Game Design

Improving Chess with Super X Chess - by Miika Pihkala Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 11:06pm
You'll find answers to questions such as: How chess is in trouble? How Super X Chess improves chess? Why life is like a game of chess?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

FTC agrees to investigate loot box monetization schemes in games

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 27 November 2018 - 3:23pm

Federal Trade Commission chairman Joseph Simons today agreed to begin an investigation into 'loot box' monetization schemes in video games and whether they take advantage of young players. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

An indie's guide to merchandise: part one! - by Lottie Bevan Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 7:22am
A three-part deep-dive into Weather Factory's merchandise experience: how we set up the shop, what the numbers were in Month 1, and some pitfalls to watch out for when doing it yourself.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Board Games and Social Isolation - by Michael Heron Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 7:07am
Board games have a powerful role they can play in alleviating social isolation. They're social experiences that are non-stigmatic, and in this post I discuss how that can be a valuable and powerful combination that could very well save lives.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Exposing the Lore Dumps - by Evgeni Puzankov Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 7:06am
Some tools and tricks to deliver and sneak information in your story. Smart exposition if you will. It's a wall of text about exposition.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

How To Grow Your Games Community - by Antonio Torres Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 7:05am
This article details steps you can take to grow your game's community
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Beyond Riot Games: The Problem of Discrimination Against Women in Video Games - by Caleb Compton Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 7:04am
For decades, harmful or false ideas surrounding gender and video games have made it difficult for women to break into this industry. Riot games is one recent example, but this problem goes beyond them. This article looks at why, and how we can help.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

What's in a Score? - by Rasmus Rasmussen Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 1:17am
Points and scoring in games can and should be more than just adding up numbers. Here is a breakdown of how points are scored in the upcoming newspaper sim, Above the Fold.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ocarina of Time 20th Anniversary Retrospective - by moses vandenberg Blogs - 27 November 2018 - 1:16am
21.11.2018 marked the 20th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. So, I've decided to celebrate this special anniversary by writing a retrospective for the game that made such a monumental impact on the video game industry and on my life.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Words on a Screen: Time Out

RPGNet - 27 November 2018 - 12:00am
Putting a PbP on hold (and restarting it).
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gostor: Nymph (5e)

New RPG Product Reviews - 26 November 2018 - 12:33pm
Publisher: First Ones Entertainment
Rating: 4
Gostor - Nymphs: Minor Goddesses, a new race for D and D 5E, by Jean-Philipe ‘JP’ Chapleau provides exactly what it promises, the race of nymphs, nature spirits or the most minor of goddess, inspired by Greek Mythology in a playable form.

A short background of the place of nymphs is followed by the types of nymphs. A few paragraphs on using nymphs and four paragraph length adventure seeds

Nymphs, as presented here, have three playable subtypes: underworld, forest and waterway, while wild nymph and hags are noted for story reasons, and sky nymphs appear as monsters. They seem balanced though all, naturally, have some magical abilities.They are supported by two backgrounds, whose features need clearer definition of how they should be used, and one new feat, which really seems more aimed at NPC nymphs as it makes the character an ally of hags.

Two new "monsters" round out the product, sky nymphs (which oddly, cannot fly) and wild nymphs, both which have a very minimal descriptions outside their statblocks.

While this product achieves its aims, there is so much more it could have done. It only allows for female nymphs, for example, while males would have another name there is no reason for nature spirits to be confined to one sex. Some tables for suggested characteristics to go with the backgrounds and a magic item or two would have really solidified the usefulness of this product. As it is, it seems of more use to a DM than players, but even then it would have been nice to have had more support material.

3.5 rounded up to 4.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Considerations for Obtaining Consent to Your Data Practices - by Kimberly Culp Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 7:27am
The trend is to offer end-users more choice and transparency into how their data is used. Practically speaking, that means more consent boxes will be delivered at the outset of a game. What that looks like will vary based on your data practices.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Jason Canam, Household Games: Removing Accessibility Barriers - by Jessica Paek Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 7:10am
We’re continuing our series of collaborative articles with Jason Canam of Household Games, the studio and developer behind Way of the Passive Fist to talk about making a game you love, and making it so that as many people as possible can play them.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Prince of Persia: Escape - Why The Level Count is a Secret - by Olin Olmstead Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 7:10am
A level based game with no level selection? Not even a total level count? Why Ketchapp made this design decision and more.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Unrealistic Challenge of Realism in Video Games - by Josh Bycer Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 7:08am
Realism is a popular marketing point for many videogames, but today's post looks at how it can get in the way of playability.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

