Thursday, December 13, 2007


In the near future, the RFIDs are going to be omnipresent, and used across everywhere.
Playing cards could also have RFIDs associated with it.
With technology advancing at such a rapid pace, the idea of surface computing becoming ubiquitous seems a reality.

This is an Idea for a technology based Card Game for children in Rural India.
Thus the scenario is a case in say 2020, where the children in rural India have access to technology in the schools.

Children in Rural India are often told stories from the great epics Mahabharata and the Ramayana and other religious texts. The idea is to enhance the story telling experience using technology and a lot of visuals. The another lying idea is to improve the knowledge about Indian Mythology amongst the children. Of late the trend of telling stories have stopped and hence the children do not get to know the stories that we have grown up with.

People are around a central table that is comprised of a matchbox, a playground , and the stack, that has all the set of cards in the deck. The idea is to match the set of cards one after the other. Every Myth card has a Character card that it is matched onto. The match can be found by placing these two match cards in the area of the table marked as Match box.

There are two set of cards. One the Myth set of card, and one the Character set of card. The game is played with 2 or more people.

The Myth Cards, will be comprising of myths associated with the particular God. The myths are in the form of visual clues and not in forms of text. This is so that the children can go above the reading barrier, and make ConneXions based on the visual clues.

If the correct match is made, the Matchbox plays a story with the ConneXions between the Myth and the Character.

The players are initially given 7 cards. The player have to pick from the stack of cards and if they do not need the card, throw it back in the playground. Any player can pick up any card from the playground at his/her turn.

If the set of cards in the stack are finished, the cards from the playground are taken and shuffled again and kept on the stack.

A bonus point is given if there is a match with three cards. A myth and Two Character Cards.
For Eg: If the Character cards, are of the elephant God Ganesh, and the Lord Shiva, One myth can find a story between them all. Thus this is a bonus point.

Who wins? The person who is able to tell the maximum stories or in other words, make the maximum ConneXions.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Designing Games for Rural Population

One of my interest lately has been designing for the rural population.
By rural population I mean the rural population in third world countries like India, and Africa. I believe that there is a whole lot of challenges involved in this and many a times the tried and tested methods and design patterns do not work in these cases.
I came across this paper today that deals with designing games for the children in rural India.
The paper titled: "Mobile Gaming with Children in Rural India: Contextual Factors in the Use of Game Design Patterns."

This is really interesting as in the paper its discussed that the general design patterns, become not so useful, as the context varies from one culture to the other. Similarly the cognitive understanding of games are completely different for children across cultures.

Using of identified game design patterns for expert game designers, the novice designers and the developers who are not designers is important to know. Many a times the standard design patterns do not work and its nothing short of suicidal to blindly follow them.

One of the things that i seek to find out is the parameters on which the design for games, and entertainment for that matter , are dependent on. This could also mean a design pattern of the rural population. How children interpret symbols, graphics, based on myths, based on society's superstitions...

The whole thing is proposed to be a part of the framework that I call the Rural Interaction Design framework.

Gamish Web Page Design

How does one make a web page more gamish?
What are the elements that play a role in creating a lively experience? What are the graphics and the colors that are to be used to target a younger age group of people using the website? What is the amount of text that one needs to put?
These are some of the questions that I seeked to answer when I redesigned the webpage of Dr Ralph's Bonus Years Diet Book.

Here's my take on the website.
The few things i tried to make it was make it look more gamish.
I wanted to play with the lively and joyful colors. Ultimately the book or the game should be resulting in joy for the user.

Also another thing that i wanted to target is the removal of a lot of text, and adding lot of images. Its more likely that the age group that we are targeting is going to like images and click more on it rather than read up a lot of text. I have I have also tried to follow Web 2.0 style of Visual Design by adding images to icons and also reflections and gradations.

Also the highlight of the book can be the game and that the full version would be available on purchase of the book.

The website however allows for the trial version download of the game and also allows the users to play the trial version online.
These villains can be refreshed every-time, based on a random command that selects the image every-time the page is refreshed.

The images and the graphics have been kept simple and cartoonish to make it look more gamish and more appealing to the younger age group.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Shoot'em All!

A LARP (Live Action Role Playing Game) based on the following two quotes.
"A photograph is worth a thousand words." "Everything in this world is connected in some way or the other"
The other idea on which this game is based is that everyone can take photograph and one does not need to be a photographer to take a photograph.
Everyone likes to take photographs.

All that is required here is loads of enthusiasm, crazy ways to connect things, a basic digital camera.
Every player in the game is a photographer. They could be a nature photographer, a portrait photographer, an abstract photographer etc.

