Tadhg Kelly

Tadhg Kelly

Tadhg is a video game designer, producer, creative director, columnist and consultant. He has held roles at various video game development, technology and publishing companies. Since the early 90s, Tadhg has worked on all sorts of game projects, from boardgames and live action roleplaying games through to multi-million dollar PC projects. He has served as lead designer, senior producer and a number of other roles at several companies including BSkyB, Lionhead and Climax.

He was a cofounder of the social gaming startup Simple Lifeforms before moving on to becoming a consultant in the game design space through founding noted industry blog What Games Are (www.whatgamesare.com). A recent immigrant to the United States, Tadhg has most recently worked at Jawfish Games, OUYA and for some other studios on a consulting basis.

Tadhg is currently consulting out of Seattle for a variety of companies under the banner of Tadhg Kelly Game Design, as well as writing a book named Raw Game Design to be published next year by Focal Press and a weekly gaming column for TechCrunch. You can reach him at tadhgk@gmail.com.

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  • The Seven Constants Of Game Design, Part One

    The Seven Constants Of Game Design, Part One

    In the first of a two part series exploring game design, this article discusses the idea that games operate within a universe of defined constants, meaning traits to do with play that stand independent of platform, audience or technology. Read More

  • How Real Will Wearable Games Be?

    How Real Will Wearable Games Be?

    Wearables, primarily smartwatches, are in many ways a compelling idea. Yet do the actual wearables we’re seeing offer anything like that? From a gaming standpoint are they really that big of a deal, or are they more a case of high-hopes and maybe-one-days? Read More

  • The Numinous Veil Of Ignorance

    The Numinous Veil Of Ignorance

    In watching the latest drama unfold over Facebook and its experimentation with users, I’m moved to argue that sometimes you can be too honest. For game makers especially sometimes it’s better for users not to know, for you to hint and inspire but never reveal the inner secrets. To preserve the numinous magic, it’s often better not to show the man behind the curtain. Read More

  • Pirate Radio, YouTubers And Video Games

    Pirate Radio, YouTubers And Video Games

    YouTubers are considered a big boon by some, but also a big threat by others. Game developers in particular sometimes feel that what they’re doing is less journalism/coverage and more like pirate radio, exposing and spoiling their games for profit. Is that true? How will this latest innovation find its place? Read More

  • I Hath Seen The Future Of Video Games!

    I Hath Seen The Future Of Video Games!

    When considering the latest E3 I’m minded by how the games seem very cool, but the industry as represented by E3 has never been more divided. I’m pondering whether the promise of an ultimate platform can be the bridge, and just how likely or unlikely such a device is. Read More

  • Why Does “Just Add Gameplay” Endure?

    Why Does “Just Add Gameplay” Endure?

    It’s interesting to note how a naivety cycle still exists in the educational, social and other peripheral spheres of the games industry. There are a lot of willing believers in the potential of games to cause change, good, educate and so on through some form of gamifying even despite the questionable success rates of such efforts. Why does gameplay retain that power? Read More

  • Finding Game Design

    Finding Game Design

    “Game designer” sounds like a cool job, but often game designers actually do a much more ordinary job. Design is also less and less respected as naught but theory within the industry, which I think is to its detriment. I’m wondering whether design has more of a future under an agency model, and if so what does it need to thrive. Read More

  • What Games Are: Welcome Back, Xbox One

    What Games Are: Welcome Back, Xbox One

    In the tech press the news that Kinect got unbundled from Xbox One has been received as a sign of the company backing away from the future, but in the games press the news has been well received. Why? Because nobody really thought that vision of the future was exciting. Read More

  • What Games Are: The Politics Of Play Matter

    What Games Are: The Politics Of Play Matter

    As Nintendo’s PR gaffe around Tomodachi Life shows, it’s all too easy to get game politics wrong. But more than that the politics of representation, identity and money are becoming important forces in the dynamics of understanding games in general. Game makers increasingly have to be aware of identity, gender, orientations and so on, and not just in a token manner. Read More

  • What Games Are: Is Formal Game Design Valuable?