At Meaningful Play and Beyond: Exhibitor Primer - by Mars Ashton Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 7:02am
A collection of tips, tricks and guidelines for exhibiting your work at an event, showcasing it at a social gathering or just putting it in front of players in general.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Historian discusses Red Dead Redemption 2 - by Bob Whitaker Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 6:54am
Historian Bob Whitaker explores the depiction of crime and the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Red Dead Redemption 2. Topics include "testing," train robbery, and informants.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Scalability: How to scale your app or online game in terms of architecture and hosting infrastructure - by Moris Preston Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 6:47am
In this post I would like to talk a bit about very important problem affecting developers of online video games and app developers. It is about scaling of growing projects.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Attentat 1942: The Long Road Towards German Release - by Ondrej Trhon Blogs - 26 November 2018 - 6:47am
In our first development blog, we look back on how our serious game about Nazi regime in Czechoslovakia became the first officially released PC game with Third Reich symbolism in Germany after this year's policy change.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

4 Ways to Make Your Game Better By Making It More Accessible

Gnome Stew - 26 November 2018 - 5:22am

He ain’t heavy, he’s my clone. (Image Courtesy of

A couple of months ago, a friend sent me this great Lifehacker article about how using audio descriptions in streamed content can help teach the fine art of providing enough (but not too much) description as a GM. Audio descriptions, initially intended to make media more accessible, also have the delightful side-effect of creating a tool that has the potential to help everyone have a better time of it. This phenomenon, usually called the “Curb Cut Effect” refers to how making something more accessible for some people ultimately makes things better for everyone. It takes its name from those small ramps (or “cuts”) that you find on curbs near crosswalks. These were originally intended for those with wheelchairs or other mobility considerations to be able to get up on sidewalks without being hit by the nearest bus. However, if you’ve ever pushed a stroller, had to jump a curb with a shopping cart, or had the kind of Saturday night that leads to a greater-than-average number of stumbles (*cough*), you’ll have noticed that clever little piece of design is useful in a whole lot of ways.

Of course, the biggest benefit of accessibility is, and will always be, accessibility. More accessible games mean fewer people being shut out for reasons that have nothing to do with the games they want to play or run. Fewer people being shut out means more different perspectives on this hobby we all love. More perspectives means (and I cannot highlight this enough), more stuff for us to play with. We live in a world with D&D and Pathfinder and Blue Rose and Harlem Unbound and Monsterhearts and Bluebeard’s Bride and the Cortex System and the Pip System and the Cypher System and Dread and literally hundreds of other games full of unique and interesting stories and mechanics. No single person, no matter how brilliant or driven, could ever, ever come up with all of those things on their own. Making space for more people at our tables makes our tables better in every way we could imagine.

Which brings me to an important point. I don’t personally have any accessibility concerns. I’m lucky enough to be able to cruise through most situations without being made aware of my limitations. However, I have some friends who do have these considerations, and I try my best to listen to them. My life is immeasurably better for having those folks in my life and at my table when I’m lucky enough to play with them, but I’m not an authority on any of this.

Look: I’m a half-functional manchild, barely able to dress myself in the morning, and I’ve been doing that since at least high school.  I’m not an expert on anything except how to eat fifty cent ramen for a week without dry heaving (the secret is butter and low expectations). Share13Tweet18+11Reddit1EmailI’m not an expert on anything except how to eat fifty cent ramen for a week without dry heaving (the secret is butter and low expectations). I’m most especially not an authority on the experiences of the people at your table. If you have a player or a GM who requests accommodations that are different from or contradict anything I say here, listen to that player or GM. Everyone is an unparalleled expert in their own lives; listen to that expertise.

However, with all of that said, I can now climb down off of my soapbox and present to you 4 Ways to Make Your Game Better By Making It More Accessible.

Turn On Audio Descriptions When you Watch TV

Accessibility Functions: helping blind or visually impaired media audiences engage with media.

How it can make your game better: If you’re not used to it, the experience of listening to descriptions as they take place is jarring at first, but very rapidly the descriptions begin to recede into the background of your attention, and you begin unconsciously following along with the meter and language of that description. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself moving faster and more evocatively in your descriptions almost immediately.

 Nothing will ever, ever make conversations between two NPCs anything but painfully awkward for everyone involved. Sorry. Share13Tweet18+11Reddit1EmailOver time, it also becomes easier to tell how to smoothly transition between character dialogue and description. Though nothing will ever, ever make conversations between two NPCs anything but painfully awkward for everyone involved. Sorry.

