James Wallis levels with you

Author Archive

Nerdcon, authorship, and the problem with games —

So at Nerdcon, a convention about telling stories in early October, there was a game of The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It was a programme item. It was played on a stage in front of a big audience, with big-name SF authors including Mary Robinette Kowal and Patrick Rothfuss—Nerdcon’s organiser—playing it. Nerdcon has just put the […]

The Essence of Essen —

Internationale Spieltage SPIEL, usually known as ‘Spiel’ or ‘Essen’, is the biggest tabletop gaming event in the world, with around 150,000 admittances over its four days. My first Spiel was 1995: I went with John Nephew of Atlas Games, showing off the almost-released second edition of Once Upon a Time. Then I didn’t go back until last week. […]

Cork Board Game Design Workshop —

I’m a special guest at Warpcon XXV at University College, Cork at the end of January (23rd-25th). I’ll be running a mix of Paranoia and Once Upon a Time playtests and probably some new Baron Munchausen material too, but I’ll also be hosting a session of my Board Game Design Workshop. The Workshop is a […]

A game narrative reading list —

Two friends with credentials (George Buckenham and Jurie Horneman) have posted recommended lists of books on game design, and as I’ve had a similar list knocking around for a while I thought I’d put it up here. Mine is more specific than either of theirs since it’s mostly about game narrative, and it overlaps with […]

Mountain Endings —

I am compiling a list of all the ways that a game of Mountain, the almost-a-game “ambient procedural mountain simulator” by David OReilly, can end: ‘You were killed by the Blood Pyramid’ ‘You are ruined by a passing giant sun’ ‘The Taker of Souls took yours’ ‘You were killed by a xyzzyx’ (triggered by playing the […]

Death and life in Scandinavia —

It is a church of modern design, its interior bright and wooden. About thirty people are listening from the pews as a man in his late sixties talks about death. Outside, nearby, there is a conference. Inside there is a magic circle, a temporary autonomous zone, a place with its own rules. He talks about […]

Workshop till you drop —

I run a half-day games-design workshop. It started about six years ago as a one-off that transformed into a regular lecturing gig at the University of Westminster, and has become a centre-piece of my games-consultancy portfolio. So far in 2013 I’ve run it for students (quite a lot of students), for corporate clients, at an academic […]

A Spot of Brother —

I spent the day of the GTA V launch playing Brothers, a download-only title created by Swedish film director Josef Fares, developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 505 Games. It’s a three-hour game that’s won comparisons with Journey and Fable for its story and the emotional response that it evokes. Brothers is the story of […]