Click "Sleep" for a dark background.
Click "sleep" again if text isn't dark.



Blog Check #2


  • Though this blog doesn't really cover video games, I'm always interested in teaching, Japan, and the Japanese language. The article titled "Eleven Things I Won't Miss About Japan" was an interesting and thoughtful read all the way to the end.


Game Design Advance

  • The article, Four Critical Modes on Games, begins to organize some of the different ways people talk about video games. While I found this article to be much more useful than Krpata's New Taxonomy of Gamers, I can't help but sense a lack of critical thinking and/or a sense of vagueness when words like "play" are used. I know that there are many different views on a concept like "play", but often times, instead of considering a wide range of views, people tend to make bold statements about what play is/isn't without backing it up.
  • The conversation in the comments of the article extends the ideas while linking to a bunch of other bloggers and thinkers. Joe Osborn, a commenter, made a diagram and put me somewhere in the top left quadrant (at least I think Terrel = Terrell). 
  • I realize that the main article only intended to highlight some of the modes that are commonly used to critique video games. However, I'm a stickler for examples. The more varied examples you can bring to support your ideas, the more credibility you build. Perhaps, Pratt could have picked a game like Super Mario Brothers and developed mini essays or thesis statements in each mode. But that sounds like something I would do because I have the time and I like focusing on SMB.
  • Articles like this make me want to join in on the conversation, but I'm not exactly sure where everyone is talking. So until I can sit down and have a conversation with Pratt or anyone else involved in the discourse, I can't say any more than this. 
  • In the meantime, I tune into every week or so to catch up.

  • This is by far my favorite gaming blog. If the consoles were in fact involved in a war and the entire gaming industry is the battle field, I am sure David Sirlin and I would be on the same side. Perhaps even in the same platoon.
  • "Game Design is not enough..." not enough for what? For whom? It's hard to react to this statement as long as I don't know what follows after the ...
  • Sirlin takes a stand with his design choices. He tries to make his games more accessible by taking out needless complexities so that the gap between pro players and new players can be reduced somewhat. Sirlin works for game balance so that the best characters in a game aren't too much better than the worst. He believes in long term value, and so do I.
  • I own a copy of "Playing To Win," but before I got my hands on the book, I was reading and applying Sirlin's writings to my own endeavours in the competitive Smash Brothers scene. Like Jesper Juul's writing, Sirlin has jump started my own critical thinking of video games and gives me hope for publishing the Critical-Gaming Blog one day (yeah, as a super huge text book that won't sell).
  • Sirlin's writing is very thorough. I've read a very large portion of his material, and it's all top quality.
  • Right now, I'm particularly captured by Sirlin's UC Berkeley StarCraft Class series.
  • I should probably spend more time in the forums, but I don't like the way people communicate/ignore each other in a message board structure. The last time I tried to say something simple on the forums, everything exploded.
  • As a final note about Sirlin, I think it would do him a great deal of good to spend some serious time with more Nintendo games. A lot of his gaming design philosophies and the direction he talks games are in line with the effects Nintendo makes with their games. If he doesn't have the time to invest in such a pursuit, I recommend that he read through my blog. For example, I'm working on an article series that draws parallels between all the intricacies of StarCraft (as detailed in his Berkeley series) to the Pikmin 2 battle mode. 



  • Leigh Alexander has a wonderfully light and playful voice in her writing. The post "How To Address The $5 RE5 Vs. Mode Issue" was especially entertaining. Unfortunately, from what I read the depth of content and thought isn't there. Interesting topics are brought up, but they're addressed in a casual way that never gets to the bottom of anything. As she skates and relates around the issues, Alexander reveals her bias. 
  • Take 'The Authorship Conflict" for example:
  • "I want to interact with a guided vision, not my pals from the internet."
    • Why can't a multiplayer experience be just as guided as a single player experience? Not all multiplayer games are online.
  • "Spector would rather have you talk around the water cooler about the moments you discovered in his game that he didn't plan for, and discuss amongst yourselves the way you all experienced the same thing differently, rather than hear a recounting of what was essentially your group social outing (involving headshots)."
    • Multiplayer games have lots of unplanned for moments (emergence), and they're probably more frequent than in single player games. It's easy to see that a multiplayer game like a fighter where hundreds of players play the same character but all in different ways, is a perfect example of experiencing the "same thing differently." Not all multiplayer are shooters or player v. player competitive death matches. Reducing all multiplayer games to interactions involving "headshots" speaks to how limited Alexander's experience of multiplayer games is than the topics she raised. 
  • "This is the designer in him talking, of course -- his theory that in letting players build stories via Left 4 Dead-style happy accidents in open worlds, the designer doesn't have to tackle complex challenges like making choices meaningful, or making characters believable."
    • To use fighters as an example again, balancing a fighter so that each character is unique yet all can play together according to an imagined game world IS a way of "making characters believable." The choices in such games are meaningful, it's just a differnet kind of meaning. 
  • Seems like Alexander needs to spend more time understanding multiplayer games and multiplayer gamers so she can talk about such topics without sounding so closed minded.
  • At least the articles provide interesting links.


