Nov 012017
 

A while back I gave a keynote at the Game UX Summit in Toronto. Video of the talk is now up, so I’ve gone ahead and posted up a whole page for the talk that has the slideshow as well as the video.

The talk was similar to some of my other talks on game grammar, but with a focus on user experience: the way in which we can see each UI button as a “game,” each high-level experience as a “game,” and that therefore there are huge commonalities between UX design and game design and narrative design… but there are also big differences when we dig into looking at them granularly. In some ways it therefore draws on the same stuff (and many of the same slides!) as my talk on Game Grammar from PaxDEV, and also from my blog post about UX vs game design.

If all you want is the video, though, the organizers have you covered. And if you watch to the end, you’ll get to see some stuff about some of the tabletop games that I have been working on for the last few years:

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Aug 192017
 

I have posted up slides for the keynote talk I gave at the Foundations of Digital Games conference. It was called “Reconciling Games” and it was about fish tanks. Well, fish tanks as an example of a naturally occurring ludic system that offers up surprising lessons for game design, across many disciplines: internal game economics and systems balancing, but also narrative, community design, and more.

Among the key quotes from the talk (based on tweeted comments from attendees) are

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Jun 232017
 

Five years ago, I was asked to put together a list of the best articles on the website. I did, and it’s been linked as “recommended posts” up on the menu under the Blog section for a few years now.

Just the other day, I was asked by Jordan Amaro (@JordanAMAR0) whether I was ever going to update it. Probably at some point, but in the meantime here’s a list of the ones I think are best from the last five years.

Looking over the list, the things that jump out at me are: a lot more posts about the game business and trends, about general topics like creativity, and about the intersection of the virtual with the real — the way tropes from online worlds are impinging upon our daily lives. I also note quite a lot of looking backward in these: game histories, postmortems, etc. Of course, this was also the period that encompassed the Great Formalism Wars of 2012, which seem overblown given hindsight. And lastly… despite my feeling I am hardly posting anything, this is a pretty nice list for five years!

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Podcast with Keith Burgun

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Apr 132017
 

I did a 90 minute interview with Keith Burgun of Clockwork Game Design and Game Design Theory fame. We talked about all sorts of things — my emulation cabinet, the state of game design theory, naturally occurring ludic systems — and argued towards the end over whether a games are made of games. There’s a shoutout towards Katharine Neil’s recent work, especially her wonderful article giving the history of late 90s/early 2000s attempts to codify game design practices.

You can listen here: Game Grammar and Game Design Theory – Interview with Raph Koster – keithburgun.net

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May 232016
 

Slide2I spent last week up in the mountains around Banff, Canada, with a spectacular group of people, as we talked about “computational modeling of games.” This was a workshop held at the Banff International Research Station, or BIRS, and organized by Andy Nealen of NYU and Michael Mateas of UC Santa Cruz. As you may be able to tell from the title, it was moderately mathy, though I was assured by several of those there that it was dramatically less so than an actual mathematician would expect, and certainly less so than the other workshops in the series!

I was asked to give a “seed talk” on the question of “the limits of formalism.” The questions Michael and Andy asked me to answer were

What leverage does a formalist approach to game design give you? What might it leave out? What are the broad contours of the landscape of formalist game design theories? What intellectual commitments are formalist game designers making? What are the biggest holes in our current understanding of formalist approaches to game design?

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