ITU Copenhagen UX & Prototyping Videogames

What’s this? A map? And who lives there? Does anybody know?


Isn’t this map amazing? This island… it’s so mesmerizing! Check out all the tiny little details in it! There’s a whirlpool, an ice volcano (yes, it’s ice, not lava) and look at that little light bulb at the top of the lighthouse!

Now, I wish I could say that I have drawn that, but sadly my skills are nowhere that good.

Instead this was a drawing by Stine, my muse for the User Experience & Prototyping course at the IT University of Copenhagen.

How did this get to happen? Well, after that little participatory design game I showed her where she came up with the idea of a desert island with a jungle in it, I decided it would be an interesting idea to see her try to draw her own map of an island and fill it up with anything that she found interesting. This was part of my cultural probe which I used to gain more insight into how Stine thinks, acts and what she likes.

When one week later she came to me with this map I was shocked. Definitely so much more than what I expected. It’s clear that she had a lot of fun drawing this!

And she didn’t just draw a bunch of random stuff. She gave a lot of thought to even the tiniest little detail, and she explained to me what this was all about.

The most interesting thing was that many of the things she didn’t really know why they were there. What are those things on the southwest island? Stones? Rocks? Monuments? She said she didn’t know, but she so badly wanted to be able to dive into her own world to see it with her own eyes and discover the mystery of the stones.

The same goes for the houses Northeast. They look like little hills where people live inside them. I asked Stine if those were hobbit holes, and she declined the idea. There could be hobbits inside, sure, but wasn’t it more exciting to go there and discover for yourself? Also they live near a swamp, and who knows what kind of creatures could live there…

What about the castle? Does anyone really live there anymore? Especially with that misty, creepy forest so close to it… Apparently those skeletons from the participatory design game are in that forest, so you might not want to wander for too long in there.

Want more? How about the little village next to the beach? It’s kinda small, but it seems protected from all dangers around thanks to the cliff.

Those are just some of the things that Stine told me about her map of the island. An island that she really wanted to visit, explore and get lost in it, learn its mysteries and who knows what she could find in it?

If this is not a very clear indicator of what Stine wants in a game, then I don’t know what is. As in the participatory design game the keyword here is exploration.

But don’t trust me for this. There’s still a lot of work ahead, and soon enough an interview will reveal more details about Stine’s obsession with exploring new worlds!

ITU Copenhagen UX & Prototyping Videogames

Let’s get ideas! What would Stine like?


Sometimes you just have no ideas at all when you want to make a game. At least not when you need to create a game for a very specific target audience. And, as mentioned in one of my previous posts, this audience is Stine.

Luckily there are a lot of tools that can help a designer come up with something interesting, and one of my favorites we have learned so far in my User Experience & Prototyping course at the IT University of Copenhagen is the Participatory Design Game, or PD for short.

The objective is very simple: in short it consists of creating a short and simple activity that will open up the creativity of your “muse” you’re creating the game for (Stine) and give you ideas of what she will like.

Martin Ørbæk and I created a card game designed specifically for that. Each card has a concept drawn in it, be it a game character, an environment or a weapon or item. These concepts can be combined together to make even more concepts. For example, you can combine a gun with a laser, and you get a “laser gun”, or put together space and an island, and you get a “space island”.

But it is not us who were supposed to combine those. It’s Stine who had to play the game, drawing cards one by one from a pile, all facing the table, and combine those concepts as she sees fit to her liking.

As such Stine showed me her taste and preferences when it comes to videogames. She quickly dismissed certain ideas like those of a monster or space (she doesn’t like space travelling or spaceships, but can live with a game that takes place in space), while preferring environments that would be interesting to explore.

I found it funny that she didn’t use the skeleton card as an enemy, but rather as a remain of a dead body in a desert island, which fueled her interest in discovering how that person died.

A few more cards drawn later, she told me the story of those skeletons: they became ghosts. But not just any type of ghosts, those were explosive ghosts (by making use of the bomb card).

