Category Archives: game design

Dystopia: What a Game of Civilization II Looks Like After 10 Years

Dystopia: What a Game of Civilization II Looks Like After 10 Years

In The Atlantic, no less. Nice.

When I was a kid, it felt like some expansive History of All Time, except that it was a turn-based computer strategy computer game. Which is why a 10-year game of Civilization II has struck a chord around the Internet today: if you could learn a history of western civ from the game, then its vision of the future feels oddly significant.


Here’s what happened. Some human being kept playing the same game for a decade and then posted screenshots to Reddit along with a narrative explanation of where the gameworld stands.


Online Gaming, Mobile Entertainment And The Land Of Opportunity In Video Game Design

Online Gaming, Mobile Entertainment And The Land Of Opportunity In Video Game Design

Of the seventy-two percent of American households playing computer or video games, fifty-five percent choose to play them on their phones or handheld devices.

Intensive Weeklong Workshop Brings Teachers and Teens Together to Conceive, Design and Develop New Game Concepts

The Learning Games Network is now accepting applications from teachers and students for the 2012 Game Design Boot Camp scheduled for Monday, July 23 to Friday, July 27 on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA. Qualified teachers and students will be chosen from among applicants to participate in an intensive workshop introducing teachers to new instructional resources and working with them to develop coaching strategies that can be used to guide students through an extended (i.e., quarter- or semester-long) and comprehensive research and creative game design process.

Exploring topical and subject-specific material through game design activities, lesson plans and challenge worksheets, Boot Camp participants combine learning and fun while developing their critical, conceptual, creative, and strategic thinking skills. Teachers will learn how to utilize the Game Design Tool Kit to engage middle and high school students in a game design process that supports learning of important topics and standards across the curriculum. Students attending the Boot Camp will be guided through the early stages of game design, creating a paper prototype and “pitch” presentation for their game concept.

A select group of teachers will work with teams of middle and high school students where each student will be assigned specific roles and responsibilities building on existing skills and interests as they are encouraged to develop new ones. Using the Game Design Tool Kit, teachers will guide their groups through the process of game design from the inception of an idea to the strategic and creative applications that turn a concept into a playable paper game prototype.

The camp offers teachers the opportunity to develop their abilities using a proven teaching method that encourages effective and collaborative relationships while giving them the mechanisms for engaging and energizing students in the development of creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills. Teachers completing the Boot Camp will receive a Professional Development certificate from the MIT Education Arcade. Students with a strong interest in game design will learn everything from basic conceptual skills to advanced strategizing and will leave the camp with the knowledge needed to begin developing their own video games.

The 2012 Game Design Boot Camp will be facilitated by Learning Games Network and will include expert instructors and designers from the MIT Education Arcade, FableVision (a Boston-based storytelling and interactive development studio) and LGN.

The weeklong workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, July 23 through Friday, July 27 and will be held in classrooms on the Cambridge, MA campus of MIT.

Teachers interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Students interested in applying, click here for the full application!

Attendees will be selected based upon criteria outlined in the application materials and will be notified of their acceptance by June 1, 2012.

All applications must be received by Friday, May 18, 2012.

Implicit Game Aesthetics (3): Koster’s Theory of Fun

Implicit Game Aesthetics (3): Koster’s Theory of Fun

The latest is a series, this by Raph Koster. The series is a bunch of very thoughtful reads, for people who want to be very thoughtful about games, gameplay and game design: “the purpose of the current enquiry is to uncover aesthetic assumptions about games.” @spiralchris @raphkoster

Limbo of the Lost: Brilliant? Funny? Shameless? Lawsuit?

This is worth a bunch of laughs and boggles. First, the game is a legit boxed release:

Here’s the publisher page

Here’s the Wikipedia

Note the Wiki says they have “stopped distribution” while trying to sort out the controversy. I assume this is why the Amazon page says “ships in 3 to 5 weeks.” My guess is, the only place we’ll get a copy now is second hand, or black market.

Here’s the link to the hilarious 13 page (so far) thread on how Limbo of the Lost released using art blatantly stolen from Diablo II, Painkiller, Unreal Tournament 2003, Unreal Tournament 2004, Thief: Deadly Shadows, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Silent Hill 4, Crysis and scenes from the 1997 film Spawn and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.

The evidence is right there in the thread: side by side shots from Limbo of the Lost and those they “borrowed” from. Links to the game’s trailers are also there, and seem so hilariously cheezy that the whole thing just might be an intentional joke or ploy. One would assume intentional on the part of the developers and designers, as opposed to the publisher…

Opinion: MMOs Need a Wii

Here’s the Wired blog post:
Opinion: MMOs Need a Wii

Here’s my answer, posted also there as a comment:

Of course you’re right.

AoC rocks, but will be limited by how narrowly focused it is on adult guys. And I don’t think they’ve left themselves enough room to change that over time.

Hardcore gamers don’t want a Wii, and don’t want non-hardcore gamers to exist.

The problem of a Wii-style game is half a game design problem, and half a content problem.

The game design problem means the game has to actually contain within it multiple different ways to play the game, which variously appeal to the range of players. This primarily means the gameplay needs to make room for true casual gamers (note that’s different from “casual players” of current MMOs). Current MMOers call that “dumbing down” – but the point is the game needs to attract and interest and hook true casual gamers. If you think of this demographically, the game might abandon the attempt to hold hardcore MMOers, to better focus on casual gamers. There are way more than 10x as many casual games as hardcore, so this does not have to be a bad business decisions. Note this also has implications for the business model – casual players aren’t going to pay $15 a month as easily as hardcore MMOers do now.

And the content has to be content that appeals to the full range as well – this probably means the content needs to move toward or into the “real” world, because that’s the content humans have the most common interest in. Maybe a known brand could do it. Most everyone here (readers and commentors at the Wired blog) will piffle this, but here’s the answer, if they design it right:

Harry Potter