Game Design with Kids: An Interview with Charley Miller

Charley Miller is a game designer and producer based in New York City.

Avi Solomon recently interviewed Miller for Boing Boing:
Charley Miller

Avi: What surprised you the most in your work with the kids?

Charley: Kids are typically naturals when it comes to game design and it’s easy to understand why: they know what’s fun and all they want to do is playtest. But what might surprise adults is to know that most children these days are able to wrap their minds around complex systems. That might be thanks to the amount of gaming kids are able to enjoy these days.

Avi: What is the best place to start learning about game design?

Charley: To be a designer, you have to be a player first. Start by playing a variety of games and try to deconstruct the experiences. Start asking yourself questions about why the designer choose certain elements and thinking about how systems are working together to create the dynamics of the game. That should get anyone nice and confused but hopefully stirred to know more.

Game Design with Kids: An Interview with Charley Miller

William Gibson on videogames

William Gibson Battlezone“It seemed to me that what [players] wanted was to be inside the games, within the notional space of the machine.”

… I remember walking past a video arcade, which was a new sort of business at that time, and seeing kids playing those old-fashioned console-style plywood video games.

The games had a very primitive graphic representation of space and perspective.

Some of them didn’t even have perspective but were yearning toward perspective and dimensionality.

Even in this very primitive form, the kids who were playing them were so physically involved, it seemed to me that what they wanted was to be inside the games, within the notional space of the machine.

The real world had disappeared for them — it had completely lost its importance.

They were in that notional space, and the machine in front of them was the brave new world.

William Gibson interview @ Paris Review

Gibson is speaking of the early 1980’s — the era leading up Neuromancer.

Get Lamp

“Digital historian Jason Scott has an eclectic portfolio. At, he collects files and related materials from the era of dial-up bulletin-board systems. That work led him to create BBS: The Documentary, an eight-episode miniseries about the early history of online culture. His second documentary, Get LampGet Lampexamines text adventure games through interviews with developers, designers and players.”

— Computerworld

From an interview with Jason Scott:

Computerworld: Text adventures are no longer a financially viable form of entertainment. What caused them to fade into history?

Jason Scott: The idea of exploring a world, trying to figure out the meaning of that world, pull out answers from it and solve a quest was readily taken over by graphic adventures. These companies didn’t ask how they could improve text adventures, so they lost money and got bought out.


Via BoingBoing.

I played text adventures, back in the day … I have fond memories of Zork.

TLBB Boss Illustrator Interview

“Generally speaking, there are three types of bosses that appear in games, the cute-type, abominable-type and fantasy-type.”
— Ying Shi

Multiplayer Online Games Directory recently published an interview with Ying Shi, an illustrator working for ChangYou on such projects as Tian Long Ba Bu (“The most powerful martial arts experience of your MMO life.”)

Tian Long Ba Bu

MPOGD: How many concepts do you go through to get to the right one when developing the characters?

YS: We can use our own ideas to create an image, but if we want the person or player to like what they see, then we need to take some time to think about what it is we want to design. Generally speaking, there are three types of bosses that appear in games, the cute-type, abominable-type and fantasy-type. These are factors to think about when designing and, at the same time, we need to consider the story of the boss life, where does he/she come from, whats the background, the reason the boss is an enemy and how/why they became the way they are.

MPOGD: TLBB is widely known for its authenticity to the book (Tian Long Ba Bu). What key ideas and features did you take from the book in order to create what we see today?

YS: Its important to bear in mind that the game has a genuine ancient Chinese martial arts feel to it and so highlighted areas such as the 9 nine different classes, the cities, the skills etc. are very influential. Weve tried to maintain a genuine feel to the book also, hence why the NPCs are named after characters in the original work of Louis Cha.

Multiplayer Online Games Directory

For more about the classes:

Arnie Katz Interview

Electronic GamingFrom an interview with Arnie Katz, co-founder of Electronic Games magazine, the first magazine dedicated entirely to video games:

Gamasutra: Have you followed casual games in the past few years?

Katz: To be honest, I put 20 years in playing games day and night, practically. They would not let me play any game for too long. If I liked a game, they shamed me into not playing. I did not play a game in 20 years when I was not thinking how to write it up, or edit it. You do that for a long time, and for me… it didn’t exactly burn me out, but it did reduce my enthusiasm.

Arnie Katz interview @ Gamasutra: December 28, 2009

Interview with Jackson Pope of Reiver Games

Over at A Year of Frugal Gaming, board game designer Jackson Pope of Reiver Games Border Reiverstalks about quitting his job in order to make games for a living:

The amount of a working computer game you can make in your own time is about a thousandth of a working computer game, whereas I thought I could make a boardgame and get it be a finished product. Over the next three years I worked on a game which eventually became Border Reivers. I was very happy with it but I put it in a tupperware box and left it on my shelf.

A couple of years later I came back to it and thought ‘Wait a minute, I’ve got a working finished game here so I might as well do something with it’. I worked out I could make 100 copies, largely by hand, and sell them over the internet and hopefully make a little bit of money, so I did and 11 months later I’d sold them all! During that time someone else had sent me another game, which became It’s Alive. I made 300 copies of that by hand and sold them over the internet in 11 months, at that point I took the mad decision to quit my job and try and do it full time.

Jackson Pope @ A Year of Frugal Gaming

Reiver Games
Reiver Games

Pope adds:

“I’ve been blogging on Creation and Play for three years now, most people initially heard about me on there or on BoardGameGeek, publicising my game. I’ve now had 150 submissions; some good, some awesome, some not so awesome.”

Interview posted by Dave @ A Year of Frugal Gaming