Call for papers: Serious gaming 2014 Julian Alvarez | 03-13-2014 | 09:53

Special session about serious gaming during the 6th Global Conference: Video Games Culture Project, from Thursday, 17th July to Saturday, 19th July 2014, Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Key words: serious games, serious gaming, education, projects with students, level design, case studies



SimCity in geography lessons, Civilisation V for non-violence education, Read Dead Redemption as a means of addressing the history of the Far West…  These practices are involved in “Serious gaming”: they all subvert the playful nature of an existing game in order to associate it with uses distinct from mere entertainment as originally planned.

Serious Gaming differs from Serious games. Indeed, in order to consider oneself faced with a Serious game, aside from the presence of utilitarian functions (disseminating a message, providing training, allowing for the collection of data), the game produced must also be aimed, from its conception, at a market other than mere entertainment: defence, health, communication, training, environmentalism, etc.)  Thus, a Serious game can aim to heighten a diabetic player’s awareness of therapeutic education (Out of Time), teach college students about the laws of physics (Ludwig), present political (September the 12th), ecological (ClimWay) or indeed geopolitical (Darfur is Dying) issues to the general public, etc.


In a time when the economical situation is unfavourable and most educational institutions are suffering from a lack of resources, it would seem appropriate to assess the potential of Serious Gaming in the educational environment.


The panel will be structured around the two following points: 


1.     Commercial games used for the purpose of Serious gaming


As educational research is increasingly highlighting a new “attentional economy” (De Castell, Jenson 2006) and a redistribution of roles within learning, an examination of existing practices in Serious gaming would appear necessary, in order to identify their gameplay, the ways in which existing games can be appropriated and their educational potential.

A call for papers is published, in order to bring together both developers and users of games adapted to Serious gaming, as well as researchers from various backgrounds interested in the topic (computer science, “ludology”, cognitive sciences, education, semiotics, sociology, etc.).


2.     Experiments in level design for Serious gaming purposes


Level design consists of offering the user himself the opportunity to build a level of the game using software tools, with the intention of using the game to associate him with its utilitarian functions (disseminating a message, providing training, etc.).  

For example, in the first half of 2013 we carried out an experiment with the Non-Violence XXI association as well as second year Game Design students from the school for the creation of video games - Supinfogame Rubika games. As a point of departure, we asked how we could make videogame users aware of a message of non violence. The main idea was to adapt commercial videogames, using violence to speak out against it more effectively. The students adapted three commercial videogame titles in this way.

This experiment illustrated the idea that commercial videogames can indeed convey utilitarian functions, as claimed by Olivier Mauco (Mauco, quoted in Alvarez & Djaouti, 2010) in particular.





• A 250 to 500-word abstract of your paper.

• Your name, job title and institution as well as your contact information, including e-mail address.



Please submit proposals to and


A selection of the received papers will be reviewed and subsequently published.


For more information on the main conference visit



Ph. D. Julian Alvarez

Université Lille 1 - Trigone CIREL / CCI Grand Hainaut - Play Research Lab / Ludoscience (France)


Ph. D. Catherine Bouko

Université Libre de Bruxelles - Free University of Brussels / Department of Information and Communication Sciences (Belgium)  

Leave a comment | Category : Conferences, | Keywords : Call for papers, Serious Gaming, Serious Game, education, projects with students, level design, case studies, Modding,

Eric Chahi discusses his first Game Jam Damien Djaouti | 03-06-2014 | 15:56

Eric Chahi, a famous video games designer (Out of this World, anyone?), recently took part in the Retro Game Jam, a 32h video game creation competition held during november 2013 in Montpellier (France). In the video below, he discusses his feelings about this experience and presents the various prototypes of his game in order to explain his personal game creation process. A rare and very interesting testimony from a living videogame legend about the recent "Game Jam" phenomena (video in french language):



This video was recorded during a meeting of the Montpellier Unity User Group (MUUG), a videogame designers club gathering once or twice a month in the city of Montpellier (France) to share their experiences. This event is hosted by Guillaume Martin from the SwingSwingSubmarine studio, and offers a place to share and discuss with others indies. If you happen to travel to France in the sunny city of Montpellier, please feel free to join one of our meetings! (dates and location detailed on the MUUG facebook page).