    What Games Are: Is Formal Game Design Valuable?

    While many people are familiar with the term “game designer”, they’re not sure what that job actually entails. Indeed inside the industry game designers often get little respect because they’re see as vamping frauds that cause more problems than they solve. This is not really true, but there is a gap between the ideal and utility of game design. Can it be solved? Read More

  • What Games Are: What Became Of Social Games?

    What Games Are: What Became Of Social Games?

    Remember social games? Remember how they supposed to be the future, how they were transforming the games industry and all that? No? Strangely not many people seem to think about social games any more, or consider them as a thing. Their central story seems to have faded, replaced largely by other platforms and better functions. Is that a bad or a good thing? Read More

  • What Games Are: Worrying About Indie Games

    What Games Are: Worrying About Indie Games

    It’s been great times for indie games over the last few years, a true golden age compared to what went before. Yet I’m very worried that the great times are over and that – on multiple fronts – the forces of darkness are closing in. Are indie games about to go through a contraction, a difficult phase and a period of being disempowered once more? Read More

  • What Games Are: Valley People And Games People

    What Games Are: Valley People And Games People

    I recently made reference to the idea that Valley thinking and games industry thinking are very different, and some people asked me to explain what I meant. So here you go. Read More

  • What Games Are: Fire TV And The “Casual Console”

    What Games Are: Fire TV And The “Casual Console”

    Fire TV is basically doing what everybody’s been saying Apple TV should be doing by now. 80% of its pitch is about having video and music from many of the usual sources. The other 20% is that Fire TV is a microconsole focused on casual gaming. What does it mean? Will it work? Read More

  • What Games Are: Virtual Reality, We Hardly Knew You

    What Games Are: Virtual Reality, We Hardly Knew You

    It might be white hot news that Facebook dropped two-bils on buying in, or that Valve’s Michael Abrash has joined Oculus as chief scientist, but I suspect that this generation of virtual reality is already dead. Read More

  • What Games Are: Patreonomics And “Supposed To Be”

    What Games Are: Patreonomics And “Supposed To Be”

    When considering the economics of games, I’m more and more fascinated by the potential of a scalable patronage model and seen on Patreon. But also by the games industry’s continuing resistance to new economics in the face of innovation. Read More

  • What Games Are: Going Small

    What Games Are: Going Small

    It’s amazing just how much small-team game development has changed. Not only it has become viable once again, small game makers have developed much more capacity. We seem to be living in a golden age of work-smarter that’s enabling the next generation of game makers to do more than ever. Read More

  • What Games Are: Flappy Bird, Patterns And Context

    What Games Are: Flappy Bird, Patterns And Context

    It’s nice to know that the games industry can still surprise you and that – just when everybody thinks it’s been figured out – there’s room for a Flappy Bird. It’s another Dots, Temple Run, Ridiculous Fishing, Candy Crush Saga, Puzzle and Dragon, Tiny Wings or Fruit Ninja. The game that seems to just pop, leaving many heads scratching as to how it did it. Read More

  • What Games Are: Generation Gygax

    What Games Are: Generation Gygax

    There is probably no single game that has been so influential for a generation as Dungeons and Dragons. On this, its 40th anniversary, I find myself asking whether the long-term legacy of D&D is one that will endure for all time, or whether it’s a generational thing. Will the ideas that inspired my generation of designers translate for the next generation, or will they be left behind? Read More

  • What Games Are: Sports And Video Games

    What Games Are: Sports And Video Games

    This weekend’s big game between the Seahawks and 49ers makes me think of the rise of video game broadcasting (through services like Twitch.tv) and its potential. At what point will video games cross over the mass-popularity threshold that sports have, and become the new tribal entertainment? Read More