domingo, 31 de dezembro de 2017

segunda-feira, 11 de dezembro de 2017

MIND ALONE: an experimental mobile game


Mind Alone (2017/2018) is an experimental mobile game that I created in a partnership with Sioux, a Brazilian gaming publisher (it'll be launched in February). The main mechanics is puzzle-based (ADAMS, 2014) and most part of the gaming interface is built using alphabetical characters, only. Narrative is the main feature in this case and puzzle mechanics create the perfect blend for the gameplay. The main idea of the game is to follow the notion that “story, dialogue, character profiles, etc., should all be created in a way that add to the design of the gameplay” (INCE, 2006, p.36).

Based with slight modifications on the “High Concept Document” proposed by Adams and Rollings (2009, p.63), in this brief paper we aim to discuss some main features from Mind Alone’s game designing process, its business model conception, and how an experimental mobile game can be used to promote a gaming studio and become an example for game designing classes.

It is important to highlight that the “High Concept Document” (HCD) is an interesting exercise of “elevator pitch”; in other words: the document must be brief, objective, take no more than 10 minutes to read, and contain the essential features from the game. This kind of document is a good tool for game designers to register ideas for further consulting, and to explain ideas to studios/publishers/gaming companies.

Below we present the main features from Mind Alone described in the HCD format.

2.Mind Alone’s High Concept Document

Name of the game: Mind Alone
Team: Vicente Martin Mastrocola (game design, sound design, information architecture); Gabriel Romano (user experience, Unity programming); Guilherme Camargo (business model; planning strategy).
Publisher: Sioux
Country and year: Brazil (São Paulo), 2017/2018

Game summary: Mind Alone is a non-competitive single-player game based on plot/story-related. The player embodies the role of a character trapped in his own mind. It is impossible to say if they are dreaming, lying in a coma or dead. To reach the answer for this mystery, the player must solve a series of puzzles; each puzzle is a memory that brings hints of what happened. The memories start in the character’s childhood and advance until actual days. The player must solve all the puzzles to reach the surface of the conscience. Mind Alone is an authorial game and does not demand special licenses.

Gaming references: The Witness (Thekla Inc., 2016); Dark Room (Doublespeak Games, 2013); Lifeline (Three Minute Games, 2016). Games with a focus in narrative features and a clear invitation to players become “co-creators” of the plot.

Player’s motivation: the character needs help to wake up from the prison of their mind, in which they are confined in an infinite loop of disconnected memories. Players must solve the puzzles, which have different difficulty levels, to reach the surface of conscience.

Keywords: puzzle game; mystery; terror; enigma; mobile, transmedia; immersive; narrative

Target audience: 16+ year-old players, fans of puzzle/enigmas, escape the room games, and horror/terror literature.

Highlights: game 95% created using only alphabetical characters with interesting artistic interface. Freeware. Some puzzles offer transmediatic features inviting players to explore blogs and sites. Fast. Dual language: Portuguese and English.

Platform: mobile game developed for iOS and Android systems (created with Unity programming).

Game designing goals: through dark/mysterious narrative and puzzle-based gameplay, offers the players an experience of immersion, fear and tension. Generates thought-provoking puzzles with a simple interface.

Music and sound design: dark ambient soundtrack with incidental sounds (doors opening, moans, screams, piano notes, etc.). Some sounding references come from projects like Lustmord, Robert Rich and Zoät·Aon.

Business model: freeware. The goal of the game is to participate in game designing contests, festivals and gaming fairs to promote Sioux studio. As a freeware game, another goal is to use Mind Alone in game designing classes.

Mechanics examples: Mind Alone uses various smartphone features to constitute its gameplay. There are puzzles that use touch screen, assembly of elements, movement of the device (through accelerometer and gyroscope) and puzzles with textual responses. Below, we can analyze some puzzle wireframes with mechanics:

Puzzle example 1:

Solution: turn the smartphone to 90o to move the words from the shelf to the ground.

Puzzle example 2:

Solution: touch the dots in order to create a star pattern. If the player does not touch in the right sequence, the lines will disappear.

Puzzle example 3:

Solution: the player must search and touch the word “ON” in the middle of the characters. The screen will become white and the next puzzle will appear.

Puzzle example 4:

Solution: this puzzle is a transmedia enigma; the answer is outside of the game. Players must access the URL to verify the image of some trees and type the answer in the blank field.

3.Final thoughts

Despite being a free mobile game, Mind Alone is one important tool for Sioux studio to present its work and participate in game designing contests and gaming fairs. The game is also a case to be used in the classroom and to discuss how to create independent experimental/artistic games, and to digress on how the gaming industry is plural in this sense. The strategy of distributing a free game could guarantee other profits like posts in specialized gaming websites, discussions in academic articles, and prizes in gaming contests etc.

