Stuff that I have written.

The Sunday PoemWritingMy new book: Sunday Poems

 Posted by (Visited 742 times)  The Sunday Poem, Writing  Tagged with: , , ,
Nov 082015
The cover of "Sunday Poems"Starting in 2005, game designer Raph Koster decided to post a poem to his popular blog every Sunday. Ten years later, this is a selection of eighty of those poems, accompanied by gorgeous pen-and-ink illustrations and illuminating endnotes.

These are verses written to an audience that didn’t necessarily care about poetry; verses about whatever was happening that week. They comment on the news, on his children’s homework, on books he was reading or music he heard. In them we voyage across the world, or deep inside apples; we see a toddler become a pterodactyl, and clouds become mundane water vapor. We see sonnets written in computer code.

These are poems for everyday people about ordinary things made extraordinary.

…Sustained and sustaining enthusiasm, joy, play, and wit at work… A richly varied world saturated with myth and stories.

— Hank Lazer, poet and author of The new Spirit and N18 (Complete), on Sunday Poems

After years of threats, I finally made it happen. Sunday Poems is my new book, collecting many of the poems published here on the blog in the Sunday Poem tag, as well as a smattering of others. Sunday Poems is available right now in paperback, and is available for pre-order on Kindle (and those are both Amazon affiliate links). I will be working on getting the book to more digital services in the coming days.

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ArtGame talkMusicPracticing the creativity habit

 Posted by (Visited 2740 times)  Art, Game talk, Music, Writing  Tagged with: ,
Dec 032014

In the wake of posting up the video of my talk on “Practical Creativity,” I got this:

What a great question.

First, I have to admit I slack off a lot. :) But, here are some ways in which I practice, or have practiced it. You might notice some commonalities across media.

Hope you’ll bear with me, because I will get to games last.

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The Sunday PoemThe Sunday Poem: London Squall

 Posted by (Visited 3547 times)  The Sunday Poem
Sep 072014

londonsquallLondon squall, Islington gusts,
Wash the Barbican clean.
Tidy households in tiny flats
Open windows, let out cats
As raindrops stop and shatter
And rental bikes go clattering
Down Clerkenwell streets.

Puddles, unavoidable mess,
Are temporary consequence.
Each lost leaf in King’s Square
Is labeled where it fell.
London squall and Islington gusts
May discomfit, yes. But we will not
Permit them to disrupt.

– Outside a café, London, Aug 2014

May 112014

It has been a very long time since I posted a Sunday Poem. That is because it has been a long time since I wrote a poem. But here is one that popped out the other day.

047500-rounded-glossy-black-icon-sports-hobbies-people-woman-runner Afternoon Joggers

The way they run, struggling against invisible wind,
Great gusts in their chests buffeting them
Like hurricaned pines.

These flagellates billow out each afternoon,
Tilt up slopes I cannot see, at windmills I will not.
They sigh in each night.

This is their duty to themselves, their dream
Of spasms and joints and jolt, their Sisyphean journey
From wind sprints to wind sprites.


This, however, saves you from the one that my mom found today, that I wrote for her for Mother’s Day in the third or fourth grade. :)

Game talkWritingTouring the print edition of Theory of Fun

 Posted by (Visited 5941 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 052013

The print edition is out! Yay! Hopefully I get author’s copies tomorrow.

In celebration, I thought I’d share some images of what it looks like now. I really couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. All glossy and hefty, it feels very substantial and classy. And I have trouble going back to look at the black and white now, having grown used to color everywhere. Read on for some before-and-afters on the imagery, some looks at the text additions, and how I tackled the issue of revising away some of the sexism in the cartoons!


The first thing, of course, is the layout. Yes, it’s in a portrait layout now, instead of the horizontal format. Not only will it fit better on shelves, but it also means that the book shouldn’t fall out of stock as much, because we selected this layout because we can  use Print On Demand to constantly keep hard copies available. Before, copies had to be manually ordered.

Ironically, the actual size of the book is almost exactly the same. The new edition is actually just slightly larger.

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Game talkWritingTheory of Fun reviews and press

 Posted by (Visited 4258 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Dec 022013

printpictureThere have been a couple of pieces of coverage of the new edition of Theory of Fun.

The first real review of the updated edition is here, in Finnish: Katsauksessa A Theory of Fun for Game Design. (You can read a Google Translated version: page one, page two). They kindly sent me a a translation of the final paragraph:

Even though A Theory of Fun for Game Design goes deep into the underlining mechanics of the gameplay and opens up the question of what makes a great game tick, it is written in a way that makes the book comprehensible and easy to read. There’s also a great reference section for further study on the subject, but even without this added value, A Theory of Fun for Game Design is easy to recommend to anyone interested to know a bit about games or game design – or why you especially like or dislike a game.

Wired Game|Life did a preview piece on the book that was pretty widely reprinted.

