Latest Blog Posts

by Jorge Albor

28 Jan 2016


Netrunner is a beautiful game. Its theme resonates wonderfully throughout every set of cards, and the asymmetrical gameplay makes for a rare and deeply compelling power struggle between corporations and hackers. I love it, I really do, but I find myself unsatisfied with its lack of a distinct casual format, especially as a means of recruiting new players.

I have tried about a dozen times to get my friends into Netrunner. For a game that features punk rock hackers and corporations that create murderous sleeper clones, it’s a surprisingly difficult game to proselytize. The game is popular, absolutely, and those that get into it tend to border on the obsessive once they go all in, but making the game truly accessible to new players is difficult.

by Scott Juster

21 Jan 2016


As is the case with the disease itself, it’s hard to know how to talk about That Dragon, Cancer. Everyone deals with such challenges in a different way, and words that are meant to be brave or comforting often end up sounding like generic platitudes. Ryan and Amy Green made a game about their son Joel’s struggle with cancer. There’s some happy parts and some sad parts in it, but all of them feel honest and even practical at points. It’s something that I admire about the game.  It feels authentic because they’re tackling multiple aspects of the disease, which makes it easier for other people to relate to and to even share their own personal experiences with cancer.

by Jorge Albor

14 Jan 2016

I had a short twitter conversation with a former colleague of mine today about the potential benefits of virtual reality for creating and amplifying empathy. The ability to transport a player in a first-person perspective into a wholly alien experience is certainly an excellent opportunity to engage them in empathy building. Last year, Josh Constantine of Tech Crunch went so far as to call virtual reality an “Empathy Machine”, and designers in the social impact and journalism space are already playing around with a variety of game concepts. The Space quoted Amnesty International Innovation’s Manager Reuven Steains describing virtual reality as “a portal from the streets of London to the streets of Aleppo.” There is a unique opportunity for fostering compassion in VR.

On the other hand, I find myself cautious when it comes to the design of embodiment in virtual space. When you slip on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, who do you become? What affordances do these experiences signal to you as to how to behave as this virtual being? What does it mean to be brown or a woman in virtual reality? What does it mean to be brown?

by Scott Juster

7 Jan 2016


If you’ve spent any time in the modern software world, you’ve probably chased that elusive concept of “delight.” Whether you’re making an enterprise analytics suite or a twitter client, it’s not enough that your tool simply performs its function or even that it’s conventionally beautiful. You want people to be happy when they use it. 

It’s the reason that you hear the little pops when tapping around from icon to icon in the Facebook mobile app or why refreshing your feed is done by tugging downward until new items pop up. The motions made to accomplish these things are fairly intuitive, but they’re also feature little aesthetic touches that please some very basic corner of your brain.

by Jorge Albor

17 Dec 2015


I fell in love with Fallout 4 when my journalist companion Piper published a story about me. Then I fell out of love when Piper took a misstep off a forty story building and plummeted to what would have been her death, except companions cannot die. Now she’s wearing my dead husband’s wedding ring, and honestly, I’m kind of confused.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the Fallout series before. When Bethesda released Fallout 3 in 2008, I took the claim that the game adapted to my play style at face value. “If I can really do anything and the game will adapt,” I told myself, “then I’m going to play the game entirely evil.” It turns out shooting most everyone on sight makes for a boring wasteland experience. I loved the daring approach to player agency, but found myself hindered by my own particular approach to Fallout. Our own Erik Kersting described this phenomenon well in his exploration of a particular Fallout 4 memory sequence: “Video games are simultaneously their own best friend and worst enemy when it comes to pacing. They can give the player tons of tools to experience the narrative, but they cannot force the player to necessarily have that experience.”

//Mixed media
//Blogs

In Motion: On the Emptiness of Progress

// Moving Pixels

"Nils Pihl calls it, "Newtonian engagement", that is, when "an engaged player will remain engaged until acted upon by an outside force". That's "progress".

READ the article