The motivation behind the game is that we all like to click photographs and share photos with people. Its difficult for people to express when they are asked to draw, but anyone can take a photograph if given just slight instructions.

Players Profile:
Any number of people can play the game. There is no age limit to the age of the players. Ideally older people have more experience with things and hence the older the people, the more interesting stories are told. However,

The players meet up at a common location. The setting can be selected differently every-time. For example, the setting could be at the Navy Pier, or a county park, and the photographs taken in and around this location.
Shadow Play

Players are divided into teams and the game is time based. One person in a team acts as the chief photographer. Their is a healthy rivalry that exists between the teams.
The photographers shoot the photographs and hence they are called the shooters! If a player from team A "shoots" a player from team B by clicking his/her photograph in a front portrait position, the player from team B is disqualified and hence they cannot take part further in the shooting photographs part. There could be further ways in which a shooter could get disqualified!

However, this disqualified person can take part in the second part of the game, which is to form connections between things and also build stories!

The players collaborate at the end of the stipulated time and collaborate to create a story. The idea is to create a story based on the photographs collected. Every photograph can have an interpretation in a particular manner and put into the story accordingly. Every photograph has a story or an intention as to why it was clicked.

Who Wins?
There are no winners as such in the game as the idea is to learn and play and go creative at the same time.
The idea is to create story everytime, and have fun while doing so!

A must for every designer!


A Learn, Look, Ask and Try approach to finding out the different processes, terminologies used by a designer / design consultancy firm.

Just Brilliant stuff!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The War on Terror

Thoughts behind a computer based game on "The war of Terror":
Can a game have multi-player model? Can each of the players have separate task to accomplish in-order to win the game?
Can a villain of a game win? Can a villain have their own set of goals and that is negative.

About the game:
This is a role based game. The player(s) selects the role every-time they start a game. The game works on a multi-player model.
There are multiple aims of the game, depending on the role of the people playing the game.
A person can be a paramedics person, a FBI /CIA official, Terrorist (the bad guy), a soldier. These are the main characters in the stage.

The aim of the paramedics person is to help lives without getting hit by the attacks themselves.
The aim of the soldiers is to track down the terrorists and shoot them down, without dying themselves.
The aim of the FBI / CIA officials is to find hidden clues and hints and other information from various sources and give information to the army to catch it.
The aim of the terrorist i to create more mayhem and cause more trouble. His aim would be to destroy the city and kill more lives.

The game is based on the premise of fighting terror on planet earth. There could be various ways in which a person is being a part of the help from terror. This comes out of a need that we often fail to help in the times of the humanitarian needs when a terror strikes at a particular place.

Its a multi-player game with people able to share resources. Multiple nations can get together to attack against a terrorist organization, and similarly, multiple terrorist organizations can target one or many nations. Information can be shared from across countries officials.
This because some countries have a very good land army, and some may have an excellent supply of ambulances.
It builds on the theme of sharing resources.

Age group: 15-30 years.
Number of players required: Minimum 1, Maximum: can be any number.

At the beginning of the game, a overview of the situation is given to the person. The player selects their role from the prompt that is given to them.
After the player has selected the role in which they want to play, a player enters the situation of the game in that position.
For example : An attack has happened in the downtown area of the town. The special forces are called in. If there are multiple people who play , then the computer is not involved. If there is a shortage of players then apart from the role that is played by the player, the remaining players are played by the computer. The different players select the roles and start the game.

The idea is to have the terrorist killed, save more lives, or kill a certain number of people.
In all the cases all the people are also playing simultaneously.

How do the people playing the game win?
Role: CIA/FBI Officer :- The clues are connected and able to spot the target terrorist correctly. This is only possible by connecting the clues that the player keeps getting. If an Officer fires at a terrorist / or a terrorist place, they gain points. If they accidentally fire at the paramedics, they loose points.

Role: Paramedics: If they are able to help the specified injured people to safety and in the process let minimum lives die they win. This depends entirely on the fact that how many were the initial casualty.

Role: Soldier : If they are able to track down the terrorist, find out where they are, and combat with them without themselves dying, they win. If the set of terrorist is more than one, the player has to kill all of them to win.

Role: Terrorist : If the player is able to kill all the people in a certain time frame or cause maximum carnage in a stipulated time.

All the tasks are time based. If a soldier is not able to kill in certain time, he gets negative points.
Similar things can be arranged for the other roles.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nurturing a baby...

Have you ever tried doing that?

