some puzzles are simply impossible


Game Design

I have always liked puzzles.  There are few things that give me more satisfaction than putting my mind to a problem and solving it.  A good description connects this to our relationship with pain. People solve puzzles because they like pain, and they like being released from pain, and they like most of all that […]

August 30, 2017

time is (micro) money


Game Design

Last Wednesday, I spent about three hours at the local DMV waiting to renew my driver’s license.  During that time, I finished reading the book I had brought, had a lengthy conversation with my parents on the phone, and joked with a stranger about trying to get a license for my skateboard instead.  I remember […]

August 16, 2017

lightning quick game loops and their replay value


Game Design

There’s a quote in showbiz, sometimes ascribed to P.T. Barnum, sometimes to Walt Disney: Always leave them wanting more. Whoever said this was probably not thinking about games, but about entertainment experiences as a whole.  The Barnum and Bailey Circus (which just closed in May) and Disneyland (still open, still going strong) are examples of […]

August 2, 2017

an afternoon at the musée mécanique


Location-based Entertainment

Back in 2015, I wrote an article about arcades becoming archaic, based on thoughts on a visit to Dave and Buster’s. I thought it was time to revisit, or perhaps reimagine the topic, with thoughts on a recent visit to an arcade of a different sort. The Musée Mécanique at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf not […]

July 19, 2017

collecting mistakes in safeway monopoly


Game Design

From February to April this year, Safeway ran its Monopoly promotion.  I had to do the shopping for a couple of big events, so at the cash register after some large purchases I was given stacks of Safeway Monopoly tickets, each a little paper packet from which you tear out a coupon that’s possibly an […]

July 5, 2017

multiplayer and the machine


Game Design

The standard for fun multiplayer games was set long before anything digital existed.  Playing cards around a table, shooting pool at a bar, or enjoying a board game night with friends are social activities that effectively use multiplayer design in games, while avoiding screens.  However, in a world that is increasingly online, especially for games, it seems […]

June 7, 2017

a rhapsody for disneyquest


Game Design, Location-based Entertainment

There is a nondescript blue block of a building in a corner of the newly-reimagined Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort. This unremarkable structure contains five floors of arcade games, virtual reality experiences and interactive exhibits. The place is stocked with free-to-play arcade games, along with Disney nods like the “Wreck It Ralph/Fix-it Felix” […]

May 24, 2017

death and victory on the oregon trail


Game Design

Unlike most of my friends my age, I never played The Oregon Trail when I was a kid. My first exposure to it was a few weeks ago, in card game format, and I was excited to see what all the fuss was about this so-called classic. Six of us played, and only two of […]

May 10, 2017