. Specifically, the chapters in this volume analyse linguistic changes; unique in-game cultures and behaviours; and new methods for communicating across real and perceived boundaries, for understanding cultural experiences, and for learning through play. Drawing from the global expertise of scholars within the fields of Cultural Studies, Game Studies, Foreign Language, Science and more, this volume bridges academic boarders to assemble a cohesive and authoritative resource on digital culture and play".


domingo, 29 de maio de 2016

Context and intertextuality in games

A game, as any media in the contemporary times, needs a context to happen. One important thing in this scenario is to understand the player as the co-author of the narrative. Different players with different motivations will experience one game in different ways, and so it is in the movies, books, theater, comics etc. It’s very naïve to suppose that one game will be interpreted and reinterpreted in an equal way for different people.

On the other hand, one powerful tool to contextualize a game for an audience (or many audiences) is the intertext. Sometimes, the using of specific references from other fields like literature, cinema or even other games could be very useful to create a dialogue with the players.

This way, if we want “to make sense of digital games, we must determine in which context they are supposed to make sense and in what way this meaning changes if they are removed from this context. For example, many games manufactured today are meant to make sense within the cultural context of Western society. Games such as America’s Army or Conflict: Desert Storm is likely to be understood differently when played by an American or an Iraqi, respectively. From the perspective of literary studies, however, it is more interesting to focus on a game’s contexts in a more literal sense, that is, the texts that the game in question refers to explicitly or implicitly. These contexts, often called intertexts, are not limited to literary texts, but might also include legal, scholarly and journalistic texts as well as films, song lyrics, urban legends and myths”. (RUTTER; BRYCE, 2006, p.105)

To talk about context and intertext, I want to present three excellent and distinct examples from different fields: one small tale, one short comics strip and one mobile game.

1) The first example comes from literature and it’s the short tale “A Woman Alone with Her Soul”* by Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

A woman is sitting alone in a house. She knows she is alone in the whole world: every other living thing is dead. The doorbell rings”.

This is an incredible exercise of imagination, context and references/intertexts. Are we talking about a nuclear holocaust? Is it a futuristic tale in a distant future or is it a story about the dead knocking on the woman’s door? The brilliant thing in this example is: there’s no right answer. Each person, with his or her references, will find one different explanation for this situation.

2) The second example is this very clever comic strip by J.C. Duffy . Starting from the same idea from “A Woman Alone with Her Soul”, Duffy presents us an absurd and comical situation where the character Jim receives a letter from someone (or something) inside his closet.

Once more, we are confronted with the exercise of context and intertext. Who sent this letter? Is it a creature? Is the closet a portal to another dimension? Is someone from the future trying to contact Jim in the present and the closet is the link between them? Every single person, with his or her knowledge, will tell a different theory for this funny situation.

3) The third example for this post is the mobile game DEVICE 6. We’ve already talked about this awesome game, but it fits perfectly in this discussion. Check the trailer below:

The game explains little or nothing about what is happening to the character you command. You wake up in a strange room full of enigmas and your mission is to solve them. But, as in Aldrich’s tale and Duffy’s comics, the player is called to use his or her imagination. Each enigma solved presents only little information and – strategically – the game authors invite the players to fill in the blanks and explore the references behind the narrative. Once again: the context will generate different experiences and some players could search for references from other fields embedded in the gaming narrative.

The intertwining of games and literary theory is a thought-provoking subject. We will discuss more about this theme in a near future.



RUTTER, Jason; BRYCE, Jo. Understanding digital games. London: Sage, 2006.

*Reproduced from the entry in The Book of Fantasy, which reproduces it from Aldrich's Works, Vol. 9, which was published in 1912.

quinta-feira, 19 de maio de 2016


Cengage Learning has just launched my new book in Brazil, today. GAME CULTURA: COMUNICAÇÃO, ENTRETENIMENTO E EDUCAÇÃO (GAMING CULTURE: COMMUNICATION, ENTERTAINMENT AND EDUCATION) is a study addressing educational aspects, narratives, questions and marketing strategies involving games. The final words were written by Uruguayan game designer and researcher Gonzalo Frasca (¡Gracias!, @frascafrasca!).



segunda-feira, 16 de maio de 2016

Missile Command: a game design class in Atari platform

I have played many Atari games in the last weeks. From time to time, I have this nostalgic feeling and I start to remember the good old classics from my childhood. In these “archeological sessions”, I once again played this masterpiece: Missile Command. Well, this one has special importance for me because it’s the very first game that I have ever played in Atari and I can perfectly remember the experience.

