Tag Archives: game design



Week 30, 2012
Wels, Austria

On July13 th and 14 th I was at the event called ILLUSIO. As far as I understand this was the second year the event was organized. ILLUSIO’s objective is to bring together people of the digital entertainment and game industry in Joensuu.

The team who organized ILLUSIO this years did a good job transforming the network Oasis facilities and creating a nice atmosphere for the event. I know network Oasis, and by default is an attractive location, but there is always space for improvement. Unfortunately, I did not take photos of the entire place, but here is one screenshot to give an idea of the transformation for those who know the location. This is on the orange room:

Orange room at Illusio event

Orange room at Illusio event

  (photo from the illusio’s facebook page)

In addition to the atmosphere, the organizers really took care of us. Networking, food and drinks were not in shortage. Actually the number of participants was good. In huge events it is harder to meet people than when the group is a bit smaller.

This might sound strange, but without any question the game industry and also game researchers have its hallmark, i.e. its personality. It is hard to describe in here, but in brief I can say they are passionate and fast minds, but there is something that intrigues me too, as it had happened in DiGRA, IGDA and Salmokohta or any other game event I had been. One day I will find out and write a post about it 🙂

The topic of the event: audio. It was refreshing for me. I know about the power of sounds and audio, but without a question I learned something, for example, now I have a clearer understanding of what a sound designer do.  Also I got inspire and revive some ideas for games 🙂 .

The talks were not academic. The speakers share some of their experience and facts of the game industry in Finland, which in itself is interesting. I prefer the presentations that shared ideas about budgets, assets list, and visions. Nevertheless, as it happens always in these events, the most important part was: the experience and the networking.

Thank you to the organizers!

Presentation at Illusio

Presentation at Illusio


Run un den Kalendar

Week 27, 2012
München, Germany

Yesterday I played Run un den Kalendar. We were 2 adults and one 4 years old.  In theory this game helps the children to learn the days of the week, the months and the four seasons.  I have my doubts if the game helps the children to learn about the days of the week and the months.  However in reference of the four seasons the game is well done, in my opinion.

The game mechanics involve some elements of chance and strategy. For example, depending which number one gets after spinning a wheel, one can move either right or left to the corresponding spot on the board. Then, the player takes the card and describes the picture connect to a season that is in that specific spot. The cards are placed randomly, so one has to pay attention. The game’s aim is to get a card of each season. So, the player has to think carefully which direction to take, to actually collect at cards of the four seasons. 😉

The game also pays special attention to fine motor skills, at least in one “mini-game”. Let me explain. The spinning wheel can indicate the number the player has to move in the board, or if the player has to play a mini-game which allows to get a seasonal card without moving the tile from the board. Ideally this card is from the season the player is missing.  The mini-game is about dropping a bar, which has all the seasons, between a player’s fingers. The player has to close her or his hand fast when the bar is passing by. Ideally  the player stops the bar in the season s/he needs. It is a fast mini-game within the game, where the children have to learn to practice their coordination skills  when dropping the bar and also to close their hands fast.

Run um den Kalendar

Run um den Kalendar

Designing games for small children is challenging. It increases the difficulty level when we aim to design games for a family with small children.  The constant question is:  how can  we design a game interesting for the small ones as well as for the adults?  mmmm…  interesting challenge to solve!  And you have to notice that I even didn’t even mention in my question the game’s learning aspect, because that increases the challenge. 🙂

If  I have to rate this game, I think I will put it 2 of 3 stars.   I confess, I have an enjoyable game experience of describing the seasons with the little one 🙂

workshop on basics of game design @ jtel ss

Week 23, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

On May 21 I gave my first workshop at an international event.  I am thankful with JTEL for the opportunity.

When I wrote the workshop proposal, my naïve mind was thinking that I might have an afternoon for it. Once the program showed up, I realized I only had 1.5 hr, which it is not much time in order to run a practical workshop.

The program also let me know that other sessions would talk about games.  I am aware that gaming is relatively new in for the JTEL community. So I decided to focus directly on the basics, and still put hands on 😉  So, instead to design a game as a puzzle, as originally was designed, I pushed to have a game using dices. For that, I needed to seek for dices in Joensuu.  Oh my! That was an adventure. But at the end of the day I got all the material for my workshop:

Material for the workshop basics on game design @ JTEL 12

Material for the workshop basics on game design @ JTEL 12

It was funny to bring all that non-digital technology tools to an event that focuses on digital technology, but well, one knows it is what one must do 😉

How was the workshop? Well one should ask that question to the participants actually.

Participants of the workshop basics on game design @ JTEL 12

Participants of the workshop basics on game design @ JTEL 12

On my side, I did my best and I learned a lot.  Now, I am aware that I still I should cut my presentation a bit so that the participants have more time to put hands on. Also, I MUST learn how to close the exercise session or give feedback there is something there I am missing, and for that, of course I need to pay more attention to the experts….

I felt delighted for those who gave positive feedback, thank you! 😉 But overall, I hope the participants got valuable 1.5 hrs of their time while we were together, while gathering information and an experience of the facinating world of games.

Something very interesting happened thanks to the workshop. Dr. Igor Mayer joined the workshop, and I was unaware about who he was. However, at the end of the session he suggested some improvements for the slides, e.g. correct the year of the Huizinga publication, which I had typed wrongly. UPS!!! Now it is correct in the slides, no panic!

