Mashing up the real-time city and urban games

Yesterday evening I was at the Club of Amsterdam. They host events centred around preferred futures. I was invited to speak at an evening about the future of games.1 I thought I’d share what I talked about with you here.

I had ten minutes to get my point across. To be honest, I think I failed rather dismally. Some of the ideas I included were still quite fresh and unfinished, and I am afraid this did not work out well. I also relied too heavily on referencing other’s work, presuming people would be familiar with them. A miscalculation on my part.

In any case, thanks to Felix Bopp and Carla Hoekendijk for inviting me. I had a good time and enjoyed the other presenter’s talks. The discussion afterwards too was a lot of things, but dull certainly isn’t among them.

What follows is a write-up of what I more or less said during the presentation, plus references to the sources I used, which will hopefully make things clearer than they were during the evening itself.2


(This is where I did the usual introduction of who I am and what I do. I won’t bore you with it here. In case you are wondering, the title of this talk is slightly tongue-in cheek. I had to come up with it for the abstract before writing the actual talk. Had I been able to choose a title afterwards, it would’ve been something like “Growth” or “A New Biology of Urban Play”…)


This gentleman is Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. He is said to be the first to formulate a coherent theory of evolution. His ideas centred around inheritance of acquired traits. So for instance, a blacksmiths who works hard his whole life will probably get really strong arms. In the Lamarckist view, his offspring will inherit these strong arms from him. Darwinism rules supreme in evolutionary biology, so it is no surprise that this theory is out of favour nowadays. What I find interesting is the fact that outside of the natural domain, Lamarckism is still applicable, most notably in culture. Cultural organisms can pass on traits they acquired in their lifetime to their offspring. Furthermore, there is a codependency between culture and humans. The two have co-evolved. You could say culture is a trick humans use to get around the limits of Darwinism (slow, trial-and-error based incremental improvements) in order to achieve Lamarckism.3


You can think of cities as cultural meta-organisms. They’re a great example of natural-cultural co-evolution. We use cities as huge information storage and retrieval machines. What you see here is a map of the city of Hamburg circa 1800. In his book Emergence, Steven Berlin Johnson compares the shape of this map to that of the human brain, to illustrate this idea of the city being alive, in a sense. Cities are self-organizing cities that emerge from the bottom up. They grow, patterns are created from low-level interactions, things like neighbourhoods.4


Games are this other thing nature has come up with to speed up evolution. I’m not going to go into why I think we play (you could do worse than have a look at The Ambiguity of Play by Brian Sutton-Smith to get a sense of all the different viewpoints on the matter). Let’s just say I think one thing games are good at is conveying viewpoints of the world in a procedural way (a.k.a. ‘procedural rhetoric’ as described in Ian Bogost’s book Persuasive Games). They provide people with a way to explore a system from the inside out. They give rise to ‘systemic literacy’.5 The image is from Animal Crossing: Wild World, a game that, as Bogost argues, tries to point out certain issues that exist with consumerism and private home ownership.


Moving on, I’d like to discuss two trends that I see happening right now. I’ll build on those to formulate my future vision.


So trend number one: the real-time city. In cities around the globe, we are continuously pumping up the amount of sensors, actuators and processors. The behaviour of people is being sensed, processed and fed back to them in an ever tightening feedback loop. This will inevitably change the behaviour of humans as well as the city. So cities are headed to a phase transition, where they’ll move (if not in whole then at least in neighbourhood-sized chunks) to a new level of evolvability. Adam Greenfield calls it network weather. Dan Hill talks about how these new soft infrastructures can help us change the user experience of the city without needing to change the hard stuff. The problem is, though, that the majority of this stuff is next-to invisible, and therefore hard to “read”.6 The image, by the way, is from Stamen Design’s awesome project Cabspotting, which (amongst other things) consists of real-time tracking and visualization of the trajectories of taxis in the Bay Area.


Trend number two. In the past decade or so, there’s a renewed interest in playing in public spaces. Urban games are being used to re-imagine and repurpose the city in new ways (such as the parkour player pictured here). Consciously or subconsciously, urban games designers are flirting with the notions of the Situationist International, most notably the idea of inner space shaping our experience of outer space (psycho-geography) and the use of playful acts to subvert those spaces. Parkour and free running can’t really be called games, but things like SFZero, The Soho Project and Cruel 2 B Kind all fit these ideas in some way.


