Game Journal 1.5: Ten Games You Played As A Child

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In my last post I created a game with a passive player. I also included a short blurb to describe what I consider a passive player. This exercise challenges you to list ten games you played as a child and describe what you liked most about them.

Exercise 1.5

When I was 6 or 7 I had a best friend right down the street. Tyler was totally into video games, and better yet his dad got him nintendo, SNES and SEGA as soon as they came out — in addition to a number of game cartridges for it. Tyler was one of the reasons I started playing and love video games. I can remember spending hours on the floor beside him trying to beat the next boss or get to the next level and our pieces of paper with all the skip level passwords on them. Yeah, that’s right. When I started playing video games there were no saved games, only special passwords or codes that would advance you back to the level where you last left off. So thank you Tyler for all those hours we spent trying to beat Shredder on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  1. Mario for original Nintendo. This was the first game I felt like I could play over and over again without ever getting tired of it. Even though the controls were so simple (jump, duck, fire a fireball) this game was, and still is, one of the most challenging platform games I’ve ever played. One of my favorite things about this game was all the surprises that kept cropping up as you played it – hidden 1ups, beanstalks, and tubes with bonus coins or fire flowers.
  2. Donkey Kong for original Nintendo. I loved this game because it was simple and challenging. I don’t think I ever got past level 3 but that never stopped me from playing it again and again. I loved not knowing where the barrels were going to fall and the crazy mad dance of the monkey when you finally get the top of the level and save the princess.
  3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for SNES. I probably played this game with my friend Tyler more than any other game. I remember we used to fight over who was going to be Donatello and who was going to be Leo. This is the first two player game I remember playing with someone. I know the graphics were bad and the sound was pretty pitiful but I think this game holds a place in my heart because it was the first one I experienced in 2-player mode — and that made everything else seem unimportant.
  4. Pac Man the Arcade Game. I used to take Gynmastics when I was little and one of the things I loved about the place was the old Pac Man machine they had in the lobby. I use to waste quarters on it several times a week waiting for my mom to come pick me up from the gym. What I liked about this game was the foresight and planning it required. You had to think long term — keep in mind where all the ghosts were going, and save your power dots until the last minute.
  5. Mario Kart for SNES. This was the first racing game I ever played with my friend Tyler. I used to kick his butt in this game and he hated every minute of it. What I liked most about this game was the clever use of items to give you advantages over other racers, and the obstacles on the course that could give you the speed boost you needed or condemn you at the same time as you weren’t paying attention and fell off the side of a bridge.
  6. Super Mario World for SNES. This game was a cool mix of puzzles and reflexes. I loved the new items and the take off spin on the original Mario game. However what I loved best was the introduction of Yoshi. This was the first game I played where you could use another character beside your own character’s skill to complete a level.
  7. Sonic the Hedgehog for SEGA. This game was all about speed and reflexes. I loved the fast pace, quick to finish levels and the fact that I could play as a secondary character (Tails) without worry about dying and as a helping addition to the first player — without being the main player.
  8. Kirby for the original game boy. This was my first game on my game boy that I couldn’t put down. I’d spend hours trying to eat things and “puff” fly away from enemies. I loved the music, cute graphics, and the simple controls.
  9. Tetris for the original game boy. Okay, so I rock at Tetris. Although it was also available on SNES I’ve always felt this game was best played on a small screen where you could curl up on a couch and work your way through the simplest and most challenging five blocks invented.
  10. Paperboy for SNES. I loved this game for the random events and occurrences that would pop up but it was way too hard to play for more than a few levels. However this makes my list because this was the first game I played that took it’s inspiration from real life and made it into a game.

Game Journal 1.4: Create A Game With A Passive Player

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In my last entry I created 5 games inspired by my every day life. This next exercise challenges you to start a game journal and design a new game every day. Since I’m already doing all the exercises from this book as my game journal I’m going to nix this exercise in favor of my own 🙂

Exercise 1.4

Create a game with a passive player. I guess the first thing I have to do is explain my definition of a passive player. A passive player cannot interact directly with the game, only indirectly. Direct interaction is anything the player does to change the state, status, movement, characters coordinates, or any other variables in the game. Therefore a passive player cannot use any sort of input device to interact with the game, including devices like the playstation Eye and the xbox Move.


The game I came up with is called Pinpoint. It uses the GPS on your 3G phone. Aside from installing the game the player cannot interact with the game screen or any notification that’s displayed — not even to start/stop the game. The game runs as a background process so it’s always active when your phone is on.

As far as gameplay goes, think of trying to find a needle in a haystack. Each level in Pinpoint challenges you to find a location containing the object it’s looking for. For instance, level one asks you to find a certain brand of coffee. As you travel around during your normal day Pinpoint sends you “hot” and “cold” messages when you move closer to or further away from a location with the target item. When you reach a location with the target item you get a level up and can start looking for the next item. Pinpoint has two modes, easy and hard. In easy mode you’re told what the object is at the start of every level. In hard mode you’re never told what the object is until you find a location that has it.

There is no ultimate winner or looser in Pinpoint. A high score board–shown each time you find a new object–will keep you up to date as to where you rank against other Pinpoint players.