Escape Theory Gaming For Life… views are mine, and not affiliated with The White Agency or Nomad


Goodbye Coinland

We are saying ‘farewell’ to my proudest video game project. After four years, Coinland has closed.

Most Australians at my age would have fond memories of Commonwealth Bank initiatives that were offered to them in primary school (elementary school) such as a free ‘Dollarmites’ savings account that encouraged making small, weekly deposits during class. For four years Coinland has taken this to the next level, teaching children the importance of saving (virtual) money, earning interest, finding jobs, using ATM cards and even donating money for a selfless cause - all through a browser based video game.

For over 160,000 Aussie children, Coinland was almost certainly their first MMORPG experience, and our support team receives streams of fan-mail from parents praising Coinland, and from children who are having a ball.

When Coinland was announced to close, we received offers from parents who believed that their children have learnt so much from Coinland, that they were willing to pay a fee to keep the free game running. A child sent us an email saying how upset they were about Coinland’s closure, and how it was cruelly coinciding with their sister’s Coinland-themed birthday party.

Coinland was a winner of several Australian industry awards at launch, and just before the decision to axe Coinland, a port of the game for iOS and Android was ready for submission, which I’m certain would have been a hugely successful evolution of the game.

I’m proud to have been part of Coinland, and I wish that you could have experienced it too.

See Coinland being played by an expert here!



Fighting the Urge to Rebuild Everything

If you've done any amount of programming, you would eventually, inevitably, feel the urge to rebuild everything.

The reason programmers feel this way, is that reading someone else's code is always harder than writing your own from scratch. There are some good situations where doing a full re-write is a good idea, but the vast majority of situations, it is a terrible, terrible idea.

Every developer who has spoken to any other developer would notice that there is always the feeling that a code re-write will solve all the issues of an old project; people swear that the new version will be well-planned, documented, etc but you know what it won't have? The 90% of the time that was spent to fix the last 10% of unexpected issues. That is, all the effort that the previous developer spent to debug, test, and hack their way through bugs.

That is why I like to approach existing code like a surgeon, and the application is my patient. A surgeon theoretically knows how a patient's body and organs should work, but sometimes she'll start surgery, and the patient's innards are a mess. Maybe they had a bone breakage in their youth that repaired badly, or their liver isn't quite positioned the right way.

Now if the surgeon's original task is to remove a kidney stone, would she take out and re-organise the rest of the innards to match her textbook? Of course not, the patient's only complaint was the kidney stone, and was perfectly healthy in every other way. The body would have adapted and hacked its way to function like normal.

There are some instances where a code rewrite is warranted, and likewise we can use the surgery approach. If the patient above not only had kidney stones, but also exhibited other convulsing and or other symptoms due to the bad positioning of the badly-healed bone or upturned liver, then sure - it would be a good idea to explore fixing the rest of the organs.

I'm so gross. What's for lunch?




Filed under: Blog, Theory No Comments

Virtual Unreality

Check out my opinion piece on Adnews: Virtual Unreality

Garry Law

Filed under: Theory No Comments

Rise of Gladiators

I'm pleased to announce the launch of my new mobile game, Rise of Gladiators!

After a month's worth of work between me and Brendan of, the game is now free to download for both Apple and Android users.

Rise of Gladiators for iPhone/iPad:

Rise of Gladiators for Android:



Youth Engagement in Marketing

Izzy and I listened to an inspiring presentation by Giorgia Castello of Playground Communications.

Do you recognise the following number?

This is, of course, the phone number for Pizza Hut. And if you call that number, this man will deliver your pizza:

The Pizza Hut phone number marketed using the William Tell Overture was first heard some 25 years ago, and Dougie the pizza delivery guy appeared on the above commercial on 1996. That's 17 years ago!

It's amazing how much we remember from advertising when we were young. According to Giorgia that is because young people have a less developed 'filter system' that rejects certain irrelevant or unimportant messages. This makes youth marketing a highly effective strategy that shouldn't be ignored.

According to Playground, marketing for youth is always carefully planned, with clear ethical boundaries agreed by all stakeholders or regulators. For example, Playground considers under 5 year olds off-limits, and young teenagers off-limits for junk food ads.

Youth represent three broad markets:

- Current market: Youth with pocket money, allowances for doing chores, etc.

- Influence market: Youth who have influence over their parents' and relatives' spending habits. See this in action in the Dulux Bazillion Jellybeans campaign.

- Future market: Youth who will become consumers in the future. For example Whyville is a children's game that allows players to get an in-game Toyota Scion, and Coinland, a Commonwealth Bank game that teaches kids the value of saving, starting bank accounts and using ATMs.

Toyota Scion in Whyville

There are some common pitfalls when it comes to marketing to youth. The first of which is failure to define the audience; that is grouping age groups too broadly like "6 - 15 year olds". Playground Communications' specialty is recognising that the different groups of the youth audience are not only grouped by age, but also by transitions between age groups.

Generally, this is:

  • Kids 5-10
  • Tweens 11-13
  • Teens 14-17

Young adults between 18-24 are further split into different groups depending on their situation:

  • Start ups - first steps toward adulthood
  • Play ups - Freedom, fun, flirtation
  • Next ups - On the brink of adulthood

The second pitfall in youth marketing is making bad assumptions about the audience with things like: "I remember what it was like..." or "I'll just ask a kid...".

Youth marketing is complex and tricky to sell. It is important to manage a client's concerns by knowing what the best business opportunity is, including the audience size, influence and spending power.

In addition, it is important to know what the purchase dynamic is, and to figure out how to create a long-term preference for your brand.

As mentioned before, as long as clear ethical boundaries are set and agreed upon by everyone involved, there's no reason to ignore the youth as a market to build brand loyalty.