It’s very easy to make a story with Stine around, she doesn’t simply combine ideas. Instead she creates a full world breathing with background stories and interesting characters (the protagonist is a small boy with a sword and a shield who can also conjure spells, but he doesn’t really know how to use them).

It’s a very interesting take on starting a new game as a designer. You’re no longer thinking about doing what you would like to do, but rather making the ideas that she likes into a fully realized game. And it is something that I intend to see through to the end for this course.

ITU Copenhagen UX & Prototyping

Designing a game for Ms. Stine


As part of the course User Experience & Prototyping at the IT University of Copenhagen, we have been required to create the prototype of a game. But not just any game. We have to make a game for a specific person.

Many game developers, more in fact than it should be, don’t really think about the end user when creating a videogame. That is exactly one of the things that we are trying to fix by taking this course.

Here’s the deal: by the end of the semester each of us in our class should have a working prototype of a game that is targeted for a specific person who is either +/- 15 years of difference with us or the opposite gender.

In my case I chose someone who, in order to protect her privacy, I will call simply Ms. Stine or Stine.

We were asked to maintain a blog where we post our comments, points of view and ideas on the topic, and in my case it seemed pointless to start another blog so I will just publish those here (separated under the category UX & Prototyping).

So there’s the main idea: during this semester I will be observing and learning about Stine in order to create a game idea that will work optimally for her. I already have my own previous ideas about her so that is one good starting point, but at the same time I’ve already learned a few things that will make me give some thoughts to some game concepts here and there in order to make those work best.

Again, I will keep on posting here about these investigations. Looking forward to this!

ITU Copenhagen Videogames

I, Bully now available for download… and a gameplay video!


My classmate Wen Xiong reminded me a few days ago that I still hadn’t published the final version of our persuasive game I, Bully on my projects page. So I’ve gone ahead and made the game available for download as well as making a short video that shows all the gameplay as well as the ending of the game, for those who don’t feel like downloading.

You can read the full explanation of this game (which, even though it looks like the opposite at first glance, is a game against school bullying) in its corresponding projects page.

This game was part of a project for the Persuasive and Serious Games course at the IT University of Copenhagen.

Also, here’s the gameplay video that I quickly uploaded to Youtube. Give us your feedback as well!

ITU Copenhagen Videogames

Super Mario is the most inconsistent videogame series ever


Mario. No, Super Mario.

The biggest videogame icon to ever grace our world, with over 50 different videogames in which he is the main protagonist. He is even more known to children than Mickey Mouse.

But, know what? For such a popular videogame hero, he’s seen more gameplay changes and redesigns than any other character out there. He’s been stomping on goombas, throwing turnips at enemies, organizing kart races, parties and even football games.

You know, you’d think that some consistency would exist between games, but other than “Mario is in every game and he jumps" little else has stayed the same between games.

Not even the princess she’s supposed to rescue. During all these years since his first appearance in Donkey Kong in 1981 he’s been rescuing Princess Peach (previously known in the US and Europe as Princess Toadstool), Daisy and even his girlfriend Pauline. (Wait, Mario has a girlfriend? She must be crazy mad that he’s been goofing around saving Peach instead…)


The Mario games haven’t exactly been known for a lack of princesses and damsels in distress
From left to right: Pauline, Princess Daisy, Princess Peach and Rosalina

Yes, it hasn’t always been Princess Peach who needed saving.

And it hasn’t only been the damsel in distress the character that has changed. His nemesis, Bowser, the King of Koopas, has also been through dozens of representations.

imageimageWe’ve seen him both as an evil, intelligent mastermind and cruel dictator (Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy for example) and as a goofy character who keeps making stupid mistakes and is only looking to marry Princess Peach (Paper Mario and Super Mario Sunshine among others).

Even more, we’ve even seen him as a playable character (Super Mario RPG and Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story).

