quarta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2017

A diagram to explain connections in a board game design process

An excellent diagram to think about the relationships between theme, rules, players and components in board games. The intersections between the different areas point out very interesting ways to ponder about game design questions.

Source: Big Game Theory site


terça-feira, 14 de fevereiro de 2017

Defining “advergame”, “product placement in games” and “in-game advertising”

According to Cavallini (2006), the notion of advergame – a neologism formed from the juxtaposing of the words “advertise” and “game” – could be described as a strategy for marketing that uses games, mainly electronic, to advertise brands and products. That includes a large range that goes from complex games that are developed specifically for advertising purposes to common casual games. The Internet and video game consoles are great environments to use this strategy. Mobile media (smartphones and tablets) are already being tested by companies, which chose this marketing strategy too. For instance, the Brazilian branch of the soft drink brand Fanta launched in 2015 a hot site with ten advergames. Developed by Sioux Studio, the games emphasized Fantas’s branding features like happiness, friendship, radical sports and music. All the features of the brand appeared in campaigns displayed on television, magazines, movie theaters and on the Internet are present in the game; therefore, we can conclude that the game is an advertising piece like any other.

Cavallini (2006) also discusses the idea of product placement in games as a strategy that inserts a company’s product inside the gaming interface and context. The characters in the game Devil May Cry wear pants with the Diesel brand in evidence. In Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell - Pandora Tomorrow, the character uses a Sony Ericsson p900 smartphone to solve missions, so the player virtually experiences the use of the device. In Worms 3D, by SEGA Studio, the characters drink a can of Red Bull energy drink in order to jump higher. In the last released UFC game, we can see the fighters wearing shorts and gloves from famous sporting brands. It is very important to highlight that this kind of strategy, as everything in marketing, needs its context aligned with the target audience. In all previous examples, the product fits in the gaming universe and dialogues with the players.

Another fundamental keyword in this context is in-game advertising. As Herrewijn and Poels (2011) define, in-game advertising refers to the use of games as a medium for the delivery of advertisements, and the authors point out that there is one player branding experience during the gameplay. In this type of strategy, we can notice the use of banners, posters, radio spots, digital ads and billboards mixed to the game’s landscape. In Virtua Tennis 3, as an example, it is possible to see Bridgestone tires and Citizen watches billboards all around the scenario. Both brands are present, sponsoring the real tennis matches, so it is very pertinent to be in the virtual game, creating a deeper sense of immersion to the player.

In this topic, we are discussing examples developed for consoles, personal computers and mobile media. However, the advergaming strategy is not something created in the Internet age. In the beginning of the 1980s, we already could find some very interesting cases in the Atari platform (as we discussed in this old post here).

Note: this post is part of a complete paper about "games as marketing tools". Soon, I hope to share the complete content in another post.



CAVALLINI, Ricardo. (2006). O marketing depois de amanhã. São Paulo: Digerati Books.

HERREWIJN, Laura. & POELS, Karolien (2011). Putting Brands into Play: How Player Experiences Influence the Effectiveness of In-Game Advertising. Proceedings of the DiGRA (Digital Games Research Association), 6, 1-19. Available here.

quarta-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2017

About constraints

"The pleasure of limits arises only when the participants within a particular magic circle understand and respect the material constraints it circumscribes" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).

"Constraints are most effective when those who are bound up with them can clearly see, understand, and appreciate the limits they impose. That doesn’t necessarily mean accepting those limitations as a best approach to a pursuit, nor does it mean fixing them for eternity as the only way to do things" (BOGOST, 2016, p.179).


BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

domingo, 29 de janeiro de 2017

“Why is gamification not working in my company?”

Last week, I was invited to a meeting in a medium-size Brazilian company, which for ethical reasons will not have its name disclosed. The director of the innovation area wanted a special consulting about the gamification process implemented on the last two years. After many attempts, these tactics proved worthless for the company. The employees did not understand the purpose of this process and could not see the utility in what was proposed. Why did it happen? In the director’s mind, gamification is a positive thing for every company, after all, it’s an attempt to put games (a fun element) inside work (a boring subject) to improve their routine.

Well, it is not that simple.

In the article “Hate the games, not the players", Daniel Ruch discusses some points that can make gamification fail in the business ecosystem. First of all, Ruch gives us one good definition about the term:

“Gamification” is the application to other activities of game-playing elements (such as point scoring, competition and rules of play) in an attempt to achieve a measurable goal. In business, that goal could be greater productivity, user engagement or employee satisfaction. In our personal lives, goals might include losing weight, exercising regularly or unplugging from mobile devices.

