McGonigal’s 14 Fixes Games Have for Reality

  1. Tackle unnecessary obstacles.
    • Increase self-motivation
    • Provoke interest and creativity
    • Help us work at the edge of our abilities
    • Challenge us
    • Helps us put our personal strengths to better us
  2. Activate extreme positive emotions.
    • Opposite of depression
    • Invigorating rush of activity
    • Optimisitc sense of our capability
    • Focus our energy, with relentless optimism, on something we’re good at and enjoy
    • Satisfying work, the experience (or hope of) being successful, social connection, meaning
  3. Do more satisfying work.
    • Blissful productivity
    • Clear, actionable goals and vivid results
    • Clear, missions and steps
  4. Find better hope of success.
    • Make failure fun
    • Focus our time and energy on truly attainable goals
    • Eliminate fear of failure
    • Improve our chances for success
  5. Strengthen your social connectivity.
    • Build up your social stamina
    • Act in ways that make us more likeable
    • Build stronger social bonds
    • More active social networks
    • Prosocial emotions
  6. Immerse yourself in epic scale.
    • Make your hardest efforts feel truly meaningful by putting them in a much bigger context
    • Make yourself apart of something bigger
  7. Participate whole-heartedly wherever, whenever we can.
    • Enjoy real life more
    • Reinventing our real life experiences
    • Motivate us to participate more fully
  8. Seek meaningful rewards for making a better effort.
    • Points, levels, achievements motivate us through the toughest situations
    • Inspire us to work harder to excel at the things we already love
    • Help us feel more rewarded
  9. Have more fun with strangers.
    • A springboard for community
    • Build our capacity for social participation
    • Connecting us in diverse spaces (e.g. sidewalks, senior centers, museums, etc.)
    • Band together
    • Create powerful communities from scratch
  10. Invent and adapt new happiness hacks.
    • Help us adopt advice for living a good life
    • Experiment with happier habits
  11. Contribute to a sustainable engagement economy.
    • Engage tens of thousands of players tackling real-world problems for free
    • The gratifications we get from games are an infinitely renewable resource
  12. Seek out more epic wins.
    • Create real-world volunteer tasks that feel heroic, satisfying and readily achievable
    • Social participation games
    • Define awe-inspiring goals
    • Tackle seemingly impossible social missions together
  13. Spend ten thousand hours collaborating.
    • Cooperating, coordinating and creating something new together
    • Make us extraordinary good at collaborating
    • Make more concerted effort
    • Give us collaboration superpowers
  14. Develop massively mutliplayer foresight.
    • Turn ordinary people into super empowered hopeful individuals
    • Trains us to take the longer view
    • Practice ecosystem thinking
    • Pilot massively multiple strategies to solving planetary-scale problems
    • Help us imagine and invent the future together
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Games With Impact

I just finished reading Jane McGonigal’s book¬†Reality Is Broken and I feel I have had a peak experience and am that much closer to self-actualization. At the end of the book there is an appendix that lists all the amazing games that have been creatively developed to inspire personal and social change. From that I decided to make an easy accessible resource to click on and tap into that magic. Enjoy. ūüôā

Bounce

  • Cross-generation conversation game

Chore Wars

  • Chores management game

Come Out and Play Festival

  • Festival for new mobile, social games

The Comfort of Strangers

  • Social street game

Cruel 2 B Kind

  • The game of benevolent assassination

Evoke

  • The game network for social innovation

The Extraordinaries (now known as Sparked)

  • The microvolunteering game that allows you to design your own nonprofit mission

Fold It!

  • Solve protein-folding puzzles

Free Rice

  • Games to help end hunger

Ghosts of a Chance

  • The archive of the Smithsonian Museum’s experimental game

Groundcrew

Hide and Seek and Sandpit

  • Keep track of new mobile, social immersive experiences and games being invented and, publicly play tested in the United Kingdom

Investigate Your MP’s Expenses

  • Play with the crowdsourcing tool and read updates of UK parliament members

JetSet

  • Screenshots from the airport game that you can download with your iPhone

Lost Joules

  • Pending smart-meter game project

The Lost Ring

  • Watch the interactive case study¬†of this lost olympic game

Nike+

  • The running game that requires an inexpensive Nike+ sensor and an iPhone or iPod to play

Quest To Learn

  • Download sample curricula and assignments at the world’s first game-based school

Spore Creature Creator

  • Contribute to the Spore galaxy by creating your own spore creature for free

SuperBetter

  • Injury or illness recovery game

Superstruct

  • An archive of the future-fore casting game

Tombstone Hold ‘Em

  • Cemetary poker game

Top Secret Dance Off

  • View prototype of this dance adventure game

World Without Oil

  • Explore week-by-week replay of the peak-oil simulation and even download lesson plans

The Muse of Monument Valley

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I had the great pleasure of experiencing the beautiful and meditative exploration of Monument Valley. It’s going to be difficult to find any game comparable to the feel and mood of its dreamlike world. I already miss being there in that quiet, peaceful, warm hued garden of architecture.

