More Than A Few Funny Words: Designing Magic Systems That Convey Challenge & Rigour

More Than A Few Funny Words: Designing Magic Systems That Convey Challenge & Rigour

Introduction: A Difficult & Demanding Magic

In a sense, representing “magic” in larp is an exercise in futility. How does one imbue the principle of “live action” to a phenomenon that, by its very definition, breaks the laws of nature? Barring expensive special effects technology, such reality-bending is difficult to reify.

As such, most larps treat magic not as something to simulate with photorealistic accuracy, but as an aesthetic; the concern becomes one of transmitting the feel of performing and witnessing magic. As Salen and Zimmerman write in Rules of Play, “It is possible to say that the players of a game are “immersed”—immersed in meaning…this kind of immersion is quite different from…sensory transport…”[1]Zimmerman, Erik and K. Sale, Katie, “Chapter 27: Games as the Play of Simulation,” in Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, 2003.

Complicating matters is that there is no unified definition or even sense of the word “magic”, no agreement of what this “feel” is. Is it mysterious and miraculous, such as the great spells of Merlin and Morgan Le Fay? Is magic methodical, empirical, and academic, such as the scholarly magic of Susanna Clarke’s novel Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell? Is it something even more bizarre, such as the highly specific abilities granted by swallowing minute quantities of metal alloys, such as in Brian Sanderson’s Mistborn books?

As a result, when “magic” is included in a larp, it is necessarily coloured by the designer’s vision of what is “magical”. For instance, Susanne Vejdemo introduces a method of creating “cool magicky-feeling rituals”,[2]Vejdemo, Susanne, “Group Improvisation of Larp Rituals,” Nordiclarp.org, 27 February 2018. but this magic has a distinct aesthetic: group based, energetic, and involving mysterious, otherworldly forces. By contrast, New World Magischola (2016-2020) features a freeform system of magic that players can take in many different directions, from labour-intensive to potions, to quick, comedic hexes, to dark and deadly rituals.[3]Bowman, Sarah Lynne, “When Trends Converge – The New World Magischola Revolution,” NordicLarp.org, 4 July 2016.

Larps such as New World Magischola and College of Wizardry (2014-) embody a particular sub-genre of fantasy: that of the “school of magic.” Genre tropes include elements typical to an academic environment applied to the study of magic: rigorous homework, difficult tests, complex projects requiring long hours in the library, and the like. Designers of these types of games typically envision magic as challenging, necessitating years of study and practice. Unlike the wonders of myths and legends, this magic is learnable, masterable, theorizable, and debatable.

While the aim of such larps is to convey a scholarly atmosphere, this is rarely achieved via the systems of magic employed in the games. Rather, the larps rely on character interactions, lore, set dressing, and other elements to communicate that, yes, magic is difficult and demanding. Players perform challenges, and reinforce each other’s performance through the process of what Mike Pohjola calls “inter-immersion”[4]Pohjola, Mike, “Autonomous Identities,” in The Foundation Stone of Nordic Larp, Knutpunkt, 2014, pp. 113-126.: players communicate to each other through their actions and words that magic is arduous business, and thus it is so. The game system contributes little in this regard.

Indeed, the works that provide inspiration for these larps themselves rarely spend little narrative real-estate contending with the academic nature of magic at a system level. Even in a sprawling set of books such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, we witness students of magic spending endless hours on homework and study, only to cast magical spells by muttering a few words and waving a wand. We’re rarely given a glimpse into what the study is and why it’s required.

There is power in attempting to communicate the desired aesthetic via procedure and mechanics. As Hunicke, Leblanc, and Zubek theorize, “aesthetics set the tone, which is born out in observable dynamics and eventually, operable mechanics.”[5]Hunicke, Robin, LeBlanc, Marc, & Zubek, Robert “MDA : A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research,” in Proceedings of the Challenges in Games AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference of Artificial Intelligence, 2004. A larpwright can use the very system of magic itself to evoke many of the aesthetics noted above.

In this essay, I outline a method of creating a system of magic that can achieve many of the desired aesthetics of complexity, challenge, and scholarship. Since our concern is one of process, I attempt to make my argument by building a hypothetical system of magic. I then use a real-world case study to demonstrate how such a system can function within an actual game.

Assumptions

To begin with, we must assume that the larp we’re working with desires to achieve the feeling of “difficult magic”, and that magic plays a big role in the larp. For simplicity’s sake, since the genre is familiar to many, let’s assume we’re designing a “magic school” larp, where the majority of players are students attempting to master the supernatural. Our aim is for magic to feel academic and complicated, and to make students work to cast spells.

