I'd love to help you and your team expand your audience by developing your game's focus on care and characters

Two years ago I stumbled across a theory of stress psychology that showed me that game design is grossly incomplete! As game designers we tend to interpret the theory of flow in a way that manages a balance between adrenaline and dopamine in our players. But not everyone reacts to stress with adrenaline and dopamine. Not everyone enjoys being frustrated in a game. 

Inspired by that discovery, I've spent the past two years investigating alternate reward frameworks for reaching new audiences. I'm building up a new theory of game design based on these frameworks. 

I can offer expertise in the following areas:

  • Mechanics inspired by the theory of tend-and-befriend, providing oxytocin/opioid rewards.
  • Mechanics inspired by personality psychology and positive psychology as further reward frameworks beyond adrenaline/dopamine.
  • The design of modular narrative and deep, rich character systems.

I'm very interested in supporting you in integrating these types of rewards into either your core loop or your side content. 

I'm available both for one-day workshops or to follow your project on a recurring schedule. Please contact me with any requests. 


 

Game Design Workshops

 

Love Drugs: The Workshop

In a world where we are all overwhelmed with constant shock and change, many of us are looking for relief. Meanwhile, video game designers tend to interpret the theory of flow in a way that manages a balance between adrenaline and dopamine in our players. But it turns out that not everyone reacts to stress with adrenaline and dopamine. Not everyone enjoys being frustrated in a game. 

Humans tend to have two stress responses: fight-or-flight, involving adrenaline and dopamine, and tend-and-befriend, involving oxytocin or vasopressin and opioids. In this first half of this workshop we’ll discuss what tend-and-befriend is, how it works, how it feels, and how to use it in game design. We’ll discuss what it means for game progression and introduce a set of specific mechanics that can leverage it. In the second half, we’ll discuss your games and brainstorm specific ways to integrate tend-and-befriend, considering both the core loop and any potential side content. 

Audience: Creative directors, game directors and designers, world directors and designers, narrative directors and designers, AI programmers, and gameplay programmers. 

Takeaway: A process for game conception and development for new audiences, and frameworks for designing mechanics based on rewards from stress psychology, personality psychology, and positive psychology. 

 

More coming soon...


Other

 

Team Management: The Workshop

What makes and keeps a strong, creative, cohesive game development team?

Drawing on my 10 years’ experience managing teams on projects ranging from Assassin’s Creed to Child of Light to my own indie studio Tru Luv Media, I’ll discuss how to build a strong team culture and how to keep it through the stresses and changing requirements of game production. I’ll discuss my biggest successes, failures, and surprises along the way, and what I find works best now that I’m working with smaller teams.

Through the workshop we’ll do a range of exercises together as well as brainstorm around some of the specific management challenges you are facing now.

Audience: Managers, leads, and directors building and leading teams of less than 40 people.

Takeaway: Frameworks, processes, and new solutions for your specific team management challenges.