It probably would be good to explain what this game is about. Monument Valley features a tiny, inquisitive, faceless princess named Ida who is on a mission to return beautiful and sacred pieces of geometry to their rightful places atop magnificent architectural structures. The catch is that the structures move and shift. Not everything is what it seems.

The interaction Ida has with the structures seems to bring them to life, as if they are interactive characters in the scene. This is emphasized when Ida develops a companionship with a character called Totem who displays subtle actions of loyalty and inspires feelings of endearment while being a simple totem pole.

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What makes the game so interesting is that it teaches the magic of opening one’s mind to different possibilities and perspectives, literally and metaphorically. If at any point of the game I feel stuck, I can relax and trust the process of exploration and I’ll soon find the solution.

The structures are interactive optical illusion puzzles that constantly surprise you. The developers of this game really balanced not only the difficulty to promote a flow experience but also the balance of familiarity and novelty. I know my resources like the buttons, cranks and doors which give me goals and tools. I also know the rule is to break the rules of reality somehow to get to the solution of the puzzle.

And that’s where the surprise comes in!

Every solution is a result of a directed exploratory process and is an exciting, beautiful, mysterious and unexpected climax in the sequence of the story. It shows how far the developers pushed the envelope of what their innovation can do. The incredible creativity paired with the consistency of the tone, atmosphere and challenge level made it incredibly addictive since I could never get enough of the colors, music and the variations on a gratifying theme.

I was enchanted by the way the story was told only through the silent actions of the characters and rewarding mini cutscenes without any dialogue. That is Monument Valley’s¬†modus operandi.

What was very enjoyable about Monument Valley was that the feeling of choice was embedded in a story that I discovered to be linear. It was exciting to see how my actions would lead to the next part of the story because it gave meaning to my actions. The seamless cutscenes in the gameplay acted as narration that had room for discovery. The story didn’t feel spelled out because you found pieces of it along the way that you naturally were eager to pay close attention to.

The themes of friendship, forgiveness and the relationship between humans and their environment were expressed so delicately. Nothing was overt or too obvious or trite. The themes were developed¬†in Monument Valley’s own unique way. The music made them that much more touching as well.

I love this game so much. I even wrote a poem about it here.

Along with that I bought the soundtrack. I love how it makes me feel and dream. It’s also a great muse for my creativity. I find this ironic because it’s as if the music from Monument Valley was embedded with the magic from the sub-meta-theme of expanding one’s mind to see possibilities and the many more perspectives one can take.

In short, Monument Valley was a very inspiring game and has become one of my great role models of game design. The joy of exploring each of those rich 18 levels has gotten my creative gears turning just like the gears in those buildings.

Creativity begets creativity.

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A Few Game Design Notes from Book #2

UltimateA couple weeks ago, I finished reading my second book about videogames called The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design. This book seemed to be more aimed at people involved with the development of AAA games instead of indie games but I still got something out of it. It had a lot detailed templates, lists and categories to guide the creative process when creating games. Here are a few of the many lists that I found helpful when thinking about game ideas.

Questions About Your World

  • What is the most valuable thing in this world?
  • What does the hero (and player) need to do to win?
  • Who and what are trying to stop him/her?
  • What will happen in the world if the hero or heroine fails?
  • What will happen if he/she succeeds?
  • Who is trying to stop the hero and why?
  • What do the most common buildings look like in this world?
  • What stops you from going places you aren’t supposed to go? Does the world channel you or do you have freedom of movement? How do you know if you’ve left the world? How do you know if you are on the wrong track? What stops you from endlessly wondering through an open world and getting bored? Likewise, what gives the illusion of choice in a largely linear world?
  • Does time matter in this world? Is gameplay often determined by time? Does the time of day change in this game?
  • Is there an artist whose work is relevant to this world?

Scope and Scale Questions

  • How many levels is the game intended to be?
  • How many minutes of cinematics are you budgetedfor?
  • How much voice-over do you expect?
  • What is the storytelling strategy (i.e. V.O., text, cinematics, still frames, etc.)
  • What is your budget in terms of time, money, resources and art?
  • What is the game objective exposition strategy?
  • How do you plan on telling the player what to do?
  • What are the extrinsic deliverables?

