Category Archives: Art

I’m doing a keynote for MMSEE in Korea, September 15-17!


I’ve been invited to do a keynote for a conference on, among other things, using media for teaching and learning English in South Korea! I’ll be focusing my talk on gaming literacy and what that means for education. Here’s the details:

What Does It Mean to Be Gaming Literate? The Development of Agency and Empathy

As we know, gaming spans a number of literacy practices. This talk will give examples of some of these practices and add nuance to our understanding of how they are socially and culturally situated. More and more, however, I’ve come to understand gaming as not just another example of new literacies but also as a particularly good way to increase personal agency and empathy in the world at large, as we learn processes for how to act and be through games. This talk will, therefore, also cover this newer line of thought and make a case for games as spaces for cultural inclusion, understanding, and deep meaning making. Gaming literacy, then, is more than expertise in how to do stuff in games but also how to make connections to others and find meaning through games.


More details about the conference can be found at


#GameAWeek Challenge: DiGRA Edition! Six Degrees of Tweetsperation

During this year’s Digital Games Research Association meeting at Salt Lake City in early August, Dennis Ramirez and I got together to collaborate on a Twitter game for the conference!

It’s a play on Six Degrees of Separation/Kevin Bacon and my personal intent is to add noise to the conference hive mind twitter cabal. I think Dennis was more interested in making a good game. 🙂

Read the rules here:

Six Degrees of Tweetsperation

#GameAWeek Challenge: Sploder Trifecta – sHMUP bLUFF, Friends Ignore You, and Using Friends

Sploder is nominally a web-based game-making tool, but, actually, it’s more a collection of tools that make different yet somehow all sort of same-ish platform games. I think either different developers made different tools and then one person bundled them together or one developer kept starting and stopping projects and decided to release all of them instead of making one really good tool. They all sort of are meh with inconsistent creation metaphors, inconsistent levels of in-tool help, etc. It’s all sot of haphazard, and it’s hard to recommend Sploder over something like Construct 2 or GameMaker Studio. I basically wrote this in a review for Graphite (not yet published), too.

Continue reading #GameAWeek Challenge: Sploder Trifecta – sHMUP bLUFF, Friends Ignore You, and Using Friends

#GameAWeek Challenge: Button Quest

Back in June/July, before sHMUP bLUFF, I worked on Button Quest, a game using Flowlab with Sandra Danilovic. Part of the challenge was to learn the web-based game maker well enough to review for Graphite.

Button Quest

Continue reading #GameAWeek Challenge: Button Quest

#GameAWeek (Month) Challenge: sHMUP bLUFF

I’m reviewing Sploder for Graphite.

It’s a web-based game-making tool meant for kids and classrooms. Everything is driven through the web interface and there’s no programming involved. There’s also tons of pre-built sprites with animations and pre-defined behaviors (friendly NPCs, enemy AI, etc.).

The first thing I noticed about Sploder is that when you create a game, you have the option of creating a specific kind of game: a platformer, a puzzler, a top-down shooter, etc., and each of these choices gets you to a particular interface specifically for making that type of game.

And this made me want to try to push Sploder as much as possible, to create games within particular genres that break the genre. For example, what if we (Sandra and I) made a shooter game where the enemy aren’t trying to kill you and instead actually heal you or something?

In trying this out, I discovered that all you do in Sploder is drag and drop art onto a stage. Each object has behavior associated with it that cannot be tweaked. You can’t, for example, change how often and for how much damage a particular enemy ship shoots. You can’t change its speed or anything…

So, I played around with it a bit and came up with the game sHMUP bLUFF, where you are meant NOT to do anything other than watch. But Sploder still has built-in controls, so you could take control of your ship whenever you want. So the game is an exercise in trust… trusting that your wingman is there for you and will protect you. And maybe it’ll succeed and maybe it won’t. And if you take control of your ship, do you break that trust?

And I sort of saw this as a metaphor for living with a loved one who suffers from depression. The player ship is the person who suffers from depression and sometimes just can’t bring themselves to do anything… The wingman is a friend or family member who is trying to protect. (But perhaps this is the wrong metaphor… like often there’s just nothing anyone can do, really… there’s no “fixing” or solving the problems of depression… there’s only coping, so I don’t know how good a metaphor this game is, really, but there you have it… what it can sometimes feel like.)


In other news, Ana and Dennis are still making games regularly!

Most recently, Ana made a game about moving called Mover, based sort of on her previous game Paper Pusher. (Grats on the new *house Ana!)

Dennis continues his trend of making small Unity games. Check out Mental Block and Hello, Universe!

And in other other news, we got a session accepted at NASAGA on our Game A Week Challenge!

#GameAWeek Failure! “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT”

Check out unfinished failure: On the Difficulty of Being an ANT: The Interactive Version!

Last week and this week, I’ve been sort of stuck in a moment of nonproductivity with regard to the #gameaweek challenge that I’m doing with Ana, Dennis, Melissa, and Greg. Ana is super inspiring and still going strong and even wrote about her experiences in the ProfHacker column for The Chronicle of Higher Ed!

My moment of stuckage can be primarily blamed on two things. First, I’m making a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game with Inklewriter based on Latour’s dialog found in his book Reassembling the Social. It’s an interlude between chapters in the book and features a professor having a conversation with a student, and it’s called “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT.”

Continue reading #GameAWeek Failure! “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT”

#GameAWeek RPG Quest

This week’s game is a Twine-based game called RPG Quest: Legend Age.

Spoilers and reflections for this game and last week’s Stay Awake Little Kitty after the break.

Continue reading #GameAWeek RPG Quest

Stay Awake Little Kitty! #gameaweek

The game I made this week started out as one where you try to keep a student awake in class, but I watched a bunch of cat videos on YouTube last night…

Stay Awake Little Kitty!


Co-op Space Card Game prototype ready for download! #gameaweek

I did it! I finished a set of print-n-play files for the Co-op Space Card Game I’m making!

Co-op Space Card Game.prototype rules (PDF)

Co-op Space Card Game.print n play prototype (PDF) FIXED! (There was a printer set up error… print Actual Size on 8.5×11 in. paper)

The art is NOT final. Nor are the rules, really…

Co-op Space Card Game prototype cards

Continue reading Co-op Space Card Game prototype ready for download! #gameaweek

#gameaweek moar card gamez

This week continued to see some great #gameaweek games from Ana, Dennis, Melissa, and, new to the mix, Greg Koeser. It’s astonishing how much we’re providing commentary for academia. So far we’ve seen my Flappy Bird clone that shows the futility of trying to succeed as an academic, Ana’s work/life balance game that also seems pretty futile last week and now this week her IF game about grief but also about getting tenure, Dennis’s IRB approval game that is yet another sisyphean experience. Melissa created an old-school first-person RPG, similar to the old Wizardrys, except that it’s sort of mashed up with Desktop Dungeon in that you need to explore and kill things in a certain order like a puzzle game. Greg’s entry is a card game! It uses standard decks of cards and features bidding and winning cards using other cards.

I continued to work on the Space 4X Co-op Card Game ^TM.

Continue reading #gameaweek moar card gamez