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Bart Stewart's Blog


Avid game design theorist; experienced programmer and software project manager; first (noncommercial) game developed was a real-time multiplayer space combat sim for IBM mainframes in 1985. Gaming-related interests include "deep" gameplay, Explorer/Simulationist gameplay, psychology of gamers, player-centered design, massively multiplayer game design, and industry trends. Personal game design blog at:


Member Blogs

Posted by Bart Stewart on Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:33:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC
A month before its release, Watch Dogs is being described as having a highly dynamic world conducive to thoughtful exploration, but also as having simplified mechanics better suited to exciting action. Which impression is more accurate? Both? Neither?

Posted by Bart Stewart on Tue, 17 Jan 2012 01:41:00 EST in Design
In which we consider how the careful selection of gameplay elements can burn a game into our hearts and minds.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Sat, 20 Aug 2011 01:13:00 EDT in Design
Game developers often try to find and remove all unexpected interactions in the belief that anything not intended is likely to be a bug. But this may be unnecessarily preventing the development of games in which surprise is a necessary feature.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Fri, 23 Jul 2010 05:51:00 EDT in Design
Since Warren Spector demonstrated Epic Mickey at E3 2010, there's been a microburst of gaming media coverage of his design philosophy that "play style matters." It's about time.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Sat, 13 Mar 2010 03:41:00 EST in Design
At GDC 2010, Blizzard EVP of Game Design Rob Pardo described a number of design concepts behind Blizzard's games. While these are obviously successful for Blizzard's games, they can be seen as working only for simple action games. There are other kinds.

Posted by Bart Stewart on Mon, 01 Mar 2010 06:11:00 EST in Design
The online reaction to Jesse Schell's DICE 2010 presentation can be understood as a reaction to computer gaming becoming a mass entertainment form. Where early gamers enjoyed intangible immersion, today's typical gamer now expects tangible rewards.

Bart Stewart's Comments

Comment In: [Feature - 05/21/2014 - 02:00]

John Flush 's comment nails ...

John Flush 's comment nails what I came back to this resuscitated article to say. The more time played, the greater the investment the more investment, the greater the pain of a Game Over screen. I think Todd Howard 's response was telling when he was asked what lessons he ...

Comment In: [News - 05/18/2015 - 04:07]

Why was it necessary to ...

Why was it necessary to create an antagonist for this piece: the dread Invisible Hand of Capitalism, smiling the pure and noble creators of educational games r n r nThat unnecessary editorializing weakens an otherwise very good piece that asks an interesting question. r n r nIt 's unnecessary since ...

Comment In: [Blog - 05/11/2015 - 02:32]

This is a nicely-written piece, ...

This is a nicely-written piece, but if I 'm being honest it feels like a justification for enjoying hard games. r n r nHow to handle difficulty, to me, comes down to a simple question: who is this game for r n r nHard games, games advertised for their difficulty, ...

Comment In: [Blog - 05/04/2015 - 01:51]

Voluntary and autotelic seem reasonable. ...

Voluntary and autotelic seem reasonable. We distinguish work from play, and the latter requirement feels analogous to the idea of the magic circle. r n r nBut I can 't get away from the idea that something more is needed. These two things on their own could include one-time experiences ...

Comment In: [News - 04/28/2015 - 04:44]

I 'm so sorry to ...

I 'm so sorry to hear this. r n r nI had a few conversations with greglas back in the day at Terra Nova. He was always friendly and willing to discuss a newcomer 's enthusiastic ideas that he had thought through carefully long before . r n r nMy ...

Comment In: [Blog - 04/23/2015 - 04:33]

Let 's take this to ...

Let 's take this to its logical conclusion: saving one 's progress in a game is bad and evil. Any player attempting to reload a game will be given a painful electrical shock to discourage them from trying to avoid the punishments decreed for them by a game 's developer ...