James Wallis levels with you


Cope is the weblog of James Wallis, director of Spaaace the game consultancy.

This is where he unloads about whatever’s been preoccupying him on the subjects of games, games design, games culture, interactivity, media and malarky lately. Much of it is likely to be about narrative and storytelling in games, a subject on which he is a bit of an expert, or at least he talks about it a lot.

You are welcome to weigh in.

Formatting, images and some links are screwy thanks to a particularly nasty PHP hack and its repercussions. The damage is slowly being tidied up.

If you want alerts of when new entries go live, follow James on Twitter at @jameswallis


  1. Aaron Rosenberg says:

    James –

    Hey, amigo! Jason Blair mentioned your site, so I came to check it out. Good to see you back online!

    – Aaron

  2. Toby says:

    Well James, its been a while since we’ve spoken.

    I came across an article written some time ago in (you know the one I suspect!). One thing led to another, and a quick google later and I found this space.

    Drop me a line if you feel like it


  3. Richard Leon says:

    Hello James,

    I am glad to see you involved in the game industry again.

    Last bit I saw from you was the novel you wrote for Black Industries and your additional material for the Power Behind the Throne WFRP campaign book for Enemy Within.

    I will be checking this blog from time to time.


  4. Bruce Baugh says:

    Through an interesting set of circumstances, I have access to a WoW EU account. Where would a gent looking to be playing Horde a couple times a week look to find clever folks like, say, you?

  5. Lisa Roberts says:

    We Love Technology is an annual showcase and peer to peer event which celebrates the misuse of technology.
    This year we are inviting a range of inspirational makers and thinkers from across digital culture, music and art and design communities.

    We Love Technology invite you to present your latest and best work and ideas at our salon held at
    1pm-6pm on Thursday 20th November, Bates Mill Huddersfield West Yorkshire HD1 3DX.

    You will present for up to 20 minutes alongside other invited new media artists, researchers, bloggers, technologists and human centered designers from across the UK. Come and join the party and enjoy a rare chance to meet some of your fellow contemporaries.

    There are facilities for people to have mini-workshops, demos and further discussion. We are also currently planning a post-salon games night.

    WLT08 is programmed and delivered by BASE and hosted at BATES MILL.

    Speakers already confirmed :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;

    Dr Chris Speed
    Chris Speed is a research active designer working within the field of Digital Architecture, Human Geography and Social Computing developing new forms of spatial practice that transform our experience of the built environment. He is currently a Reader in Digital Architecture at the Edinburgh College of Art and has a background as an artist, freelance multimedia designer and art editor at a large publishing company in London.

    Jen Southern
    Jen Southern is an artist whose work involves investigating everyday journeys between virtual and physical spaces, which are navigated through socially embedded technologies such as video games, mobile phones and locative media. Her use of technology is specific to each project and has included robotics, wearables, shipping containers and currently GPS.

    Tom Betts
    Tom is an art school educated artist, self taught programmer, experimental musician and academic. He has been practising in the field of digital and interactive media for over 10 years and his current work investigates the ways in which digital environments change our perception and treatment of space, time and material. His projects focus on several aspects of this culture such as: schizophrenic and multidimensional reconstructions of data, interventions and distortions of existing digital spaces, generative construction of content and the life of digital objects.

    * Presentation slots are limited so please book by return.

    Lisa Roberts
    +44 (0) 7779 649 027

  6. It was great to get a chance to play Baron Munchausen with you and others last night. I’m afraid I couldn’t dig up your e-mail so please forgive this somewhat informal method of correspondence. You’ll be pleased to know that I’ve already managed to get a proper lightening talk out of the experience. Please do drop me a line when you get a moment, I’d be quite keen to play another round if you’d care to have me. (Also I’d like to hear about good gaming conventions to keep an eye on.)

  7. Rob Manton says:

    Hi James
    I was in the next room at 01-zero one when you did your game prototype workshop, and it all looked pretty interesting from what I could see through the door. I am a lecturer at the University of Beds and have been looking into using games (board games as well as computer based ones) for things like induction activities, personal development, employability awareness etc. I am planning a seminar for late January at which a number of academics who have been experimenting with games will be present. Could we have a chat about whether you might be interesting in contributing to this event? (funding is available)

  8. John says:
    come along and bring some friends if you want.
    I just need to know names and numbers cos we may need to book a table.
    J (Y)

  9. jeff squires says:

    Hi James,

    Jeff Squires here from Just wanted to send you a quick notice about our upcoming event, Good Ideas Salon London. On the 30th January 2009, PSFK will curate a collection of forward-focused innovators and thought leaders to discuss ideas in the fields of arts & culture, collaboration, design, digital, marketing, mobile and youth.

    I thought your readers might be particularly interested in our presentation on Good Ideas In Storytelling, in which Colin Nightingale, creative director of Punchdrunk and founder of Gideon Reeling, will describe how he creates platforms for individuals to participate in their own entertainment, allowing them to be part of the story – both as actors and directors..

    For tickets or more information on the event, please visit

    We appreciate your support.


  10. Matthew says:

    Hi James, I’m a reporter and I stumbled across a quote from you that I’d love to ask you more about, if you have time. You can reach me on 07974 918855.


  11. Lloyd says:

    Hey James, it’s Lloyd from your group at Westminster Uni Games design workshop. I revised my ‘gang board game’ idea and wondered what you may think of it. My email has been submitted in this comment, so if you could get back to me that would be fandabbydozee.

