Learn about the videogames you should play and how to think about them! Have You Played is a free weekly newsletter for novices and experts alike, written by an award-winning game design and journalist. Every post starts with a simple description of exactly how the game works and what you do in it, then explores what makes it uniquely good or flawed. I've covered games including Pentiment, Season, Terra Nil, Cyberpunk 2077, Honkai: Star Rail, and many more!
My book about gamification is out! You've Been Played (Bookshop.org, Goodreads) examines how points, badges, and leaderboards are creeping into every aspect of modern life as tools for profit and coercion. It’s a critique of gamification, sure – but by an actual game designer, games journalist, and former neuroscientist. And it goes far beyond the usual suspects like Fitbit and Duolingo to look at the historical roots of gamification. Foucault, Lewis Mumford, Skinner, medieval indulgences, Taylorism, ARGs – this book has it all! Reviews, talks, and excerpts inside... [more inside]
It feels like there's a Wordle clone for everybody nowadays. But I decided to go in a slightly different direction when I made DNDle, a game in which you try to guess the Dungeons & Dragons "monster of the day" by assigning values to its attributes and being told where you've got them right. [more inside]
Mixolumia is an entrancing, musical block-clearing puzzler released on itch just the other day. I wound up documenting the 18-month development process in a big twitter thread (also in twitter moment format) that folks have found interesting. Besides bringing a fresh twist to the puzzler genre, Mixolumia also has a dynamic soundtrack (by Josie Brechner and myself) that responds and evolves as you play. The cool thing is that the music system is open to players to create and share their own songs/sound packs. There's documentation on how to do that if you're interested in reading how it works. The game comes with a wide range of color palettes and players can customize and create their own as well. [more inside]
Odlaw (as seen on Waypoint) is a two-player stealth game about visual distraction. You and your opponent must seek each other out in a field of one hundred fake players, but with such a populated space, the first challenge is to find yourself. There's also a black-and-white mode for folks who have trouble discerning color.