Following the thoughts of Fullerton et al. (2008, p.15-16), Mind Alone used one very synthetic game design process based on stages: 1) conceptual stage: to define the game’s theme; 2) brainstorm stage: to think how the theme will materialize on the gaming interface; 3) Physical prototype/pre-prototype stage: to create a fast pre-visualization of the game using paper, pen and simple components; 4) Layout stage: to establish the initial concepts of the interface; 5) Digital prototype and test stage: with the previous mechanics and first layouts, it is possible to develop a simple version to be played on browser or in smartphones. In this stage, it is possible to start the beta-testing sessions; 6) Production stage: the feedbacks from the digital prototype beta-test sessions are the main information to produce the final version of the game; 7) Evaluation stage: to make the final tests to assure it is error-free; 8) Launching stage: to put the game available for download in mobile platforms (Android and iOS). It is important to highlight that, during this whole process, the game is documented using specific files (like the “High Concept Document” discussed previously).

By discussing the creative process and the business model structuration of Mind Alone, we hope to demonstrate how strong is the relationship between players and gaming companies in the contemporary digital gaming ecosystem. We claim it is of utmost importance to use a methodological process, even for small productions. We can see the importance of working with a consistent methodology and it is possible to imagine the iterative process applied in bigger projects. We hope we can contribute to the field of gaming studies and that this paper earns future developments and inspire new relevant discussions.

The Brazilian gaming market, as an emergent market, reveals itself as a privileged ambient to observe these game design processes. We welcome the opportunity to present this relevant discussion as a means of contributing to the on-going efforts in exploring the gaming market in contemporary culture.


ADAMS, Ernest. Fundamentals of puzzle and casual game design. San Francisco: Pearson, 2014.
ADAMS, Ernest; ROLLINGS, Andrew. Fundamentals of game design. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.
FULLERTON, Tracy, et al. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, 2008.
INCE, Steve. Writing for video games. London: A & C Black Publishers Limited, 2006.

domingo, 26 de novembro de 2017

GAME ON 2017

In December 9th I'll be in Buenos Aires (Argentina) talking about my new mobile game MIND ALONE (that I created with Sioux Studio). The presentation will happen at the event GAME ON - one festival focused on experimental and artistic games. Below you can check the reel with some games (mine included):

Below, my presentation's flyer.

As soon as possible I'll share the content from my presentation here.


domingo, 19 de novembro de 2017

Immersing deeply in gameplay through sound

From time to time, I like to replay games so I can have new points of view and (re) discover aspects and elements of game design, gameplay, narrative or creative process. Last weekend, checking my Apple Cloud to verify some old downloads, I found this very unique game: Dark Echo.

Created by RAC7 Studio the game offers an experience to “explore a mysterious world through sound”. And “sound” is the core and keyword of this game. Using only a black interface with minimal white sound waves ricocheting around the scenario, the player is invited to explore a kind of a dungeon filled with monsters. Check the gameplay:

It operates by touching the screen to walk and generate the sound waves. The important detail is the fact that the sounds of your steps will attract terrible “monsters” (again, you will only hear the creatures’ grunts) and sometimes you need to run into the darkness. Anxiety is an important game design component in this example. The whole game is based in it, and all fear/horror/terror reactions derive from it.

Sound is strategically built in this case, the perfect blend between the minimal interface and the sounding experience. This is a great example of how we can construct a game using few elements to create big impact.


domingo, 29 de outubro de 2017

What isn’t an advergame

We have already discussed the idea of advergames here at GAMING CONCEPTZ (you can check it here and here). On the other hand, it is also important to contextualize what cannot be considered an advergame.

We’ve already explained that an advergame is an advertising piece of campaign that : requires planning and an interface that puts together a brand/product/service and the gameplay

In this context, an advergame is not a ready-made game that one can simply insert a logo or a company’s feature. In the following hypothetical example below, we see the interface of the classic Pac-Man game with elements from McDonald's brand. To insert these elements on the gaming interface does not make this game an advergame; there is no strategic view or branding planning, we only notice elements scattered in a videogame screen.

According to Cavallini (2006), the notion of advergame – a neologism formed from the juxtaposing of the words “advertising” and “game” – could be described as a marketing strategy that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from complex games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes to common casual games – much more complex than to only insert a logo in a classic gaming interface.


CAVALLINI, Ricardo. (2006). O marketing depois de amanhã. São Paulo: Digerati Books.


segunda-feira, 16 de outubro de 2017

Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made

In this moment I'm reading the excellent book "Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made". True stories about how the work in the gaming industry could be full of anxiety and despair.

