Psychological Exploitation Games

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We tend to think about things that are designed to cultivate addiction with disgust for a very good reason. When we think about casinos, or drug dealers, or pyramid schemes, I think it’s reasonable to have a strongly negative reaction; even more so when we think about those who actually end up falling into the chasm – those who get addicted. Addiction is a terrible thing, and those who actively try to bring it on should be – and mostly are – maligned in our society. Our disgusted responses to “the drug dealer” or “the pyramid scheme salesperson” are useful defense mechanisms against something that’s actually “offensive”; something that goes on the offense against our well-being and mental health. Continue reading

Clockwork Game Design has been released!

Great news – my book, Clockwork Game Design, is now available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other online bookstores, in both digital and paperback formats.

97467b937ecb6b80758463d9af2fdcedClockwork Game Design is unique in many ways, I think. I don’t know of another book on “building rulesets for strategy games”, that actually tells you how you should approach it. I’ve read maybe 15-20 of the most popular books on game design, and none of them have anything remotely like that. This is because, of course, they are all writing about “all interactive entertainment”, and providing such a specific, “how-to” guide for such a broad category of forms is impossible.

I’ll be doing a short video about Clockwork Game Design soon to help people understand what it is, exactly. In short, though, it’s a run-through of a very specific system for understanding and building strategy game rulesets. I not only use this system in my own work, but I think that the Clockwork Design Pattern or something similar is really the only way to achieve depth and elegance in game design. Other designers who have achieved deep, elegant games, are using this theory (or at least parts of it) without knowing the words for it.

It’s quite different than my first book, which was very much a broad “overview” of videogames, the history of games, and my general philosophy on games. I think the first book is valuable in that it relays my perspective on games broadly and goes into detail on some specifics. However, it is definitely far less constructive than this book.

I hope you’ll spread the word about my book. I worked hard on it, and I tried to make sure it was itself elegant, as elegance is really a major reason for its existence. From little things like there being no subtitle (when was the last time you saw that?) to no preface to just simply being short and to the point.

In other news: Dinofarm Games is launching a Kickstarter for an Auro expansion in a couple of days. Please keep an eye out for that!

 

Turtling

pic2A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called Videogames are Broken Toys. Its general thrust was that most videogames are fundamentally toys with a goal sorta slapped on. This both limits the “toy” aspect dramatically and leaves users instead with a thin, weak, unsupported goal.

In that article, I focused on the “preserving the toy” aspect, which I think developers really need to do for a lot of single-player adventure-y/sandbox-y types of things, like perhaps Grand Theft Auto or The Legend of Zelda. On the other hand, though, there are some videogames which are almost always played competitively: things like Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Outwitters, or fighting games.

The problem is that even these competitive videogames, all of which do qualify as “games” by my prescriptive definitions, are still operating on a mostly-toy foundation. They are loose, still footed too deeply in fantasy simulation, and allow for too much “play” overall. This results in a number of problems, but the most visibly apparent one is the problem of turtling. Continue reading

My response to Against Design (Blog Post)

Frank Lantz wrote an article last night called “Against Design“. When I read the article, I was kind of confused by what I was supposed to take away from it, as there are some conflicting statements in the article. However, based on the title and what I know of Frank, I took it as “to some extent I am rejecting the idea of game design as a discipline”.

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