Digital Games

Resources, Tools, Information, and more.

Digital Games

In 2010, I was jury selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow, and invited to attend the Humanities Gaming Institute, University of South Carolina, June 7-21. These are the notes I took during this three week fellowship. These notes, and links and resources, may jumpstart your thinking.

Of special note . . . in April 2020, following implementations of COVID quarantines around the world, Barbara Lincoln, a youth services librarian and educator in Salt Lake City, Utah, contacted me to describe a "beginner programming and coding class for 12-15 year olds" she was leading. "I thought you might enjoy hearing that we were able to get some great use out of your class resources lists before the self-quarantine and social distancing!" she said in her email message. "We were even able to use some of this information for our most recent group project! Thanks so much for sharing!

"I hope you don't mind, but one of our youngest, Dylan, has asked me if I could share an article that he and his father found together, Program Guide for Video-Gamers, which includes a great breakdown of the different stages involved in game development. I think it would make Dylan proud to know he was able to 'pay it forward'."
— Barbara Lincoln

Defining "Game" and "Play"

When we talk about "digital games," no matter their genre (see below), let's be clear that we mean games designed and built to be played and enjoyed on some kind of computer-based platform.

The media conventions (use, interaction, immersion, etc.) associated with digital games, and most often realized through the interaction between players, hardware, and software, are often highly stylized and required of user bases.

Furthermore, digital games, like many other games, involve simulation of what one would expect in the "real," physical, non-game world. This simulation is, however, at its core, digital in nature.

As part of this focus, we might consider the following divisions as not only a good way to divide the course into components dealing with theory and practice, but also as ways to generate research questions focusing on our interest in digital games . . .

Making and playing—theory, concepts, actual practice
Designing play—prototyping and play testing; conceptualizing
Effective play—assess effectiveness of what we are building

Game

"What do we want to get from from the experience of designing and building and studying games?" Useful starting points for answers might include
Collaboration toward conceiving, designing, and building games
Theoretical frameworks (what are the goals for players? What are the goals for designers?)
How do we evaluate the outcomes/experiences/experimentation associated with our efforts?
How are games made? How to actually build a game?
How to decide/determine when the game is complete?

Then, we transposed these goals into conceptual and pragmatic questions to ask ourselves.
Can serious gaming be used to invite habit change/self-awareness?
Can the sense of presence in 3-D game environments foster/promote learning?
Can games simulate a cultural situation in which language is situated?
What can games do best? Can we leverage that?
How can we leverage X to instruct Y to get results?
Does studying games make for better games (and what do mean by studying and better)?
How do we make theory heuristic?
How do we make the form of a game communicate its content effectively?
How do we build interactivity into an already written narrative (and what do we mean by written)?
Is there a particular space players enter? Are there particular dispositions, perceptions, modes to game playing?

We might think of digital games as tinkering apparatus for thinking/creating. More importance based on the output, which can be saved, used again, or learned from at other times. Remember from yesterday . . . Tinkering as a mode of knowledge production in a digital age.
Low barrier to entrance
Promotes ability to interact with questions
Point of departure
Freedom to open the hood and create a new world

And remember that Anne Balsamo noted tinkering as one of the areas of Applied Research during her discussion of digital humanities.

Why mobile gaming?
Established user base: "everybody" has a phone
Technology = new, and therefore has high appeal Social nature

Play

Play = an open concept, generates evocativeness, ability to create new worlds, looseness between nodes, ability to make meaningful choices, a point of departure

Play = language, mechanic requiring cognitive development, the "verbs of play," i.e. activities, are "expressive acts," process defined through practice

Play leads to game . . . but game can also lead to play; a game can be playful, lead to further, higher, meta play (fun) within the magic circle of the game.

This happens at the "moment of seizure," a point marked by seriousness, a point where the game become immersive. This point must be serious enough to move the game forward, but not so serious as to remove the fun, and, at the same time, not so lacking in seriousness so as to break the magic circle.