Jason Schreier (the author) interviewed more than 100 professionals from this field and the result is a book with many different views about the creative process behind a game, the difficulties, the mistakes and victories.

Schreier (2017) in the introduction of the book discusses about why is so hard to make games. The author points out that: 1) games are interactive; 2) technology is constantly changing; 3) the tools are always different; 4) scheduling is impossible; 5) it's impossible to know how "fun" a game will be until you've played it. From this point to the end, in each chapter, one game is used as an example to explain the how this area (as the title of the book says) is full of "blood, sweat, and pixels".

Excellent reading.

Click here to buy.


SCHREIER, Jason. Blood, sweat, and pixels: the triumphant, turbulent stories behind how video games are made. New York: Harper, 2017.

domingo, 1 de outubro de 2017

About gaming narrative

The gaming field is a plural space for different genders, styles and types of products. Nowadays, we have a multifaceted environment where indie games coexist with AAA productions; one place in which hardcore gamers are experiencing extremely challenging games in consoles and, at the same time, casual games in their smartphones. We are facing an ecosystem where games could be played anytime, anywhere.

In this sense, there are abstract games that are completely based in mechanics, with no storytelling background, and games fully developed in complex narratives. In the very beginning of gaming industry, we didn’t have much to tell in the limited interfaces. Pong, as example, is about bouncing a square ball using a vertical rectangle. On the other hand, Donkey Kong, for Atari console, has an interesting narrative layer where the hero must save the lady from the giant gorilla on the top of the building. Many years in advance, we can find some publishers like TellTale or Quantic Dream that created games fully based on narrative components like Walking Dead, Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls and many others.

As we’ve discussed previously, it is a market full of opportunities for many types of ludic products. However, in this post I want to focus my attention in some interesting narrative features and how they are important in a gaming project.

First of all, it is essential to point out that the player “is at once the subject and the object of the play” (EHRMANN, 1968, p.56). We must always keep that in mind in any kind of gaming project. The game is an inanimate thing: codes, pieces, cardboards, miniatures etc., but the experience with the game is full of life. This experience is what we need to focus in: how we will deliver a good experience to the player.

A good narrative is one possible way to deliver a meaningful experience to the player. Following some ideas from Dansky (2007, p.5), it is possible to say that

On the most basic level, narrative strings together the events of the game, providing a framework and what can alternately be called a justification, a reason, or an excuse for the gameplay encounters. At its best, narrative pulls the player forward through the experience, creating the desire to achieve the hero’s goals and, more importantly, see what happens next. At its worst, narrative merely sets up the situation and turns the players loose to do as they see fit. It achieves these goals through three important techniques: immersion, reward and identification”.

This author (DANSKY, 2007, p.5-6) also explains that there are three fundamental pillars that we need to think about gaming narrative:

1) Immersion: in a simple way, it refers to the state of mind where a person is completely absorbed in what they are doing (we’ve already discussed this feature using the idea of FLOW in this post); immersion refers to the moment in which we are so involved with the game that time passes different and we can’t notice the world outside the experience. We are talking about games, but a good book/movie/conversation could have the same effect. Consuming many references is the secret to create a good narrative.

2) Reward: Dansky (2007, p.6) says that narrative can also be a reward to the player and “the narrative events can be revealed gradually, delivered as rewards for achieving in-game goals”. As an example, in Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice great part of the game’s rewards come from narrative pieces that tells us the background of the main character and some tales/legends from the Nordic culture.

3) Identification: something that, in the gaming context, provides justification for the actions during the experience. In Papers Please, for example, you assume the role of an immigration police officer from a dystopian nation and your job is to stamp entry visas. You must take some moral decisions based on the characters’ backgrounds and part of the meaning of this experience comes from the identification feature of the game.

Narrative in games is a great subject to discuss in future posts. Soon, I’ll bring a wide discussion about it.



DANSKY, Richard. Introduction to game narrative. BATEMAN, Chris (editor). Game Writing: narrative skills for videogames. Boston: Thomson, 2007.

EHRMANN, Jacques. Homo Ludens Revisited. Yale French Studies, No 41. Game, Play, Literature (1968). pp. 31-57.

quinta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2017


Six years of gaming content in 286 posts.

Thanks to the followers.

Long live to GAME ANALYTICZ!

Check the first post by clicking here.


domingo, 10 de setembro de 2017

Roger Caillois and one possible view about the complexity of games and play forms

In his iconic book from 1958 “Man, Play and Games” (“Les jeux et les homes” as the original title, in French), the sociologist Roger Caillois discusses how a gaming culture can be an essential element of social changing.