Leave a comment | Category : News, | Keywords : eric chahi, game jam,

Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA Damien Djaouti | 02-28-2014 | 09:05

Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA (Enhanced Edition) is a book on the history of SEGA as a console manufacturer. After a brief introduction telling the birth of the company, this thick 480 pages book details the story of all its home consoles: SG-1000, Master System, Mega Drive / Genesis with its Sega CD and Sega 32X addons, Saturn and the Dreamcast.


Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA (Enhanced Edition)


While the beginnings of SEGA and its first two consoles are explained rather quickly over 30 pages, the main part of the book details with high precision the story of its most famous consoles. About 150 pages are dedicated to the rise of the Mega Drive / Genesis, and its fall due to the Sega CD and the catastrophic Mars, Neptune and Jupiter projects leading to the Sega 32X. The costly errors SEGA made over the 32x will unfortunately not be solved by the Saturn, a dramatic failure compared to the roaring Playstation. When the company will finally be able to reflect upon its mistakes and start afresh with the Dreamcast, it will sadly be too late. When SEGA retires itself from the console market in 2001, it's an indeed tragic move but it's also the only way to avoid bankruptcy and be able to continue publishing games on the consoles of its former competitors. While the book is focused on the American side of SEGA history, a final chapter explains its complex story in the European Market. Despite being a bit dense and sometimes redundant between chapters, this book, full of content, is a real goldmine to anyone wondering about the story of SEGA, a popular company whose history is unfortunately less often studied than the one of its eternal competitor Nintendo.



Leave a comment | Category : Reading, History of videogames, | Keywords : history of videogames, sega, genesis, sega cd, sega 32x, saturn, dreamcast,

New section: the big list of books about videogames Damien Djaouti | 01-13-2014 | 09:50

A new year means a new section to the Ludoscience website! To celebrate 2014, we offer you a new "bibliography" section, dedicated to the books about videogames. This big list already features more than 80 books dealing with various topics: history of videogames, game creators biographies, Game Design, Serious Games, videogames studies & analysis...

Ludoscience - bibliography section


Each book is presented through a personal abstract and opinion, all purely subjective. But please note that we have read each book before adding it to the list! It gathers books in English or French language, and our abstracts are also available in both languages. We will regularly update the list, as our long-term goal is to provide you with the most complete list of books about videogames possible. If you want to suggest us a book, please feel free to contact us.



We wish you a lot of pleasing videogames books reading!

Leave a comment | Category : News, Reading, | Keywords : site update, books, videogames, history, game design, serious games,

The One Fork Restaurant - postmortem Dr. Ludos | 01-07-2014 | 14:44

Happy new year everyone!


This new year comes with an improved version of my first ever LudumDare competition entry: The One Fork Restaurant. To celebrate the release of the final version of this game, I've decided to write down a full postmortem about it. As the title implies, it's a funny time-management game taking place in a restaurant, where many people come to eat various meals. But the restaurant has only one fork, so customers have to share it!


The One Fork Restaurant


When the customers are waiting for the fork, they start to get bored, and may leave the restaurant if they wait for too long. Eating gives them a little relief, so each time they eat, they’ll be able to wait a little longer afterwards. The player will have to swap the fork as often as needed so every customer can enjoy (and finish) his/her meal!


In order to get the best of this quite detailed post-mortem, I suggest you to try the game first (it's a web based flash game).


The birth of an idea

This first Ludum Dare started quite bad for me. Here, the compo starts at 3 am. I was planning on staying up late the first night so I could know the theme, then sleep over it, and start creating a game in the morning. But unfortunately, I've got an extra-busy week at work, and I was already lacking a lot of sleep when the weekend started. So I passed out at around 1 am, only to wake up about 13 hours later, at 2 pm on the saturday... Sure, I was feeling rested, but I was also quite angry at myself for wasting 12h compo hours on sleeping before I even started making anything!