Missile Command is a class in game design. Seriously. Everybody that is developing or researching games must, at least one time, play this Atari title. The interface is very simple, but the idea is elegant and instigating: you are in the control of a defense tower and must destroy waves of missiles to protect six cities. The game goes like this: you need to move a crosshair across the screen to launch a counter-missile from the appropriate battery. Before continue the reading, take some minutes to watch the gameplay below and play the game in this online version (click here).

Missile Command
offers some excellent points to discuss the game designing process. Let’s put them in a short list to dwell over:

1) Minimalistic design: with a few pixels is possible to create an instigating gameplay (the game’s cover tells the narrative to the player).

2) Procedural information: stage after stage the missiles become faster. It’s important to understand the patterns of the game to launch the counter-missile in the right place.

3) Elegant game mechanics: point, click and destroy. As simple as that. Missile Command has one interesting and inspiring mechanism. We can reimagine this process in lots of other situations (specially for mobile platforms).

4) Infinite gameplay: Missile Command has no end. You play it until all cities are destroyed. It’s a test for higher rankings, a very common logic in mobile games.

The simplicity from Atari is one point to be highlighted nowadays. In times of extreme complexity in many games, it’s good to look back and find inspiration to create objective, simple and rich new experiences.


domingo, 1 de maio de 2016

What do players want?

The exercise of game designing is not an easy challenge. Behind the gameplay, beta test sessions, prototypes, interviews with beta testers, meetings, information architecture and gaming art lies a player filled with emotions, wishes, wills and a great desire to experience something unique in their life.

Game Expo Bratislava 2016 - foto by @vincevader

So, this post’s question is: what does a player want when are experiencing a game (and here we are talking about any kind of game: blockbusters and indies)? It's a pretty broad question and, in my humble opinion, impossible to be answered in a simple blog post. However, we can find great insights from gaming theory.

Rose III (2001, p.2-18) in his book “Game design: theory & practice” elaborated a very interesting list trying to answer some questions from the player’s side. About the theme “what players want and expect”, the author has some good points that I’ll reproduce and comment below:

1. Players want a challenge
2. Players want to socialize
3. Players want a dynamic solitaire experience
4. Players want bragging rights
5. Players want an emotional experience
6. Players want to fantasize
7. Players expect a consistent world
8. Players expect to understand the game-world’s bounds
9. Players expect reasonable solutions to work
10. Players expect direction
11. Players expect to accomplish a task incrementally
12. Players expect to be immersed
13. Players expect to fail (this point creates good dialogue with the first one)
14. Players expect a fair chance
15. Players expect to not need to repeat themselves
16. Players expect to not get hopelessly stuck
17. Players expect to do, not to watch

Let’s take Star Wars Battlefront (EA DICE, 2015) as an example. Players want challenges to play online or the possibility to play alone if the Internet fails. In this gaming ecosystem, to achieve better rankings works as a very important symbolic currency. The Star Wars universe offers a consistent world and the game has clear rules about how you can up your level, buy equipment, kill an enemy etc. There are tutorials to teach each new movement in the game. From time to time, EA DICE launches new maps, new characters and new challenges to keep the community engaged and immersed in the experience. A player can play in a professional level or just for fun. The Star Wars brand surely helps a lot in the marketing success, but the details and the strategic game thinking behind the production is the point to highlight in this discussion.

With good humor, Rose III (2001, p.18) ends this chapter from his book with the following thinking: “Players do not know what they want, but they know it when they see it”.

This list is a brief example of a universe of possibilities. So, the games studies need to be more and more interdisciplinary. Different views on the same subject could generate good ways to research and develop.



ROUSE III, Richard. Game design: theory & practice. Texas: Wordware Publishing, 2001.

terça-feira, 19 de abril de 2016

Presentations at Klagenfurt (Austria) and Prague (Czech Republic)

Last week was awesome! I did two presentations in two great European universities, and I will talk a little bit about the experience and share the content in this post.

