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Ethical Free-to-Play Game Design (And Why it Matters)
I argue that free-to-play is not inherently evil, albeit excessively heavy-handed monetization practices in some games have given it a bad rep. (Gamasutra, 2014)
Unsocial Social Games
Some thoughts on why "social" games are not particularly social, and how to make them more so. (Gamasutra, 2012)
Europa Universalis: Why Strategy Matters
Piece for an anthology in which prominent games folk are asked to play and explore in depth a single game (the name "Well Played" is by analogy to "Well Read"). (Well Played: Video Games, Value and Meaning, ETC-Press, ed. Drew Davidson, Carnegie Mellon University, 2009).
Randomness: Blight or Bane?
Gamers tend to think that randomness is games is bad, as they like to feel they win or advance on the basis of their own skills rather than by luck. However, I examine the many ways in which randomness is used in games, and argue that in some cases, it has value, or is even essential. This was a presentation at GDC Austin in 2009.
Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String
Another look at the role of narrative in games, why I don't think games are inherently a story-telling medium, how people have tried to reconcile the incompatible demands of game and story, and some thoughts for escaping the "beads on a string" approach that characterizes so many narrative-driven games. (Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, MIT University Press, ed. Waldrop-Fruin & Harrigan, 2007)
My Life with Master
Discussion of why I think My Life with Master deserves inclusion as one of the best 100 hobby games, though it's a fairly obscure indie RPG. (Hobby Games: The Best 100, ed. James Lowder, Green Ronin Press, 2007)
Exit Strategies
A discussion of exit strategies for game developers in Business and Legal Primer for Game Developers, ed. S. Gregory Boyd and Brian Green. (Cengage Learning, 2006)
The Revolution Began with Paper
A piece arguing that the games revolution did not begin with Pong, but with the 18th and 19th century boardgame industries, accelerating with the arrival of hobby games in the late 20th century -- and then into the digital era. (The Escapist, 2006.)
Death to the Games Industry: Long Live Games
Long screed on what I see as the central creative challenge facing the game industry as a whole--and how we may be able to solve it. Part Two is here. (The Escapist, 2005.)
Game Styles, Innovation, and New Audiences: An Historical View
Paper presented at the 2005 DiGRA conference.
I Have No Words and I Must Design
Revised version of my 1994 article, reflecting thoughts I've had since then. (Conference publication, 2002 University of Tempere game studies conference (the precursor of the DiGRA conferences, but before DiGRA was founded--sort of DiGRA 0.0)
Talk Like a Gamer
The colorful language--often impenetrable to outsiders--used by gamers and to talk about the games they play. (Verbatim: The Language Quarterly, Summer 2002)
Where Stories End and Games Begin
Because games and stories are, in some sense, antitheses, designing at their intersection is both perilous and productive of a number of interesting game styles. (Game Developer magazine, 2000)
The Scratchware Manifesto
Anonymously written and released, a slap in the face to the conventional game industry and a cry to action; it was actually assembled and edited by Zdim, but at this point, I'll admit to being "Designer X." (not professionally published, 2000)
New Front in the Copyright Wars: Out-of-Print Computer Games
"Pirates" who put out-of-print console and computer games up on the Web should be thanked, not pilloried; they're doing a service to game designers and scholars. But we need to find a legal way for this to happen. (New York Times, 2000.)
King of Dragon Pass Review
An "indie" game that was one of the finalists for the Independent Games Festival in 2000, and set in Greg Stafford's world of Glorantha. (Happy Puppy, 2000)
A Platform for New Ideas: Why We Need an Indy Label Now
A "soapbox" piece for Game Developer magazine about the need for an 'indy' game publisher willing to take a flyer on innovative games and settle for less than blockbuster sales. (Game Developer, 1999)
EA Goes for Online Games
About Electronic Art's formation of EA.com, a subsidiary 10% owned by AOL, with its own tracking stock, "EA Class B"--which I suggested was merely a cynical attempt to cash in on Internet mania. (Jeff Brown, at EA, told my editor that I was a paid apologist for Sony, since my most recent game at the time had been for Sony Online. However, my editor, Jason Fry stood up for me.) (Wall Street Journal Interactive, 2000)
The War for America's Thumbs
About the battle for market share among next-generation consoles: Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Dolphin (now called GameCube), and Microsoft's X-Box. (Salon, 1999)
Games Don't Kill People--Do They?
What role does violence play in gaming? Are modern computer games obsessed with violence? Does violence in gaming breed violence in the streets? Do critics who maintain that game violence spurred the massacre at Littleton have a point? (Salon, 1999)
TEN Becomes pogo.com: Bingo Beats Quake
TEN, the hardest core of hard-core gaming services, became pogo.com, a fun, friendly, family service offering games like Bingo and Hearts. Why? (Wall Street Journal Interactive, 1999)
You Can Smell the Desperation
About the iEntertainment Network's takeover of three hobby games distributors (a deal since aborted). (Happy Puppy, 1999). Text to come.
Online Gaming's Store-Shelf Chains
The success of Battle.net, and the threat "retail sale plus free online play" poses to the development of online gaming. (Salon, 1999)
Online Gaming Is the Wave of the Future-- So When Does the Future Arrive?
A gloomy look at the slow take-off of online gaming, and the business issues involved. (Cybergamer magazine, 1999)
Tilting at Windmills
Is it possible to develop modern computer games under an open-source model? It ends with a rousing call to participate in a project to update NetHack, a great game that, since it is ASCII, now looks quite dated, with graphics and animation. (Happy Puppy, 1999)
The Invasion of the Toy People
Does Mattel's takeover of The Learning Company and Hasbro's expansion into computer games mean that computer gaming is becoming an appendage of the toy industry? (Happy Puppy, 1999)
Dani Bunten Berry
A tribute to the computer gaming pioneer, who died in 1998. (Happy Puppy, 1998)
The Adventure Continues
Adventure games aren't dead--and online gaming isn't ready for prime time. (Salon, 1998)
A Requiem for the Hill
...or I Dreamt I Saw Charles Roberts Last Night: Hasbro's takeover of Avalon Hill. (Happy Puppy, 1998)
Hit Hunter:
How to reproduce the success of DEER HUNTER with titles aimed at different interest groups and retail channels -- titles like CHRIST & CONQUER and LL BEAN WILDERNESS EXPLORER.... (Happy Puppy, 1998)
Groveling for Dollars:
Independent game developers scramble for funding at the Game Developers' Conference. (Salon, 1998)
Why Online Games Suck:
...and how to design ones that don't. (The Cursor, 1998)
Lara Buys the Gecko:
Eidos's purchase of Crystal Dynamics. (Happy Puppy, 1998)
Will Cendant Sell?
They did, to Havas. (Happy Puppy, 1998)
IGDN Report
The report on the first (and last) IGDN conference. (Happy Puppy, 1998)


Several Powerpoint presentations from speeches I've made are available here. They're mostly about online or wireless games.

Passionate Screeds

Design Notes

The SPI Compendium

Non-Fiction That Isn't About Games

They Sinned For Our Dice

The low-down on the business of (paper) gaming. Most of these were published as a column in The Gamer over 1993-1994.

Errata, Addenda, Etc.

Other Stuff

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