Brent 20Gulanowski

Who Am I?

I am a student at Ryerson University, Toronto, studying Applied Computer Science. I have a prior B.A. in Literary Criticism (University of Toronto, 1996).

What Are My Vitals?

Name: Brent Gulanowski

Born: June 21, 1970

Sex: Male

Home: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Game Designer Credentials

None, really. I have a lot of ideas and I have been reading a lot. I used to design AD&D? modules for me and my friends. I have been playing games as long as I can remember. But, you know, I'm still working on developing my first game(s).

I have written some opinion pieces on my web site.

I used to be an active participant at the iDevGames forums. Also, they're currently in a bit of a server crisis mode.

Why Am I Putting Myself On This Web Page

I wrote a few contributions regarding RolePlayingGames. I might write some more. The wiki is a good idea, but it needs a better sense of direction and focus, and better organization. I also think most of the text is TOO LARGE, but whatever. Ideas are more important than packaging.



I like games, although it's possible they are just rest stops on the road to something else.

Games exist in an interesting conceptual space defined by a number of axes. See game taxonomies for one discussion. The one that most interests me is the diametric between abstraction and simulation, although "simulation" is often taken more specifically to mean "physics simulation". I mean the more general term of simulation of some real world scenario, like the Sim games. There is a pretty distinct division between "puzzle" or abstract games and simulation games, which I find perplexing.

Simulation, by the way, has nothing to do with scripted narrative. Scripts are not simulations, they are descriptions, and they have little to do with games, whatever the narratologists might say, except, perhaps, as part of the reward system.

Simluation games are part of a larger sphere of human activity: modelling. We make models of all kinds of things. Computer games (and other kinds of software) are so complicated that some developers make models of those, which can give you a headache if you think about it too much. They even have games inside of other games, so-called mini-games. Games and other kinds of modelling -- like acting, role playing, Lego and other toy construction, some drawing and painting, and writing narratives -- are a way for a person to do something without doing it. This works because the human imagination is so powerful.

Games on the whole interest me because they present a discrete system, a virtual world in some cases, with which a player can become engaged. The world is made up of elements and rules for how those elements can be re-organized. In abstract games, the rules are tailored to make the game challenging and fun. In simulation games, the rules are meant to simulate some aspect of the real world, or the human world at any rate, but always there is the need to make the game system cohesive and self-sufficient in presenting challenge and fun for the player(s).

Computer Games

Computer games are software, which puts a new spin on the construction of game systems. It adds the problems of software development in general -- in the way, I suppose, that board games construction involves the problems of making things out of paper and other materials. Software gets bugs; paper game materials bend and tear.

But computer games allow simulation at unheard of levels of complexity compared to board games. Computers can make billions of decisions per second, which is enough to simulate operating a vehicle or the behaviour or numerous virtual characters (enemies or virtual opponents). This should make the possibilities for computer games mind-bogglingly infinite. So why are there only a handful of "genres" of computer games? And why do the majority of them SUCK ... SO ... BAD?


Video Game

A new kind of artifact which was born in games, invented on computers, and which is now threatening to become something other than a game. It is a narrative, presented via computer screen, with both game and story elements. The name implies that it is a game, but the obsession of players (audiences?) and critics with the story element of these games virtually invalidates the name. Of course it cannot change now.


This word ... bothers me. At first I thought, "This is meant to sound cool, but is in fact nonsensical." It has the annoying echo of "anti-Christ", which seems to mean "Christ, but the bad one" -- but that's wrong. An anti-saviour is not a christ at all, but the opposite of a saviour. An "antipattern", on the other hand, is still a pattern, just a bad one. I still think the term is ill-chosen, but I have gotten confused about whether it means what it thinks it means. "Anti" means something like "nullify" or "negate". But this meaning has been diluted by usage and now seems to mean "bad" or something. So, if one insists on Latinization, I think the proper word would be "malpattern". But such terms are unnecessary -- it is enough to say that a pattern is good or bad, but then of course, one would have to admit to it being an opinion, open to disagreement, unlike coming up with a NewSpeak? term like "antipattern".