As an initial, base system, let’s say that players can cast whatever spell comes to mind: they simply have to verbally indicate what they’re attempting to do, wave their hands in a vaguely mystical gesture, and voilà, the game assumes that magic occurs.

It is immediately apparent that this very freeform system, while appropriate for some games, does not fit our task of reinforcing the academic aesthetic of magic at a systems level. Let’s start by making magic a little bit harder.

Player Effort

“Any slight error in the movement or in the incantation would weaken, negate, or pervert the spell.”

— Lev Grossman, The Magicians

The first step might be to ensure that players have to voice a specific “magic word” or incantation to produce a magical effect:

>>Yelling the word “Fire” produces in-game flames

This is a start. However, in order to evoke a feeling of real challenge, we can modify our magic system to make players apply non-trivial, analytical effort in order to cast a spell. Effort is non-trivial if the player can simply perform magic without any thought. Yelling a desired effect out in English is a fairly trivial bit of effort.

On the other hand, if one needed to memorize the word for “fire” in Sanskrit, this would constitute non-trivial effort:

>>Yelling the word “Agni” produces in-game flames.

Effort might be analytical if it is not wholly creative, and requires some degree of analysis. If a spell asks a player to recite a lyrical description of its effect, this effort is non-trivial (but in this case, not very analytical):

>>Reciting “Flames of the earth, rise to my call, obey the heat of my command!” produces flames.

If on the other hand, the player must yell out the first and last letter of the force they are conjuring, this effort is analytical, but probably fairly trivial:

>>Crying out the letters “F E” produced a flame.

The combination of the two properties, non-triviality and analysis, results in magic that feels challenging and logical (and thus, worthy of traditional academic study). A designer can produce a system that is both non-trivial and analytical in a variety of ways. For example, this effect could be achieved by using a set invented set of words to represent verbs and nouns, out of which players must select a combination. Let us say that the designer has put forth the words “Creatarus” , “Desctrucio”, “Fireflammus”, and “Glaciola” to stand in for spells that “create” or “destroy” “fire” or “ice” respectively. Now, a player will have to take a moment to remember and then select the right two-word combination for the situation at hand:

>>Thinking about the desired outcome to “create” an affect which is related to “fire”, the player intones “Creatarus Fireflammus” to produce in-game flames

This process of recalling the right words is non-trivial, while that of selecting the correct words for their current task is analytical.

While workable, this “list of magic words” system lacks depth. If all magic were about studying and combining two words, then in order to become a skilled practitioner a single hour’s worth of lecture, followed by solo memorization for however long it takes would probably suffice. There would be no need for a complete course of study; a well-stocked “name library” would be enough. What this system needs is a more complex set of operations.

Rulesets & Operations

“Words are powerful. And they become more powerful the more that they’re said and read and written, in specific, consistent combinations.”

— Rainbow Rowell, Carry On

An entire magic system consisting of memorizing word lists would likely be rather dull in an academic setting (and probably a game setting). The challenge of “which word should I use?” would quickly lose its shine. To spice up this system, a designer can add more complex operations to their existing rules.

For instance, we can add complexity by bringing in other parts of a player’s physicality. In our current system, let’s add gestural components to our spells:

>> To create flames using “Creatarus Fireflammus”, the player must make a pointing gesture with their hands,

>> To extinguish flames using “Destrucio Fireflammus”, players must form a fist.

The addition of the gestural components to spells adds complexity; yet, this isn’t significantly better than the magic words. While the physical element adds interest, the player is now simply memorizing gestures in addition to words. If instead, the gestural act is added to the spell based on a formal, internally consistent rule, we have an “operation”.

Let’s modify our ruleset. Let’s say, when casting any spell on an inanimate object, the player must make a pointing gesture, while when casting any spell of creation on a living target, the player must make a fist. So:

>> “Creatarus Glaciola” while pointing can be used to freeze a glass of water.

>> “Creatarus Glaciola” while making a fist might be used to deep-freeze an animal specimen for later study.

Here each time the player casts a spell, they must analyse the intended effect, and modify their spell in order to satisfy the rules of magic. While this system still relies on memory, it now also includes a pattern. By linking the kind of gesture to the target of the spell, we’ve succeeded in adding a more complex, internally consistent practice based on a rule, giving us an “operation”.