If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the problem of his children. In some games he’s got 7 children called the Koopalings, and in others it appears as if his only son was Bowser Jr. At least in New Super Mario Bros. Wii it finally seemed to be explained that they are all Bowser’s children, but Bowser Jr. is simply his favorite one, and heir to the throne.


Heck, even Mario himself hasn’t always been the same. His clothing has had some really interesting variations. Talk about inconsistencies…

You just have to check the color of his overalls throughout the ages to see the differences. Red over blue? Red over brown? Black over red?


Funnily enough the design that has finally stuck for the Mario tradition seems to have appeared first in the least Mario-esque game out there. I’m talking, of course, about Super Mario Bros. 2.

Whereas in the first game Mario could simply jump on top of most of the enemies to defeat them, enemies in Super Mario Bros. 2 were much harder to kill. In fact, Mario had to pick items up like vegetables or other enemies and throw those against them. The flower power-up to throw fireballs is gone, and pretty much none of the enemies from before appear.

Want even more quirky moments? Mario has also been the bad guy. In Donkey Kong Junior you played as Donkey Kong’s son, where you had to make your way through to the end of each level to save his dad. Evil, evil Mario…


Ah, and there is of course the mystery of the dozens of power-ups that Mario as had throughout the ages.

While the mushroom has pretty much done the same in every single game it has been in (being that Mario grows bigger), the rest of the power-ups haven’t had the same luck.

How about the star? That item that used to make Mario become invincible for a while? In the bigger adventure games like Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy these stars are collectibles needed to reach the end of the game. Invincibility is given by other items like hats or rainbow stars.

The most striking difference for me though is the way Mario can fly. There’s been carrots, leaves, feathers, balloons, hats and stars. And I haven’t even mentioned all of them!


And while I mentioned the mushroom just before, it’s worth mentioning that not all the Mario games make use of it. While the common gameplay is that Mario grows big when he gets a mushroom and turns small when hit, the bigger adventure games rely instead on a health bar that gets depleted with each hit, and replenished by collecting coins. The new Super Mario 3D Land for the Nintendo 3DS seems to be the first fully 3D Mario game in which the old gameplay idea stays.

I could mention many more inconsistencies, like the different ways each Mario game has made use of a world map or a hub world, or how Wario started as a Mario boss and then became his own star in games that take place in an absolutely different universe.


But the question remains: why does Nintendo keep making all these changes?

Some of them are easy to understand. Nintendo has always gone out of its way to try out new ideas and game mechanics even for its most established franchises to keep them fresh (and history has proven that to be successful). But as these games had to cope with both technical limitations and pacing issues to fit different consoles and handhelds as well as the latest new game mechanic, Nintendo has adapted Mario in order to keep it fun for everyone.

The rest can only be explained by Nintendo’s slow timing to gather a consistent Mario universe (and of course due to Super Mario Bros 2’s origins as a different game from Japan).

I want to end by saying that if you, for some reason, haven’t played a Mario game yet, I strongly recommend you give one a try. The Mario formula, as much as it has changed, still stands true to it’s core element: all the games are fun to play. Mario is a symbol of quality, which is surprising seeing how much Nintendo has milked the franchise without making any major mistake.

But then again if you read through all this text you probably already thought so, right?

ITU Copenhagen Now Playing Videogames

The Date – A new game from ITU about…


I mentioned already a few months ago that I wanted to use this blog to showcase some of the games created at my university, but so far I hadn’t posted any other than my own (even though I’ve been meaning to post one called Badass Monster forever).

So here is the first game

Well, to tell the truth it’s better if I don’t tell what this game is about.

It’s just enough to say that you play as Mark as he goes through 2 days of his life preparing for a date with a hot chick.

It’s a game created for the Persuasive and Serious Games course at the IT University of Copenhagen, as part of the Media Technology and Games master’s degree. So expect something more than just the typical “beat the game”.

Anyway, it’s better if I just let you to it, so why don’t you give the game a try?

Launch The Date


Jacob Rindom Bertelsen

Ciro Bonfrate

Jesper Saugberg Koch

Han Nguyen