BenÂ is an independent game designer and writer. He has designed and written live games, tabletop games and videogames, as well as games that are hybrids of those forms. Â
His most recent design work was an alternate reality game for a major Australian universityÂ in early 2020, a narrative game accompanying an anthropology subject about government, intelligence agencies and citizens with environmental and political themes. It was altered extensively on the fly as it launched just prior to the first COVID-19 lockdown.
He wasÂ the “Games Mechanic” (head game designer) at Melbourne’s premiere live games company, Pop Up Playground, from its inception until it closed in 2018. He designed dozens of games for and with the company, including large-scale social deduction game Spy Catcher, creepy clown chase The Curse, #TrueRomansAll (a choose-your-own-adventure version of Julius Caesar on the streets of Melbourne, commissioned by Bell Shakespeare’s Mind’s Eye program),Â epic bicycle adventure 1000 Cities (for City of Melbourne),Â Viking battle The RideÂ and hit immersive bankÂ heist adventureÂ Small Time Criminals, set in a two-storey ex-bank building.
Ben’s first videogame as head writer and narrative designer was Tin Man Games‘ PlayStation VR title Table of Tales: The Crooked Crown, which you can read more about on the Games page. He has also worked on Australian localisation for indie game Inmost and consulted on educational game design.
In 2012, Ben contributed to Magpie Games’Â Our Last Best Hope,Â aÂ storytelling game of heroic sacrifice and humanity-threatening disaster. The Companion book introducesÂ a variety of new ways to play it, including Ben’s rules and guidelines for playing the game as a comedy. He also contributed some ideas for the main rulebook.Â The game is available on DriveThruRPG and through the publisher’s web site.
He designed the simple fantasy roleplaying game Dungeon Time for younger children (see the Games page for sample), which he teaches as part of a workshop run with arts organisations and libraries.Â He currently has several tabletop games in various stages of development, including comedy roleplaying gameÂ Amateur Hour Apocalypse, and runs workshops for children and adults in game design and Dungeons & Dragons both independently and with 100 Story Building in Footscray.
Prior to Pop Up Playground, Ben co-created several improvised comedy formats, includingÂ Set List, Macguffin and Dungeon Crawl. He also worked on the Freeplay Independent Games Festival for more than five years, and spoken about games at Freeplay, PAX Australia, the Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) conference and Nerd Nite Melbourne.Â HeÂ occasionally writes about games under his own publication,Â Losing An Eye, on Medium.