Its happening.
The baby is being nurtured... The baby here is the "Bonus Year Game" for Dr Chef.
The Final Game is developing... and everyday the excitement level seems to be increasing.

Of late I started to analyze how difficult it is to be a game designer. Its challenging but its fun!
Its no easy profession.

The level of planning that goes in the development of each character, each frame, each flow, each level, each prop in the game.
the work s mind boggling.

Add to it the theory being given by our Prof Thom, along with the information from the Theory of Fun book by Raph Koster is really interesting.

Its interesting the moment you start to think about a game being designed you tend to add thousand features, only to realize late that actually nine hundred of them would actually not add to the overall experience of a game.

The theory point of a game is what we miss at times and its a pleasure to read this book.

Often, as a photographer and a designer I have felt that any system(photograph, video, game) would only be pleasurable to use, if there is a certain degree of fun associated with it. The way we not define fun is interesting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


This is a concept for a board game based on the book "The Bonus Years Diet" by Ralph Felder and Carol Colman.
The catch line of the book says: 7 miracle foods including Chocolate, RedWine, and Nites that can add 6.4 years on average to yourlife!

Now thats interesting! Isn't it! Almost every health doctor you visit, they would tell to avoid these food! And here is this person saying to have it!
You should definitely check out the recipes in the book!

The game setting :
We have a 2dimensional board (that can later be extended to 3d board) , this is a checkered
board like the ones on a chess board.

The crossings are called the nodes and there are some nodes that are called the Check Points.
The nodes are the points that contain the different kinds of food. Thus there is a bonus food or a junk food that is kept at the nodes.

Each cell contains some vital information based on the book. Some entertaining information about food that people would generally not know. This informatio could also mean some medicinal and calorific values of some food.

Some of the nodes in the grid will contain Check points. The purpose of these check points is that the players can exchange their collected food for recipes and accordingly get points.

The game play:
Two or more players can play the game and the idea is to collect as many recipes and points as possible and not let the points fall to zero at any time. The first person to reach zero points loses.

The idea is to travel along the paths across the board. There is no start or end points but the players can decide on a common place to start. (In the diagram it is shown by the yellow star. This can be changed after each game).
The turn is played on a dice and whatever number a player gets, they have to move that much places. The constraint however is that the move can be only vertical or horizontal and not diagonal.

On moving from one node to other , the nodes crossed gives the corresponding food (depicted on a card). This obtained card could be a bonus card or a junk card. Note that the collecting too much junk food maybe harmful for your body and hence carry less or negative points. At the nodes that the person crosses, they get points accordingly. Note that the bonus carry positive health points and the other junk food carry negative health points.

The aim of the game is not to let the points reach zero. Or in other words not to let the health of the player to reduce to zero.

The users can select any path to traverse and on reaching a node that is a check point, they can exchange their card for recipes. For each recipe there is a certain amount of bonus points associated.

The recipes are decided before hand and they can get the list of recipes beforehand. This way they can decide which path they should take in order to go to a particular check point to collect that recipe.

If the player decides to cross another person's path, the person whose path is crossed has to move one place in the direction that the first person chooses.

This game can be further developed to become a 3d maze where the players are required to go through a 3d environment to do the same thing. To make things more interesting, the walls could be made of chocolate, and the streams in the game could be wine streams!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Osama -The movie

I have no connections with the Taliban or Afghanistan. i am an artist and am just appreciating a great piece of art.

This is one of the most beautiful movies that I have ever seen.
The story of the Taliban times in Afghanistan, where females working are against the law.
This is a story of hope... It is a story of despair..It is a story of fate..Its a story where marriages turn into death prayer meetings...

The brilliance of the actors are evident in each frame and is truly captivating.
A lady looses her husband to the Taliban and her son in the war. Thus she is left with no males in the family. Her only hope of survival is to make her daughter a boy.

Soon the girl, who turns into a boy finds herself in an unknowm world. A world of oggling eyes, a world of roughness. A world that is too mean to be lived in. She is caught as a boy to be recruited and trained as the next generation Taliban.

Accompanied by brilliant photography and excellent direction, this is a must watch for the photo buffs.

Osama went on to win the Best Foreign Film award at the Golden Globe awards in 2004.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yes, you saw it right! Its not that I have missed out the Y in the Friday.
Its Frida. Spelt as F R I D A.
She is intellgent! She is a courageous woman! She is beautiful! She is a brilliant painter.
She is Frida. She is Salma Hayek.