1. Klagenfurt

In April 15th, I did a presentation at the 3rd Klagenfurt Game Jam. The event happened at Alpen-Adria-Universität and had many serious discussions about games, gaming concepts, games and accessibility, gamification and much more. I want to thank my friend René Schallegger for the invitation and support in this amazing experience.

My presentation was about my new game, Rock Flickz (which will be in app stores by the end of April) and how we can use a mobile game for music advertising, entertainment and business. You can see the presentation below:

2. Prague

I took a train in Klagenfurt and went straight to Prague for another presentation. This time, I was invited by my friend Daniel Riha to talk to some students from the Charles University (Faculty of Humanities) about "Game Interface Design". Another excellent experience that I want to share in the presentation below:

I think my curriculum has just risen some levels =)


quarta-feira, 6 de abril de 2016

What we can learn from the old RPG solo adventure books

If you are an old school gamer and a RPG fan like me, you have probably played in the 80’s or 90’s some of the classic solo adventure books created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, named Fighting Fantasy Collection. These authors disseminated a very unique kind of entertainment in the form of books. Using the idea of non-linear narrative they materialized some stories where the reader (or the player) could take decisions, combat enemies (rolling dice) and obtain different kinds of equipment for his/her journey (that could be controlled using a special character sheet). One of my favorite books from this collection is The Temple of Terror (LIVINSTONE, 1985).

This narrative fits in the idea of ergodic literature, proposed by Aarseth (1997, p.1), because of the unusual effort readers/players must put in text to advance in the story (roll die, take notes, read the pages without logical order etc.). In Temple of Terror the player will be a warrior entering an adventure inside the Temple of Skelos to fight the evil sorcerer Malbordus. Using a clever system based on choices and number of pages, players must use their memory, solve puzzles and get lucky in the dice to defeat the monsters until reaching the dungeon of Malbordus.

Entertainment aside, rests a question: what lessons this kind of ludic experience can teach to us to develop or study games? Here are some points to think about:

1) This kind of book is perfect to deconstruct. To learn from failures is essential to draw a map. This map is the game’s script. Through it, it’s possible to understand the complex “decision trees” created by the author.

2) After playing the same adventure a number of times, you’ll see strong points and weaknesses of the narrative. You can mark the frequency of combat, dialogues and achievements to have a notion of how to balance your game between different features.

3) Temple of Terror, specifically, is an exercise of suspension of disbelief. Can you imagine a dungeon full of goblins, demons, skeletons, dragons and other fantastic beings living in a healthy way? Makes no sense if you think rationally, but in this format it makes all the sense. The script is a little bit naïve, but, on the other hand, it is an exercise of fantasy fiction for young audiences.

4) There’s a crisscrossing between how a book like this is created and how a complex videogame script is created. Basically, both are narratives. So studying different formats will help you have “fuel” to compose new ideas for new games.

5) IT’S FUN! So don’t waste time. If you have never played a solo adventure game, buy a book and try now. During the experience, ask yourself: why books like this one made such success in the past? Where’s the fun factor in them? How we can use them to create games for mobile phones, consoles or board games?

The challenge is yours.



AARSETH, Espen. Cibertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. The Johns Hopkins University Press: Maryland, 1997.

quarta-feira, 23 de março de 2016

3rd Klagenfurt Game Jam

From April 15th until the 17th, the 3rd Klagenfurt Game Jam will happen. Klagenfurt is an Austrian city and gathers people who likes games and wants to create, test and talk about them.

What is a game jam? It is a gathering of game developers for the purpose of planning, designing, and creating one or more games within a short span of time, usually ranging between 24 and 72 hours. Game developers are generally made up of programmers, game designers, artists, and others in game development-related fields. The term “game jam” is a composition of the words “game” and “jam session”.

Starting on Friday, the topic will be revealed to all participants at the same time and random groups will brainstorm games. Then, after the ideas are pitched, the teams will emerge around ideas and games will be created. Finally, on Sunday, the projects are presented to a jury and the most awesome project will be awarded with a prize.

Parallel to the game jam, there will be lectures about the gaming universe. With great honor, I would like to share that I was invited to give a lecture about game design process and business model. I’ll talk about my new game ROCK FLICKZ developed by SIOUX, the keynote is entitled “The Rock Flickz Case - using a mobile game for music advertising, entertainment and business model”. Looking forward for this great meeting!