This serves to flesh out our magic system. Additionally, and crucially, this system still allows for player creativity. If, as designers, we’ve created a sufficiently robust ruleset with a broad vocabulary of possible actions, then we’ve likely left room for players to create their own permutations, to try novel forms that designers haven’t accounted for. Of course, this might be a big “if”, one we’ll tackle later in this essay.

We now have processes and rules of magic which must be learned, practised, and internalised. Players should feel that magic can be studied, or even mastered. As a next step, we can attempt to provide this system of magic with a more theoretical feel, offering room for (in-fiction) scholarly articles and careful experimentation, for debate and discourse.

Lore, Terminology & Style

“There are threads to the One Power, and each person who can channel the One Power can usually grasp some threads better than others. These threads are named according to the sort of things that can be done using them—Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Spirit—and are called the Five Powers… While Spirit was found equally in men and in women, great ability with Earth and/or Fire was found much more often among men, with Water and/or Air among women.”

— Robert Jordan, The Eye of the World

It is an undisputed fact that larps make use of lore, backstory and scenic design in order to reinforce desirable themes and aesthetics. Such a principle can be applied on a micro level to our system of magic. A larpwright can make their magic more memorable by creating their own terminology or by inventing fictional reasoning behind their operations and rulesets.

For instance, in the system we’ve been working with, one might ask, “Why are different gestures needed for different classes of targets?” Is it because a different geometry of energy flow is required to engage with a living system? Is it because magic was invented by the gods, whose very gestures changed the world? Or is it merely a mental construct that allows the mind to focus its energies differently? Indeed, posing such questions but keeping the answers somewhat open-ended might stimulate interesting in-game discussions and exciting play.

The way in which we teach players how to use our magical system is an area ripe for such fictional adornment. Many larps find it simple and practical to teach game system to players would be to instruct them during a pre-game, out-of-character workshop. Providing them with the incantations, rules, and time to practice casting spells, allow most players to begin grasping the basics of the system. By contrast, one can imagine a more “immersive” way of teaching the system: instruction in-character.

Instead of a pre-game workshop on magic, perhaps a professor, or mentor figure can tell player-characters about the principle of using incantations, about the rules of gestures, and how to use them, and have them practice their spells with each other. Allowing players to take notes and ask questions might further involve them in the learning processing, enhancing not only the atmosphere of academia, but improving their ability to recall the rules of magic.

Taking this a step further, we can integrate the setting and lore of the world at the systems-level. Perhaps, in addition to learning from a teacher figure, players must search through and cross-reference various scrolls to learn what the incantation for “fire” is, mimicking the real process of research. Perhaps, there are disputed theories about which hand is best for performing magical gestures, and both theories are presented to players in their “reading”; players can then perform an empirical “test” to creatively “discover” which method works best for their characters. They may even have to interact with other characters to gain access to these scrolls, and to practice rooms to try their experiments. While neither of these examples are particularly novel, they represent ways in which players’ actions directly affect their ability to engage with the game’s magic system. An inventive game designer could dream up even more interesting ways players can learn about magic, perhaps leaving some room for player creativity, as we shall discuss below.

Thus, the process of learning and performing magic becomes intrinsically tied to the players’ stories, not just because the players decide that it’s the direction they want the characters to go, but because the system itself prohibits them from performing magic until they complete these tasks.

The manner in which the information is presented can also do much to enforce the setting and tone. Burying incantation across multiple academic papers with titles such as “Ignis & Agni: Towards a Unified Theory of Thermal Manipulation”, papers which must then be accessed from an in-game library, would contribute to a stuffy, academic tone. By contrast, hiding the incantation within the illuminated marginalia of a lavish scroll recounting the story of “Ye Deʃtructionne of Ye Greate Dragonne” might be suitable for an epic fantasy quest. In both cases, the presentation of the information about the system of magic and the manner in which it is accessed have been leveraged for play.

Leaving Room for Gaps

“Great mages have wasted their lives trying to get at the root of magic. It is a futile pursuit, not much fun and occasionally quite hazardous.”

Lev Grossman, The Magicians

It is possible to over-define the rules for magic, to create a complete, ironclad system that leaves no room for interpretation. This is useful if we are preoccupied with the puzzle-like nature of magic, with questions of correct and incorrect.

Most larps, however, are more concerned with creating interesting play than in verifying correctness of magic. While rules and systems can help immerse players in specific moods and aesthetics, we might want to leave gaps in our system. Perhaps not every possibility is explored, or maybe there are ambiguities within the system itself.

