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Lewis Pulsipher's Blog   Expert Blogs


Dr. Lew Pulsipher started playing boardgames more than 50 years ago. He designed his own games, then discovered strategic "realistic" gaming with early Avalon Hill wargames, and ultimately earned a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history. His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish” was published in July 2012 by McFarland. He contributed to ETC Press' Analog: Tabltop Game Design.  Formerly contributing editor to several role-playing game magazines and author of over a hundred game magazine articles, he is designer of Britannia (UK, US, and Germany in separate editions), Dragon Rage, Valley of the Four Winds, Swords and Wizardry, and Diplomacy Games & Variants. Britannia (2nd edition) appeared in 2006, with foreign editions (German, French, Spanish, Hungarian) in 2008. It was described in an Armchair General review of a 2006 edition as "ready to continue on as one of the great titles in the world of games".

Latest published game, Dragon Rage, 2011.  Forthcoming very soon, Sea Kings, after successful Kickstarter.

Latest published book, Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish, 2012.

Online audiovisual courses at

  • Learning Game Design
  • Brief Introduction to Game Design
  • How to Design Levels/Adventures for Video and Tabletop Games
  • Get a Job in the Video Game Industry
  • How to Write Clear Rules (and game design documents)
  • The Joys of Game Design (hobbiest game design)

Current projects are at PulsipherGames.Com.

YouTube "Game Design" channel:

Game design blog:



Expert Blogs

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 17 Nov 2014 03:44:00 EST in Business/Marketing, Design, Programming, Production, Art
The East Coast Game Conference (“The largest gathering of video game professionals on the East Coast”) occurs annually in April in Raleigh NC. This is a description of this year's conference.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 20 Oct 2014 02:36:00 EDT in Design
This was created for the benefit of relatively inexperienced game designers, as "pros" know it already. But summaries are often useful. The video (screencast) is more than 14 minutes long.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 29 Sep 2014 01:05:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Serious, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Aspiring designers often think they're going to get rich. Actually game design is a hobby for most, not a living. But there are many reasons other than money to design games. My favorite game is the game of designing games, though I do make some money.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 25 Aug 2014 08:02:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Smartphone/Tablet
Video (screencast): D&D has been a massive influence on video and tabletop games. With thanks to . . . Robert Fulghum’s little poem “All I really needed to know I learned in kindergarten.” It has inspired people since the late ‘80s.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 14 Jul 2014 08:23:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Video: Emergent behavior, behavior unplanned and unanticipated by the designer, is a large part of what you're looking for in playtesting. But depending on who you are, game designer, puzzle designer, game writer, you treat emergence in different ways.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 30 Jun 2014 06:41:00 EDT in Design
The 140 character maximum of tweets makes Twitter look like a haven for the ADHD and "sound byte"-mesmerized among us. Despite that limitation, it can be useful for certain purposes to a game designer.

Lewis Pulsipher's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 11/10/2014 - 02:16]

Links to discussions of the ...

Links to discussions of the effects of advantage and disadvantage, which vary with the kind of number high or medium you 're trying to achieve. Certainly it isn 's 25 . r n r nIt 's a really clever mechanic, if you understand it correctly. r n r n r ...

Comment In: [Blog - 10/15/2014 - 02:02]

If your game is a ...

If your game is a continuous series of events that lead causally from one to the other, then you are maximizing the amount of unique situations that can occur. I think this idea is counter-intuitive to many, who think that random events occurring somewhere in there must increase the amount ...

Comment In: [Blog - 12/17/2013 - 05:18]

Much of the discussion of ...

Much of the discussion of game design theory hinges on semantics. Unfortunately, trying to define win and lose is hopeless simply because of differing perceptions of game players. r n r nFor example, let s take one of the most competitive games in existence, the boardgame Diplomacy. Draws are quite ...

Comment In: [Blog - 08/22/2014 - 10:24]

Hell the reason so so ...

Hell the reason so so so many games that come out suck is many people in this industry arent that good, the last thing they need is for someone more knowledgeable, talented, and experienced pointing it out to upper management and the world. Exactly. r n r nThe prevalence of ...

Comment In: [Blog - 06/20/2014 - 11:21]

. . . peoples willingness ...

. . . peoples willingness to pay is linked to their perceived value. That doesn 't seem to fit. Go back enough years and if you wanted a particular oldie song you might end up buying a Best Hits CD, or later, perhaps find it on iTunes. But as young ...

Comment In: [Blog - 06/09/2014 - 09:04]

By the way: If I ...

By the way: If I regarded myself as a professional story-maker, I certainly wouldn 't use the word narrative to describe what I was doing. Everything humans do has a narrative, an account of what happened, but that narrative is rarely of interest to other people. Driving to the store ...