So I see an opportunity here: To alleviate some of the illegibility of the real-time city’s new soft infrastructures, we can deploy games that tap into them. Thus we employ the capacity of games to provide insight into complex systems. With urban games, this ‘grokking’ can happen in situ.


Through playing these games, people will be better able to “read” the real-time city, and to move towards a more decentralized mindset. The image is from a project by Dan Hill, where the shape of public Wi-Fi in the State Library of Queensland was visualized and overlaid on the building’s floor-plan.


Ultimately though, I would love to enable people to not only “read” but also “write” possible processes for the real-time city. I see many advantages here. Fore one this could lead to situated procedural arguments: people could be enabled to propose alternative ways of interacting with urban space. But even without this, just by making stuff, another way of learning is activated, known as ‘analysis by synthesis’. This was the aim of Mitchel Resnick when he made StarLogo (of which you see a screenshot here). And it works. StarLogo enables children to make sense of complex systems. A real-time urban game design toolkit could to the same, with the added benefit of the games being juxtaposed with the cities they are about.


This juxtaposition might result in dynamics similar to what we find in nature. Processes from these new games might be spontaneously transferred over to the city, and vice versa. The image is of roots with outgrowths on them which are caused by a bacteria called Agrobacterium. This bacteria is well known for its ability to transfer DNA between itself and plants. An example of nature circumventing natural selection.7 A new symbiosis between urban games and the real-time city might lead to similar acceleration of their evolutions.


(I finished a little over time and had time for one question. Adriaan Wormgoor of FourceLabs asked whether I thought games would sooner or later become self-evolving themselves. My answer was “absolutely”. to get to ever higher levels of complexity we’ll be forced to start growing or rearing our games more than assembling them from parts. Games want to be free, you could say, so they are inevitably heading towards ever higher levels of evolvability.)

  1. Iskander Smit has posted a report of the evening over at his blog. []
  2. If you’re interested, the slide deck as a whole is also available on SlideShare. []
  3. I first came across Lamarck, and the idea of nature and culture co-evolving in Kevin Kelly’s book Out of Control. The blacksmith example is his too. []
  4. All this flies in the face of large-scale top-down planning and zoning, as Jane Jacobs makes painfully clear in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities. []
  5. Eric Zimmerman talked at length about the need for systemic literacy at Playful 2008. []
  6. For more on this have a look at another blog post by Adam Greenfield titled Reading, writing, texts, literacy, cities. []
  7. As Kevin Kelly writes in Out of Control, evolution with symbiosis included is less like a tree and more like a thicket. []

Zona Incerta and using ARGs for activism

(Following some recent overly long posts, here’s an attempt to stay under 500 words.)

For a while now, I have been lurking on the mailing list of the Alternate Reality Games IGDA SIG. ARGs are games that use the real world as their platform. They usually revolve around a mystery to be unraveled. I find ARGs interesting for the way they clash with the game design notion of the magic circle. The magic circle can be defined as the time and space within which a game is played. With traditional games, players are aware of the magic circle and enter it willingly. Not so with ARGs, as the following example I found on the list shows:1

The producers of Zona Incerta, a Brazilian ARG, published a video on YouTube. In it the ‘senior marketing director’ of Arkhos Biotechnology asks viewers to help them buy the Amazon rainforest and reminds them “the Amazon belongs to no country, it belongs to the world”:

The video was mistaken by many as real–including two senators and one governor. On the list, André Sirangelo, the game’s writer, says:

“It wasn’t long until some journalists connected the dots and found out the company didn’t exist. That’s when it really exploded – after all, there are lots of companies that actually do want to buy the rainforest, but it’s not every day a powerful senator makes a speech about one that doesn’t really exist.”

Because the game was sponsored, they had to come out and offer a public apology. Some people took it in a good way, others were less amused:

“They wanted to sue and maybe even arrest us for making a video that was against the nation’s sovereignty and all that. It was all BS though, because there wasn’t really a crime. We never published fake news, we just put the video on YouTube and some people tought it was real. Not our fault! :)”

Clearly, the ambiguous nature of ARGs is key to what makes them fun. Knowing that people might mistake things for real is thrilling to ARG developers. Players are challenged to recognize the content that is part of an ARG—rewarding them with the feeling that they are part of a secret society.

So far, the genre remains a niche.2 But what if ARGs take off in a big way? What if the mediascape is flooded by ARG content?