If there exists an ongoing debate about which hand to use when forming magical gestures, for instance, enterprising players can explore this debate as part of play, and colour their own spellcasting with the questions posed. As another example, reference books might describe the incantation “Fireflammus” as “pertaining to the movement of excessive heat”. A creative player could use this ambiguity to invent an analogue to our ice spell “Glaciola”, using “Fireflammus” to siphon away from an object and freeze it solid. In a collegiate game, such an activity might even become the topic of one’s homework assignment, or dissertation.

Creating space for players to propose their own theories of magic and have them validated by fellow players or facilitators might make for a powerful motivator for immersive play. A thesis defence, a grand tournament of magic, or a midnight “show-&-tell gathering” witches might be ideal scenarios for such experiments.

A gap in our magic system allows player ingenuity to emerge, and permits a deeper exploration of the system and the narrative. As Frank Lantz declared in his talk on the Immersive Fallacy, no doubt foreshadowing our present context, “This gap is where the magic happens.” [6]

A Question of Player Skill

“A rock is a good thing, too, you know. If the Isles of Earthsea were all made of diamond, we’d lead a hard life here. Enjoy the illusions, lad, and let the rocks be rocks.”

— Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

In our quest to create a magic that feels rigorous and academic, we have devised the rudiments of a system where players’ fictional actions (researching, studying, and casting spells) and their real world activities (researching, studying, and performing gestures and sounds) are closely mapped. Where mundane effort is used to simulate its magical analogue is where we begin to see an issue of inclusivity.

This system clearly favours players with certain skills over others. Those practiced with logical thinking, data analysis, and puzzle-solving will likely find the system of magic easier to grasp. If the aim of the larp is to provide a fantasy of academic magical rigour to those who are inexperienced with such academic tasks, skills other than these must also be valued in the larp.

The role of creativity, of filling out the “gaps” in the system of magic might be emphasized, giving players more options to invent their own magical acts within the existing framework. There could be many ways of doing this, from those that are more “cosmetic”—asking players to name certain acts, or invent parts of the lore—to those that are more “systemic”—inviting players to invent their symbols or rules that pertain to casting spells.

Alternatively, the game designers could encourage the cooperative discovery and performance of magic at the systems level. Perhaps many people are needed to actually carry out the research for a spell, since parts of it are scattered throughout many sources. This would work even better if these sources required different sources of interaction; maybe the research of a spell requires someone to look through a text, another player to recognize patterns in an image, and a third to ask a mentor a question. Moreover, the casting of a spell could itself be a cooperative act, requiring multiple individuals to carry out different, simultaneous tasks. Such design decisions might go a long way in making the larp, and it’s magic, accessible to a wider audience.

Using Real World Symbolic Systems: A Case Study

Earlier on, we considered the prospect of designing a magic system that is “sufficiently robust”. Obviously, designing a complete, complex, analytical, rule-based, and story-rich system is challenging. One method is to rely on real-world analytical or symbolic systems. A designer can select an ordered system such as the Periodic Table of Elements, the geometric properties of regular polygons, or a computer programming language, upon which to base a magic system.

The advantages of using such a system are potent: such systems contain built-in complexity suitable for analysis, consistent rules and operations will not have to be devised from scratch, and terminology (and perhaps even areas of ambiguity) that can be borrowed from the real-world discipline of study. Additionally, the players might come away from the larp with real-world knowledge. While the effort spent engaging with a game system might in of itself constitute a pleasurable act needing no justification or “end goal” outside the game (an anti-capitalist concept vehemently put forth by designers such as Paolo Pedercini),[6]Pedercini, Paolo, “Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Molleindustira, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.molleindustria.org/blog/videogames-and-the-spirit-of-capitalism/. it might be comforting to some players that their outside the “magic circle” of the larp

I will illustrate an example using as a case-study Basic Principles of Incantation by Sharang Biswas (myself, the author of this essay) and Max Seidman, an hour-long, playful, live-action experience first exhibited at the “Game Night #5” showcase at the Denny Gallery in Manhattan.[7]Biswas, Sharang, “Basic Principles of Incantation,” [Online]. Available: https://sharangbiswas.myportfolio.com/basic-principle-of-incantation. Since then, the piece has undergone numerous changes, and has been performed at Living Games 2018, as a fully produced interactive theatre piece for Sinking Ship Creations in 2019, as an online show for Mirrorworld Creations in 2020, and in other smaller venues.

Note that while we, the designers, do not consider the piece to be a fully realized larp, the live action elements lend it a larp-like nature, and the conclusions from this analysis can be applied to many forms of games and interactive performance.