In the first chapter of the book, Caillois presents one interesting view about possibilities of play forms and how they can combine among them. In a very synthetic way, the author says that there are four play forms:

1) Agon: play activities that depend on physical abilities like soccer, basketball, chess (mind effort), boxing etc.

2) Alea: ludic situations that depend of pure chance, like lottery, casino roulette and dice-rolling games based only on luck.

3) Mimicry: role-playing games and theatrical activity (make-believe game).

4) Ilinx: Activities where there is risk of life and vertigo. Tightrope, bungee jump and other extreme sports are some examples.

Trying to summarize these ideas, I created the following image:

It’s important to highlight that these categories can combine themselves in other situations. One “Dungeons & Dragons” RPG session, for instance, can combine elements of mimicry (in the role play) and alea (in dice-rolling situations). Poker can combine alea factors (the way the cards will appear in the table) with agon (the strategy and mental effort to create strategy).

This post is only a synthesis of an important idea from Caillois. I strongly suggest the full reading of “Man, Play and Games”. It’s a fantastic way to dwell deeply about games, game design and ludic elements in the contemporary scenario.



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

sexta-feira, 1 de setembro de 2017

Teaser trailer: MIND ALONE

In a partnership with SIOUX Studios from São Paulo I'll launch my new mobile game soon (end of October probably)! MIND ALONE is a text-based ludic interface. It is an experimental puzzle game that uses different functions from smartphones to create an immersive suspense/terror narrative. It is a “scape the room” game, but the room is your own mind. Each memory is a puzzle. The aim is to solve the puzzles, recover your memory, reach the surface and wake up from this mysterious nightmare.

Check the teaser trailer:

Wait for news here!


domingo, 20 de agosto de 2017

One game design exercise to rethink the past while looking at the present

This semester, I’d like to propose my students one interesting exercise from the book “The ultimate guide to video game writing and design”. Though I’ve made some modifications, the main idea is to recreate a modern game in an old fashioned way.

Some steps are necessary for this mission:

1) Choose one game from the last generation of consoles (Playstation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch) and mobile devices (Android and iOS). The more complex, the better.
2) Try to imagine and recreate the game for the Atari platform (keep the essence of the narrative and few elements from the mechanics).
3) Using samples and print screens from Atari’s games, build a few simple interfaces for the game. This will be a big challenge. In some way, the interface must resemble some core visual elements.
4) Create a prototype for the cartridge cover.

Below, is one example that I created for this post using the game THE LAST OF US.

I tried to maintain the shooting mechanics with stealth. Characters must use the stairs simultaneously to reach the other side of the screen. In a minimalist way, I tried to keep the essence of the "clickers" enemies. Interface is very simple with stamina and ammunition.

The new game's cover is an homage to a very similar story - the movie LOGAN.

To the check the main idea from THE LAST OF US, watch the trailer below:

Many people are creating modern-retro-art for Atari games, you can check out some interesting examples in this link.



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

terça-feira, 8 de agosto de 2017

Ernest Adams - Agency vs Story

Visit to search through interviews with over 100 of the videogame industry’s most influential designers and visionaries.


segunda-feira, 31 de julho de 2017

The importance of studying games, or why I travelled half of the world to attend a gaming conference

From July 12th until the17th, I was in one of the world’s most relevant gaming conferences: DIGRA 2017. It took place in Melbourne, Australia, in the fantastic Swinburne University. I attended this event in 2011 in Netherlands (by the way, it was the first time I was in an international conference) and it was a transforming moment in my professional/academic life. This year was not different: another great experience.

When I tell people about a gaming conference, they ask me how this works. First idea that comes to their minds is a place to play the newest games from big publishers, or an event full of gaming events. Well, the idea is very different from that. In a conference like DIGRA, we talk about the game industry, game design and tendencies, but the discussion goes beyond those subjects.

This year, we had excellent debates about sexuality in games, gender in games, gaming classification, historical contexts in ludic experiences, sound design, game design, interfaces, analogic vs. digital games, philosophy inside games, social contexts in games – these are just a few examples of the whole content. How is it possible? Because games – in the contemporary scenario - became a potent media and a very important platform to socialize, interact and cast messages.

DIGRA main panel (july 6th - 2017). Pic by @vincevader

In a conference like DIGRA, the specialists are discussing all these points inside a greater subject: games. One thing is a common sense among all the researchers: it is very difficult to study it, but all of us are trying to create a more serious space to debate this. As a Brazilian researcher, I understand the importance to be part of the gaming studies field, not only in my country, but also in other parts of the globe. Networking is another important keyword in this context.

So, answering the question on the title above: I travelled half of the world to “power up” my knowledge and reach a new level in my academic research. On the next months, I’ll try to write and produce more about all that I have experienced in this event.

