What Roleplaying Teaches Writers | Tor/Forge Blog

The most important thing we learn from pen-and-paper roleplaying games is that anyone can be a storyteller. Books, movies, TV, video games—all of these can inspire a would-be writer, but the audience’s role is still fundamentally passive. These media are fun, but do nothing to fill the chasm separating us from creative “professionals”: the gulf between “Wow, that was cool,” and “I want to do what they did!” At the end of the day, we’re still standing outside the dream factory looking in.

Roleplaying games burst right through that wall, Kool-Aid-Man style. By their very nature, RPGs force audience members to take control, to see themselves as storytellers. RPGs are improv, and even the best-written adventure module is still only a stage for the participants. Creativity is mandatory, and as people game, they come to identify as creative. I can’t count the number of professional authors I’ve met who were drawn into writing by the urge to create more elaborate backstories for their characters, or settings for their game, or journals of their parties’ adventures. Gaming breeds writers like salad bars breed bacteria.

Source: What Roleplaying Teaches Writers | Tor/Forge Blog

What games must learn from children’s books – Boing Boing

This is the fundamental thing most game designers get wrong. Between tabletop gaming’s celebritizing of designers and digital games’ ability to function as increasingly perfect score-keepers, we’re becoming obsessed with rules. Game designers have become pedant legislators, trying to make sure players are playing our games the right way. We’ve become obsessed with controlling play.

I can usually gauge whether I’ll like a game by how thick the rulebook is. It’s an indicator of whether I should expect to be playing with my friends or just playing out the rules. We’ve started thinking of players not as collaborators but as just a kind of lubrication for the systems we design—essentially passive, even though they may be hitting buttons and pushing joysticks.

Source: What games must learn from children’s books – Boing Boing

Home is where the future of games is – Boing Boing

The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home launched in 2013 and became an instant classic among video game fans. The atmospheric game cast you as a girl exploring her family’s new home, half-unpacked, in search of clues about your missing sister. The story told through that exploration—the pillow fort and stained pizza boxes in the VHS-littered living room, the printed zines and childhood scribblings spilling out of storage areas—is so delicate that to talk too much about it collapses it. But the game, along with other rebelliously observation-oriented, “action”-averse games like Dear Esther, helped prototype an entire genre: Telling the stories of people, of a place, through gentle exploration.

It was no happy accident for the four-person Gone Home team, which had experience working with environmental storytelling in more traditional video games, like the BioShock series. Those games are about clobbering aggressors, but they’re also often atmospheric works about grand social decay and weaponized morality. You can imagine wanting to hone in just a bit more on the latter part, to tell the human stories, to remove the “fire plasmids” and rusty wrenches entirely and just draw the lived-in world.

Source: Home is where the future of games is – Boing Boing

A dungeon game within an experimental documentary book – Boing Boing

Here’s a fun idea: A digital book about the development of a game that’s also a platform for that game’s release. Game…book… ception? Nathan Meunier, author of This Book Is A Dungeon [This Dungeon Is A Book] describes his new project as “a multi-format creative experiment that merges the worlds of game design, interactive fiction, indie authorship, and self-publishing together in one crazy project.”

Meunier took just over a month to teach himself Twine, and made a dungeon-crawling game he says mixes the interactive fiction elements of Twine with pixel art and the features of a traditional RPG game (try a free demo of the game). Along the way, he documented the process in a book he plans to release on Kindle with the game itself inside.

Source: A dungeon game within an experimental documentary book – Boing Boing

Social And Emotional Benefits Of Video Games: Metacognition and Relationships | MindShift

Video games nurture an incremental understanding of intelligence. Because players are rewarded for one task at a time — for overcoming one obstacle after another — they learn to understand learning and accomplishment iteratively. For example, each track in Nintendo’s classic game Mario Kart has its own particular challenges. Each time a player drives it he or she addresses the weaknesses of the previous attempt. The player iterates performance incrementally, addressing shortcomings and adjusting accordingly. He or she understands that mastering one course doesn’t necessarily equate to mastery of the next. A new learning process begins at the conclusion of the previous one.

via Social And Emotional Benefits Of Video Games: Metacognition and Relationships | MindShift.

The Value of Video Games That Aren’t ‘Fun’ | VICE


This assumption that a game needs to be fun to play can be traced back to the roots of the medium. In The Theory of Fun for Game Design, the developer Raph Koster defines games as mental puzzles. According to Koster, the sense of fun we feel when we play a video game comes from learning and mastering systems that need planning and coordination, much like we’d do in Connect 4, Jenga, or tiddlywinks. Aspects such as story and character are just dressing in the same way that knights, kings, and queens are dressing for the mathematical system at the heart of chess. “This is why gamers are dismissive of the ethical implications of games,” says Koster in his book. “They don’t see, ‘get a blowjob from a hooker, then run her over.’ They see a power-up.”

via The Value of Video Games That Aren’t ‘Fun’ | VICE | United States.

Video Gaming Made Me a History Major — Bright — Medium


From the game, I understood the Normans, the Saxons, and the Vikings to be distinct cultural entities, with unique and idiosyncratic manners of dressing and speech. For instance, the Normans spoke with snooty French accents, while the Vikings spoke with vaguely Norwegian ones. Empire Earth taught me what a trebuchet was. Most importantly, I understood that the dates and names that my history teacher asked us to commit to memory in my history class were not just arbitrary, but details of a great and epic narrative.


via Video Gaming Made Me a History Major — Bright — Medium.

You’re the writer of a terrible videogame. Can you save it? – Boing Boing

You’re the writer of a terrible videogame. Can you save it? – Boing Boing.


You’re the writer of the latest game in a once popular, lucrative videogame franchise called Shattergate. You’ve never actually played any of the Shattergate games, granted, but somehow you’re writing it anyway. And you’re so screwed.

That’s the premise behind an interactive fiction game called The Writer Will Do Something, which begins at a Monday morning meeting that’s about to get ugly. Your team is six months away from shipping the finished product, and you’ve just heard the first reactions to the game from outside consultants: it’s “unambiguously catastrophic.”

I Search the Body: What Role-Playing Games Taught Me About Writing Fiction, by Harry Connolly § Unqualified Offerings

I Search the Body: What Role-Playing Games Taught Me About Writing Fiction, by Harry Connolly § Unqualified Offerings:

Point two is about where the plot should go. The GM might lay out everything the player characters would need to sneak into an enemy fortress, including scrounged guard uniforms and a supply delivery wagon, expecting the heroes to slip in, steal the stolen relic, then return it to the local villagers quietly. For the GM, that’s the most obvious solution.

Unfortunately, the players have their own ideas. One wants to rally the local villagers to storm the walls. Another wants to stuff a rock into the gullet of a rotting raccoon carcass and drop it into the well. Another wants to spoil the supplies before they’re delivered to poison them that way. In short, GMs learn quickly that flexibility is important because players are unpredictable; you can’t predict what course of action they’ll think is best.