A Toolkit for Encouraging Player Stories

Players play games, and when things go right, they tell compelling stories about their play experiences. Sometimes these stories even become community legends. This report looks to identify the conditions that player stories are likely to flower under and proposes a toolkit of design moves to help seed the soil. It also opens the question of how player stories might be folded back into the game itself, and what the tradeoffs are for doing so.

Playful Narrative: A Toolbox for Story-Rich Mechanics

The relationship between game mechanics and storytelling in games is an avenue of interactive storytelling with a great depth of potential to create meaningful, reciprocal relationships. The “Playful Narrative: A Toolbox for Story-Rich Mechanics” report digs into some lenses and thought experiments to encourage ways of reframing traditional game mechanics into narrative devices to deepen the ways in which we tell stories in video games.

When Spreadsheets Aren’t Enough: A Framework for Approaching System Visualization

Visualization techniques can help us design and maintain game rules and systems, communicate these internally (across the development team), and effectively convey them to external stakeholders (such as investors or publishers). This paper proposes a framework designed to help designers determine when to present a system visually, which visualizations are appropriate for an audience and use case, and how to create effective ones.

Practical Tools for Empowering the Relationship between Theme & Mechanics

Often, in games, the merging of theme and mechanics isn’t totally successful. Either there exists a very strong theme, with mechanics that feel tacked on and disconnected; or a brilliant mechanic is showcased, with thematic trappings that feel like an afterthought. When mechanics and theme are not in sync, a game’s overall feel rings hollow, and the disconnect is felt by the player. To address this problem the authors will present a set of tools that can be employed by the average game designer faced with this problem, as well as practical suggestions for how to apply them.

Kind Games: Designing for Prosocial Multiplayer

Kind games are social-first game designs that encourage players to behaving in helpful, prosocial ways towards one another. This paper covers benefits such as increased retention and reduced toxicity driving this emerging design trend games. We also cover numerous design patterns and examples from hit multiplayer games like Sky: Children of Light, Sea of Thieves, Final Fantasy 14, Death Stranding and even distinctly uncozy games like Elden Ring.