The Core Mechanic

The essential nugget of the game activity, the mechanism through which players make meaningful choices and arrive at a meaningful play experience (Salan and Zimmerman, Rules of Play). For example, what is the core mechanic of baseball? Might it be the crack of the bat on the ball? Everyone looks and watches to see what will happen. Baseball is also a game with a built in cheat: stealing a base. This emerging potentiality is one element that makes baseball exciting.

Core mechanics are a loose collection of rules, generally a part of a genre, or activities or some kind. Therefore, activities are a better place to look for what is central, essential to the game.

Activities have nuances surrounding them. Generally, they can be represented by a verb: select, get, unlock, talk, use, etc. Good idea for designers to think about a wider range of verbs.

It might be interesting to think of play in these terms
System—and the operation of it
Art/form of play = evocative (see below)
Technology (ordering logic)
Process/practice
Rules
Experience
Aesthetic
Design
Ethics
Hypothetical (character and/or situation)
Agency
Audience—the user will define the rules of the play/game
Activation

Evocative: Play might be considered evocative in that the player becomes the other, the role in the game; the player responds to a calling out. Play has the ability to evoke a belief in a reality, a world, a magic circle, a place for play where certain things happen, and once they do, the rules apply, the aesthetic experience seems to become real.

Pragmatic (doing) questions about play
What does it mean to play?
What we we talking about when we talk about games?
What do we mean by play?
What is usership?
How important is fun to learning?
How much work is associated with playing serious games?
Can we create games that promote computing for good?
What kind of knowledge might humanities gaming produce?

The questions are structural rather than representational . . . infinite vs. finite games.

Notes from "Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenona"

(John Huizinga. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. 1950. Beacon Press, 1971. 1-27.)
The term "play" resists any attempt to reduce it to other terms. "The more we try to mark off the form "play" from other forms apparently related to it, the more the absolute independence of the play-concept stands out. And the segregation of play from the domain of the great categorical antitheses does not stop there. Play lies outside the antithesis of wisdom and folly, and equally outside those of truth and falsehood, good and evil. Although it is a non-material function it has no moral function. The valuations of vice and virtue do not apply here" (6).

Play cannot be considered aesthetic as it "must always remain distinct from all the other forms of thought in which we express the structure of mental and social life" (6).

There are several characteristics of play
Play is a voluntary activity; it is freedom
Play is a "stepping out" of real life into a temporary sphere of activity with a disposition all its own
Play is secluded, limited. It is "played out" within certain limits of time and place. It contains its own course and meaning. Play also has its own space, marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course, a temporary world within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of play. [Notes from discussion: space, drawing the circle, configuring the space inside of which new/different/additional rules/performance can occur.]
Play creates order; it is order.
All play has rules that determine the actions and consequences within the temporary world defined by the form/act of play. "Spoil-sports" are those who trespass against or ignore the rules.
Play loves to surround itself with an air of secrecy.

The elements of play include: order, tension, movement, change, solemnity, rhythm, rapture.

Having established the characteristics and elements of play, Huizinga argues that ritual, magic, liturgy, sacrament, and mystery fall within the concept of play. "The ritual act has all the formal and essential characteristics of play which we enumerated above, particularly in so far as it transports the participants to another world" (18). [Notes from discussion: ritual sets up game, sets up the potential for tension, the unexpected.]

Citing Plato (Laws, vii, 803), Huizinga says life should be lived as a play, with the same attention to rules and sacred space, as we apply to acting out ritual (19).

"In play we may move below the level of the serious, as the child does; but we can also move above it—in the realm of the beautiful and the sacred" (19).

"In play as we conceive it the distinction between belief and make-believe breaks down. The concept of play merges quite naturally with that of holiness" (25).

Conclusion: play is an irreducible concept. It is sacred, a testament to seriousness. [Notes from discussion: play is capture, seizure, immersion, rapture. All are allowed to the player. All are voluntary, as is play itself.]