Next year, the conference will be in Turin, Italy. Follow the DIGRA Twitter for more information. Keep your eyes open.


domingo, 9 de julho de 2017

Time, entertainment and the state of flow

When we are experiencing certain activities, time passes differently. Time can go fast when we are playing an interesting game, or slowly if we are watching a boring movie. It varies from person to person, but all of us have different perceptions of the time passing. In this context it’s important to highlight that there’s one chronological time (seconds, minutes, hours etc.) and a subjective time (one that affects every single individual in an unique way).

This is a complex subject to discuss in a short post, so I want to talk about these perceptions related to the gaming field. To help me in this mission, I’ll summon the ideas of the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This researcher (1975) has developed the idea of flow to explain some time lapses we can experience when we are involved in some specific activity. Csikszentmihalyi (1975) explains that “flow” is a state in which a person is fully immersed in an action and highly focused to the extent that one can experience, for example, a loss in the feeling of self-consciousness and time experience. To help us visualize this concept, Csikszentmihalyi created a graph to visually explain the idea of flow:

Source: Tolstoy Therapy

In a synthetic way, we can observe that there are two axes in the graph above: one shows the degree of challenge and other shows skill and confidence levels. When we are experiencing a very stressful situation (like an emergency surgery, one very difficult test or a complex work to be done in a short period) we can enter a zone of panic and anxiety. On the other hand, if we are experiencing a very boring situation (a monotonic class, an annoying movie or a non-challenging game) we can enter a zone of complete boredom. Both extremes lead us to states of attention that - potentially - are harmful to our minds.

But there’s one zone of perfect balance between a stressful situation and a complete boredom state: the flow. When we experience a state of flow, we immerse ourselves in a state of mind that we can even feel the passing of time differently. Have you ever played videogames for three hours but inside of your head, only one hour has passed? This is one situation when a flow happens.

Games are excellent examples to illustrate this discussion. When we like the experience of playing certain games (analogic or digital), we can feel immersed in the state of flow. So, one important component of game design is how to engage players in the game experience so that they potentially access the flow state. There’s no recipe for this, but to test a lot of games with different beta testers that could show some interesting ways to do it.

I want to dedicate this post to all gamers that need to wake up early, but instead say “just ten more minutes” (and play for another hour). =)



CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, Mihaly. Play and intrinsic rewards. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol 15(3), 1975, 41-63. Online >> click here.

domingo, 25 de junho de 2017

Gamification loop

Source: Gabe Zichermann's gamification presentation on Slide Share (click here).


segunda-feira, 5 de junho de 2017

Keeping track of your gaming analysis: a personal approach to organizing notes for classes, meetings and projects

Working with game development requires a lot of references and annotations all the time. Sometimes, we need to find a good example for a game designing class; sometimes we need to reach for a fast good reference to explain some mechanics for a company’s gamification project. Or, maybe, we just need to remember a specific game to write an article or post about it. It helps a lot to have all that stuff at hand to create presentations, classes or academic content. In this post, I’ll share one method that I use to create and organize quick notes about the games I played.

1. Every single game I play is registered on an online document

I call this my “ludic journal”. I have one excel file on Google Docs where I register all played games in chronological order. For analogic games (card games, board games, dice games etc.) I write a note on the same day I played the title. For video games (console, PC, mobile etc.) I register it when I finish the game or when I have sufficiently experienced its core mechanics/narrative. It’s important to write fast to put personal impressions in the document. Usually, I write the game’s name, the day I played, give it a personal rate (one to five asterisks), summarize the game’s narrative/plot (if available), make a list of the core mechanisms and attach a pic. Like in the following example:

Type: board game
Date: December 11th 2007
Rate: * * *
Summary: Players are builders constructing the reign of Carcassonne in France. Using some special characters it’s possible to build roads, churches, castles and farms. When you finish one of these constructions, you earn points. The player with the most points wins the game. The game uses tiles and creates a very interesting design on the table and a random result at the end of each match.
Mechanisms: area control, area influence, tile placement.

2. Add tags to your notes

This second step helps me a lot. After describing the previous elements, I always create a list of tags for the game (a very personal “mix” of words to describe the game in its essence). This is very useful because it’s possible to find a game for a specific use doing a simple search for keywords in the system. Still using Carcassonne as an example, I wrote these tags for the game (tags, in this case, could be single words or even complete phrases):

Tags: Carcassonne; board game; tile game; France; historic context; build; competitive; area control; area influence; tile placement; clever graphic design; metaphor for architecture; useful for history classes; puzzle. 

