switching up the controls, from atari to nintendo switch

I sat down with a self-professed “retro gamer” one rainy evening, and we played Pac-Man and Frogger on an Atari connected to an old TV. The difference was that this Atari was set up a little differently, connected to aluminum foil wrapped around a brick in a makeshift d-pad and around a tennis ball for the…

1,001 levels of candy crush

I reached level 1,001 of Candy Crush this weekend. At this point, you stare at me incredulously, without even trying to conceal your ridicule, and ask the burning question, “Why?” You’re not the first person to ask this question. When people find out that I play Candy Crush, I get a mixture of mockery and…

we are addicted to progress

On a car ride in the passenger seat, my friend handed me his phone and asked me to help him hatch some chickens while he was driving. He was talking about Egg, Inc., this game where you tap a red button repeatedly to hatch more chickens, which gets you more money, which buys you more…

jokes and judgment

What is a joke? What makes something funny? Typically, jokes come in two parts: a premise followed by an unexpected conclusion. The contrast between two seemingly disparate yet connected parts of a joke tricks our brain, and makes us laugh. Consequently, jokes aren’t as funny the second time because we know exactly what to expect,…

when winning doesn’t matter

When trying to define what a game is, one of the more common answers is that games require “winning” and “losing” states.  This is one of the distinctions between games and puzzles, and interactive media.  However, in some games, designing and balancing for winning and losing can be the wrong move.  In fact, there are…