Will we, similar to what is now being proposed for ubicomp, need recognizable iconography that tells people: “warning, alternate reality content”?

Proposed icon for objects that have invisible qualities by the Touch research project

I wonder what would make a good image. Perhaps the March Hare?

Illustration of the March Hare by John Tenniel

Zona Incerta‘s aim was to entertain. Despite this, they raised awareness for the Amazon’s plight. Would the format of ARGs be useful to people with another agenda? What if activists start using them to make the future they want to avert—or desire to bring about—tangible to the public?

Image credits: Icon by Touch research project, March Hare by John Tenniel taken from WikiFur.

Updated with a YouTube embed that validates.

  1. For more about ARGs and the magic circle also see my Reboot 9.0 presentation Mobile Social Play. []
  2. Here are statistics of some prominent past ARGs. []

Tools for having fun

ZoneTag Photo Friday 11:40 am 4/18/08 Copenhagen, Hovedstaden

One of the nicer things about GDC was the huge stack of free magazines I took home with me. Among those was an issue of Edge, the glossy games magazine designed to look good on a coffee table next to the likes of Vogue (or whatever). I was briefly subscribed to Edge, but ended up not renewing because I could read reviews online and the articles weren’t all that good.

The january 2008 issue I brought home did have some nice bits in it—in particular an interview with Yoshinori Ono, the producer of Street Fighter IV. This latest incarnation of the game aims to go back to what made Street Fighter II great. What I liked about the interview was Ono’s clear dedication to players, not force feeding them what the designers think would be cool. Something often lacking in game design.

“”First of all, the most important thing about SFIV is ‘fair rules’, and by that I mean fair and clear rules that can be understood by everyone very easily.” A lesson learned from the birth of modern videogaming: ‘Avoid missing ball for high score’.”

This of course is a reference to PONG. Allan Alcorn (the designer of the arcade coin operated version of PONG) famously refused to include instructions with the game because he believed if a game needed written instructions, it was crap.

Later on in the same article, Ono says:

“[…] what the game is — a tool for having fun. A tool to give the players a virtual fighting stage — an imaginary arena, if you like.”

(Emphasis mine.) I like the fact that he sees the game as something to be used, as opposed to something to be consumed. Admittedly, it is easier to think of a fighting game this way than for instance an adventure game—which has much more embedded narrative—but in any case I think it is a more productive view.

While we’re on the topic of magazines. A while back I read an enjoyable little piece in my favorite free magazine Vice about the alleged clash between ‘hardcore’ and ‘casual’ gamers:

“Casual games are taking off like never before, with half of today’s games being little fun quizzes or about playing tennis or golf by waving your arms around. The Hardcore crowd are shitting themselves that there might not be a Halo 4 if girls and old people carry on buying simple games where everyone’s a winner and all you have to do is wave a magic wand around and press a button every few times.”

Only half serious, to be sure, but could it be at least partly true? I wouldn’t mind it to be so. I appreciate the rise of the casual game mainly for the way it brings focus back to player centred game design. Similar to Yoshinori Ono’s attitude in redesigning Street Fighter.

Notes on play, exploration, challenge and learning

(My reading notes are piling up so here’s an attempt to clear out at least a few of them.)

Part of the play experience of many digital games is figuring out how the damn thing works in the first place. In Rules of Play on page 210:

“[…] as the player plays with FLUID, interaction and observation reveals the underlying principles of the system. In this case the hidden information gradually revealed through play is the rules of the simulation itself. Part of the play of FLUID is the discovery of the game rules as information.”

(Sadly, I could not find a link to the game mentioned.)

I did not give Donald Norman all the credit he was due in my earlier post. He doesn’t have a blind spot for games. Quite the contrary. For instance, he explains how to make systems easier to learn and points to games in the process. On page 183 of The Design of Everyday Things:

“One important method of making systems easier to learn and to use is to make them explorable, to encourage the user to experiment and learn the possibilities through active exploration.”

The way to do this is through direct manipulation, writes Norman. He also reminds us that it’s not necessary to make any system explorable.1 But (on page 184):

“[…] if the job is critical, novel, or ill-specified, or if you do not yet know exactly what is to be done, then you need direct, first-person interaction.”

So much written after DOET seems to have added little to the conversation. I’m surprised how useful this classic still is.

