What Not To Do

Posted by on Sep 16, 2013 in Design, Writing | 7 Comments

At a GenCon auction ten or twelve years ago, someone suggested to me that the greatest tragedy that can befall a wargame is to be auctioned in a state where the shrinkwrap has been removed but the counters remain unpunched. Someone wanted to love this game but never began preparing to actually play. The game […]

Survival Heroism

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in Design, Horror, Video Games, Writing | One Comment

In the new Tomb Raider, Lara Croft’s journey from survivor to action star to heroine (or antiheroine, but we’ll get to that) takes her through horrors visceral and terrestrial, mundane and extraordinary. But her grim and grueling adventure isn’t quite or only survival horror. At the end of her ordeal—the end of her transformation—she is […]

Conversations That Count

Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Design, Musing, Video Games, Writing | One Comment

In a post sketching out an Indiana Jones game I’d like to play, I mentioned that I’d like to see it incorporate “conversations that count.” This isn’t an innovative idea, I know, except maybe for the implication that it fits into the kind of game we’d want from Indiana Jones or Lara Croft or Nathan […]

Indiana Jones and the Game of Destiny

Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Design, Movies, Musing, Video Games, Writing | 6 Comments

The idea is not to recreate the forward momentum of an Indiana Jones movie, because the movies do that already, but to create a uniquely interactive experience that draws on cinematic techniques and ludic mechanisms in equal measure.

What I Want in the Next Tomb Raider

Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Design, Musing, Video Games | 3 Comments

More than anything, the new Tomb Raider game makes me enthusiastic for another game in the series that takes the best from this new vision and jettisons the game’s meanest elements. The result might be a step back toward the franchise’s earlier swagger combined with the scale, detail, and humanity of this year’s installment. Call […]

More Harrowing Than Fun: A Tomb Raider Review

Posted by on Mar 18, 2013 in Design, Horror, Video Games, Writing | 2 Comments

If you’d asked me before, I would’ve been skeptical. Another gritty reboot, this time of Lara Croft, a character whose confidence and poise under pressure was part of the hook? I know people who hated the twists on Bond in Skyfall. It’s not that I would’ve doubted whether there’s a great idea for a character-driven, […]

At the Feet of Giants

Posted by on Sep 17, 2012 in Design, Fantasy, RPGs, Video Games | 3 Comments

This weekend I ran the first session of an ongoing campaign-in-miniature set in Middle-earth, using the game rules from Francesco Nepitello’s The One Ring (TOR). In the parlance of play, I’m hacking and drifting this game in bits and bobs to get a certain kind of play out of it. Some of the adjustments I’ve made […]

RPGs as Missed Connections

Posted by on Mar 11, 2012 in Design, Fan Culture, RPGs, Writing | 8 Comments

I want to write a missed-connection piece for those beautiful RPGs that have passed me on the train or gone unmet at the coffeehouse. Different kinds of game texts connect with different kinds of audiences. Naturally an audience may tend to prefer and admire the text that connects with them over those that don’t. Can […]

Skip It: Combat, Barriers, and the Identity of Games

Posted by on Feb 24, 2012 in Creativity, Design, Video Games | 13 Comments

This isn’t about the unfair treatment of professionals who dare to voice unconventional ideas. We won’t discuss here the specifics of ugly incidents making the rounds online lately. Comments that stray into that turf will be deleted. This post is about what it’s about: considering a compelling and somewhat riling idea. If, by considering it […]

Gunpoint

Posted by on Feb 17, 2012 in Design, RPGs | 10 Comments

This post has been sitting unfinished in the drafts folder for years, waiting for a breakthrough to finish it. You are that breakthrough. You know that overused moment in film and television where someone levels a gun on someone else and issues an ultimatum? “Do what I say or I pull the trigger,” she says. […]