The Artful Gamer

  • These of my response to Re-Thinking Interface "Design"
  • "But when we make video games, we should not be engineering for usability. A game is not a utility. It is an imaginative space and a play space. Creating “user-friendly” video games is another way of saying, “We are making a faster, better, hammer, that practically anyone can use!” 
    • What's wrong with this hammer? If the purpose of a game is to create a system where learning to use a more primitive hammer is where the meaning is derived, you might have a point. But if the purpose is to build a tower to defend against the oncoming hoard of monsters, then using this "super hammer" that's more "user-friendly" hardly seems like an issue at all. It all depends on what kind of product/game/function/space that you're trying to create.
  • "What we need instead, I think, is a game that frustrates us. A game where learning the rules of play - whatever they are - is an exploration in itself. We don’t need to learn the rules first, then learn how to play. We play a game, and learn the bounds of the space as we do it."
    • There are so many people who write about video games that fight for and propose that games be more like this or that. Most of the time, I've found that the way these writers describe how games should be, are simply how games (at least many of them) have always been. So, a game where the rules of play is an "exploration in itself?" Let's see... how about Super Mario Brothers for the NES. This game doesn't have a tutorial section. You hit start and you're right in the action, forced to learn the rules by doing. Tons of games are like this (especially sequels).
    • Further more, to use fighting games once more, figuring out all the nuanced and subtle uses of an individual attack/move as it applies to a changing metagame is a great example of "exploration of the rules of play." It took me 5 years of playing Super Smash Brothers Melee exclusively with one character before I found an incredibly nuanced use of Kirby's back throw.
    • On that note, why would a game/experience need to be frustrating? Perhaps this is just a poor choice in words. 
  • "Unfortunately, RE5 is just as instrumentally-minded as most gamers are, and only one “solution” to the “puzzle” is the “right” one. Creativity and play do not imagine specific ends such as these."
    • I tend not to "put creativity (or play) into a box" like the statement above does. Creativity and play have no bounds. Sometimes, they work within strict, ridged structures seeking to find enough space for expression and possibilities like a small plant forcing its way through solid rock. Other times, creativity and play love wide open spaces to go where the wind blows without direction or aim. Saying it's only one way or the other simply isn't true.
  • I think there's something interesting being said in this post. Perhaps some of the issues I have with the article are sorted out in the comments. At the very least, the thoughts in the article are provoking.

The Quixotic Engineer

  • The article titled Visibility, Affordance, & Feedback presents some basic ideas supporting the concept of form fits function and why it's so important in game design. I found this blog because of a link on the artful gamer post (above) and decided to throw it into this blog check.


 The door is wide open for commentary, questions, and debate.

« Counterpoint: The Depth of Interplay pt.5 | Main | Everyone Is Doing The Mario »

Reader Comments (7)

I might check out Sirlin and Game Design Advance sometime.

I read SexyVideoGameLand and agree with your criticsms. Leigh is a great writer, and I thoroughly enjoy her posts regarding issue that aren't directly related to design. Her industry and sub-culture musings are by far the most compulsive reads. When it comes to other matters (like talking about the games themselves in a specific manner), her arguement tends to feel less supported.

I'd be interested to see you discuss (the reviews, not the general discussions) and any on the critiques on the Moving Pixels blog

Been a good series so far.

April 28, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Primed

@ Daniel

Thanks for the comment. and Moving Pixels? No problem. I'll have the next one up in about 2 weeks.

Hey Richard, thanks for the comments!

I agree that the piece would have been stronger with a few examples, and the ones I used were a little slap-dash. I suppose the reason that I didn't go deeper is because I was really throwing things out there to see how folks reacted. I still haven't decided if I agree with everything I wrote!

Hopefully, I'll have a more refined assessment at some point.

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

Sirlin's "Game design is not enough..." was originally described in one of his early posts on the new blog. It had something to do with applying his "Playing to Win" philosophy to other aspects of life, as well as talking about his other interests. A good example is his holiday buying advice article, where he suggests gifts based on his ideals.

I took a look at and had trouble finding actual criticism. The front page news and featured articles are mostly "three liners" with good, bad, and wtf comments. The game reviews are at least a year old. Am I missing something?

moving pixels looks better. I need to read some more.

SexyVideoGameLand seemed to have better critical analysis for the RapeLay discussion than the content here. I think its because she had to explain everything clearly, because most people weren't familiar with it. You're right on for the multiplayer examples. I think she is attacking the problem too abstractly and can't bring together the argument rather than ignoring your obvious examples. Her writing style is enjoyable an makes the blog worth reading though.

Quixotic Engineer might be good. I'll have to read more. The article you linked was solid, and if he applies this analysis to games, it will be a good read.
Also need to check out the other links. Haven't touched Game Design Advance or feitclub before.

April 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBryan Rosander

@ Bryan R.

Thanks for clarifying and keeping me updated. The article from SVGL titled "The Kills" is actually the one I didn't get around tor reading. I'll be sure to check it out.

Sorry that I typo'd your name! I'll correct it straightaway. Thanks for the mention.

That diagram was from a presentation I was going to give, though I ended up not actually using it. See for a link to the final slideshow I ended up using.

May 10, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Osborn

@Joe OSborn

I read through the slide show, and now I'm filled with all sorts of questions. Unless we can get into some kind of active conversation, I'll sit on my questions for now and see about emailing you in the future.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>