After this definition, Ruch says that many companies tried to implement the gaming process in their DNA, but, in most part of them, the game objectives were unclear and complicated. According to Ruch, some employees “weren’t sure how to win points and badges”, and, let’s be honest: what’s the real purpose of it? One virtual trophy received in a special e-mail will not motivate behavioral change. One public score with a race between the selling departments could only create frustration and bad competition. A system that only punishes failures and never rewards positive acts is bounded to be a failure. So, what is important to think before introducing processes like gamification into a company? Here are some thoughts to dwell on:

1) Define clear goals. What’s the problem with your company that gamification will try to solve? Are employees unmotivated? Is communication between departments bad?

2) What paths are guaranteed to solve the problem and achieve the goal? And one essential thing: does your company really need to implement gamification processes? Or can the problem be solved in a much simpler way?

3) According to Ruch, “gamification begins with a why question”.

4) Once identified that gamification could be a solution for the problem, comes one important step: to hire a specialist team to implement the process. Discuss with them. Try to put the objectives clearly to the employees. Emphasize the benefits, the rewards and the gains. “We can’t make successful games without understanding the problems we aim to solve”.

5) Gamification is a not a generic solution applied to any kind of company and employee. One cautious observation and previous analysis is fundamental.

Another important thought to highlight this discussion comes from Bogost (2016, p.82) who says that

A job is made of fun not by turning into a game, but by deeply and deliberately pursuing it as a job. Jobs are fun when their work is meaningful, when their activities matter, and when the act of conducting them can be done over and over again with the increased commitment. Fun can’t be added to something, like sugar to coffee or like songs to chores.

Gamification is always a polemic subject. Many experts condemn the term and prefer to talk about "ludification" or "game thinking". Regardless of how it is called, it is important to broaden the discussion on this subject.

Now, on to your opinion!



BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books, 2016.

Article “Hate the games, not the players”.

segunda-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2017

Iterative design & games

Gaming creativity process, allow a myriad of methodological using possibilities. In the gaming projects that I participated, I frequently used the iterative design method. One first view about this methodological process comes from Zimmerman (2003, p.176), who says, ‘iterative design is a design methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a work in progress’.

Complementing the previous idea, the process of iterative design for games, can be divided into few stages (FULLERTON et al, 2008, p.249): A) conceptual phase: consists of generating ideas, formalizing and testing them; B) pre-production: here the ideas are reviewed to evolve and be tested again; C) the production stage: the game is tested and revised with different groups of play testers to locate errors; D) phase of quality assurance: where the game is tested to be launched without errors.

We'll discuss more about these subject in a future post using some examples (indie games and triple A games) to clarify this idea. Until then, check out the video below about iterative design applied to games:



ZIMMERMAN, Eric. Play as Research: the Iterative Design Process. IN: Design Research: Methods and Perspectives, (2003): 176-184. (also available at last access: May, 2015).

FULLERTON, Tracy et al. Game design workshop: a playcentric approach to creating innovative games. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann, 2008.

sexta-feira, 13 de janeiro de 2017

To think about fun, play and games

"Fun is the aftermath of deliberately manipulating a familiar situation in a new way" ( BOGOST , 2016, p.57)

Source: BOGOST, Ian. Play anything: the pleasure of limits, the uses of boredom, & the secret of games. New York: Basic Books,2016.

segunda-feira, 26 de dezembro de 2016

Book: Levelling Up - The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames

Wow! I want to share very good news in this last post of the year: in 2015, I presented the paper “Observing Iterative Design on the Game Dominaedro”, that I wrote for the Video Game Cultures & The Future of Entertainment conference (VG7).

Yesterday, I received awesome news from the organizers: all the papers from the conference were compiled in a fantastic book named "Levelling Up: The Cultural Impact of Contemporary Videogames". Edited by Brittany Kuhn and Alexia Bhéreur-Lagounaris, and published by Inter-Disciplinary Press (Oxford) the book is a wide discussion about gaming culture in the contemporary scenario. Check the cool cover below:

CLICK HERE to buy!

Below, you can read the book's synopsis:

"Videogames have come a long way from Super Mario Bros and Pong. After thirty years of technological advancements and academic criticisms, videogames have become a fertile ground for social change and virtual identity creation. Where big game companies like Bioware, Bethesda, and Rockstar Games have begun to include more inclusive narratives, independent game companies are beginning to delve into the field of ‘serious games,’ capitalising on the popularity and prevalence of social networking to inspire and assist non-game-related fields. While all of this is happening, a new subculture has become to dominate social media: that of the fanboy and the Let’s Play YouTube video phenomenon. It is a dynamic time in videogame studies, from the perspective of player, designer and theorist. However, with the advent of virtual reality, the question remains: where will videogames, and subsequently our society, ‘level up’ to next?"