Digital Game Genres

Digital games are constantly evolving, yet there are several genres now considered "traditional": action, adventure, arcade, board, card, casino, castle defense, casual endless, dice, educational, episodic, family, fighting, kid, music, path drawing, platform, puzzle, racing, road trip, role playing, shooter, simulation, sports, strategy, tower defense, trivia, and word.

Emergent platforms are creating new contexts and capabilities for digital games. For example, there are a growing number of games that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the iPhone, its accelerometer, GPS, etc.

Thrown into this mix is the growing contention that the game genres noted above represent games whose main purpose is to entertain, while other games, so-called "serious games," are more directed toward, and perhaps suited for the serious business of education / information / cultural transmission, etc.

The back and forth between gamers, academics, and media/cultural critics is confusing. Ben Sawyer and Peter Smith attempt to create a taxonomy, a system for classifying serious games, in their 2008 Serious Games Taxonomy (opens as a .PDF file).

Sawyer and Smith suggest several other terms for serious games: educational, simulation, virtual reality, alternative purpose, immersive learning, social impact, persuasive, change, good, and synthetic learning.

They conclude that serious games can promote broader ideas of what games can be, a broader application of game resources, and, more specifically, a reapplication of videogames.

Why Study Digital Games?

Games and/or play as sites / opportunities for establishing and/or breaking-up social contracts and (re)producing shared culture.

Today, unlike 10-20 years ago, games are played on devices owned by the players, not arcade game machines. These different devices/platforms create corresponding but different cultures.

What are the risks and stakes of play? States of play? Milieu of play or play as milieu?

Asking questions as a way of getting started.
How to get students to ask questions?
How to get students to ask questions about things they don't know?
Always ask more questions.
Questions are important to building the authoring environment, and, as we have already learned, building the authoring environment is a major, preliminary step in the design process.

What are we interested in here, gaming or research?
Gaming may be a good way to study how students are learning, but will this help scholarly research? The answer to this question may be determined by the concept and context of the game in relation to the specific line of research. On the other hand, since we have not defined or limited "gaming," it would seem that there would be no limitation on research. And how do we output the knowledge created through our research. A system, perhaps even a game, might be appropriate. This attempts to make knowledge convergent (on a specific point) and brings up the the question of how we undertake original research.

As for teaching, one approach might be to utilize exercises that are playful, that attempt to draw the audience/the students into the teaching and learning space. This attempts to make learning knowledge divergent. Can we use play (a game) as a means of evaluation?

Notes from "Introduction to Critical Play"

(Mary Flanagan. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009. 1-15)
Flanagan begins with rhetorical questions: what if games and play not only provided entertainment, but also functioned as creative expression, and instruments for conceptual thinking, and as tools to help examine or work through social issues? What would these games look like? What would the play they engender look like? In answer, she says her book "investigates games designed for artistic, political, and social critique or intervention, in order to propose ways of understanding larger cultural issues a well as the games themselves" (2).

Games are defined as "instances of more-or-less constructed play scenarios" (6). Critical play "means to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life" (6).

Flanagan argues that definite themes emerge in play scholarship because "most anthropologists and historians agree that play is central to human and animal life; is generally a voluntary act; offers pleasure in its own right (and by its own rules); is mentally of physically challenging; and is separated from reality, either through a sanctioned play space or through an agreed upon fantasy or rule set" (5).

Definitions of games fall into two categories: the codified—games are systems in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in quantifiable outcome [my note: finite games]—and the more loose—situations with guidelines and procedures, a technology [note: this is Flanagan's view, developed in this book: "Games and play activities themselves, with their emphasis on order and conventions, act as technologies that produce sets of relationships, governed by time and rules, played out in behavioral patterns (8). "Games function as an ordering logic, a machine, or a technology" (9)].

Previous histories of computer games have not, she says, examined the practice of play outside the realm of computers, do not generally involve artists and their social and cultural roles with regard to either making of playing games, do not seek to ground gaming in creative and aesthetic origins rather than primarily a technological context, and have made little connection between games and art.

