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John Sutherland's Blog   Expert Blogs


John Sutherland was a game writer and story doctor at Microsoft Game Studios for 14 years before leaving to form in 2010. He started his career in games working with Alexey Pajitnov, creator of Tetris, and along the way worked on the Combat Flight Simulator series, Mass Effect, and Alan Wake.

The mission of is to get the industry thinking of story in much broader terms, as conflict instead of chatter. The first article about story as conflict on Gamasutra can be found here:

Links to other fascinating things, including articles, videos, and contact information, are on


Expert Blogs

Posted by John Sutherland on Thu, 05 Sep 2013 11:44:00 EDT in Design, Smartphone/Tablet
Part of the joy of winning a game is overcoming the challenges that could make you lose. But what if a game was okay with you losing? If losing become fun, does it destroy the pleasure of winning?

Posted by John Sutherland on Wed, 03 Nov 2010 03:34:00 EDT in Design
Kinect is finally here, and now you can do things like dance, jump, and pet your baby tiger without a game controller. There's a dual reaction to this: it's amazing that it can be done, but is that all there is? Why there will be more...

John Sutherland's Comments

Comment In: [Blog - 09/05/2013 - 11:44]

Thanks for your thoughts on ...

Thanks for your thoughts on this, both of you. Kyle, I 'm sorry if I wasn 't clear, you DO get to progress, even if you lose. That 's the radical thing I 'm attempting: detaching winning from progression. r n r nMy point is, the primary satisfaction of the ...

Comment In: [Feature - 07/27/2005 - 12:00]

Thanks, William, I really appreciate ...

Thanks, William, I really appreciate that UI elements like button prompts and onscreen instructions are things to avoid, I think, but there are some elements we forgive in games as part of the willing suspension of disbelief. That said, we shouldn't push it. There are never any absolute rules, but ...

Comment In: [Blog - 11/03/2010 - 03:34]

You make a good point, ...

You make a good point, David, and several other people here are with you: sometimes, it's more immersive to have some tactile sensation in your hands. My point was only about traditional game controllers since it's unlikely that the game story involves that very object, it's likely you'll have some ...