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, […]

Relative Numbers

Today I’m going to discuss some very mathy game design theory. If that’s not your thing, it’s probably best to steer clear now. Working on Shadow Throne and some other prototypes, I realized I was making use of something I’ll call relative numbers in my games. After giving it a little thought, I realized that […]

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 […]

The Joys of Birding

Today I want to discuss something a little unusual for a game design blog: bird watching. Before you immediately close the tab, let me explain why you might care. My next game, Birds of a Feather, was designed after I thought carefully about why I enjoy birding. I broke down the activity in terms of […]

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 […]

Thoughts on Theme

One of the fundamental questions in game design is: which came first, the theme or the mechanics? Different designers have different answers to this question, some holding their answers as sacred as scripture. While I don’t have strong feelings on this question (I have been inspired by both themes and mechanics), I tend to lean […]

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 […]

The Holy Grail of Simultaneous Action

Young game designers quickly learn the importance of engagement. Basically, a player is engaged when he or she feels like a part of the game. An engaging game will make a player forget his or her real world problems. It will completely capture its players’ attention. In the early 21st century, a good indication that […]

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 […]