Well, I fired up my computer to discover the theme: "You Only Got One". I then took a quick brunch before starting to work. As I didn't had time to follow closely the theme voting, I wasn't excepting anything special, so I wasn't disappointed by the theme (unlike a lot of other people taking part in the event it seems). On the contrary, I found it quite original. While searching for ideas, I first came up with the obvious ones: one life, one bullet, one arrow, one button... However, I didn't want to follow that route - I knew that many others LDers, more skilled than me, would make impressive games on these ideas (Titan Souls, I'm looking at you!).


I wanted to find something more original, and funnily stupid if possible. So, I was toying with ideas about "sharing one stuff": people sunbathing but sharing one umbrella to avoid being sunburnt, dog puppies sharing one bone, babies sharing one plastic dummy... After brunch, as I was washing my dishes, it finally struck me: what about people sharing a single fork in a restaurant? - that sounded cool, so, 1 hour after discovering the theme, I had found my idea and started working on it!


Evolution of the game

As a old-time Flash user, I chose to create the game solely with Flash IDE (meaning no cool framework like Flixel, and mouse-drawn vector-based graphics instead of pixel art). I started by coding the core gameplay with ugly programmer art. After about 4h30 of work, I got this roughly-working-but-ugly prototype:


The One Fork Restaurant - prototype 1


As you can see, in this prototype the player can move a fork from one table to another. When a customer receives the fork, it triggers an "happy" animation and it starts to increase its "meal" gauge (the black bar at the bottom). When a customer is waiting for the fork, it triggers a "sad" animation, and it slowly decreases its "patience" gauge (the colored bar on top). I defined a series of four "customer profiles", with different quantities of meals to eat, and different starting amount of patience.


The core gameplay was now working, so I had to design some graphics. As I'm not a skilled graphic artist at all, this was very hard for me. But after 4 more hours of work, I finally came up with a funny eating animation for the customers, and a set of different customers faces:


The One Fork Restaurant - prototype 2


Here, I basically had a working game, after 8h of work. I still had many time-consuming stuffs to do, but the "proof-of-concept" was here. That's usually where I start to loose interested in a project: when the main idea is here, but an awful lot of tedious polishing work remains to be done. Hopefully, even though I was working alone at home, browsing through the Ludum Dare site made me feel "being part of something". It really motivated me to go through the end of the game development process. So a big thanks to all of the other participants for posting so many interesting and motivating posts about their ideas, their problems, and their work-in-progress - it was a real source of motivation (I even posted several updates myself to "take part in the event").


From this point on, I spent the rest of the compo time doing some additional graphics (backgrounds, GUI...), creating a tutorial, a menu and game over screen, generating sounds with AS3sfxr, testing the game and balancing it the best I could in the too short time I had left. I also had to sleep a lot again between Saturday and Sunday (about 8-9 hours). In the end, after about 19 hours of work in total, the game looks like this:


The One Fork Restaurant - final compo version



Balancing is hard

As I finally chose a rather simple game idea, I was able to come up with a working prototype rather quickly (basically at the end of the first day). It means I got the opportunity to spend some time to balance the game (in fact quite a lot of time - about 5 hours in total). My first task to balance the game was to define different customers profiles and to introduce them in the game progressively. The longer you play, the slower the customers eat and the faster they get bored of waiting for the fork. I also balanced the number of maximum customers available at the same time. To test all of this, I needed testers - so thanks again to the wonderful people who took some time to test the game for me. This was very tedious and hard to do, but according to the comments on the competition game page, it seems most players hopefully find the game quite well balanced!


Besides fine-tuning the mechanics, another hard part of balancing is to provide meaningful and easy to read feedback to the players. I tried different strategies here:


The One Fork Restaurant - Different Feedback Strategies


At first (left picture), I decided to use two gauges: one at the top for the remaining patience, and one at the bottom for the % of meal eaten. However, it quickly appeared that two separates gauges are hard to read when playing a rather fast-paced game. So I decided to remove the bottom bar, and to animate the food bowl instead: as the customer eats, its bowl is getting empty (middle picture).