As it happens often to me, what I enjoyed more is to listen to others and make questions. Dr. Mayer has been around in the game research world for a time already, however as my attention has been mainly on DiGRA community, I had been a bit careless with the S&G community, so I could not connect right away. After talked to Dr. Mayer, I got eager to re-read several S&G journal articles, which in theory I had read but it seems I did not process them as I should. I really indentify with the vision of Dr. Mayer and I am grateful for the opportunity to talk with him, undoubtedly, he illumined me with his experience, constructive feedback and valuable information.

The fun thing was that at Dr. Mayer’s keynote, he pointed out one of the slides I presented at the workshop (Garner Hype Cycle in slide 26) with a different perspective. That was a rich episode. I felt it as a conversation, so cool!

At the end of the JTEL SS, I understood the purpose of a workshop, which I had no idea earlier. If I understood well, at least one of its functions is to explore ideas. Hmmm… I usually like workshops, but now I know that I will be a workshop  fan!


  • From my workshop I learn A LOT and I had fun. Thank you JTEL for the opportunity and overall thank you to all the participants of my workshop.
  •  The whole JTELLSS was a great event. We share knowledge and undoubtedly it was built a sense of community. I should be able to do a proper post of the event, but later in time, I am lacking behind in other writing duties. However this post is the first of the series


game design course (part 2)

Week 13, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

It is amazing how fast March flew away. The last lecture of my game design course was today. Still I have two exercise sessions next week, and to finalize to qualify A LOT of essays from the participants. However, I feel the cycle of an important personal challenge is closing. I never though I could be a teacher, or instructor…. still the word sounds strange to me. 🙂 Even less I would have though I could enjoy to be an instructor, but I did.

In brief I can say that in this month:

  • My perception of teachers change. In earlier times, my opinion was fundamentally of a demanding student. Now, my opinion evolved because I was the instructor.  Teaching is not easy.  So, I confirm: it is easy to criticize, but once you have to do the things you were criticizing, one’s perception and understanding of the same event evolves. It seems to happen every single time.
  • I have the best group one can have for my first attempt as a teacher. I learn a lot from the participants of my course in different directions and topics.  I want to give them a big thank you! 🙂
  • To be a teacher is more demanding than I though it will be. I am tired. Simultaneously, I have a special fulfill feeling. I did my best in a challenging and new activity and I enjoy it. I had fun. Teaching is paradoxical, yes! 🙂 Cool!
  • Without any question, since I start to conceptualize the course I start to learn.  The whole process to exteriorize what you have learned is an intense learning experience in itself. In addition, I am aware I haven’t given justice to all the thinkers I have learned from…. yes, still is much to learn.

I hope most of the participants of the course also feel they learn something. Well the aim of the course was clear:

  • Discover something new in reference to game design
  • Do your best and take a learning experience in game design.

My interest was to make us wonder. Yes, I was included 🙂 . Thinking is a personal process. However, sharing ideas and reflections helps us to wonder and stimulate our thinking process. Additionally, designing is so stimulating, so…. I am happy!

One of the specific challenges to give lectures in UEF in computer science is: the group is divided in two campuses. Some participants are in Kuopio while others are in Joensuu and the connection is via a video. That is challenging! because it is not 100% face to face neither 100% blended learning neither 100% distance learning.  So, to promote interaction in class is harder than usual. However, I am so proud of the participants of my course because they did great. Today in special, we have presentations in Kuopio and Joensuu, and they really interact with each other (as you see on the photos below). I am so proud of my group!


Last day presentations (1)

Last day presentations (1)

Last day presentations (2)

Last day presentations (1)

game design course

Week 10, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

One motivator that impulses me to be researching in games for learning is: I love to learn and I get bored in lectures. Actually, I confess: I am not a good student even though I am very well trained to be one. 😉

However, last year someone told me that it is time for me to share something of what I have learned. Additionally, I want to do it. So, the idea to give a lecture started to emerged. Today, it is a reality, and…… wowow! Teaching is VERY challenging!!!!

The first lecture of my game design course was yesterday, March 7, 2012 (I should remember that day). I have a chance to hear about some of the participants before the actual course started, because I requested them to email me to hear their motives to join the course. From my perspective it is an interesting group of people and VERY diverse.

The first day I gave the introduction to the course with some of my background. Then the real lecture started by introducing some history of games. I based myself on the work of Huizinga and Callois.

Today I briefly gave an insight of design thinking by Cross and Verganti. Latter I focus on games as dynamic systems of interaction, so after a brief engineering explanation of what systems are I focus my efforts on game mechanics. I used a taxonomy of game mechanics from Schell.

Honestly my feeling is: even that I am putting my best effort on preparing the lectures, I am not making justice to transmit the work of those thinkers…. Undoubtedly, I need more practice. I had been nervous, specially because I am not used to be on stage. 

The course participants are many, so the ideas that I had for an interactive lecture cannot work as I thought. In addition we have the long distance connection with Kuopio.….. If someone knows me, yes I am pushing for new ideas 😉 the technology has been very reliable so I hope it continues like this next week, because I am ready to have some fun 😉

Yes, I cannot avoid to be myself. I will keep on teaching, but maybe we can try new  methods 🙂 After the first exercise day (Monday in Joensuu and Tuesday in Kuopio), maybe the conditions for a more interactive type of lecture will emerged…. let’s see 🙂

Meanwhile a photo taken by Heikki Immonen from the very first day of the course.

my first day of lectures

my first day sharing a bit of what I have been learning