  12. Gail says:

    Hi James
    I would appreciate it if you would contact me via my blog or via my email.

  13. Is Mister Wallis available for interviews?

    Hello James

    I’m one of the editors of the monthly danish webzine, formerly know as , a webzine with the focus on all the somewhat more geeky parts of modern pop-culture, and with the ambition to take these more seriously as cultural phenomenons. We cover comics, music, movies and literature (usually within the scifi-horrror-fantasy-genres), and also different aspects of games and gaming, from boardgames to war games and rpg’s and computer games, both new and old, such as retro gaming classics. We have previously written about several of the games from Hoghead’s proto-indie New Style-line, both De Profundis, Pantheon and Violence, and your classic storytelling cardgame, Once Upon a Time. So now, with the release of The new Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen edition and Dragon Warriors, we would like to hear if it’s possible to get a interview with the man behind it all.

    The interview’s possible subjects could be:

    What James Wallis is doing now, such as Magnum Opus publishing and its connection to Mongoose

    AGR, what is that? How are you involved in it? And what are these other kind of public games you seem to be into now?

    The re-release and success of Baron Munchausen, it’s MIT-release, how you invented the game and what is legacy to the indie-game-community is

    Tied in with the legacy og New Style and Once Upon A Time on a whole

    Being in the judges panel of the Diana Jones Award

    Where is FRUP? Gone forever or comming back to life anytime soon?

    Dragon Warriors, your newest release, why bring this eighties classic back to life? (most roleplayers in Denmark are not familiar with the old Dragon Warriors)

    The british gaming scene in generel, now and before, and the national differenses as you exsperienced them from the UK to the US, and to Europe?

    Interactive Fantasy the magazine that gave rise to the academia-fization of roleplaying games and since you started it could please stop it again!

    Academia and academic culture, is it good or bad for games and game design?

    The future of the gaming industry and of gaming as phenomenon in modern culture

    On a more personal note, how did young James start gaming? And how did you start in the industry?

    and finally: Has WoW taken over your life?

    So please mail me if your interested

    Some short info about us: have existed as a online magazine since 2005, publishing a new issue online every month We now have more than 1.000 available articles online and won in 2008 Seriejournalens award for “best danish comic-website” (although we cover alot more than comics).


    Claus Jacobsen

  14. Hey James,

    I enjoyed your essay in the book Second Person by the MIT Press, which introduced me to the concepts behind Once Upon A Time and The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen. I’ve recently written an article discussing issues of fairness and balance in gaming, mostly as it relates to video games but citing some tabletop games as examples, including Once Upon A Time. Video Games often are designed to have a wide variety of ways to play the game, but if it’s ever discovered that one strategy beats all the others it can lead to everyone playing the same way or being content with losing: an “unbalanced” game.

    Anyway I thought you might be interested to see what I’d written, and I’d be glad to hear your thoughts on the subject if you have any.

    Mark Newheiser

  15. Well I’m pretty sure you’re the James Wallis of Sound & Fury fame, so hey there from the guy who drew those weird covers for you way back in the 20th century.
    Graham Edwards

  16. Something strange happened to your blog’s feed between here and Google Reader. Whenever I try to access your latest post, it looks like this:

    But when I come over to your site and look at it, it’s pretty normal:

    It seems, after a cursory investigation, that yours is the only feed affected and “Hu the heck?” is your only afflicted post. I hope that whatever’s going on is soon fixed. I’m considering contacting Google; the issue may be on their end.

    I hope you’re well,

    George Austin

    • james says:

      Thanks for this. I’m aware of the problem and it’s a perplexing one: the feed going out from the site appears to be clean, but is somehow getting corrupted along the way. I am using the latest version of WordPress and all the usual anti-spam stuff. I’m going to sleep on it and try to sort it out in the morning.

  17. P says:


    Sorry this is a bit random – I saw a reply you had posted on
    “Ask MetaFilter” a while back about what books were good for boys to read, you said that your sister had had a reading from Swallows and Amazons at her wedding – I was just wondering if you could rememer which section they chose?

    Again, apologies for the very random nature of this message!


  18. Matthew Hayes says:


    You may or may not remember me from Dragon Aid. A long time (10 years or more?) back you posted a small article I wrote on different kinds of magic that could be used in role playing systems. I’ve long since lost track of where it can be found. Do you have any idea if it’s still floating around anywhere?

  19. Roberto Petrillo says:

    Hello James,
    it’s been a very long time since we last met, I’m Roberto Petrillo, from Italy, owner of Raven Distribution.
    I’d really like to work on some of your fine books like Munchausen and Nobilis, if you could be so kind to send me your contacts at my address I’d be very very grateful.
    Looking forward to hearing from you,

  20. Hi James
    Any news on the 3rd of Baron Munchausen? Having traversed the Pyrenees on one leg, and armed only with a bladeless potato peeler, with only the companionship of a deaf mute from Sardinia with a horrible case of irritable bowel syndrome and a love of blue cheese, I emerged to find that it still isn’t released?

    Eagerly waiting a new “Gentlemen’s Edition” or something suitably garbed?

    • James Wallis says:

      Minchausen 3e is in development but Alas Vegas has to come first. I’m hoping both will be out by Christmas. Fingers crossed.

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