Click here for the official site and here for the complete program.


domingo, 6 de março de 2016


LIFELINE (3 Minutes Games, 2015) is a mobile text-based game focused on a narrative with a very simple gameplay. Written by Dave Justus, the plot is about an astronaut (Taylor) trying to survive in a strange place after a spaceship accident. To survive, he needs your help to take some decisions inside a claustrophobic alien ambient.

The gameplay is always based in two decisions presented to the player in the end of certain speeches from the astronaut. The idea of “decision trees” (that we have already discussed here) is the interaction’s core inside the gaming universe. The astronaut will always offer two options to the player to continue the history with different outcomes. The image below shows the main idea of the gameplay:

But, beyond the very immersive narrative, that game has a very different component: the real time between astronaut’s actions. In some moments in the story, it’s possible to ask the astronaut, for example, to climb a mountain. The game stops and after 3 hours (the time Taylor took to climb the mountain) he starts a new part of the narrative. So, many decisions in the game are affected by these kinds of choices.

To understand the game better, check the official trailer below:

In a time full of complex games, it’s very good to find some elegant and simple game design based in a good narrative.


segunda-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2016

Merging narrative with puzzles

A few posts ago (here, here and here), we discussed about puzzles, how to create them and what makes them challenging and immersive. Today, I want to talk about how a puzzle can be an interesting narrative component inside a game.

We have lots of examples, but let’s focus our attention on one specific series of games, so we can think about how puzzles can intersect with an action game: let’s talk about Resident Evil’s fourth edition.

This game (and many others of this genre) focuses its gameplay in a balance between action scenes full of despair and introspective moments, where the player must take a breath and calmly think of how to solve certain puzzles. In the example below we can see this: it’s a puzzle that uses lights inside a church. After the enigma is solved, the player triggers a new scene of action.

In a game like Resident Evil 4, the puzzles create a kind of a break in the frenzy action with zombies and other creatures. Those moments are very strategic to calm down the players and prepare the story for the next step.

Different from other shooting games, Resident Evil’s series uses the puzzles as a tool to its storytelling. Each mystery solved leads to an important narrative piece to explain the main plot. Another point deserves a highlight in RE4’s case: the gaming producers use different kinds of puzzles to test players’ “powers”. As Koster (2005, p.152) reminds us

“The toughest puzzles are the ones that force the most self-experimentation. They are the ones that challenge us most deeply on many levels – mental stamina, mental agility, creativity, perseverance, physical endurance, and emotional self-abnegation”.

There are many possibilities and many combinations. Let’s discuss more how puzzles can merge with different kinds of gaming plots.



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

quinta-feira, 28 de janeiro de 2016

Gaming quotes

"Someday, if society allows it, games will have their Skakespeare"

Raph Koster IN: A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2005, p.219)

segunda-feira, 11 de janeiro de 2016

From the NON-GAME to the GAME

Jesper Jull, in his book Half-Real (2005, p.36), contextualizes a game as the union of six elements: fixed rules, variable outcome, valorization of outcome, player effort, player attachment to the outcome, and negotiable consequences.

On the other hand, Juul understands that in the opposite side of games we can find the “not games”: the movies, books, children playing, and other activities that does not meet the previously mentioned gaming features. However, between the non-games and games we can see a gray area made up of elements that bring together some gaming features; Juul calls this area as borderline cases.

Source: Source: Juul, 2005, p.44.

But the question here is: is it possible for a content to transit through these three areas? The answer is yes. Let’s take as an example the work of Howard Philips Lovecraft, the author behind the Cthulhu mythos. Lovecraft’s original content are horror books full of cosmic demi-gods and abyssal creatures (non-games); but the books’ narratives were transformed in paper and pen role playing games (a borderline case that reunites some elements from games); finally it’s possible to play the computer game Dark Corners of The Earth, one product that unites all the characteristics of a game, as Juul says. Check the gameplay:

It’s important to understand the contemporary scenario of communication and consumption as a rich field to explore these kinds of transmediatic developments. Entertainment is a powerful currency to investigate new possibilities of business models.


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