Promogames, Another Kind of Advertising Game

Burger King's Xbox games revive a forgotten genre of advertising games. From my "Persuasive Games" column at Gamasutra.

Recently Burger King released three Xbox and Xbox 360 titles featuring the creepy King mascot that has graced the company’s advertising of late, as well as memorable former spokescreatures like the Subservient Chicken and Brooke Burke. The titles include Pocketbike Racer, a Mario Kart-style battle racer; Big Bumpin’, a collection of head-to-head bumper car games including races, battles, and hockey;… read more


Why Anything but Games Matters

On isolationism in game development; my Indiecade 2014 talk

A couple months ago, I was talking to a friend in technology media. “Sometimes I wonder why I’m in tech,” he started saying. He paused for a beat. “Then I think, at least I’m not in games.” He wasn’t even really talking about the Voldemortian “you-know-what” that was indeed the original impetus for our conversation. That’s just the latest example.… read more

What Is ‘Evil’ to Google?

Speculations on the company's contribution to moral philosophy

Last week, another distasteful use of your personal information by Google came to light: The company plans to attach your name and likeness to advertisements delivered across its products without your permission. As happens every time the search giant does something unseemly, Google's plan to turn its users into unwitting endorsers has inspired a new round of jabs at Google's… read more

Consumption and Naturalism in Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing's Strange, Unresolved Conflict. Excerpted from Persuasive Games.

While some are learning about the peculiar pleasure of Animal Crossing thanks to the series’ latest release on Nintendo 3DS, the game has long charmed and puzzled players and critics. In recognition of this fact, in September 2013 Gamasutra re-published the excerpt below, from my 2007 book Persuasive Games. In the section presented here, I discuss Animal Crossing‘s first edition… read more


Sympathy without sympathy

originally published at Medium “YMMV” (Your Mileage May Vary) is among the most mistakenly noble gestures of modern online life. It seems generous on first blush. In online forum talk in particular, YMMV is used to flag one’s opinion, and purportedly to recognize that others might have a different one. I found this diet really helpful, but YMMV. A kind… read more


On MLA Job Leaks

Today the Chronicle of Higher Education reports on MLA Job Leaks, an unauthorized, “rogue” website that is republishing the Modern Language Association (MLA) Job Information List (JIL). Currently university departments have to pay to list jobs, and job seekers have to be members of the MLA or the related Association of Departments of English (ADE) or the Association of Departments… read more

Academia Still Isn’t So Bad

On Terran Lane's "On Leaving Academia"

Over the last day or so, many of my Facebook friends have been posting UNM CS professor Terran Lane’s reflections on leaving academia for a job at Google. It’s worth a read, and raises some very valid points about the troubles with academia—pay, funding, job security, incentives, isolationism, work/life balance and so forth. But I also find the piece fairly… read more

MOOCs are Marketing

The question is, can they be more?

Earlier this week, Georgia Tech and eleven other higher education institutions announced their participation in Coursera, a company that hosts online courses. Reactions have been predictably dramatic, as exemplified by Jordan Weissman’s panegyric in the Atlantic, titled The Single Most Important Experiment in Higher Education. I’ll spare observations on the obvious problems with Weissman’s article, like the witless claim that… read more

What should we do for a living?

Some comments on "The Facebook Illusion"

There’s an interesting opinion column in today’s New York Times by Ross Douthat, The Facebook Illusion. The gist of the article is that the Internet economy is not capable of producing the economic growth, prosperity, and support of previous economies. …the problem is not that Facebook doesn’t make money. It’s that it doesn’t make that much money, and doesn’t have… read more

Hard Clicking, Soft Clicking

More Cow Clicker on national Australian Television

I’d previously shown you Leo Burnett Sydney CEO Todd Sampson advertising a popupar Australian TV show called The Gruen Transfer, about advertising techniques, while wearing a Cow Clicker t-shirt. Here’s a shot of Sampson on last week’s episode, in which he proudly dons the shirt. You can watch the whole episode online for another week or so. Tune in at… read more