Another, funnier change: In the original edition of the book, there was a throwaway line about how nobody plays farming games anymore. “That,” Koster says, has now “turned into a page-long riff about farming games and about how modern farming games teach business rather than farming.”

This piece was also picked up by BoingBoing, which noted

Hard to believe it’s been ten years since the initial release of Raph Koster’s indispensable A Theory of Fun for Game Design, a book that does for game-design what Understanding Comics did for sequential art.

There may be more reviews on the way… I should also mention that the ebook edition is in O’Reilly’s CyberMonday sale today, at 50% off (along with all their ebooks).

The print edition hits this week, and as you can see from the picture, came out very nicely… all glossy and everything. :)

Game talkWritingTheory of Fun ebook NOW OUT! 50% off!

 Posted by (Visited 5979 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
Nov 262013

theoryoffunnewcoverIt’s out! And O’Reilly has a special deal:

Save 50% on Game Design Ebooks & Videos – Deals – O’Reilly Media.

For just this week, game design ebooks are half off, including the full-color 10th anniversary edition of A Theory of Fun for Game Design. Oh, and they’re DRM-free too.

Use discount code WKGMDES. It’s only good until December 4, 2013 at 5:00am PT. And even though it’s only good for the ebook version, as it happens, the print version is supposed to hit Dec 5th, so there’s a nice symmetry there. :)

I got a sample copy of the paperback in hand too… glossy throughout, it’s really nice! I have trouble picturing the book in black and white now. You can pre-order it at the above links.

Sep 202013

Yup, it’s up on Amazon for pre-order!

For those who don’t know, here’s what is different:

  • Full color throughout.
  • Revisions on virtually every page.
  • Revised punchlines for a lot of the cartoons.
  • Substantial revisions to the chapter on cognitive styles.
  • Expansion of the sections on non-fun reasons to play games.
  • Some additional discussion of narrative.
  • All the science brought up to date.
  • A huge amount of new endnotes, including expanding on many of the existing ones.
  • A new afterword.
  • A new vertical layout so it fits on your shelf better!

Looks like they currently have it set to come out on November 22nd. The book is still in layout as we try to get everything to fit perfectly, and we have to fill in my current bio. But all in all, it looks awfully close!

Pre-order Theory of Fun 2nd Edition here.


Game talkWritingNew Theory of Fun cover

 Posted by (Visited 5344 times)  Game talk, Writing
Jun 202013

Here’s the cover for the revised edition of Theory of Fun! Yeah, a lot like the old one :)


We are still shooting for October. We’re in the edit process now, and there are very few changes thus far!

Game talkWritingTheory of Fun status

 Posted by (Visited 5950 times)  Game talk, Writing  Tagged with:
May 292013

penguin-14-transI have finished revising all of the text in the book, and sent off the manuscript to O’Reilly, a few days ahead of deadline.

How much has changed? Well, I would guess that half the pages in the book saw some sort of edit. That said, the shape of the book is largely unchanged. I got a lot of feedback saying “don’t break it,” from people sending in revision suggestions.

Big differences would include:

  • A big update to Chapter Six, “Different Fun for Different Folks.” There has been a lot of new science on brain differences between the sexes, and it points to both the fact that male and female brains are overall more similar than different — and yet there’s concrete evidence for some very real differences that could affect how we look at different games.
  • A lot of new science and references throughout. Some of the new material touches on Bernard Suits, deliberate practice, ludonarrative dissonance, etc. A lot of this material was not in existence at the time of the original book.
  • Clarification and updating on things like “what is a game,” “what about engaging with games in ways that aren’t fun?” and so on. A lot of this material was drawn from the Ten Years Later presentation.
  • 4000 new words in the endnotes (!). That is around an additional 50%, I think.
  • A new afterword.

In the end, there will only be two new pages in the main text. I still have one new cartoon to draw — the other one is a diagram, I’m afraid.image3Because of the new afterword, I did need a new penguin as a chapter header, though. I sketched one out, an old penguin (he’s ten years older, after all), and then tried to get my Rapidograph pens to work. No dice, as you can see from the mess I made of my sheet of test paper. I am going to have to visit an art supply store for some cleaning solution.

So I resorted to size-matching the Rapidograph nibs with Micron pens and inked him that way. It was supposed to just be a test inking, but he came out with some charm, so I decided to just scan the image and crop out all the spatter.

There is still quite a lot of layout work to do, plus I am sure the editors will come back with suggested revisions. One thing we are still contemplating is how exactly the cartoons will change given that the book is moving to a new trim size, taller than it is wide. We may actually change the layout of many of the cartoon pages. The trim size change is because it will allow us to do color print-on-demand, which should help with the book’s availability. It currently still has to have manual print runs, which is getting to be more and more obsolete these days.

We’re also still discussing how to handle the endnotes. One suggestion is to mark them out in the margins of the book somehow, perhaps with a little icon, rather than drowning the book in superscript footnotes everywhere.