Rewards

  • Resources
  • Powerups
  • Information
  • Keys
  • Skills
  • Points
  • Upgrades and Add-ons
  • Collectibles
  • Different level unlockables
  • Reveal hidden areas or¬†characters
  • New alliances and allies
  • Game saves
  • Easter eggs

Punishments

  • Loss of progress
  • Loss of capability or powers
  • Loss of time
  • Loss of resources
  • New enemies
  • Death

Back Up Plans for Game Designs

  • Never make the entire story dependent on a single element, whether it’s a character, location, prop,set piece, etc.
  • Write at least three major set pieces, with the expectation that one of them won’t make it into the game.
  • Create at least one back up character that has similar motivations, skillset and backstory to some of the minor characters in the narrative. If these minor characters get cut, your backup is ready to fill in the gaps created by their absence.
  • Write at least one “universal bridging device” scene that can just as easily get you from point A to point B as it can from point A to point D (when B and C get cut). For example, stage action, such as a mission briefing, inside a helicopter that is flying to the next location, rather than writing the scene to take place after the helicopter has landed.
  • Limit all of the main action to your core cast of characters. This will significantly reduce the number of permutations that may result if a character or level is cut.
  • Preplan the optimal places within the narrative to “cut and paste” as you create the game story. Often when the cuts come, the team will ask for your advice and input on how to solve the problem. It will lower the risk of impacting gameplay and preserve the integrity of content.
  • Create a separate V.O. document of dialogue that can either be an internal monologue, or a recounting of some of the major action within the narrative, as seen through the eyes of one of the main characters. It can cover a whole lot of gaps.

Game Making Tools, Editors, Sound Creators and Publishers

These were all listed in The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters (love this book!). I thought it would be great to make them handy here on my blog. You can say this is a free toolbox and paint pallet for the world of videogame creators. With this you are ready for action!

Quotes from Anna Anthropy

anthropy_riseofthevideogamezinesters_150dpiI am very happy that the first book I read about creating games was The Rise of the Videogame Zinesters. It has great advice for people with all types of backgrounds who are getting into game making. There are so many quotes I need to keep in mind when creating games and I wanted to take the time to write a few of them here. This can act as a reference to assist me in the process. I highly recommend this book for beginners who are looking for the right door to knock and be welcomed into the world of games.

“If you’re writing on a text game, write a second passage that describes a location, be it physical place or a state of mind, so long as it’s different from the one the game starts in […] Now give the player some means of getting her characters to the new location.”

 

“Imperfection is an invaluable tool when making games, particularly when making your first games. Think about the ways you can approximate an idea with the tools you have and the things you know you’re capable of.”

 

“It can help to think of this in terms of a question: what job does this character have? Think about what kind of conflict the character might have: what makes it difficult to do her job? I once made a game about a robot gardener: her conflict was that coming in contact with water would cause her to short circuit.”

 

“The relationship between the characters should have something to do with the player’s verb. For example, if the player can Fly Upward and the object is the sun, which the player wants to touch, then writing the games rules such that the player can fly upward high enough to reach the sun will change the experience of the game [not being able to fly high enough means a game about unattainable dreams, the suns burn off the character’s wings means that the game is a cautionary fable,putting the sun in the character’s pocket means the game is a power fantasy, etc].”

 

“Setting out to make something utterly new can be a trap to a new author: you’ll spend forever planning and no time doing. If you get busy without worrying about being original, you’re liable to stumble across many more interesting ideas.”

 

“When we talk about a game of Tag, we’re talking about this experience. But this situation isn’t explicitly defined anywhere in the rules. However, notice how these rules guide the creation of that situation. The rules set the players in opposition to each other, give most of the players a goal and give the other player a reason to intervene, creating a tense dynamic.”

 

“You’ll also gain, in working with pure text, a sense of how to direct the player’s interest with simple clues – if you’re describing a gigantic castle hallway filled with suits of armor, tapestries and ancient candles burning in iron fixtures, how do you get the player to notice that there’s a loose brick in the wall – which is a valuable skill in both text and graphical games.”

My First Game!

After reading Anna Anthropy’s book, Rise of the Videogame Zinesters, I was inspired to create my own game on Twine. It seemed like a very approachable way to make my own game when I have no experience or knowledge in coding along with being very interested in writing stories. With this weekend being the¬†Ludum Dare¬†game jam, why not let this be the weekend where I create my first game?

So last night I stayed up late learning the twist and turns of the process of game creation. And now here it is! My first game!

lightinthedark

I submitted my game to the competition to possibly gain some feedback to improve my next attempts at game making. If you would like to give me some feedback too check it out here.

It was a very interesting to experience how this process made me so much more aware of character motivation, conflict and plot and how it impacts the way the action moves the story forward. Even though I didn’t use this in my game, I understand better how when a player clicks on a word it acts like an icon, object or image that’s in a graphically designed game. The direction you move the mouse to click a target word or the¬†impact of clicking the word “door” or “back” can simulate¬†the physical and mental movements a player may have in a a visually driven game. The¬†character can move through the space of the imagination with how the player interacts with the medium.

This is very cool and gives me so much more to discover! Can’t wait to make my next one. ūüôā