Nominated for six Academy awards in 2002, it managed to win one. Salma Hayek was also nominated in the best actress category. This is one movie that is really interesting. Its about the artists in Mexico in the times of the revolution. The protanogists in the movie, Frida and Diego are two artists who share one common love. The love for painting.
Whats really interesting in the movie is the transition from the picasso-like paintings to the real world. The paintings by Frida reflect a lot about her current mindset and what she is going through. This is not really evident in what we see of her, but it is evident in the paintings.
Each of the paintings speak a lot and one can spend hours interpreting it. And then only to come back after some time and re-interpreting it another way.
This is based on a true story of : Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907July 13, 1954) was a Mexican painter who depicted the indigenous culture of her country in a style combining Realism, Symbolism and Surrealism. An active communist, she was married to Mexican muralist and cubist painter Diego Rivera. She was known for her self-portraits, often expressing her physical pain and suffering through symbolism. In the last three decades she has gained admiration in Europe and the US. In 2002, Julie Taymor directed a biographical movie about Kahlo (Frida; Salma Hayek starred). The film sparked even further interest in Kahlo's life and work. Her house in Coyoacán, Mexico is a museum and visited by a large number of tourists every year.

The frames are lovely and the treatment spectacular! Its a visual Delight. There is no or very less violence, but there is drama. And there is passion in the shots. I would highly recommend it for people interested in art.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sanctuary makers

Come, lets create more sanctuaries and wildlife preserves for our planet!

The idea is inspired by this clip on creating the Gabon wildlife sanctuaries.
Gabons Parks Tribeca

The idea is to build a sanctuary / wildlife preserve based on the geographic conditions of the place.
Each location would be different for the 4 players.
Each location would require a different combination of resources to make a sanctuary.
Thus, say for Africa region they would require this combination.
A sanctuary here would comprise of 2 water body, atleast 3 species of trees, 3 species of animals.

Similarly for another region the combination required would be different. This combination would be revealed by the winning player only at the end of the game.

4 players start with the 7 different cards.

The goal is to collect the 8 cards to generate a sanctuary. The combination of cards required would be based on the location.
The 8th card would be the final card that they would pick up when they think that including would make the desired combination.

Total number of cards in the stack 48. (7 each of Creators and Destroyers i.e. 42 +3 UN Forces + 3 Ice Age)

The sanctuary creators :
An animal card.
A tree card.
Any water body card.
The UN Forces Card (the player can use this card as any other one resource card, this is the TRUMP CARD.)

The sanctuary destroyers:
The drought (the water body has dried up, player gives up the water body card)
The heat (trees have burnt out , the player has to submit one of his tree card)
The poachers (the player gives up one of the animals card)
The Ice Age Card (the player who gets this card looses after submitting all their card. This card is to be kept in the stack after the first round of distribution of cards has taken place).

Game Play and Rules:
After every turn, a player has to select a card from the stack of cards and submit one on the play area. The next player in turn may pick this card up or take the card from the stack. The selected card is not to be shown to the other users. However if the player gets the Ice Age card,
they have to show it and exit from the game. At this stage all the cards of the leaving player are also added to stack along with the Ice age card and shuffled again.

If a player gets a sanctuary destroyer card and does not have the resource, they have to give up any two resources that they possess. This can be their choice as to which ones they want to give up.

In case of the player having lost all their card, they loose, and are out of the game.

The player who is able to create a sanctuary first with the desired combination is the winner!

This could also be used as a game to increase awareness about the environment about a particular location. There is a good amount of learning involved, since this makes the players aware of the various factors that responsible for the destruction of wildlife and sanctuaries.

The Sanctuary Creators and the Sanctuary Destroyers cards could be further designed based specifically on a particular location and make the game more demanding.

The Pic-Story Tellers

Can story telling be done in a community ? Can each person tell a part of the story and the story is changed every-time a storyteller has their input? This is the inspiration behind this community game.
This is a multi-player card game based on the ancient puzzle of “tangrams”. The ideal age group is between 8-12 years. The game is designed to be played by two or more people. Ideally there should be four people.

The idea behind the game is to improve the player’s story telling capacity and also have some amount of learning at the end of the game. Creating connections with various pictures would enhance creative thinking. We have the players start with a set of 8 cards each.
There are two sets of cards in the pack. Each of these cards of the game has either of these things; it’s either a part of the tangram (the seven pieces), or it’s a picture made out of the tangram. The users would be given 6 cards from the picture cards and 2 from the puzzle card.
In the stack is also a "trump card" that is to be used as a missing piece in any combination that can be tried out. The stack would contain 2 trump cards, 2 cards of each of the seven pieces and 14 other cards. All the cards in the stack are shuffled and kept at one place. Thus assuming that 4 people are playing the game the total number of cards would be (2+ 14 + 14 + 32) i.e. 62 cards.