I’m reminded of a section of Matt Jones’s Interaction 08 talk—which I watched yesterday. He went through a number of information visualisations and said he’d like to add more stuff like that into Dopplr, to allow people to play with their data. He even compared this act of play to Will Wright’s concept of possibility space.2 He also briefly mentioned that easily accessible tools for creating information visualisations might become a valuable tool for designers working with complex sets of data.

Norman actually points to games for inspiration, by the way. On page 184 just before the previous quote:

“Some computer systems offer direct manipulation, first-person interactions, good examples being the driving, flying, and sports games that are commonplace in arcades and on home machines. In these games, the feeling of direct control over the actions is an essential part of the task.”

And so on.

One of the most useful parts of Dan Saffer’s book on interaction design is where he explains the differences between customisation, personalisation, adaptation and hacking. He notes that an adaptive system can be designed to induce flow—balancing challenge with the skill of the user. In games, there is something called dynamic difficulty adjustment (DDA) which has very similar aims.

Salen and Zimmerman have their doubts about DDA though. In Rules of Play on page 223 they write:

“Playing a game becomes less like learning an expressive language and more like being the sole audience member for a participatory, improvisational performance, where the performers adjust their actions to how you interact with them. Are you then playing the game, or is it playing you?”

Perhaps, but it all depends on what DDA actually adjusts. The technique might be objectionable in a game (where a large part of the point is overcoming challenge) but in other systems many of these objections do not apply.

“With a successful adaptive design, the product fits the user’s life and environment as though it were custom made.”

(Designing for Interaction, page 162.)

Adaptive systems explicitly anticipate transformative play. They allow themselves to be changed through a person’s interactions with it.3

A characteristic of good interaction design is playfulness, writes Mr. Saffer in his book on page 67:

“Through serious play, we seek out new products, services and features and then try them to see how they work. How many times have you pushed a button just to see what it did?”

The funny thing is, the conditions for play according to Saffer are very similar to some of the basic guidelines Norman offers: Make users feel comfortable, reduce the chance for errors and if errors do occur, make sure the consequences are small—by allowing users to undo, for instance.

Mr. Norman writes that in games “designers deliberately flout the laws of understandability and usability” (p.205). Although even in games: “[the] rules [of usability] must be applied intelligently, for ease of use or difficulty of use” (p.208).

By now, it should be clear making interactions playful is very different from making them game-like.

  1. Apparently, “explorable” isn’t a proper English word, but if it’s good enough for Mr. Norman it’s good enough for me. []
  2. I blogged about possibility space before here. []
  3. Yes, I know I blogged about adaptive design before. Also about flow and adaptation, it seems. []

Metagames as viral loops

MtG: My Pride-n-Joys by AuE on Flickr

‘Metagames’Richard Garfield’s presentation for the 2000 Game Developers Conferenceis in today’s links, but I think it deserves a bit more attention than that. Here are some quotes from the document that stood out for me.1

What a metagame is:

“My definition of metagame is broad. It is how a game interfaces with life.”

In other words, metagame design is contextual. It forces you to think about when, where, how and by who your game will be played.

Why metagame design has not been getting as much attention as game design itself:

“…the majority of a game’s metagame is probably unalterable by game designer or publisher.”

So, metagame design is a second order design problem. Designers can only indirectly influence how metagames play out. They facilitate it, but do not direct it.

Garfield divides metagames in four broad categories:

  • What you bring to a game
  • What you take away from a game
  • What happens between games
  • What happens during a game

Where “game” should be understood as a single play session of a game.

Garfield has interesting things to say about all these categories, and I recommend reading the article in full, but I’d like to zoom in on one bit mentioned under “from”:

“It is worth noting that many things listed have a ‘circular’ value to the player.”

Getting something from a game that you can bring with you again to a game makes you care more and more about the game itself. One clear example of how metagames are a helpful concept for making a game more self-sustaining.

Better yet, the ‘stuff’ that players get from a game play session can be shared or passed on to others. In this manner, the metagame becomes a viral loop.2

  1. Richard Garfield is the designer of the CCG Magic: The Gathering. []
  2. Via Matt Webb. []

Designing a mobile social gaming experience for Gen-C

Update 21-03-2008: I’ve added some images of slides to allow for some more context when reading the text.

This is a rough transcript of my lecture at GDC Mobile 2008. In short: I first briefly introduce the concept of experience design and systems and then show how this influences my views of mobile casual games. From there I discuss the relation of casual games with the trend Generation C. Wrapping up, I give an overview of some social design frameworks for the web that are equally applicable to mobile social gaming. As a bonus I give some thoughts on mobile game systems mobile metagames. The talk is illustrated throughout with a case study of Playyoo—a mobile games community I helped design.