Flanagan notes Marcel Duchamp's call for innovation in 1946: "When . . . you pick up something from an earlier period and adapt it to your own work an approach can be creative. The result is not new; but it is new insomuch as it is a different approach" (3). I took this as an example of how the remix is so much a part of our contemporary culture, especially digital culture, our way of using digital media and technologies to make a sense of our living in the world.

But, innovation appears to be risky business, she says, as the stakes for an artist, financial, civil, time, and agency (the ability to make meaningful choices), seem to temper taking wild chances to provoke, disrupt, and change even in play.

"Artist" is defined as someone who creates outside commercial establishments, often making for the sake of making. The premise of the book is that artists using games as a medium often manipulate common game elements. This promotes the possibility of transforming culture. Flanagan examines the possibility of large-scale transformation.

Two camps of game studies.
Those who see play as voluntary, intrinsic, and important to class structure and socialization (Huizinga and Caillois; Sutton-Smith calls them "idealizers")
Those who look more to ritual, to communication, and who study play in natural settings (Sutton-Smith, Bateson, and Turner)

Stories might be consider as games, especially as they, through the addition of more and more choices that can be made by the reader, become less linear.

Flanagan argues that games, in and of themselves, can function as social technologies (9). Because the exist primarily as rule systems, games are ripe for subversive practices (11). Electronic technology, she says, experiments with new forms of social functions of communcations introducing the possibility of paradigm shifting (12).

Activist games focus on social issues, education, and, occasionally, intervention. They engage social issues through themes, narratives, roles, settings, goals, and characters. Activist approaches to games are important, says Flanagan, because of media imbalances with regard to gender, race, ethnic, language, and class inequity issues.

Games explored include locative media games.

The goal of the books "is to examine the ways in which individuals and groups involved in creating and playing games have worked, and are working within, social, political, and cultural systems. Their critical, radical play can be considered the avant-garde of the game as a medium" (15).

Notes from "Sustainable Play: Towards A New Games Movement for the Digital Age"

(Celia Pearce, Tracy Fullerton, Janine Fron, and Jackie Morie. Games and Culture 2.3 July 2007: 261-278)
Reexamines the New Games Movement started by Stuart Brand and others in 1970s in response to the Vietnam War and civil unrest during the 1960s and 1970s. Brand and his cohorts developed a series of games where, despite being physical, the object was not to win, but simply to play.

These games were informed by Surrealist, Fluxus, and Dada artists who used games as a means of personal expression during times of war, political uncertainty, and socio-cultural isolation. In 1971 R. Buckminster Fuller designed the World Game: Integrative Resource Utilization Planning Tool using a basketball court size map illustrating world resources. Players were to propose solutions to world problems by matching human needs with available resources. Christo and Jean-Claude's Valley Curtain (1970-1972) was an work designed to mod the Earth and foreground environmental concerns. The result of these and other efforts was to establish the idea that play could empower people as cultural producers, empowered with deep values and timely forms of activism and environmentalism.

Brand moved to the digital realm in December 1972 with the launch of Spacewar.

Building on this legacy, the authors, a women's game collective exploring alternatives to the anthrocentric, male-dominated, and techno-centric culture of digital games, revisited the New Games Movement in cooperation with some of its original founders, especially Bernie DeKoven, and developed a series of games that reminded them of the central experience of any game: creating a satisfying, highly personal, game player experience.

The authors argue that digital games can "create a particular inhibition to reinscription of rules due to the fact that the rule structures are encoded in the game construction itself" and that players find unique and inventive ways to remake the rules, or utilize flaws, or make superfluous frills a central part of the game.

They note several contemporary digital games that blurred the boundary between game and reality. I Love Bees, a marketing tool for Halo 2, provided clues via phones, web pages, and other means. The Beast promoted the film AI by Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg. Majestic, a suspense thriller by Electronic Arts, used the slogan "the games that plays you." The Big Urban Game (2003) involved teams of players moving giant inflatable game pieces around the Minneapolis/Twin Cities area.