In Basic Principles of Incantation, players take on the role of Victorian students in a tutoring session where they are to learn the basics of magic. In this game, magic is performed using very specific, calculated incantations, and the system of magic is based on real-world Linguistics, in particular, phonetics, phonology, and morphology.

While detailing the complete system is impractical, a few points can be noted:

1) Non-Trivial Effort: Part of the challenge of each incantation is the pronunciation. Consonants and vowel sounds from a variety of languages were included in spells, meaning that participants who primarily spoke English had to practice the words multiple times in order to sound them out correctly.

text describing a magic spell

2) Analytical Effort: Each incantation had a tripartite morphological structure. Key words needed to be appended with a prefix, suffix, or in-fix, depending on whether the spell to be cast was one of creation, destruction, or modification. These affixes had to additionally be chosen from printed tables, depending on external factors (such as the time of day, or month of the year etc.)

 

text describing a magic spell

3) Complex operation: Once affixes were chosen for a magic word, vowel or consonant shifts were made based both on external features and phonological rules. A table of vowel shifts (listing real-world tongue positions for various vowels) was provided, telling players exactly how to modify the vowels in their spell.

text describing a magic spell

4) Lore & Style: Magic was never referred to as “magic” but as the “Esoteric Arts”. Rules, tables, and words were all found in a specially written textbook, written in the style of a 19th century pamphlet, complete with theoretical chapters and footnotes with references. Players had to hunt through this book, cross-referencing tables, charts, and explanatory paragraphs with each other in order to arrive at their spells. This textbook was essential to maintaining the tone of the game. As Edward Mylechreest wrote in his review on No Proscenium:

“Perusing the pages, I quickly feel completely out of my comfort zone. It is classic academia, with hard to understand wording and the feel of being lectured at by a 19th-century professor. It reads exactly like a historical tome, plucked out of a sorcerer’s library, and now sitting on my lap. I am immediately transformed into the role of student wizard, although perhaps I feel more like a Neville than Hermione.”[8]E. Mylechreest, “Getting All Magicked up in ‘Basic Principles of Incantation’ (Review),” No Proscenium, 23 October 2019. [Online]. Available: https://noproscenium.com/getting-all-magicked-up-in-basic-principles-of-incantation-review-f2e4e9e6755d.

5) Gaps Were Permitted: The role of infixes (as opposed to prefixes or suffixes) was only hinted at. Players were repeatedly told that the rules they were learning were “oversimplifications”, and that the true, complex rules were for advanced study. Questions were often met with the answer of “it depends”, and the instructor was able to fictionalize debates and theories of magic.

Basic Principles of Incantation revealed a few more advantages of using the protocol outlined in this essay:

a) Players were deeply engaged in group-play. Because magic took on a puzzle-like nature, players cooperated and built on each other’s answers and theories, often in-character. Even players who believed themselves to be less skilled in the puzzle-solving aspect of the game were drawn into the challenge and contributed to the team in different ways, such as searching the classroom for the relevant texts, listening to and transcribing the spells intoned, and writing out theories and possibilities on the blackboard.

b) The volume of information in the text book created the illusion of a deep, fully realized world.

c) Since the basis of the system was actual Linguistics, real-world skills and knowledge was taught: pronunciation and the classification of vowels and consonants, some basics of the International Phonetic Alphabet, a little morphology, and more.

In summation, all these features created an atmosphere of studious focus, and a world where magic was challenging, slow, and, frankly, impractical as a solution to most problems. This was precisely the tone we, the designers, were aiming for.

Next Steps

This essay modelled a way in which a larp designer can infuse the practice of magic with an element of rigour and challenge. By calibrating the effort required for magic on behalf of the player, by constructing a system of internally consistent and appropriately complex rules, and by introducing suitable lore elements and story trappings, all while maintaining some degree of ambiguity for players to build upon, the larp wright can be confident that their game enforces their desired tone through the game mechanics themselves.

Of course, much of this essay relies on a conjectured system: “If one were to…”, “Perhaps if we…” While a case study is presented, it is for a short, puzzle-like experience with only a light narrative, that relies on skilled facilitators to arbitrate the correctness of spells.

For a full larp with narrative richness, much more thought and playtesting needs to go into a system of magic such as the example created using the ideas in this essay. Can such a system work without the eagle eye of an assiduous game master, allowing players to check themselves and each other on the correctness of their magic? Can we balance the time it takes to learn and cast a spell with the pacing of the game? Does our system remain engaging after a few hours of play? Do players become far more pre-occupied with puzzle solving with to the detriment of character interactions and narrative creation? When using the framework presented in this essay, these are questions a larpwright will need to address.