  • I’ve included a slightly adjusted version of the original slides—several screenshot sequences of Playyoo have been taken out for file size reasons.
  • If you absolutely must have audio, I’m told you will be able to purchase (!) a recording from GDC Radio sometime soon.
  • I’d like to thank everyone who came up to me afterwards for conversation. I appreciate the feedback I got from you.
  • Several aspects of Playyoo that I use as examples (such as the game stream) were already in place before I was contracted. Credits for many design aspects of Playyoo go to David Mantripp, Playyoo’s chief architect.
  • And finally, the views expressed here are in many ways an amalgamation of work by others. Where possible I’ve given credit in the talk and otherwise linked to related resources.

That’s all the notes and disclaimers out of the way, read on for the juice (but be warned, this is pretty long).

Continue reading Designing a mobile social gaming experience for Gen-C

Space to play

Tree by Pocketmonsterd on Flickr

The languages you’ve mastered shape your thinking. Nouns, verbs, adjectives…if you think of your day-to-day interactions on the web it’s clear the language you’re using is (very) limited. Does that limit your range of thoughts, and the things you’re able to express? Certainly, I’d say.

A quote from an old Ben Cerveny bio found in the Doors of Perception museum:

‘Cerveny is interested in harnessing the computational power of platforms like Playstation2 to create simulations with basic rule-sets that allow complexities to emerge, forming patterns of behaviour and interaction that people instinctively parse. He believes that this essential human ability to find patterns in complex systems remains untapped by current “click on the smiley face to buy our product” interfaces. “There is a certain algorithmic lightness to a basic ruleset, like that of the game Go,” he argues. “Especially as it replaces a top-down specification for human-computer interactions.”‘

That was in 2001. Game-like interactions have the potential for expanding your thinking. Stamen—where I’m told Cerveny is spending part of his time—is doing this with datasets.

Recently, I’ve been asked by several people to come up with concrete examples for my “playful” shtick. I’m worried that people expect stuff that makes a typical UI more playful. Like a sauce. That’s never been my intention.

The examples I’m considering (which I intend to describe as patterns) are of a more structural kind. When I point to emergent behaviour in games, I’m not kidding—the idea here is to allow for surprising results. Results that you as a designer have not foreseen. Space to play. That’s what sets the typical web interaction apart from something like Digg Labs.

“Play is free movement within a more rigid structure”. There is (almost) no free movement in your typical web app. That’s why I would not call it playful. These apps are designed to fit predefined user scenarios and evaluated based on how well they support them. No surprise they turn out boring in stead of fun.

However: Not every web app has to be playful, because not every web app is trying to teach you something.

In DOET Norman writes on p.124:

“What are not everyday activities? Those with wide and deep structures, the ones that require considerable conscious planning and thought, deliberate trial and error: trying first this approach, then that—backtracking. Unusual tasks include […] intellectual games: bridge, chess, poker, crossword puzzles, and so on.”1

So that’s why I believe much of the foundations of human-centered design are not applicable to playful experiences—the teachings of Norman are aimed at everyday activities. The activities that are not aimed at making you smarter, at giving you new insights.

On the web (and in computing in general) we’ve moved beyond utility. If we keep designing stuff using methods derived from Donald Norman’s2 (and other’s) work, we’ll never get to playful experiences.

  1. Norman has a blind spot for digital games, although he does include a NES as an example in his book. About this he admits he made “a few attempts to master the game” (p.138). []
  2. I’ll be speaking at a conference that has Mr. Norman as keynote speaker. I mean no disrespect. []

Adaptive design and transformative play

2006APR201648 by bootload on Flickr

Allowing people to change parts of your product is playful. It has also always ‘just’ seemed like a good thing to do to me. You see this with with people who become passionate about a thing they use often: They want to take it apart, see how it works, put it back together again, maybe add some stuff, replace something else… I’ve always liked the idea of passionate people wanting to change something about a thing I designed. And it’s always been a disappointment when I’d find out that they did not, or worse—wanted to but weren’t able to.

