Ellis on playful living: "this is my personal library of what I've learnt so far while I'm still mischievously exploring..."

Ellis, applied game consultancy

Social&Design conversation DDW14

21/10/2014 09:48

I participated in the conversation Social & Design in Doornakers, in an innovative care center and talked about implementing technology in care for elderly. I briefly spoke about my experience last 20 months implementing technology at Atlant, most important take away, is not only to make the elderly play, but have the employees and organisation play too to make them recognise the value of play to create better wellbeing.

We had great conversation with residents, designers and other innovative neighbourhood initiatives about safety, trust and voluntary effort. After the event an older participant came to me to shake my hand and thank me for making her think different about play again.

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design thinking, educatief, english, evenement, ouderen

How some games can appear to be so similar yet they are not!

18/10/2014 16:12

While playing these simple games like threes, 2084, I recognise the different layers/levels of play, the dynamics of me learning to find easy and difficult strategies which bring me further inside the game and make me able to accomplish higher scores. The dilemmas I experience in finding a strategy and learning when letting go of a strategy is necessary or needed. When to know when to let go and when to hold on to a strategy, that is the real question. Just as in real life, when to let go of a thought, a method, a behaviour when it seems to be working but appears not to be working when the context or situation changes in time, not easy to let go then…  And then learning that the holding on to or letting go of a strategy becomes a copingstrategy itself…

I have been playing these games a lot. They look very mich alike and the game mechanics are very similar: player swippes up, down, left or right to pair two similar elements into ine higher new element. All games have 16 spaces and when no matching pairs can be made, no move can be done and the game ends (see this video if you need more input the understand how the game is played)

Sounds simple and very much the same for these three games… and the easy acces for these games is very well done, anyone can play, and everyone can feel the progress in learning and mastering while playing (however some people are bored or annoyed easily with this, which I can understand).

What intrigued me most about this three similar games is how they do differ while playing, and the strategic in play is very different!

The only mechanical difference is:

 Threes:  still love this one the most, however the 1+2 =3 seems to be a style distortion the sounds make it so strong for me, I symphatise with the characters, the sexy voice of 36! Never playing alone when you play threes ; P one of the sixteen spaces is already taken and becomes an obstacle during play (my hiscore: 8.922)
  1248 one of the sixteen spaces is already taken and becomes an obstacle during play. (my hiscore: 10.720)
  2048 misses the obstruction and gives you the feeling of control more then 1248, still chance of the random appearing new numbers make you intrigued with the factor “chance” or playing perfectly (my hiscore 17.636)
2084-ABC the alphabet is ending in 26 letters, but when playing you learn the letter J is a high reach and the letter K seems to become epic! The letters instead of numbers feel very different and you stop ‘calculating’ ehich does happen in the other games, you recognise other patterns in the number versions, the alphabet seems very abstract, yet your ‘verbal’ mind starts to play around with the symbolism of characters (my hiscore 19.720)The games with the numbers makes you count, and calculate and the increasing number makes you veel greedy and hungry for more, you feel rich and richer..

So I continued playing the one game then the other and try to built my different strategies, and figure out the subtile differences in design and algorithms, but what I learn even more is: better stick with one game to master is, instead of getting distracted from the other tactics which are destructive for the other play instead, yet still the mechanics appear so similar.

The lesson in this, one game is not the same as the other game people play around with it and how you decide on the details of the game design and gameplay (mechanics) can make a huge difference in the state of play!

6×6 versions: The last variation on this game with a different amount makes the game completly diffrent in dynamics, you experience the element of ‘luck’ and being clever more strong… New patrerns are recognised during play and curiosity is being fed full time, however i do lack the time and patience to continue these games… (Or This game?)


Ps: while looking for the links while writing this article, I found more versions with the same gameplay… for instance combining colours and get to white! to be continued… ; P


english, game, Iphone, over gamen, psychologie, spelen

Game design workshop/expo at Sound&Vision museum

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design thinking, educatief, english, evenement, spelen

Workshop Gamedesign

25/09/2014 10:07

I was invited to give a workshop at the Major Game Design and Development at Hanze Hogeschool in Groningen. 16 international students working together in teams to develop serious games for children in Africa, Butterfly works is involved as stakeholder (they developed and implemented a water awarnes game  GetH2o in several countries in Africa). The students used the canvas and developed three game concepts within 10 minutes, worked on the magic game circle and had many great questions about balancing the understanding of the definition of game and/or play. Balancing challenge and accessibility in design.
(half way my presentation a student asked: “is this about the magic circle?” I could not be more happy) I love doing workshops!


educatief, english, evenement, magic circle

Retro game design workshop

22/09/2014 12:13

The Media Instituut ‘Beeld & Geluid’ hosted a Retrogames festival, and we were invited to do a Retro Game Design Workshop to a class of children at the age of 12 years old, including teachers and parents to co-create games.

They team-played pacman with makey-makey, learned about game design, experimented with gamemaker and programming games, created props and characters in clay and lego and did amazing presentations. One team included their teacher as a character in their game, including the class (choas) dynamics problems as a challenge inside their game. The team which made a analog board game combined with a digital game and presented this in a theatrical playful way and were strong winners. But the talent made a huge impression on me (I worry about my future as a game designer ; ) (see more pictures here)

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educatief, english, evenement

Workshop “Dissecting a classic game” at Sumerschool UU2014

18/08/2014 13:35

More info on the Summerschool: Gamesandplay

Description of the workshop: “A hands-on workshop with post-its and markers for all participants to participate on how to taste and ‘cook’ a game. In this workshop, we will use a model to dissect an old known game such as Pacman and learn what are (the) game elements and how can we open the perspective and focus on a game experience in the context of play instead of taking the mechanics and dynamics only into account. What can we learn about player types and play preferences using the model and how can we validate a game by focussing on the game elements without deconstructing/destroying the overall gameplay.”

And as promised for the participants the Prezi-slides >>

Plus direct link to Game element table and Pacman dissection experiment #1


(results from the workshop by participants will soon be available here too)

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english, evenement, magic circle, over gamen, pacman

Let’s talk about pain

14/07/2014 12:55

I found an old magazine (mind.scientificamerican.com)with a very interesting article on pain.

“We are more often frightened then hurt: and we suffer more from imagination then reality”  by Lucius Annaeus Seneca Read more


Alice, article, behaviorchange, english, psychologie

Wordfeud saving lives?

10/07/2014 12:16

Two older women in the train were talking with each other when I heard: “she said she was only able to cope with it thanks to Wordfeud!”. So I asked what and how. They told me a friend last her grandchild first and later her daughter, they both agreed this is NOT possible in life to have to deal with, but their friend had to cope, and managed by finding the needed distraction in Wordfeud. Read more


Alice, english, favoriet

Bewonderment at THNK academy

08/07/2014 22:07

January 2014 I became participant of class #5 at THNK (and enjoying every minute)

An article was placed in the Financial (Dutch)Newspaper May 31st: 




article, design thinking, english

Gaming Workshops for ±130 tech teachers Scalda

27/05/2014 15:35

I was invited to give five workshops to teachers at a technical MBO about gaming and introducing play in their lessons.
For me this was a wonderfull experience to find myself in a very different domain (again) with very different questions and attitudes about education and play. Always adventures in Wonderland!


educatief, english, evenement