Design fiction: IKEA Catalog from the future

Design fiction, writes Josh Tanenbaum, uses fictional depictions of future technology to tell a story about the world in which that technology is situated: it uses narrative structures to explore and communicate the possible futures for technology. Julian Bleecker of Near Future Labs is one of the first and foremost proponents of these techniques, and he has recently collaborated with Mobile Life Stockholm to create a fictional “IKEA Catalog from the future”. He writes “In the end, our Design Fiction Ikea catalog is a way to talk about a near future. It is not a specification, nor is it an aspiration or prediction. The work the catalog does – like all Design Fictions – is to encourage conversations about the kinds of near futures we’d prefer, even if that requires us to represent near futures we fear”.

Read Bleecker’s writeup and download the Design Fiction IKEA Catalog at

Josh Tanenbaum’s article on Design Fiction and HCI is available at (behind a paywall)

Book: Narrative as Virtual Reality 2, Marie-Laure Ryan

Illya Szilak has reviewed Marie-Laure Ryan’s new volume Narrative as Virtual Reality 2. She writes “This lucidly written updated book addresses virtual reality (VR) not as a medium associated with specific hardware, but more loosely as a form of storytelling primarily concerned with immersion and interactivity, […] placing VR in a continuum of storytelling and media (visual art, conventional and digital literature especially hypertext, and computer games) and pre-digital immersive experiences like Baroque architecture, children’s make-believe, ritual, and some forms of theater such as Artaud’s Theater of Cruelty”. Continue reading

Blog: If you think VR is the sole future of games, think again

Aki Järvinen is an accomplished game theorist (I personally like his paper on applied ludology), and he just posted an insightful blog on VR and game design. He writes: “Honestly, is VR all we can come up with when speculating about the future of games? My point here is to provoke discussion on for what kind of games is VR the probable future, and perhaps more interestingly, for what kinds of games it perhaps is not. Please note that the timeline I am talking about here is around 2 to 5 years: How will fun and games change? What will Santa bring, come 2017, 2018, or even 2021?” Continue reading

Interactive novel: SC2VN, a digital comic about Starcraft players

“SC2VN is a visual novel about the South Korean Starcraft 2 scene. You play as Mach, a foreign semi-pro trying to make it in eSports”. This a an example of the relatively little-known interactive-novel genre, and I’m particularly interested in how it meta-reflects on game culture by telling a story about professional Starcraft players. From the Ars Technica review: “The game does a transcendent job of matching big-budget documentaries in communicating the love of e-sports”. Continue reading

Free ebook: Game Research Methods. An Overview

Petri Lankoski and Staffan Björk have edited a book titled “Game Research Methods: An Overview”. Since I’ve been giving advice to students about conducting game-related research, this might be a precious (and free) resource. From the official page: “This book provides an introduction to various game research methods that are useful to students in all levels of higher education covering both quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods. In addition, approaches using game development for research is described. Each method is described in its own chapter by a researcher with practical experience of applying the method to topic of games”. Continue reading

Free ebook: Game Educator’s Handbook

The Game Educator’s Handbook, edited by J. Tuomas Harviainen, Mikko Meriläinen, and Tommi Tossavainen, is “a cooperation between gamers, game designers, game educators, researchers and people working with problem gaming”. From the official webpage: “After reading, you will have a better understanding of what gaming is all about, why it interests people, why it’s addictive, and why it’s at the same time good in many ways. The book is intended as a resource to improve game literacy and is written for all types of educators, parents, schools, libraries, youth organisations, and anyone with connections to children, adolescents or adults that play digital games”.

It is published under a CC BY 4.0 licence, and may be downloaded for free Continue reading

Column: Are Video Games the New Great Medium for Telling Stories?

Oliver Campbell writes on The Escapist: “Video games are so young that we’re only now beginning to understand what they can do. Do not misunderstand me when I say that video games are the final frontier of storytelling. Games allow us to live the experience, but this current incarnation is just the first step onto that unexplored frontier. Like other expressive storytelling arts, games have struggled, and will continue to struggle through a long period of growth in order to reach their full potential. We’re hardly done with the medium, in fact we’re just beginning”. Continue reading

Game: Separated

“Separated”, by Rxi, is a moving tale that casts players into the role of a monster incapable of communicating with humans. After being awakened by fireflies of the crypt, the Monster will have to explore a city just looking for answers, and it is not conscious of looking like a freak, making people run away screaming every time it tries to communicate. Marco Alba writes: “Separated is a game that explains in a few minutes what racism is. A bedtime story that should be played by every child. Prepare your handkerchiefs and played Separated”.

Get the game at and read Marco Alba’s review at