Jonathan Blow Chokes on a Croissant

This piece right here made my day. It’s an interview with Jonathan Blow, the developer of Braid. He is talking about his new game, The Witness. The interview is going well until suddenly this:

Yeah, it’s the mechanics of the game– Sorry, I’m choking on this croissant. It’s very dry.

It baffles me how the PC Gamer staff managed to actually transcribe this bit from the audio recording and put in into the text of the interview. Is this the death of journalism everybody is talking about?

On a more serious note, Jonathan has (again) a very similar position I had when I began with TRAUMA. Just like with TRAUMA, his new game has the goal to introduce new ideas to the genre of adventure games. His observations echo a lot of the ones I had when I started work on TRAUMA. The point where we differ is that he seems to be quite dismissive of the game design in adventure games. Instead of debunking some of his fallacies myself, I recommend this excellent response from Emily Short, an experienced Interactive Fiction writer/designer.

The idea Blow repeats here is a standard meme. On the big scale of Cluelessness about the Thing He Is Critiquing, this rates only about 5 picoEberts. And that’s our problem to solve. There will always be a serious barrier to sharing and marketing IF as long as the standard perception is that it’s about fighting the parser.

Emily admits that there are problems that adventure games and specifically Interactive Fiction still have to work out. On the other hand she points out that there has been a tremendous amount of development and experimentation. I agree with her that it is a good idea to do some research on that before attempting to revolutionize the genre.

By the way if you follow some of the links in her response you can get in an awesome rabbit-hole on the discussion of how text adventures have evolved already and could evolve in the future.

The first time I heard of Blow’s game I was very surprised. This is very different from the game I would have expected him to make. I often found myself independently making the same observations as Blow but completely diverging on the conclusions I would draw from them. I am very curious to see how this game turns out. I’m looking forward to compare TRAUMA with The Witness.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

2 responses to “Jonathan Blow Chokes on a Croissant”

  1. Luis Sopelana

    Personally, the croissant line sounded more like he was coughing because of what he was actually saying about the mechanics in a snide “excuse me, something got in my eye”-sort of way. (Am I being clear? Caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet, it seems.)

  2. sirleto

    yes, luis, this is exactly what i thought about when reading it. more or less this is what i sometmes come to think about when read something about/from blow.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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