This method helps me a lot to prepare content in many occasions. Last week I was preparing a class about “casual games”. A fast search in my document revealed 40 occurrences for this kind of game. So, I combine “casual games” with “funny narrative” and the system gave me 7 results. As I said: it’s a personal method. It could probably not be so useful for another person other than me, but this post is to inspire people to create their own methods.

3. I complement my notes using social networks

I like to create personal text registers for the games I have played, but I also like to organize visual references and gaming stuff in other platforms, too. My favorite place to store visual references is Pinterest. Check ot my GAMES, RPG and GAME DESIGN boards. It’s a very practical way to access ideas.

I’m preparing a second post about this subject with other personal methodologies to organize content for work. I hope it helped.

Now, on to your opinion!


domingo, 21 de maio de 2017

The Counting Kingdom: learning math could be fun

What an excellent surprise one student brought in the last “gaming analysis” class. The Counting Kingdom is an educational game for kids (6 to 8 years), that teaches basics concepts of sum and equations using a tower defense mechanics. It’s very easy: you need to cast a spell using some magic scrolls to stop the monsters. Each monster has a number of strength and the player needs to sum the scrolls to make an equal number and eliminate the enemy. Check the gameplay:

That’s a great example of how we can use a game-based learning strategy. It’s important to mention that a game like this one does not replace a math class, but it helps to complement and reinforce the studied ideas.


terça-feira, 9 de maio de 2017

domingo, 16 de abril de 2017

International Academic Conference on Management, Economics and Marketing in Budapest 2017, Hungary (IAC-MEM 2017 in Budapest)

Last week I was in Budapest to attend the International Academic Conference on Management, Economics and Marketing. The event was great! Full of good content and awesome people. This conference is very important to me because it's the first event that I attended as a PhD (Yeah! Finished my doctorate one month ago!).

I had the opportunity to present the article "Advergames: games as marketing tools". Below, I want to share the PDF file with some slides from the presentation.

You can download the full article by clicking here.

One more international achievement unlocked. =)


domingo, 2 de abril de 2017

Let's give the floor to specialists in advergames

I selected four experts from the gaming field and asked each one the following question: what are three essential characteristics for an effective advergame? Below, I present and discuss the answers:

Fabio Tola, Brazilian elementary school teacher and specialist in the use of games for education, says that one advergame 1) must reach the target audience; 2) convey the branding/product message effectively; 3) become viral – this last item is very important to quickly expand the marketing message to the social media environment.

For Guilherme Camargo, CEO of the Brazilian gaming studio Sioux, the three essential characteristics for an effective advergame are: 1) have a well-defined purpose aligned to the brand, product or service (it seems obvious but, often, an advergame is detached from the core concept of a campaign); 2) know your target audience to match the style, mechanics and other characteristics of the games; 3) be fun – it is fundamental to create something that strengthens engagement through entertainment languages.

Mauro Berimbau, Brazilian high school teacher and specialist in advergames ponders that 1) in this modality of games, is elementary to send a clear marketing message; 2) to observe the historical socio-cultural aspects of the players; 3) to study the player's interpretations and responses to the system. From these opinions, we can ponder a lot before an advergaming project or an analysis of an advergame. We will discuss these ideas in the final topic of our article.

Laura Herrewijn, guest Professor at University of Antwerp, says that 1) it is important to be sure that your audience will have fun, to create an original game in which you integrate your brand message in a central, prominent way; 2) it’s necessary to focus on the moments where the player has no attention left to perceive the brand messaging; 3) you need to make sure that the behavior you want to promote (e.g. visiting a website, buying a product) is made as easily as possible (e.g. to include a very visible link/ a coupon, etc.).


segunda-feira, 20 de março de 2017

Board game mechanics in a poster

I was in Santiago (Chile) last weekend for a presentation about my new mobile game RockFlickz. After the work, I visited one very interesting ludic place: Dos De Seis Board Game Café. You can rent board games, play them and drink excellent coffee. One poster in the wall caught my attention and I want to share it in this post:

Some "artist" grouped the main board game mechanics in the same space. A cool poster to decorate a wall and an excellent exercise to think about game design.


segunda-feira, 13 de março de 2017

Game design process: one more interesting approach

Some excellent stuff from the YouTube channel Game Design Ed. A concise and interesting view about game design process. Enjoy!


domingo, 5 de março de 2017

The magic circle idea and the playgrounds scattered throughout everyday life

From countless mobile gadgets with wireless and fast track connection to the Internet, or using more traditional modes of access, people are increasingly blurring the lines between near and far, public and private, work and leisure, online and offline. The impressive rates in social appropriation of communication and information technologies entail changes in the way we live, get together, do business and – of course – have fun.

