From videogames

Worst Game Ever

This post was a long time coming. About a half a year ago, a group of us decided to create the worst game ever. It (the game) was terrible, so I guess we succeeded.

During the emerging scholars meeting, a couple of people talked about using some of the time to create a tangible product. The first idea was a game jam, but people didn’t seem particularly thrilled to try and create a game (from to start to finish) in about 2 hours. Making a good game from scratch in such a short amount of time was definitely a lofty goal, so instead we created the first Worst Game Ever Jam.

Knowing that we were making the worst game ever worked well for two reasons. First, because we weren’t worried about making a “good game” we were able to create something quickly without worrying about quality. Second, because it our goal was to make a terrible game, we had plenty of ideas.


We used the KJ technique to brainstorm what makes a terrible game. By the way, I highly recommend the KJ technique to anyone trying reach a consensus quickly. It’s worked very well in several occasions. Here are some topics that came up:

Liver! The game (my favorite)
LOL cats!
Exploring body functions
Water Treatment plant: an epic saga
Getting Tenure
Bodily functions: exploring the inner body
Watching paint dry.

Micro transactions
Poorly translated
unwinnable (It’s a word)
Linear gameplay
Terrible voiceovers
Tutorials for everything
Too little instruction (Not knowing how to play, or what the controls are)
Moving makes your character die
Require math problems (have math problems give a wrong answer).
Spamming social networks (Tweets, friend requests)
Collects player data
The game makes you feel bad for failing
A lot of NPC conversations
Assigns a grade at the end
Everything is orange!

After wading through the suggestions, we decided to make an educational game using LOL cats, micro transactions, and incoherent instructions.

First Steps:

We decided to give our project a title. I forget what the original title was, but after we put it through Bable Fish a couple of times we ended up with “You can play a role in reshaping the beautiful”. Pure gibberish. It was perfect.

We then split up the work load in a way that everyone could contribute. We needed art, narrative, design, music, and coding. I can’t stress how much dropbox helped to coordinate this. Once everyone had a way to contribute, we set out to create an abomination.

The Aftermath:

After 2 hours of talking about what makes a terrible game, we ended up with this. Play it at your own risk. We’re currently trying to sell it to Zynga.

(The ‘kickin’ sound track, by Osvaldo Jimenez, is set to drop NEVER. Maybe we’ll put it up on soundcloud.)


As Jim Gee, a co-author of the game, pointed out, thinking about what makes a terrible game was actually a great way to avoid those pitfalls in the future. I think this is terribly important for game designers (and people who work with games, but havent tried to create one themselves). Bottom line, making a terrible game forces you to think about why a game is terrible and lets you work towards fixing those problems. It’s also a good way to get out those frustrations. I plan on doing another Worst Game Ever jam in the future.

Have an opinion about what makes a terrible game? Leave it in the comments.

Realm of The Mad God

I’m always trying to play new games that are made up of interesting mechanics, or are just plain fun. The following games has both.

Realm of the Mad God

I’ve been addicted to this game for the past couple of days. Realm of the Mad God is a shoot’em up (like R-type) mixed with a fantasy MMO RPG. Having always been a skeptic of MMOs, I think I finally get it.

It takes a while to understand how to play this game but after defeating some lower level enemies you start to get into the swing of things. This is usually when you die for the first time, and in this game dying matters. You see, Realm has a feature that you don’t often see in modern MMOs, Permadeath. When your character is dead, you lose everything and have to start a new character. In my opinion, the Permadeath component adds a bit of risk, and makes challenges all the more rewarding. Realm is also designed with permadeath in mind so dying isn’t that bad. In order to unlock different classes you have to survive to at least level 5, and yes losing your gear sucks, but it’s awesome to try out a new class when the unthinkable happens to your character.

Another aspect that I like about Realm is the spontaneous team ups. Just like Journey and to a lesser extent, dark souls, people pop in and out of the realm all the time. If you come across another character and help them out, you get xp without having to be in the same guild. You’re also not required to help others and can lone wolf the quests if you wish. THis adds an element of suspense. I can’t count the number of times I accidentally agroed a moster that was too strong for my level only for another random person to pop in and change the tide of battle.

The best part about Realm of the Mad God? Instances. When you’re in a realm, and players have met certain conditions, the realm closes and everyone is sent to the boss’s castle. These events are great! Bullets everywhere! If you survive, expect your character to gain a fair amount of xp. If you die, well, another class is probably waiting for you.

Great game. Go play it.

Got a comment about Realm? Leave it in the comments.


Joystiq Score: 4/5
Gamespot Score: 8.5/10
Common Sense Media rating 5/5, Ages 11+

By now you’ve probably heard of this award winning title by the Indie company Supergiant games, but if you haven’t this game is definitely worth a look. Bastion is an Action RPG set in a post apocalyptic world. By assuming the role of a protagonist, known only as “the kid”, players must make their way through a shattered land in order to restore it to its former state. Aside from being a solid game over all, Bastion excels at telling an immersive story generated in part by the payer’s actions. Given the emphasis most educational games place on narrative to convey educational goals, Bastion gives us a model of turning otherwise linear stories into dynamic experiences. By paying attention to the player’s actions, and providing realtime feedback in the form of narration, bastion strikes a balance between designed experience and player agency that is sometimes lacking in games of the same genre. Bastion is a must for any researcher, or practitioner, interested in the role of story in games. Bastion is available for Mac, PC, Xbox, and can even be played in the chrome web browser.