Latest Blog Posts

by G. Christopher Williams

7 Sep 2016


When you see a sundial or a water-clock, you see that it tells the time by design and not by chance. How then can you imagine that the universe as a whole is devoid of purpose and intelligence, when it embraces everything, including these artifacts themselves and their artificers?
—Cicero, De Natura Deorum

This post contains spoilers about the ending of No Man’s Sky.

Perhaps, the most famous version of the teleological argument for the existence of God is William Paley’s description from his 1802 book Natural Theology:

by Kym Buchanan

6 Sep 2016


What is learning? Last week in the first part of my discussion of how games represent learning, I framed this question by asserting that a simulation often has a rhetorical slant. Therefore, if I literally interpret systems and gameplay, I can infer game designers’ answers to this question. Here are some further answers to the question, loosely grouped by theme, with some possible implications.

1. Learning is repeating the same task over and over. Like many MMO games, Albion Online‘s gameplay is centered on grinding. If I want to improve in fire staff, I need to defeat many, many enemies using a fire staff. If I want to improve in crafting pickaxes, I need to craft lots and lots of pickaxes.

by Nick Dinicola

2 Sep 2016


One surefire way to ruin the drama of any story is to have a protagonist that doesn’t care about the drama of the story. Unless you’re making a comedy, the protagonist of any story should take that story seriously and should not actively undermine the dramatic tension of climactic moments. Having a character who does this consistently in an otherwise straight-faced drama is just poor storytelling.

by Kym Buchanan

1 Sep 2016


Zelda II: The Adventure of Link (Nintendo, 1987)

What is learning? Many games try to answer this question, intentionally or tacitly. It’s also an essential question for educators like me. I spend considerable time and energy considering possible answers, with good reason. For example, if learning is just accurately recalling facts during a timed, multiple-choice test, then I should devote most class time to teaching facts.

I believe learning is more complex than simple recall, and the ways that I instruct and assess real people demonstrate that belief. Similarly, game designers demonstrate their beliefs by how they simulate fictional characters’ learning.

by G. Christopher Williams

31 Aug 2016


Frostpunk (11 Bit Studios, forthcoming)

I received a press release this week, the subject line of which read: “This War of Mine Creators Unveil Their New Game – FrostPunk”. What followed was the standard stuff that appears in game press releases, a link to a press kit to download, a link to the game’s first trailer, and a few very brief paragraphs describing the game.

Now, it isn’t my normal practice to do much with initial press releases for games, other than file them in my e-mail to really take a look at when the game is closer to release and I might need to contact someone about getting a review copy for one of our writers. However, this press release had me at “This War of Mine Creators”. I played This War of Mine on its release in 2014, and, I mean, I played a lot of This War of Mine. It was one of my favorite games of that year.

//Mixed media
//Blogs

Measuring Success: The Unsatisfying Notion of "Good Endings" and "Bad Endings"

// Moving Pixels

"Sometimes stories need to end badly in order to be really good.

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