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Lewis Pulsipher's Blog   Expert Blogs


Dr. Lew Pulsipher started playing boardgames more than 50 years ago. He designed his own games, then discovered strategic "realistic" gaming with early Avalon Hill wargames, and ultimately earned a Ph.D. in military and diplomatic history. His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish” was published in July 2012 by McFarland. He contributed to ETC Press' Analog: Tabltop Game Design.  Formerly contributing editor to several role-playing game magazines and author of over a hundred game magazine articles, he is designer of Britannia (UK, US, and Germany in separate editions), Dragon Rage, Valley of the Four Winds, Swords and Wizardry, and Diplomacy Games & Variants. Britannia (2nd edition) appeared in 2006, with foreign editions (German, French, Spanish, Hungarian) in 2008. It was described in an Armchair General review of a 2006 edition as "ready to continue on as one of the great titles in the world of games".

Latest published game, Sea Kings (2015).

Latest published book, Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish, 2012.

Online audiovisual courses at

  • Learning Game Design
  • Brief Introduction to Game Design
  • How to Design Levels/Adventures for Video and Tabletop Games
  • Get a Job in the Video Game Industry
  • How to Write Clear Rules (and game design documents)
  • The Joys of Game Design (hobbiest game design)
  • Brief Introduction to RPG design
  • Prospering at Game Conventions and Conferences

Current projects are at PulsipherGames.Com.

YouTube "Game Design" channel:

Game design blog:



Expert Blogs

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 17 Aug 2015 01:53:00 EDT in Design
Author Robert Heinlein says this about the nature of jokes: "Funny once, funny twice, or always funny." Games follow this pattern. E.g. I know people who have played my Britannia 500+ times. Which kind of game do you want to make?

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 29 Jun 2015 01:49:00 EDT in Design
I don’t use the word “theme” any more, because there are so many different meanings. These meanings are not even close to the same things. If you cannot know how your reader/listener understands a word, you can’t use it (if you want to be clear).

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 04 May 2015 01:51:00 EDT in Design
Look at the history of games (both video and tabletop) and you'll realize that "great innovations" games are very rare. Moreover, it's unlikely that the designers were deliberately looking for "great innovation," it just happened. Just make good games.

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 20 Apr 2015 01:22:00 EDT in Design
The big difference in game design is between games with human opposition, and games without – two or more players versus one player. I briefly discuss the difference between games, puzzles, and "contests".

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 30 Mar 2015 01:30:00 EDT in Design, Console/PC, Indie, Social/Online, Smartphone/Tablet
Modern gamers often mean "variety" (breadth) when they say "depth;" in fact gameplay depth is disappearing from games in general, led by "games" that you cannot lose (puzzles, many single-player video games).

Posted by Lewis Pulsipher on Mon, 09 Mar 2015 06:48:00 EDT in Design
What makes for a good game? In this two-part screencast I discuss elements that help make any game for hobbiests ( as opposed to a party or family game) a good game. It's a summary, not grondbreaking, of course.

Lewis Pulsipher's Comments

Comment In: [News - 09/14/2015 - 01:59]

Any game designer worth his/her ...

Any game designer worth his/her salt listens to ideas and comments from anyone and anywhere. The source of the idea or comment has nothing to do with its merit, after all, you have ordinary gamers playtest games, yet you listen to what they say, otherwise why playtest

Comment In: [Blog - 08/06/2015 - 12:43]

I think Rickard has it ...

I think Rickard has it right. r n r nA very different way to express this might be, does the developer treat the player only as a means to an end, or does the developer treat the player as an end in him/herself Kant 's form of the Golden Rule: ...

Comment In: [Blog - 07/20/2015 - 02:30]

If the game design strongly ...

If the game design strongly encourages turtling, good players will turtle, whether they 're naturally aggressive or defensive. r n r nTurtling is usually undesirable in games for more than two sides, but there 's nothing inherently bad about it. I always laugh when someone is called a camper as ...

Comment In: [Blog - 06/19/2015 - 06:01]

Fundamentally, supply and demand dictate ...

Fundamentally, supply and demand dictate that game prices will fall, because more and more games are published each year. If a game costs more than someone wants to pay, it 's pretty easy to find cheaper alternatives simply because there are so many games trying to get your attention. r ...

Comment In: [News - 05/18/2015 - 04:07]

1. The word educational has ...

1. The word educational has bad connotations in the USA though not in Germany . Educational equals work, dull work at that. Educational game is an oxymoron, to most people. r n r n2. Perhaps this is generational. Hard to know. r n r n3. Serious game academics are convinced ...

Comment In: [Blog - 04/20/2015 - 01:22]

Ultimately, the programmed opponent at ...

Ultimately, the programmed opponent at least, as programmed nowadays is predictable. Behavior of a programmed opponent with randomization can be predicted in ways that one cannot for a good human opponent. Weaker human opponents may be predictable in the same way that programmed opponents are usually predictable. A computer opponent ...