Stephansplatz, Vienna (June, 2016). Photo by @vincevader

Having fun, in this scenario, is closely linked to the large number of entertainment languages that pervade our daily experience. The languages of entertainment are crisscrossing boundaries in the quotidian landscape and games become media and a relevant tool of marketing for many companies. We can find games and languages of entertainment in our mobile devices, Facebook site, television shows, videogame consoles, mobile applications and lots of other platforms. Everything indicates that, more than never, individuals are searching for ludic/entertainment/gaming experiences to disconnect for some moments from the chaotic quotidian, the pressure of working hours or the accelerated routine of big urban centers; in certain way, people are trying to reach places of catharsis, dreaming and fiction to escape from this. Based on the Huizinga’s (1995) thoughts, they are searching for different “magic circles”.

Johan Huizinga (1872 – 1945) was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history. In his book Homo Ludens, from 1938, he discusses the possibility that playing is the primary formative element in human culture. In this book, the author (HUIZINGA, 1995) presents the idea of the "magic circle". As described by Adams and Rollings (2009), 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; in the real world someone kicks a ball into a net, but in the magic circle someone scores a goal leading the crowd to celebrate this act. (ADAMS; ROLLINGS, 2009).

The magic circle is a place of dreams and fantasy. It's an escape from everyday problems and chores. Most importantly: everything inside the magic circle is, in some way, transformative. Each time a person leaves the magic circle, they bring meaning and experience to the real world. The arena, the card-table, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc., are examples of the magic circle idea. It is important to mention that authors like Bogost (2016) discuss that “magic circle” is too dramatic a name for this kind of processes and embraces the term “playgrounds” as an alternative.

Regardless of the categorization – whether “magic circle” or “playgrounds” – it is important to understand that the contemporary stage is full of platforms that we can access entertainment/games and there are lots of individuals attached to these ludic experiences. We can suppose that companies/brands/products/services will try to connect its selves to the audiences immersed in these experiences, platforms and languages. Based on this assumption, we understand more clearly how games also become communication and marketing tools.



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

BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

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

quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2017

A diagram to explain connections in a board game design process

An excellent diagram to think about the relationships between theme, rules, players and components in board games. The intersections between the different areas point out very interesting ways to ponder about game design questions.

Source: Big Game Theory site


terça-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2017

Defining “advergame”, “product placement in games” and “in-game advertising”

According to Cavallini (2006), the notion of advergame – a neologism formed from the juxtaposing of the words “advertise” and “game” – could be described as a strategy for marketing that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from complex games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes to common casual games. The Internet and video game consoles are great environments to use this strategy. Mobile media (smartphones and tablets) are already being tested by companies, which chose this marketing strategy too. For instance, the Brazilian branch of the soft drink brand Fanta launched in 2015 a hot site with ten advergames. Developed by Sioux Studio, the games emphasized Fantas’s branding features like happiness, friendship, radical sports and music. All the features of the brand appeared in campaigns displayed on television, magazines, movie theaters and on the Internet are present in the game; therefore, we can conclude that the game is an advertising piece like any other.

Cavallini (2006) also discusses the idea of product placement in games as a strategy that inserts a company’s product inside the gaming interface and context. The characters in the game Devil May Cry wear pants with the Diesel brand in evidence. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, the character uses a Sony Ericsson p900 smartphone to solve missions, so the player virtually experiences the use of the device. In Worms 3D, by SEGA Studio, the characters drink a can of Red Bull energy drink in order to jump higher. In the last released UFC game, we can see the fighters wearing shorts and gloves from famous sporting brands. It is very important to highlight that this kind of strategy, as everything in marketing, needs its context aligned with the target audience. In all previous examples, the product fits in the gaming universe and dialogues with the players.

Another fundamental keyword in this context is in-game advertising. As Herrewijn and Poels (2011) define, in-game advertising refers to the use of games as a medium for the delivery of advertisements, and the authors point out that there is one player branding experience during the gameplay. In this type of strategy, we can notice the use of banners, posters, radio spots, digital ads and billboards mixed to the game’s landscape. In Virtua Tennis 3, as an example, it is possible to see Bridgestone tires and Citizen watches billboards all around the scenario. Both brands are present, sponsoring the real tennis matches, so it is very pertinent to be in the virtual game, creating a deeper sense of immersion to the player.

In this topic, we are discussing examples developed for consoles, personal computers and mobile media. However, the advergaming strategy is not something created in the Internet age. In the beginning of the 1980s, we already could find some very interesting cases in the Atari platform (as we discussed in this old post here).

Note: this post is part of a complete paper about "games as marketing tools". Soon, I hope to share the complete content in another post.



CAVALLINI, Ricardo. (2006). O marketing depois de amanhã. São Paulo: Digerati Books.