"All these examples suggest a longing among players to 'take back the rules' and break free of the oppressive constraints of commercial games, which offer a very narrow array of options and little flexibility within those. Like children in a playground, some digital gamers yearn to play free—rather than be confined within 'worlds they never make'."

Conclusions made: As Bernie DeKoven notes in his Well-Played Games, games should not measure the players, but serve as a focal point for social interaction. Players should adapt the game as they go in order to create opportunities for everyone to play well together.

Digital games have the potential to imagine and create games that focus on creating a temporary world, a "magic circle," where, rather than a victory over a machine, or other players, what emerges is a new, participatory relationship between the players.

The authors conclude by asking, "Can we imagine new forms of digital culture that put the player front and center, in command of her own play experience? Can we play by our own rules?

NOTE: For me, this is the connection with the "Digital Culture" portion of the Creative Media and Digital Culture program name. With culture we are imagining and building new ways of being in the world, our world. Digital computing, "computing for good," gives us a way to do this.

Designing Digital Games

Basic features of a digital game

System
Art/form
Technology/ordering logic
Rules
Process, practice
Experience

The last two points lead to negotiation, improvisation, and responsiveness

How we play the game signifies our way of being in the world

Ways of conceptualizing games

Game as object
Game as interaction
Game as cognitive experience
Do we think about/mediate everything?
Game as sensual
Do we think about the sensual/tactual qualities of the game? The body as medium, presenting/gathering data
Game as (sub)conscious
Do some things happen subconsciously, result of brain trying to make sense of being in the world. Does this mean games have emergent properties?
Games as process, define through/as practice
Games as instrument
Games as apparatus
Games as instantiation of a milieu

All these conceptualizations account for the design of game and subjective choices the player may make.

Formal elements of digital games

Rules
Procedures
Mechanics

Dramatic elements
Premise
Characters
Story

A game, once put in motion, is a dynamic system, exhibiting some form of emergence or play, and capable of creating meaning at many levels.

Games are flawed systems by their nature, but this presents the opportunity for players to make interesting choices, which can help move the game forward

There are many levels at which game designers can work so as to communicate what they think their games are about. They can, for example, . . .

Simulate the environment
"Peacemaker"—the player is a leader trying to achieve peace in the Middle East. Showcases the difficult challenges a leader in this situation might face.

Illustrate the subject
"Hush"—set in Rwanda during the 1994 ethnic conflict, player tries to type a lullaby in sync with it being played. Doing this correctly keeps the soldiers from discovering your child.

Make the player the subject
"Free Rice"—focus on the call to action, a trivia game, quizzes on any subject. For each correct answer, rice is donated to the World Hunger Programme. Game play has an effect on world hunger, but the subject or mechanics of the game do not. Not a compelling game, but useful to promote awareness of the subject.

Formal Elements of Game Design

Players

How is the interaction between the players organized?
Single player vs. Game
Multiple Individual Players vs. Game
Player vs. Player
Multilateral Competition
Team Competition
Unilateral Competition
Cooperation Play

Objectives

What goals structure the play? Rewards, treasure, points, getting home can all work to make the game engaging.

Rules

The bread and butter of game design. What rules guide or limit the players' actions? Sometimes the best rules are those that are the most simple, concise, and easy to understand.

Procedures

How does the play proceed? Procedures are often, especially in digital games, encapsulated in the controls. Don't need to explain procedure if there is a control that embodies that procedure. In this case, the procedure is part of the environment. Procedures are part of the environment, they are active, the move the game forward.

Resources

What resources are available to accomplish the goals? In every game there is some sort of resources. Often they are scare the getting of them helps to move the game forward.

Boundaries

What are the boundaries of the experience? Games are expected to be a fairly safe environment that is bounded from the world. Playing with this, as a tool, can help designers create a new aspect of a game, or the game itself.

Outcome

How will the game end? Does it end? Some games do not end (infinite games). Is the end meaningful? See the game "Sixteen Tons" as an example. In this game, someone wins by accomplishing the game's task, but has no money. Someone ends the game with a lot of money. There is an ending, but this ending is not conclusive. The value of the money after the end of the game is a point of discussion/contention/tension between the players.

