Meet Jonathan West, Designer of Dynamo

Meet Jonathan West, Designer of Dynamo

The 2020 Blinks Summer Games are on sale now!  Check it out and read more about Dynamo and the designer, Jonathan West below


The Game

"In the far-off future year of 1902, our Steampunk world will run on the greatest of all inventions: the Dynamo. Dynamo isn’t a single game, but a tool - a mechanism for playing games. Use it to play one of the 3 brand new games included (Power Struggle, Bulb Juggler, Electron Drift, combine it with already existing blinks games for unique twists, or try creating your own games with it from scratch!"

Dynamo is very simple in functionality -  It's light is powered by touch.  Pressing the button will charge your dynamo, but the charge only lasts for ~1 second.  The only way to keep your dynamo alive is to keep pressing the button!  
With this simple mechanic, we've designed 3 different games:
  • Power Struggle - A competitive, physical party game where the only rule is to be the last player to keep your dynamo alive.
  • Bulb Juggler - A dexterity-focused game where players must keep as many Dynamos alive as they can before one dies.
  • Electron Drift - A game similar to "hot potato", where any number of players pass a Dynamo tile back and forth across a playing surface, keeping it alive as long as possible.
  • While we have specifically designed games for Dynamo, players are strongly encouraged to think outside the rulebook.  Try adding rules, breaking the rules we've written, or try coming up with games of your own.  All that matters to your dynamo blink is that the lights stay on - it doesn't care much about what else you do with it
What is the Origin Story of Dynamo?
The game originally started as an experimental port of a brilliant little game called "Chicanery", by Anna Anthropy. In the original game, 2 players would hold down different keys on the keyboard for as long as they could.  The last one to keep their key held down was the winner.  The simplicity and abstract rules of this game appealed to me, and I wanted to see if I could replicate it's physical nature through Blinks. 
After observing the variety of ways that people played with the prototype, however, the focus changed - players were playing the game in ways I hadn't expected, or were just creating new games on their own, coming up with their own uses of the light-fading mechanic.  We decided to lean further into this behavior, and came up with 2 additional games to ship (Bulb Juggler, Electron Drift) along with the original concept (Power Struggle). 
Ultimately, we hoped to frame Dynamo less as an individual set of games and more as a "thing to play games with", and encourage people to think playfully about their Blinks.

    It's a Jonathan Party. Jon West joined Jon Bobrow on the Blinks Livestream 7/7/20


    What do you like best about Blinks? about developing games on Blinks?
    For me, Blinks have been the perfect intersection of my educational background in computer engineering, and my passion for game design.  There are a ton of things I love about developing for blinks, but probably the most important for me are the design constraints.  The simplicity of Blinks (API, interface, and even memory space) really encourages me to play with smaller-scoped ideas, which is perfect for me as a new parent with a full time job.  Learning to develop and run games on Blinks has been so easy as well!

      About Jonathan

      Jonathan West is a software developer and hobbyist game designer based in New Mexico, where he lives with his wife and 2 young daughters. He has a background in computer engineering and programming, and has recently taken to studying user experience design and research. He finds a lot of his inspiration in folk and playground games, and is curious to learn how they can shape the way we interact with technology.

      Jonathan West, Designer of Dynamo for Blinks

       Connect with Jonathan