HERREWIJN, Laura. & POELS, Karolien (2011). Putting Brands into Play: How Player Experiences Influence the Effectiveness of In-Game Advertising. Proceedings of the DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association), 6, 1-19. Available here.

quarta-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2017

About constraints

"The pleasure of limits arises only when the participants within a particular magic circle understand and respect the material constraints it circumscribes" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).

"Constraints are most effective when those who are bound up with them can clearly see, understand, and appreciate the limits they impose. That doesn’t necessarily mean accepting those limitations as a best approach to a pursuit, nor does it mean fixing them for eternity as the only way to do things" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).


BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

domingo, 29 de janeiro de 2017

“Why is gamification not working in my company?”

Last week, I was invited to a meeting in a medium-size Brazilian company, which for ethical reasons will not have its name disclosed. The director of the innovation area wanted a special consulting about the gamification process implemented on the last two years. After many attempts, these tactics proved worthless for the company. The employees did not understand the purpose of this process and could not see the utility in what was proposed. Why did it happen? In the director’s mind, gamification is a positive thing for every company, after all, it’s an attempt to put games (a fun element) inside work (a boring subject) to improve their routine.

Well, it is not that simple.

In the article “Hate the games, not the players", Daniel Ruch discusses some points that can make gamification fail in the business ecosystem. First of all, Ruch gives us one good definition about the term:

“Gamification” is the application to other activities of game-playing elements (such as point scoring, competition and rules of play) in an attempt to achieve a measurable goal. In business, that goal could be greater productivity, user engagement or employee satisfaction. In our personal lives, goals might include losing weight, exercising regularly or unplugging from mobile devices.

After this definition, Ruch says that many companies tried to implement the gaming process in their DNA, but, in most part of them, the game objectives were unclear and complicated. According to Ruch, some employees “weren’t sure how to win points and badges”, and, let’s be honest: what’s the real purpose of it? One virtual trophy received in a special e-mail will not motivate behavioral change. One public score with a race between the selling departments could only create frustration and bad competition. A system that only punishes failures and never rewards positive acts is bounded to be a failure. So, what is important to think before introducing processes like gamification into a company? Here are some thoughts to dwell on:

1) Define clear goals. What’s the problem with your company that gamification will try to solve? Are employees unmotivated? Is communication between departments bad?

2) What paths are guaranteed to solve the problem and achieve the goal? And one essential thing: does your company really need to implement gamification processes? Or can the problem be solved in a much simpler way?

3) According to Ruch, “gamification begins with a why question”.

4) Once identified that gamification could be a solution for the problem, comes one important step: to hire a specialist team to implement the process. Discuss with them. Try to put the objectives clearly to the employees. Emphasize the benefits, the rewards and the gains. “We can’t make successful games without understanding the problems we aim to solve”.

5) Gamification is a not a generic solution applied to any kind of company and employee. One cautious observation and previous analysis is fundamental.

Another important thought to highlight this discussion comes from Bogost (2016, p.82) who says that

A job is made of fun not by turning into a game, but by deeply and deliberately pursuing it as a job. Jobs are fun when their work is meaningful, when their activities matter, and when the act of conducting them can be done over and over again with the increased commitment. Fun can’t be added to something, like sugar to coffee or like songs to chores.

Gamification is always a polemic subject. Many experts condemn the term and prefer to talk about "ludification" or "game thinking". Regardless of how it is called, it is important to broaden the discussion on this subject.

Now, on to your opinion!



BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

Article “Hate the games, not the players”.

segunda-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2017

Iterative design & games

Gaming creativity process, allow a myriad of methodological using possibilities. In the gaming projects that I participated, I frequently used the iterative design method. One first view about this methodological process comes from Zimmerman (2003, p.176), who says, ‘iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a work in progress’.

Complementing the previous idea, the process of iterative design for games, can be divided into few stages (FULLERTON et al, 2008, p.249): A) conceptual phase: consists of generating ideas, formalizing and testing them; B) pre-production: here the ideas are reviewed to evolve and be tested again; C) the production stage: the game is tested and revised with different groups of play testers to locate errors; D) phase of quality assurance: where the game is tested to be launched without errors.

We'll discuss more about these subject in a future post using some examples (indie games and triple A games) to clarify this idea. Until then, check out the video below about iterative design applied to games:



ZIMMERMAN, Eric. Play as Research: the Iterative Design Process. IN: Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, (2003): 176-184. (also available at last access: May, 2015).

FULLERTON, Tracy et al. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008.

sexta-feira, 13 de janeiro de 2017

To think about fun, play and games

"Fun is the aftermath of deliberately manipulating a familiar situation in a new way" ( BOGOST , 2016, p.57)

Source: BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books,2016.