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!



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:



Backyard Bolt for iPhone

backyard bolt

Backyard Bolt is my first game built with Corona SDK, a mobile framework that uses very similar principles as Adobe Flash.

iPhone owners with children (of all ages) , if you have 99 cents to spare, please support me by downloading and rating the game!


Gamification comes of age

first published on

Moderated by Colin Cardwell (CEO of 3rd Sense), Gamification Comes of Age was an AIMIA event designed to showcase the success of applied game mechanics.

For a while, the term ‘gamification’ risked becoming a buzzword, because games are usually associated with leisure and casual entertainment. As we listened in the KPMG Auditorium however, it was clear that gamification is serious business, and there were results to prove how it works. The theory has come of age.

What is gamification?

Despite the name, gamification is not all about creating games. It is about applying game mechanics into a non-gaming context to engage the user, and research shows that an engaged customer is more valuable to companies than several unengaged customers. Because of this, gamification often belongs to the UX department.

Today’s user is more resistant toward direct marketing campaigns, and tends to be dismissive of blatant advertising. Gaming is a naturally engaging behaviour that makes the user more receptive to brand messaging.

Moove - Fun has a Flavour

Above: Adconion’s Moove – Fun has a Flavour campaign involved building a massive sculpture using empty Moove milk cartons. These had integrated TV screens, cameras and sound systems to create a demountable AR game platform in public areas.

Case studies

Martin Whelan, General Manager of Consumer Marketing, Commonwealth Bank, presented Investorville and Coinland, both a part of their gamification strategy in educating users on financial literacy. Investorville was a web-based game that gives the player a fixed amount of starting funds. They must then invest in property using real RP data at the time. After some RP data projections, the player can see how their virtual investments pay off in, say, the next 15 years, while dealing with real hypothetical situations like unexpected costs, calculating rent etc.

According to Whelan, Investorville broke down misconceptions and showed the practicality in property investment. Players didn’t need to believe any direct market messaging, because they could crunch the numbers themselves, set investment goals and respond to real situations from the safety of their home computer.

Of the 20,000 users who applied to play online, some 613 loans were tracked to have directly resulted from Investorville, translating to around 413% ROI (this was a conservative figure, since it was not possible to track the loans as a result of players applying for loans outside the game after playing it).

Commonwealth Bank - Investorville

Jennifer Wilson, Director at The Project Factory listed many of the health and well-being gamified apps that her company is involved with:

- ReMISSION: A video game where the hero mows down evil cancer cells in a sci-fi setting. Child cancer patients who played this game were found to be more willing to take cancer medication than other child cancer patients.

- Zamzee: A mobile fitness game, tracking your jogging distance. Features like comparing runs with friends encouraged competitive running.

- Zombies Run: A mobile fitness game similar to Zamzee, but instead of comparing runs with friends, the player is running from a virtual horde of zombies.

Other games ranged from role-playing video games for paramedics, dancing games for the elderly and a choose-your-own-adventure story to teach doctors how to deliver bad news to patients.

Wilson says that “games reduce depression, anger, confusion and fatigue. Failing in a game is still satisfying while failing in real life is not.”

Gamifying stuff

Marigo Raftopoulis, Director at Strategic | Games | Lab acknowledges that gamification requires the marrying of multiple disciplines, whether it be UX, technology, marketing or design. Her company specialises in gamification for the enterprise platform.

“Engaged employees are innovative employees” she says.

Things like staff training, idea generation and other processes can be gamified. For example, her company has come up with the Enterprise Positive Recognition System in the form of a ‘Woo-board’. All it is, is a board where employers and employees can ‘Woo!’ each other for awesome things they’ve done for work and each other.

“One thing gamification doesn’t solve is a bad strategy. Nothing can fix that”.


Moving from ActionScript to Lua

So I've finally started to build my next game with Corona SDK. I don't develop on Mac very often, but since I positively need the next game to play on iOS, there's little choice!

First impressions of Lua are kinda meh - I think AS3's strict typing has turned me into an ECMA Script Nazi. In the first few tutorials, I keep finding myself trying to typeset my variables.

Listeners are taking a little effort to get used to, and no semi-colons after each line? This will take a little time!

I blame most of my problems on the lacklustre features of TextMate + Lua bundle, compared with FlashBuilder. There's just no replacement for drop-menu code hints. Huh... that's right, maybe I should download Eclipse and find a Lua plugin instead.

Will post more about my new quest!

UPDATE: got Eclipse running with LUA plugin, but no Corona specific hinting...