James Wallis levels with you

Why ‘Cope’?

I’ve learned a lot from video games, but ‘cope’ is the best lesson: basic, profound and absolutely to the point.

My schooling came from Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega, 1991), the original, not just a classic but a masterpiece of every element of game design. For those who have never played it, the game starts with a race through the Green Hill Zone, a pastoral loveliness, and moves into the Marble Zone which is slower and more puzzly, involving tunnels, lava and more accurate jumping. Then you’re into the Spring Yard Zone and within five seconds you’ve run into a spring that’s catapulted you off a bumper, onto another spring and you’re hurtling through the air, upside down, completely out of control, completely off the deep end. And there, suspended in the air, is the game-creators’ advice:


As life-lessons go it beats “Sorry Mario but the princess is in another castle”, don’t you think?

Categorised as: game design | narrative


  1. CZ says:

    Moving words.

  2. Fantastic first post, James. It’s great to read your words again. As someone trying to inject more “game” into video games at my day job, I’m finding a lot of what you’re saying invaluable.

    Well done!

  3. Ian Sturrock says:

    Great blog, James. I just read through the whole lot.

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