Pay Attention to Space

Accessibility Functions: People with mobility concerns or mobility aids like canes need clear walkways and adequate space between tables, walls and chairs. Cluttered surroundings can lead to your friends struggling to move around in the space you’ve set up for them, or in extreme cases, not being able to participate at all.

How it can make your game better: Paying attention to how your space is laid out helps all of your players move in and out to grab snacks, quickly step away from the table without disrupting others, and, for an added bonus, helps make cleanup quicker and easier, too.

Take Breaks

Accessibility Functions: Players or GMs with joint, back, or muscular problems, attention issues, or some conditions like Crohn’s disease need to take breaks more frequently than players without those issues.

How it can make your game better: Getting into the habit of taking more frequent breaks (five minutes or so every hour or hour-and-a-half of gameplay) helps to keep your players fresh, and allows them to plan their next moves. It also takes the pressure off of you as a GM to keep the game running for long stretches of time. When setting the expectation for frequent breaks, it also helps maintain focus during other times, since everyone knows that there will be another break coming soon, and provides a convenient stopping point for a session.

Note that it’s critical to keep short breaks short—especially at first, it’s very easy to allow a five-minute break to stretch into a ten-minute or fifteen-minute break, but that can very rapidly turn into not getting to play at all. Having frequent breaks means everything that isn’t a break needs to stay on task.

Focus on Visual Aid Design

Accessibility Functions: Players and GMs with ADHD, dyslexia, and visual impairment sometimes struggle to read rules or handouts that are overly long or designed for those with sharper vision.

How it can make your game better: There are a few clear ways that paying closer attention to how your visual aids are designed can help you and your players enjoy your handouts more. Paying attention to this kind of thing is 25% graphic design, 50% writing, 30% putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, and 7% being terrible at arithmetic. But don’t let that intimidate you; if you’re thinking about this at all, you’re already light years ahead of many GMs.  The harder something is to be used, the less likely it is that it actually will be used. And your stuff is there to be used, right? Right? Share13Tweet18+11Reddit1EmailThe harder something is to be used, the less likely it is that it actually will be used. And your stuff is there to be used, right? Right?

  • Keep handouts short and sweet. It’s tempting to add additional evocative language to your handouts. Don’t. That’s what your narration is for. More words means crowded text and longer sentences. Every second your players spend reading is a second they’re not listening or engaging the game. Most players should be able to take in everything (unless it’s a puzzle) at a glance. Your handouts are reminders, not instruction sheets. Speaking of:
  • Don’t rely on written rule instructions. I have a dyslexic friend who is one of the best players I know; I enjoy every game I’m in with him, and if he hadn’t told me, I never would have known he was dyslexic. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t impact his experience. Once, in a large con game, this player was handed over a dozen pages of densely-packed rules when he walked in to play. While the rules were e-mailed out before the game, predictably, almost none of the players read them. Anyone would have struggled to understand such complicated instructions in a compressed timeline, but for my friend, that wall of text erected a barrier it was completely impossible for him to get over in time to participate in the game. In that situation, the GM taking the time to boil down the essence of the rules to the players all at once would have gone a long way to making sure everyone could play. There are a lot of challenges out there, and not every player who has them will be comfortable telling every GM.
  • Remember that design matters. Use big, simple fonts. Usually, I try not to use anything smaller or more complicated than size 14 Calibri. Fancy fonts may look cool, and occasionally have a neat immersion effect, but use them sparingly and intentionally. There’s nothing wrong with using simple black text on a white background; odds are good your players won’t even notice. The real imagination is in the game, and other combinations run the risk of making it exhausting for your players to read.  You’re not trying to create a logo here—you’re trying to create a tool to get your players more in the game. Share13Tweet18+11Reddit1EmailYou’re not trying to create a logo here—you’re trying to create a tool to get your players more in the game.

So what do you think? Do you do anything at your table to help make it easier for your players or GM to engage?

  • Fans for Accessible Conventions (Facebook Group). A great group of folks with a wonderful perspective on the intersection of fandom and accessibility. I can’t recommend this group highly enough, and a couple of these suggestions came directly from this group.
  • Usabilablog’s Article on Design for Color Blindness. The same blog’s article on readability is also worth a look.
  • Interactive Design Foundation’s Usability for All While focused on web design (like much of what you’ll find on the web, unsurprisingly), has a great overview of how accessibility is broader than thinking about how someone with a given disability may interact with your stuff. Worth a read.


Categories: Game Theory & Design


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