But it then appeared that it was hard to focus on both the bowl and the bar. As I was testing the game, I found myself losing customers because I was too focused on the bowl and I forgot to watch their waiting bar. In other words, the two "gauges" were too far apart from each other for the player to be able to read them during the game. So I moved down the waiting bar beneath the food bowl, and now, finally, I was able to watch them both during the fast-paced game! (right picture).


Teaching to play is tricky

The One Fork Restaurant - Tutorial Screen


Last but not least, if you want players to enjoy your game, they have to understand how to play it - so I made a tutorial screen. Honestly, if I had enough time, I would have liked to implement a real in-game tutorial, but the deadline was too short. So instead I wrote up an introductory "how to play" screen, featuring an animation for people who don't like to read (i.e. 90% of players, including me).


Then, in order to test if the game was easy enough to understand and play, I took it to the ultimate test: the "girlfriend test" (another popular version is the "mommy test"). My girlfriend doesn't play videogames, so she is an excellent "ingenuous" tester. While playing my game, at first she didn't understand that you simply need to click on the target customer to move the fork. She was actually trying to click the customer who had the fork first, in order to "get back the fork before giving it to another customer". That's why the tutorial now reads "Using your mouse, click on the customers to swap the fork", alongside with an animation showing how it's done.


Then, she didn't understand that you can swap the fork between customers BEFORE they finish their meal (which is the core mechanic of the game by-the-way). So, she was moving the fork to one customer, waiting for him to finish his meal, then swapping it to another, etc. Needless to say she wasn't able to go very far in the game that way. To address this issue, I added a "tip" message in the animation, and I also made sure to specify this on every text description of the game I would write when submitting it to the competition website.


In the end, besides making sounds and additional graphics, I basically spent the entire second day (up to the compo deadline) testing and balancing the game. Sure, it was tedious, but I think it was worth it - it really seems to make the game more enjoyable, and maybe feel a bit "polished" despite a very tight schedule.



First of all, let me state how wonderful the LudumDare community is: it was the first time I was taking part in the event,  and my game was rated by 79 people, with about 47 of them leaving a comment to help me improve the game or saying what they enjoyed about it!


It might not seem much, but for an hobbyist Game Designer like me it's a lot! We all know that indie and amateur game creators struggle to have people playing their game, not to mention how hard it is to have constructive and helpful feedback! I didn't knew it, but the LudumDare event is wonderfully designed for getting feedback: in order to have your game rated, you have to play and rate games created by others. It's a great way to motivate people to review games, and a brilliant idea regarding the more than 2000 videogames that were created in 48h or 72h by the participants of this event.


After three weeks of rating games, the official competition results were announced. Each game is rated out of 5 in several categories, with an overall ranking that summarizes all the ratings. The One Fork Restaurant was in the "competition" section with 1284 games, and got the following ratings:


The One Fork Restaurant - Ludum Dare 28 Ratings


The "Coolness" rating is related to the number of games from the others participants the author of the game has rated (it's the only category with a lot of medals!). Regarding the other categories, it's honorable to reach the top 100, and very unlikely to reach the top 5. So, the game did quite good for a first competition! It ranked 4th in the theme interpretation category, a very heart-warming and unexcepted result! I could never imagine to get a game ranked that high in one category :)! 


Regarding Humor and Fun, it's quite good too (around the top 100), and Innovation and Overall ranking are not that bad at all (around 160). The real weaknesses of the game, as I've been excepting, are the graphics and audio. All in all, this game sets a starting point for me: I'll now have to try to do better the next time!


In the end, I find this ranking and rating system very clever and efficient, because it can give a useful feedback to every game creator despite the ever-growing number of titles produced during each Ludum Dare. So thanks to the organizers of this event and to the others participants for such a wonderful experience!