The picture cards also has the DID YOU KNOW section that contains some interesting information about the character in the card.

Fig: The Picture cards, the trump card and the Puzzle cards

Fig detail of the picture card.

The players have to play two cards at a time and then select two cards from the stack. The stacked cards contain the pictures cards and as well as the cards containing one of the seven pieces of the tangram. The player who starts playing is to throw two cards which have some pictures made out of the tangram. However, they have to start a story by using those cards. So the next player builds onto the story by adding another two cards and having to change the story based on the cards they are playing. This process continues in a circular manner.

When the user selects the two cards on each turn, from the stack of cards they can get two things. One could get the piece card, or the other picture card.
The users who manages to get all the seven cards in the puzzle first , is able to use this as the second card in the set and put an end to the story. This person is declared the winner.

Rules of the Game
1) The story that a player tells has to contain the keywords from the cards and the sentence has to make sense. The characters in the story are defined from the chart available with the various players.
2) The next player has to build a story from where the previous player has left and continue thereafter.
3) The player who plays the card must select two cards for every set of two cards that they throw.
4) For every turn there are these activities that need to be performed.
a) Tell a story using the two cards played.
b) Pick up two cards and keep in his stock.
c) They could also choose to trade any one card of their with one card on the stack.
5) The players are allowed not allowed to exchange card amongst themselves. All dealings need to be done through the stack of cards.
6) The trump card present in the stack could be used as a missing piece in the tangram. This can signify any other geometric shape only. These pieces are rare and only two of them are present in the stack.
7) The person who puts all the pieces of the tangram together first is the winner. However this player has to use his set of images to tell the final part story.
8) In the case of the win, the winner would be having 8 cards. Seven to use as one picture and the eight cards to complete the two cards required to tell add to the story.

The idea is to generate the concept of story telling in children and also help them gain a significant amount of learning by doing so! Playing card games can be fun!

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Settlers of Catan

The one game that I love to play is The Settlers of Catan. The fact that I was never a board game addict and I got hooked onto it, explains it! There are few things that have really got me hooked onto this game and I never seem to have enough of it. Spending hours playing it is been the case since I started playing it. It helps to relax and is interesting!

The Game Plan:

The uninhabited island of Catan needs to be built with settlements and that can be done by multiple traders (the players) who have the resources as Wood, Bricks, Ore, Sheep and Wheat to make roads, settlements and city. Each settlement is worth 1 point and a city is 2 points. And then there are other ways to earn points. The first player to earn 10 victory points wins the game. Random maps are created each time you play, so each game provides a new and exciting challenge. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles. Owing to this randomness, every game will have a different resource that is rare! What strategies worked in the last game will not work in the next!
So the idea is, to be the dominant force on the island each time you step onto it!

This is how typical board in Settlers looks like.

Image copyright :
Andreas Steinhoff, images used through Wikimedia, Creative Commons.

The reason why I love this game is that the game allows you to focus on multiple things at a time.

I just love the randomness involved with the game. Every time the board is laid out, there is a different terrain. Thus it becomes extremely important to know where to build settlements.

There is the probability factor involved, wherein one has to know that the number 6 and 7 are the most probable numbers rolled as a combination of the dice. And accordingly place settlements and build roads. 

There is trading involved so you learn the rules of business and at times end up making deals.
Trading is the main method of player interaction in the game; astute trading is another route to victory.

There's teamwork involved at times where two or three people conspire against the person with the most points and refuse to trade with him/her. This way they have to wait for the right resource or make further strategies how to gain that resource.

There is also a Luck factor involved and hence there may be a case where the robber is sitting at the resource you are on, and people keep throwing that number time after time! It's fun and at the same time frustrating for the players! However, bad luck in the game can be mitigated by trading.

The adaptability of the game after each turn is something exciting. After each turn you have to figure out what the other person in planning to do and hence plan accordingly. There may be instances where your roads are blocked and you just cannot make further settlements!

Lastly the surprise element! With a certain set of cards one can trade for a development card! What's exciting is that these are like trump cards. They can contain victory points, or they can contain other things like build 2 roads, or collect 2 resource cards or a monopoly card, where you collect all of one particular resource from the other players! This adds a twist in the tale, as you may be planning on doing something, and then the opponent(s) plays this card! So all your plans needs to be re-worked upon!

This is one addictive game!