Designing Deliberately

Controlled design exercises to practice process
Start with an existing system and make changes to the formal, dramatic, and dynamic elements in order to experiment with new design goals and lear process of prototyping, playtesting, response to feedback.

Start with very simple systems.

Even small changes can have great impacts.

"Design to a goal" --> then come up with cool constructs/changes that will help you achieve that goal.

Self-Reflection after Playtesting

How closely did I approach the original goals of the game?
Did I discover something about the goal?
Does the goal need to be redefined?
Was the game all that it could have been (in relation to achieving the goal?
What must players do in the process of the game?
What is the shape of the game? The diagram? The schematic? Storyboard? Wireframe?
What is the invitation to play the game?
What is the introduction?
How do we let the game be itself in response to system changes, rather than the original goals? How do we allow things to happen?
Is there flavor/flair to the game, especially as it helps to ground the play and move it forward?
Is the criteria of the game met inside the construct of the game? How do we meet OUTSIDE criteria and invite fun?

Communicating Directions

How do you communicate directions to players of digital games? Tutorials and instruction screens are two answers, and both are used frequently. You might also use iconic portal signs to indicate what a player should do next. Other ways to communicate directions include

Placing the Directions in the Background

You Have To Burn The Rope (online)
Akrasia (PC)

Read Signs

Spelunky

Use a Video To Illustrate the Various Play Commands

Loco Roco (YouTube video for this PlayStation game)
Wario Ware (YouTube video demonstrates how to hold the controller for this Wii game)

Display Instructions when Player Gets Close to Action Points

Metroid Prime (YouTube video)
Bob's Game (YouTube video)

Show Game Credits

Flow (an example from this game by Genova Chen

Readings / Resources

"The Nine Structural Subsystems of Any Game"
Breaks games into nine structural subsystems and discusses how each is used. Lewis Pulsipher first published this article on 17 March 2009. It is available on the Game Career Guide website.

"Twenty Essential Design Questions"
A follow up on the previous essay. Discusses twenty things you should think about when designing a game. Lewis Pulsipher first published this article on 14 April 2009. It is available on the Game Career Guide website.

"What Went Wrong? Learning From Past Postmortems"
An essay by Brandon Sheffield, first published early in 2009, and now archived on the Gamasutra website.

"Paper Prototyping: 5 Facts for Designing in Low-Tech"
An essay by Rich Marmura published 7 October 2008, and now archived on the Game Career Guide website.

"Advanced Prototyping"
A one-hour lecture by Chaim Gingold and Chris Hecker available as a Powerpoint slide show with separate audio

Challenges for Game Designers (Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber ISBN-158450580X)

"How To Build a Game In A Week From Scratch With no Budget"
An RPG in one week, starting with a dare. Jay Barnson tells how in this article posted to GameDev.net on 6 July 2005.

"Persuasive Games: The Proceduralist Style"
Ian Bogost argues that the question "Are games art?" is tired, and useless, in that there is no stable meaning for "art" in contemporary culture. He proposes the term "procedudralism" to describe innovative games. Bogost mentions several art games as examples.

Socially Conscious Games

values@play
An international archive of demos, prototypes, and polished computer games incorporating social values, submitted by their designers in response to values-conscious design challenges.

The McDonald's Game
Large corporations like McDonald's take on a life of their own and become difficult to control. The drive to maximize profit causes cut backs in other areas, like food safety and health. This game explores the economic systems behind McDonald's: from the creation of pastures to the slaughter of livestock, from restaurant management to branding.

Darfur Is Dying
Provides a window into the experience of 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Players must keep their refugee camp functioning while learning more about the genocide of 400,000 people in Darfur. Players must find ways to get involved and help stop this human right and humanitarian crises.

"Pixels, Politics, and Play: Digital Video Games as Social Commentary"
An essay by Rafael Fajardo, designer of Crosser and La Migra, as well as Seeds of Solitude.

