Robot Invasion

It will be a surprise to absolutely no one that technology is slowly creeping into the world of tabletop games, just as it has in every other facet of life. What might actually be surprising is how slowly the creep is. Especially considering the wild success of mobile games and the ubiquity of smart phones, […]

Broken Mechanics

Today I’d like to address an issue brought up by one of my patrons: what do you do when a mechanic doesn’t work out? Do you have to scrap the whole project, or are there measures you can take to salvage some of it? All designers are familiar with this topic, often with sad associations. […]

Basic Human Actions

Today I’m discussing something a little unusual. I thought it would be interesting to think about the basic actions humans can make and see how they’re used in games. Do games use all actions that people can take? Are there certain actions that stand on their own, preventing other types of actions? Are some actions […]

Emotional Game Design

Emotion plays an interesting role in game design. On the one hand, people tend to do their best work when they are excited and passionate. On the other hand, strong feelings of pride and attachment can cloud your judgment, make it difficult to empathize with others, and ultimately lead to an inferior game. If you’re […]

Analysis of Fun: Collecting

Has it really been a year and a half since I posted my two part post on the various types of fun that games can provide? Unless WordPress is truly messing with me, it has! Perhaps surprising to no one, I missed some key types of fun in that original list. Today, I want to […]

Teaching Games, Old and New

It wasn’t long ago that every digital game came with its own manual, just like board games do today. An excited new game owner would pour over the manual, learning how to play the game before ever putting it in a computer or console. It was an expected part of the whole video game experience. […]

Betrayal in the Game from the Box

Not long ago, I discussed schadenfreude and how you can manage it in your games. But somehow, I managed to miss one of the most effective ways to get players at each others’ throats: betrayal. Today, I’ll talk a bit about the psychological underpinnings of betrayal, the many forms it can take in games, and […]

Living with Schadenfreude

People play games for lots of reasons. One particularly dangerous reason is schadenfreude. Schadenfreude is a positive emotion (something like happiness or fun) that people get from the negative emotions other people feel. Those negative feelings don’t have to be caused by the person experiencing schadenfreude, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Today, I’ll mostly be […]

10 Things Every Game Designer Needs to Know about 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People

On my quest to become the best game designer I can possibly be, I recently read 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know about People, a quick but interesting book by Susan Weinschenk. The book is a list of facts about people, ranging from physical specifics about vision to patterns of social interaction and emotional […]

Designing for the Irrational

I recently finished Daniel Kahneman’s excellent Thinking, Fast and Slow. (Thanks Mike!) In it, Kahneman discusses some of the counter-intuitive ways our brains work, supporting those claims with empirical evidence. Game design involves a lot of different facets, from graphic design to storytelling to system creation, but at its heart it is about creating experiences […]