Ultimately, my aim was not to present a “best” way to create a system of magic, but to provide aspiring designers with tools that can help them achieve a certain aesthetic, and inspire them to experiment with how magic is portrayed in their game.

Bibliography

Biswas, Sharang, “Basic Principles of Incantation,” [Online]. Available: https://sharangbiswas.myportfolio.com/basic-principle-of-incantation.

Bowman, Sarah Lynne, “When Trends Converge – The New World Magischola Revolution,” Nordiclarp.org, 4 July 2016.

Hunicke, Robin, LeBlanc, Marc, & Zubek, Robert “MDA : A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research,” in Proceedings of the Challenges in Games AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference of Artificial Intelligence, 2004.

Lantz, Frank, Writer, The Immersive Fallacy. [Performance]. Game Developer’s Conference, 2005.

Mylechreest, Edward, “Getting All Magicked up in ‘Basic Principles of Incantation’ (Review),” No Proscenium, 23 October 2019. [Online]. Available: https://noproscenium.com/getting-all-magicked-up-in-basic-principles-of-incantation-review-f2e4e9e6755d.

Pedercini, Paolo, “Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Molleindustira, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.molleindustria.org/blog/videogames-and-the-spirit-of-capitalism/.

Pohjola, Mike, “Autonomous Identities,” in The Foundation Stone of Nordic Larp, Knutpunkt, 2014, pp. 113-126.

Vejdemo, Susanne, “Group Improvisation of Larp Rituals,” Nordiclarp.org, 27 February 2018.

Zimmerman, Erik and K. Sale, Katie, “Chapter 27: Games as the Play of Simulation,” in Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, 2003.

Cover photo: Image by RODNAE Productions on Pexels. Photo has been cropped.

This article is published in the companion book Book of Magic: Vibrant Fragments of Larp Practices and is published here with permission. Please cite this text as:

Biswas, Sharang. “More Than A Few Funny Words: Designing Magic Systems That Convey Challenge & Rigour.” In Book of Magic: Vibrant Fragments of Larp Practices, edited by Kari Kvittingen Djukastein, Marcus Irgens, Nadja Lipsyc, and Lars Kristian Løveng Sunde. Oslo, Norway: Knutepunkt, 2021.

References

References
1Zimmerman, Erik and K. Sale, Katie, “Chapter 27: Games as the Play of Simulation,” in Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, 2003.
2Vejdemo, Susanne, “Group Improvisation of Larp Rituals,” Nordiclarp.org, 27 February 2018.
3Bowman, Sarah Lynne, “When Trends Converge – The New World Magischola Revolution,” NordicLarp.org, 4 July 2016.
4Pohjola, Mike, “Autonomous Identities,” in The Foundation Stone of Nordic Larp, Knutpunkt, 2014, pp. 113-126.
5Hunicke, Robin, LeBlanc, Marc, & Zubek, Robert “MDA : A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research,” in Proceedings of the Challenges in Games AI Workshop, Nineteenth National Conference of Artificial Intelligence, 2004.
6Pedercini, Paolo, “Videogames and the Spirit of Capitalism,” Molleindustira, 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.molleindustria.org/blog/videogames-and-the-spirit-of-capitalism/.
7Biswas, Sharang, “Basic Principles of Incantation,” [Online]. Available: https://sharangbiswas.myportfolio.com/basic-principle-of-incantation.
8E. Mylechreest, “Getting All Magicked up in ‘Basic Principles of Incantation’ (Review),” No Proscenium, 23 October 2019. [Online]. Available: https://noproscenium.com/getting-all-magicked-up-in-basic-principles-of-incantation-review-f2e4e9e6755d.

Authors

Sharang Biswas is a writer, interactive artist, and game designer, currently Game Artist in Residence at the Musem of the Moving Image in New York. He has showcased interactive works at numerous art institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia & Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, and has won IndieCade, IGDN, & Golden Cobra awards for his games. He has contributed essays to Dicebreaker, Eurogamer, and Unwinnable, and fiction to Fantasy Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and Neon Hemlock Press among others. He is the co-editor of Honey & Hot Wax: An Anothology of Erotic Art Games (Pelgrane Press, 2020) and Strange Lusts/Strange Loves: An Anothology of Erotic Interactive Fiction (Strange Horizons, 2021).
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