Apparently this is what people call adaptive design. But if you Google that, you won’t find much. In fact, there’s remarkably little written about it. I was put on the term’s trail by Matt Webb and from there found my way to Dan Hill’s site. There’s a lot on the topic there, but if I can recommend one piece it’s the interview he did for Dan Saffer’s book on interaction design. Read it. It’s full of wonderful ideas articulated 100 times better than I’ll ever be able to.

So why is adaptive design conducive to the playfulness of a user experience? I’m not sure. One aspect of it might be the fact that as a designer you explicitly relinquish some control over the final experience people have with your…stuff.1 As Matt Webb noted in an end-of-the-year post, in stead of saying to people: “Here’s something I made. Go on—play with it.” You say: “Here’s something I made—let’s play with it together.”

This makes a lot of sense if you don’t think of the thing under design as something that’ll be consumed but something that will be used to create. It sounds easy but again is surprisingly hard. It’s like we have been infected with this hard-to-kill idea that makes us think we can only consume whereas we are actually all very much creative beings.2 I think that’s what Generation C is really about.

A sidetrack: In digital games, for a long time developments have been towards games as media that can be consumed. The real changes in digital games are: One—there’s a renewed interest in games as activities (particularly in the form of casual games). And two—there’s an increase in games that allow themselves to be changed in meaningful ways. These developments make the term “replay value” seem ready for extinction. How can you even call something that isn’t interesting to replay a game?3

In Rules of Play, Salen and Zimmerman describe the phenomenon of transformative play—where the “free movement within a more rigid structure” changes the mentioned structure itself (be it intended or not). They hold it as one of the most powerful forms of play. Think of a simple house rule you made up the last time you played a game with some friends. The fact that on the web the rules that make up the structures we designed are codified in software should not be an excuse to disallow people to change them.

That’s true literacy: When you can both read and write in a medium (as Alan Kay would have it). I’d like to enable people to do that. It might be hopelessly naive, but I don’t care—it’s a very interesting challenge.

  1. That’s a comfortable idea to all of the—cough—web 2.0 savvy folk out there. But it certainly still is an uncomfortable thought to many. And I think it’d surprise you to find out how many people who claim to be “hip to the game” will still refuse to let go. []
  2. Note I’m not saying we can all be designers, but I do think people can all create meaningful things for themselves and others. []
  3. Yes, I am a ludologist. So shoot me. []

Slides for my Oslo UXnet meetup talk

Last night I presented at the January UXnet meetup in Oslo. When Are invited me to come over I thought I’d be talking to maybe 60 user experience people. 200 showed up—talk about kicking off the year with a bang. I think the crew at Netlife Research may just have written UXnet history. I’m not sure. (Don’t believe me? Check out the RSVPs on the event’s page at

The talk went OK. I had 20 minutes, which is pretty short. I finished on time, but I had to leave out a lot of examples. The original talk on which this was based is a 2 hour lecture I deliver at UX companies. (I did this last year for instance at InUse.)

The lack of examples was the biggest point of criticism I got afterwards. I’ll try to make up for that a bit in a later post, listing some examples of web sites and apps that I would call in some way playful. Stay tuned.

For now, here are the slides (no notes I’m afraid, so it’ll be hard to make any sense of them if you weren’t there). Thanks to Are Halland for inviting me. And greetings to all my friends in Oslo. You’ve got a beautiful UX thing going on there.

I was interviewed for the Playyoo blog

I was interviewed by Playyoo the other day

Most of you will probably know I’m involved1 with this new mobile game community called Playyoo. I haven’t blogged about it here explicitly because most of my contributions so far are still being developed and will hopefully hit the internet around December. I have an excuse to talk about it now though, because recently I was interviewed by the people of Playyoo for their blog. Read about my thoughts on the role of sociality in (mobile) gaming and how that will work in Playyoo’s meta-game, as well as what I think about casual games and the unique game design opportunities for mobile.

A quote from the interview:

What does the term ‘casual game’ mean to you?

‘Casual,’ to me, says something about the level of attention and engagement that a player has (or is required to have) with the game. For me as a designer, casual games provide interesting challenges. It might seem simple to create these casual games, but they’re actually quite tricky to pull off, or pull off well, that is. From a game design perspective, I think it’s more challenging to pull off a high quality causal game than yet another first-person shooter game.

Read the rest of the interview over at the Playyoo blog.2

  1. They’ve hired me to do game and interaction design. I have been working on mobile games, a game creation tool, and a web-based meta-game. []
  2. Thanks to Alper Çuǧun for the photo that’s in the post. []