Character Sheets and Storytelling

Character Sheets and Storytelling

From our lecture at PAX Australia 2013! A role playing game can only be evaluated solely by the contents of its rules. Your character in a role playing game exists solely on your character sheet. So, what is your character sheet telling you about your character?

Threats in Games

Threats in Games

What is a threat in the context of a game? Can they affect the outcome? A snippet from our larger Practical Game Theory at PAX East 2013, we briefly explore some aspects of threatmaking in games, and what it truly means to make a "credible" threat.

Mastering Game Mechanics

Mastering Game Mechanics

Presented at PAX East 2013 on Saturday in the Tabletop Theatre, our 21st PAX panel/lecture, in "Mastering Game Mechanics" we take you through a variety of "game mechanics" and consider their use and purpose.

Despite the staggeringly vast variety of games out there in the world, they draw primarily from a core set of basic mechanics. Many games which at first seem very different share fundamental design patterns, subgames, and strategies. What is a “draft,” and more importantly, what is its true function? Where to rondels come into play? What is the purpose of an arbitrary decision? What does “skill based movement” mean for a game? Are all auctions created equally?

Whether you are a player, maker, or even simply observer of games, understanding these core components will provide a surprising degree of insight into their nature. Join us in our 21st PAX panel to explore the nature, lexicon, design, and strategy of game mechanics, drawing from videogames, board games, even role playing games and sports.

MAGFest Gaming Intellectuals - Video Game Ethics

MAGFest Gaming Intellectuals
Video Game Ethics

Every year, Scott and I attend MAGFest not just to lecture, but also to sit as panelists alongside the rest of the MAGFest "Gaming Intellectuals" on various gaming topics.

Is it truly ethical to design a game to be addictive, or is "addictiveness" simply a sign of good design? Do games change us in more ways than we might realize? Is regulation on the horizon (as we have already seen arising in Japan), a good idea, or even truly possible? How are games different from other media?

MAGFest 11 - Video Game Genres

MAGFest 11 Gaming Intellectuals
Video Game Genres

Every year, Scott and I attend MAGFest not just to lecture, but also to sit as panelists alongside the rest of the MAGFest "Gaming Intellectuals" on various gaming topics. This one, from MAGFest 11 (2013), explores the very idea of genre in videogames (and games in general).

Beyond Candyland - MAGFest 11

Beyond Candyland
MAGFest 11

When most people think of board games, they imagine Monopoly, LIFE, Candyland, Pop-o-Matic Trouble, or perhaps Risk: games primarily of luck. There are, however, board games of skill that you've likely never heard of. Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan may have appeared on the Xbox, but these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Moreso, despite playing a multitude of games, many people never really move beyond Candy Land. Sure, they're playing games that are (in theory) much more complex than Candy Land, but do they truly progress? Move up the ladder and explore the next level of gaming, game design, and play. These aren't the games you played as a child.

PAX Prime 2012 - On the Ethics of Mind Control

PAX Prime 2012: On the Ethics of Mind Control

At PAX Prime 2012, we presented three mini lectures as part of Short Subjects in Gaming on Friday in the Wolfman Theater.

"On the Ethics of Mind Control," the third and final of these, and discusses the possibly uncomfortable questions surrounding the ethical considerations of game design. Is it truly ethical to design a game to be addictive, or is "addictiveness" simply a sign of good design? Do games change us in more ways than we might realize? Is regulation on the horizon, a good idea, or even possible? How are games different from other media (or are they different at all)?

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