Manifestos

Digital games are radical, in many ways. They are new and represent change; they represent a seat of authority other than the teacher in front of the classroom; they represent a new way of teaching and learning (and one hopes, teaching), especially with regard to the "digital humanities." So, it stands to reason that proponents of digital games create and share manifestos, statements of belief and vision, that articulate how they see their endeavors deviating from the more traditional paths and how digital games will change/save the world. Here are a few example manifestos.
Tale of Tales' Real Time Art Manifesto (2006)
David Wong's Manifesto for Gamers (2007)

"Cannonical" Textual Resources

Chris Crawford (The Art of Computer Game Design, 1984)
Greg Costikyan (1994)
Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman (Rules of Play, 2004)
Brian Sutton-Smith (The Ambiguity of Play)
Note: they provide an abstract, but good, definition of "play": "the free space of movement within a more rigid structure"
Johan Huizinga (Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture, 1938, 1950, 1971). See "Nature and Significance of Play as a Cultural Phenomenon" (1-270
Tracy Fullerton (Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games. 2nd edition. MA: Morgan Kaufman Publishers, 2008.
Chapter 2: The Structure of Games
Chapter 3: Working with Formal Elements
Chapter 5: Working with System Dynamics
Chapter 7: Prototyping
Mary Flanagan (Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2009. See especially the Introduction, "Introduction to Critical Play," 1-16
Celia Pearce, Tracy Fullerton, Janine Fron, and Jacki Mori ("Sustainable Play: Towards a New Games Movement for the Digital Age" Games and Culture 2.3 (July 2003): 261-278. Available as a .PDF file)
Ian Bogost (Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2007. Note: Persuasive games= "videogames that mount procedural rhetorics effectively" (46)
Chapter 1: "Procedural Rhetoric" 1-64 (The practice of using processes persuasively; authoring arguments through processes). Note: Procedural rhetoric must address two issues: 1). What is the relationship between procedural repressentation and vividness? and 2). What is the relationship between procedural representation and dialectic? (34)
Chapter 3: "Ideological Frames" 99-120
Chapter 8: "Procedural Literacy" 233-260 (videogame players develop procedural literacy through interacting with the abstract models of specific real or imagined processes presented in the games they play. Videogames teach biased perspectives about how things work. And they way they teach such perspectives is through procedural rhetorics, which player "read" through direct engagement and criticism (260))
Ian Bogost (Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism)
Clark C. Abt (Serious Games 1970)
Gaming: Essays on Alogrithmic Culture by Alexander Galloway

Digital Games and Learning

Multimedia Learning
Handbook of Multimedia Learning
The Design and Use of Simulations and Computer Games in Education
This collection features information about Digital Game-Based Learning
Object-oriented instructional design and learning objects . . . see the work of David Wiley on open education

The Game Design Portfolio

Brathwaite, Brenda. "The Game Design Portfolio: Is There such a Thing?"
Originally published 19 October 2007 on Brathwaite's blog. Reprinted in Game Career Guide.

Development / Coding, etc.

ActionScript
The Essential Guide to Flash Games: Building Interactive Entertainment with ActionScript 3.0 by Jeff Fulton and Steve Fulton

Foundation ActionScript 3.0 with Flash CS3 and Flex by Steve Webster, Todd Yard, and Sean McSharry

iPhone Development
Beginning iPhone 3 Development: Exploring the iPhone SDK by Dave Mark and Jeff LaMarche
Beginning iPhone SDK: Programming with Objective-C by Wei-Meng Lee
Creating iPhone Apps with Cocoa Touch: The Mini-Missing Manual by Craig Hockenberry
Head First iPhone Development by Don Pilone and Tracey Pilone
iPhone and iPad Apps for Absolute Beginners by Rory Lewis

Google Android mobile telephone development
Android SDK
Instructions on how to download and install the Android SDK are HERE
Check out Droid Web maintained by Maliek Mcknight for the latest news, tips, tricks, and reviews of the Android platform.

