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Game Design On Demand. Building mobile games for spaces. Museums, games, education and other great adventures.


Building mobile games for spaces. Museums, games, education and other great adventures.

12 Days of Games!

Kellian Adams


The GDL crew compared notes to see what games we would recommend with less than two weeks left until Christmas! Have some time off coming up? Looking for a way to make the Holidays fun? Put that Amazon Prime to use or visit stores like Barnes and Noble, Target, and local comic/hobby shops and get some games! Here's a collection of our recommendations...



1) Pandemic - If you have not experienced Pandemic yet, where have you been?! Everyone should either own a copy or know someone reliable who can bring it to game night. This co-op game requires teamwork, planning, and determination to cure diseases around the world. In my last play through, I was the Medic. I traveled the world to reduce outbreaks and Treat Disease. I spent most of my time in Asia and, though a game, the experience really piqued my interest in how outbreaks can be treated. Go save the world!!



2) Codenames - What a game! This is the game you get for someone who doesn't like games or has a collection of games no one wants to play. Why play an outdated version of Trivial Pursuit again this holiday season? Throw it away, mom! Rival spymasters, secret agents, an assassin. Winning takes a backseat to how fun this game can be!



3) Oregon Trail Card Game - If you grew up with the computer game and your floppy disks are nowhere to be found, pick up this game! Get your finest travelers together and try to get to Willamette Valley. Is this a co-op game? Yes and no. Players can help each other, but they don't have to. The game is won if at least one player makes it to the end. Tell that to your friend who just died from a snake bite or dysentery! Dysentery's back, baby. 



4) Hanayama Puzzles - The kids may be on vacation, but keep their minds sharp with 3D puzzles! This is how it might go: Your son or daughter is rifling through the stocking. Chocolate, awesome. Toiletries, sure. And here's these weird palm-sized do-dads. Confusion will turn to silence. Silence will be filled with determination. Determination will lead to victory...hopefully! See who can solve them the fastest! Winner gets...first crack at the next puzzle! 

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5) Tickets to Blockbuster LARP/Games like Dragon Thrones - Live Action Role Playing and Alternate Reality Games are getting bigger and bigger. While you've probably heard about a group of people engaging in medieval battle for an afternoon, LARPs and ARGs can be and are so much more. There are ones that last whole weekends to really immerse partakers in a new, interactive environment. Sandals Jamaica...more like Sandals Waterdeep! Where/when would you like to escape to for a weekend?



6) The Grizzled - This is a game I looked forward to playing again as soon as my first experience stopped. This co-op game is survival in the trenches in the first World War. Either everyone wins or everyone loses. Losing a round is demoralizing. Winning a round is...hard to describe. It's not quite high-fives but you feel good. You almost feel like you can't cheer until the end. Whether we were winning or losing, we were pretty quiet unless strategizing. You want to win. And with a little luck, you just might. Hairiest person is the first mission leader!!



7) Ghost Court - A small claims court roleplaying party game where players take on the roles of the living and the dead. Never thought I'd write that sentence. So happy I did!! We have this game ready to go for the holidays and cannot wait to see family and friends act out their parts to win their case. We judge this game to be guilty...of being amazing. 100% chance someone will be rolling on the floor laughing. This was a total hit at the Future of Storytelling Festival too!!



8) Deception: Murder in Hong Kong - There's been a murder! And someone at the table is the murderer. Play as investigators trying to solve the crime. But one of you committed the crime. Everyone has cards in front of them that could be the means for murder. The Forensic Scientist knows who the murderer is and their method, but cannot speak. They can only give clues. Will those clues be accurate. Will you accuse the wrong person and lose your badge? Will the killer get away with it?! Work together, state your case, accuse, misdirect. This game is very interesting. I've played rounds of this game that felt like Law and Order and other rounds became outlandish and everyone was finger pointing. 



9) Escape Room in a Box - The Werewolf Experiment - Escape Rooms are so popular right now. And rightfully so! My first escape was intense, confusing, a little overwhelming, and completely amazing. It was immersive and took me out of a comfort zone for an hour. We stopped a nuclear bomb! If you want to have a similar experience in the comfort of your home or if snowed in, try this!! Pre-Orders will ship on Amazon on 12/18. There's other escape rooms in a box too! 



10) T.I.M.E Stories - An RPG that is card-driven and invites players to live narratives that are unique and captivating. Some stuff in the game might not be suitable for kids but for adults, this is almost like a simpler, shorter Dungeons and Dragons. While we enjoyed this game greatly, some are worried that the length of play and replay factor don't match the price. Watch a YouTube video, read a review, or have everyone in the game night pitch in. You just might love it!



11) We Didn't Playtest This At All - This game came out in 2007. There's a sequel, a Legacy Version, and more. Why mention a game that's 10 years old? It's still awesome! It's quick, fun, silly, unexpected, and you always feel like you're on the brink of losing. Or winning! Both do not matter. The round itself is too insane and fun to worry about who won the most. It's not flashy, it's not complicated. It's just chaos. 