To conclude this lengthy and wordy post-mortem, let's go through the two the classical sections:


What went wrong

  • Sleep management. I'm not sure how I could have addressed this problem, but I clearly spent way too much time sleeping (about 20 hours out of 48 hours, nearly half of the compo time...). As I said earlier, I was exhausted from work so I needed to have some rest, but I'm still angry at myself that I "lost" so much time that I could have used to do more stuffs, such as:
  • Music. Yes, the compo version of the game lacks music, and it's the only thing I regret not creating during the compo. I never composed music before and I didn't have time to test some tools, but still, I wish I could have tried to compose something. In fact, at first I was planning to use some creative commons music like I always do, but I then realized during the compo that it was against the competition rules. Although I latter saw that many compoers didn't always stick to that rule, I don't regret that I did - I can say that 100% of my game was made during the compo time, and only by myself (although I picked a couple of very nice tunes by skilled musicians for the post-compo version released today)
  • Understanding rating. I can't really say that it went "wrong" as I have got a lot of wonderfully constructive feedback on my game page (thanks to all the people who rated my game by the way). But I must say that it took me a long time to understand how the rating system works. At first, I thought that you only had to rate 20 games in three weeks, and then that the games were presented to you in random order. But I latter figured out that the more game you play and rate, the more chance you have to be rated too. So, at first, I started to rate only a few games each day, saying to myself "relax, you have three weeks to rate them all". But when I saw that some LDers rated more than 100 games in a day (guys, when do you sleep? ;)), I started to do some research and I realized how wrong I was. I found a post on the competition website that explained quite well how "Default" score works - I think it should be made more visible for newcomers like me! Anyway, I have no hard-feelings at all here - on the contrary I'm positively surprised and pleased to see how much the LudumDare community is nice and tend to rate and comment the games, which motivated me to do the same. But I lost two days rating games without leaving a comment, a rookie mistake I wouldn't have done if the rating system was better explained on the rating page ;).


What went right

  • Scope. In the end, I'm happy of the scope of my idea: it's usually one of my weakness, but here I've been able to come up with a game idea that I could complete in the short compo time.
  • Playtesting and balance. As discussed above, I'm glad that I could spend some time balancing and playtesting the game, because I think it's very important!
  • Graphics and sounds. I'm not an artist. I can't draw, and I can't compose sound or music. But thanks to the Flash drawing tools and to AS3sfxr, I've been able to produce some "cartoony" graphics and some fitting sounds, and I'm proud of it regarding my lack of skills in these two areas!
  • The Game? The comments I've got let me think that the game is actually funny and entertaining to play, which makes me very happy! But feel free to test it by yourself, and please let me know what you think of it! (the public comments area is at the bottom of the game page).


Post-compo version

After the compo ended, I've also released an Android version of the game, thanks again to all the people that suggested it when rating my game. It was the first time I created an Android application, and it took me a long time to figure out how to make an ".apk" using AIR and FlashDevelop. So thanks to Sean Hogan and his wonderful tutorial on this topic - it helped me a lot!


Besides the port to Android, the post-compo version of the game was also improved/polished in several areas:

  • Music: the game now features two catchy tunes by skilled musicians freely sharing their compositions on Newgrounds, Mnargl and SmashesCupcakes.
  • Menus: I've completed the menus with a proper credits screen, a new animation, some new sound effects... nothing fancy but a required effort of polish.
  • Highscore: the best score is now saved on the local machine.
  • Balance: I've improved the game balance (again), this time for the latter game stages - while it remains challenging, the game is now a bit easier than the compo-version when reaching 1400-1500 points.
  • Pause: last but not least, you can now pause the game! (it was required for Android, but it's also very useful when playing the web version).


After all these efforts, you can now play the final version of The One Fork Restaurant on this website. Thanks for reading this long post-mortem, and I hope you find it interesting. If you have any comment, please let me know using the form below.

Leave a comment | Category : Games, Game Design, | Keywords : the one fork restaurant, postmortem, ludum dare 28, game design, game development,
<< 1 ... 3 4 5 6 7 ... 10 >>
Ludoscience is a scientific research laboratory dedicated to videogames


This website gathers ours thoughts, our projects, our publications and many pedagogical resources related to the various types of videogames:

Blog categories

Our books

Buy our book 'Learning with Serious Games' (in french)

Buy our book 'PlayStation VS Saturn : war of the 32 bits' (in french)

Buy our book 'Serious Games: an introduction' (bilingual edition: english and french)

Buy our book 'Introduction to Serious Games' (in french)

Follow us

Our last tweets

Videogaming links