Microsoft XNA Game Studio
Tools for creating games for Microsoft Windows and Xbox360

Scratch
Freeware tool from MIT that you can use to create interactive stories, games, music, and art

Game Maker
Free software from YoYo Games

Organizations / Portals

Digra (Digital Games Research Association)
Academics and professionals who research digital games and associated phenomena

Gameology.org
Blog-based gaming resources

Board Game Designers Forum
Resource for all aspects of board game design: game design, prototyping, playtesting, publishing, and more.

Game Career Guide
News and information about schools, programs, jobs, and more.

Japan Prize
An international contest for educational media (TV programs, websites, educational games, all kinds of interactive artifacts with audiovisual contents.

Funding Opportunities

National Endowment for the Humanities
Office of Digital Humanities
Division of Public Programs—Media Makers, funds games, radio documentaries
Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities
supports national and regional training programs on applications and approaches to digital humanities
NEH is big on partnerships; think about impact outside your project

Other funding: MacArthur Foundation (digital media and learning competition) and American Council of Learned Societies (digital innovation fellowships)

Presentation Systems

Prezi authoring environment
Sophie 2.0 authoring tool allows user to create multi-modal book-like projects that reproduce print-based literacies while reinventing the semantics of the links, etc.
Zotero document management tool
Wordle word cloud generator gives greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Create art, or script impact.

Interesting Online Digital Games

"Cloud" (also known as That Cloud Game or Cloud: The Game)
A puzzle video game by Jenova Chen based on weather and atmospheric aesthetics. Game about the desire/feeling of freedom/flying/being part of a natural system. Free download for PC platform, but screenshots and movie at the official website.

Foldit
An online game in which humans try to solve one of the hardest computational problems in biology: protein folding.

Today I Die
An experimental video game by Daniel Benmurgui

I Wish I Were the Moon
An experimental video game by Daniel Benmurgui

Interesting Resources and Ideas

Japanese Game Music Legends Look at the Past, Present & Future of Game Music in "Beep: Big in Japan

Improv Everywhere
A New York-based group of "tens of thousands of undercover agents" who cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places. Check out the "Missions" node, especially The mp3 Experiment Six link

Public VR
Dedicated to free software and methods for using Virtual Reality in education and research.

A Guided Tour in the Palm of Your Hand
"Design USA: Contemporary Innovation" at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum features a multi-media guide based on a specially programmed iPod Touch that not only augments the more traditional exhibition but, in many respects, IS the exhibition.

Grafedia—words written anywhere, then linked to images, video or sound files; documents graffedia encountered in the world.

Snap-Shot City—a photographic treasure hunt; find a moment that represents given phrase, take picture, submit.

ARhrrr! (augmented reality)
Augmented reality at Georgia Tech

IS Parade
Parade with twitter people

Quark Star
An interactive DVD-only film by Simon Tarr.
Stuart Bing is all alone in the depths of space with two million clones of himself. When his starship starts to malfunction, he calls back to Earth for help, only to find that robots have taken over the planet, led by a spiteful, mechanical stand-up comic. Bing's only hope is to discover the secret of the Quark Star, and even then, it may not be enough. Quark Star is an innovative DVD-only motion picture, presented as the rescued captain's log of Bing's starship. The viewer chooses different sections of the logs to view, and they play back differently every time. Director Simon Tarr plays Stuart Bing, all of his clones, and the Evil Robot Leader.

The Chomsky Bot
English Departments often cite familiarity with the politics of linguist Noam Chomsky as necessary for admission into their program of study. But, as you can see from this program (game), what appears to be sensical (or at least SOUNDS sensical) is actually nonsense. The basis for the random construction of each argument here comes from the corpus of Chomsky's work. (See also Chatterbot)

Stackoverflow
A collaboratively edited question and answer site for programmers, regardless of platform or language. It's 100% free, no registration required. Answers within minutes. Earn badges for positive feedback. Social networking meets collaborative knowledge building.

Digital Pathfinder at Marist College
NEH funded project