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12) Dungeons and Dragons - This holiday season could be the start of something wonderful. Fantastical. And long-lasting! Or not. Beholders are crazy like that. Maybe you watched Stranger Things and it piqued your interest. Why not spend a night during the holidays character building? Fifth Edition of D&D has a beautiful set of core books to help Dungeon Masters, Players, and to familiarize yourself with the beasts of the land. Everyone should have a Monster Manual on their game shelf! There's extra books like Xanathar's Guide to Everything that can add flavor. And one can never own too many miniature goblins, adventurers, and more. What race will you be? What class? How deep is your backstory? Roll the dice, share your tale, and make friends who have your back. I currently DM a party of 4 Adventurers: A High-Elf Wizard, a Human Rogue, a Halfling Ranger, and Elf Druid. The storytelling is so much fun, and can get crazy and off the rails. It's one of my favorite things to look forward to every two weeks.

If you have any questions or want to share your experiences with these games, tweet us at @greendoorlabs! We are always up for talking games. Always.

Happy Holidays!

Thoughts on the Future of Storytelling Festival!

Kellian Adams


Kellian recently contributed to a No Proscenium article "On Accessibility and the Demand for Immersive Experiences (Future of Storytelling Festival Recap)" along with Kathryn Yu and Leah Ableson. Below, we've included Kellian's contribution and hope you'll click the link above to read the rest!!

In a small way, FoST may have showed us what we want the future of storytelling to be and what in reality, it actually might be.

We had to drive up from Boston, so we made it as early as we could on Saturday morning, around 10:00am. Everything we wanted to see was already unavailable. Broken Bone Bathtub had been cancelled, Ghost Courtand the Smellwalk were full, and there was absolutely no chance at all of getting into the two Alice interactives or Flock.

When I asked organizers what was happening, the response was something like a weary scoff — and this was at 10:00am on Saturday. Clearly they’d had this conversation many, many times before.

What was available was VR, and lots of it. VR rigs everywhere. I personally am not a huge fan of VR. But one thing I had to admit was that VR had throughput, and it was functional. Every booth had a chair with a bunch of VR rigs ready for me to play. This might just be a matter of VR being an older technology than mixed reality, so there are lots of Gear VR and Oculus headsets available at reasonable prices. Maybe that wouldn’t have been the case in 2014. Or… it may tell us more about why media companies keep building for and betting on VR even when everybody I know says they find it isolating.

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Virtual Reality has a creation, sales, and distribution model that companies know and recognize. They build media. You can only view this media on one type of hardware, which consumer can purchase. This is an old story: television, radio, Xbox, iPhones. Buy the hardware to get access to the content. There’s an existing, well-understood model for both churning out content and ensuring its distribution.

People raved about Holojam in Wonderland and I heard from so many people that Flock was wonderful, but these mixed reality pieces couldn’t scale, so I never saw them. Why are we surprised that so many people want to see creative, beautiful stories? We should be ready for this. Even if they had expected 5,000 rather than 3,000 people, what would Flock have done? How could Holojam have scaled to fit more people in? The fact is, live- and mixed-reality immersive isn’t really prepared for the numbers we’re going to get if we want to survive; meanwhile VR is locked, loaded, and ready to meet demand.

The situation reminded me of reality TV. It’s cheap to make. It’s reliable as an endless source of content. A TV producer might be able to attract only 70% of their potential audience and still make more money than if they had paid for a high production value show with writers and actors and directors. In the end, a much lower quality product can be a better bet for companies and end up being the new entertainment model that gets adopted. If we’re considering the future of storytelling, I think we need to think about this stuff.

There were a few programs that seemed ready to deal with scaling issues. OurSpace was a fun, goofy, immersive experience that ran off of WhatsApp. They could have run that game all day with 100 people or more for each run. Improv Everywhere also had a system that could scale: you downloaded an app and you all played the story together. It also could have been run multiple times for larger numbers of people if they’d wanted to do that. These are mixed reality immersive experiences that used existing technology, which is a great way to scale an experience: let some other massive company deal with scale. You just write stories for it.

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Emilie Baltz’s POPSTARS also had an interesting setup. This was a musical lollipop that the artist attached to a microphone so when you licked it, it made sounds in response. It’s what I like to call the “Yelp” model: a few active participants and a large number of casual watchers. Only three people could play at a time, but the rest of the audience had fun watching the craziness unfold. It was a quick turnover — maybe three minutes per lollipop group. Audience members could watch for a few minutes, move on, and still have a great experience to talk about.

I’m not saying that all immersive theatre and mixed reality works need use existing technology or depend on goofy interactions for success. But if we’re going to truly be part of the “future of storytelling” we need to think about audience throughput and scale now. Escape rooms and the entire haunt industry are immersive entertainment models that have found scaleable solutions. I don’t think the lines and the sell-outs were necessarily a festival problem; I think we’re going to see a lot of this as immersive grows.

If organizers and creators can’t scale reliably, these experiences are going to be like the quaint a capella singers that wandered throughout the festival grounds all weekend: a novelty, but not exactly the future of storytelling.