I’m Rafael Arrivabene, a game designer and game researcher. Over the last decade I have worked in many projects, under different arrangements and partnerships. Here is my place to showcase and explain such projects and their particularities. Check out the menu to know more about them, or ask me directly.
- Game Design Professor
- Crystal Chasers League
- The Rotfather
- Meu Jardim
- Academic Research
- LIBRAS Online
- Defesa Civil: a aventura
- Educational Minigames
- Board Games
2018 — Present. Game Design Professor at UNIVALI
Since 2018 I have been lecturing at UNIVALI’s Game Design and Digital Entertainment graduation program. My classes may be divided in two groups: technical or theoretical. At the technical group I teach 2D digital art, basic 3D modeling, character design, animation in Unity and even how to make paper toys and pop-up books.
At the theoretical ones, I teach about project management, business models for games, copyright and, of course, game design. This last one led me to write “Didactic Introduction to Game Design*”, a textbook with 185 pages, published digitally in 2019 by Sagah.
At UNIVALI, I have supervised the development of many students projects. Each also taught me about different perspectives on design and game making .
*Translated title, the book is in Portuguese
2017. Crystal Chasers League
In 2017 I was invited to collaborate with Flipstar Game Studios on the development of the award winning Crystal Chasers League, sort of a mix between Mario Kart and League of Legends.
For this brand new IP, I gave initial guidance in Art Direction and World Building, but my main contribution to the game was in Level Design. Crystal Chasers League has a unique mobility system, where players can hop in and out of cars that can also fly. Besides that, the game offer different game modes, like battle royale and triatlon, that require different movement patterns and strategy .To make it fun and fair for players moving in any of these conditions, a well thought-out level is essential.
Therefore I planned Radial City as a multipurpose level that should serve as testing ground for such different game modes and mobility options. With the level we could determine basic design principles for new levels to come.
2015–2017. The Rotfather
The Rotfather is a transmedia project conducted by G2E at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC). It has many products in development, as animations, comic books, novels and digital games. Each product revolves around the inhabitants of Faux City and its gangsters.
I joined as a voluntary in 2015 and kept very participative to 2017. I helped the team to organize the fictional world and storyline, for at that time products presented great discrepancies to each other. But my main role was as Game Designer. I have designed around 10 ideas of tabletop games, that reached different stages of completion. In 2020, some of these board games were exhibited as prototypes at Spiel Digital, the online installment of the traditional board game fair, Spiel Messe.
The Rotfather: Intrigas
Intrigas is a fast-paced party-game with strong take-that and bluffing elements, based on the game Coup by Rikki Tahta. It had the objective to introduce the main characters, helping people to remember their names and a hint on what are their roles and personalities. The game was independent published in 2016, with all 350 initial copies sold. In 2017 an expansion pack and a reprint were made.
The Rotfather: Contrabando
Contrabando is an original cooperative party-game of deduction and careful communication. It was designed to expand the universe for the fans of the previous one. It brings new characters from the previous species and focuses in other goods smuggled by the gangs. The game was also independently published in 2017, selling all of its 300 copies. It was also theme of a 2016 Master Thesis at the NHTV Breda, NL.
The Rotfather: Ostentação
Ostentação is a set-collection auction board game. It was designed to illustrate the high-society face of Faux City mafia. It also helped to show more of the scale of the fictional world. Since the characters are vermin living at the sewers, each piece of art had to be made of things like rings, door knobs and the like. The game went under tests in many events, for over 3 years, and is considered finished but awaiting publishing opportunities. As the previous two, it features artwork by Paulo Scabeni and graphic design by me, but the concept of the pieces was the graduation project of Isadora Locatelli.
Other unpublished game is Seizon, an asymmetrical abstract game, similar to the Nepalese Bagh Chall. One players uses a 20-piece snake, while the other plays with 2 frogs. The game was meant to be something that the characters in that world play and it is featured in some comics.
The Rotfather Die is a party-game played with only on one die and whatever two-sided tokens available, like coins or bottle caps. The game was meant to be as portable as a key chain and a promotional gift. Its rules are similar to Intrigas, but the tricks follow a table of proportional values that allows it to adapt to any number of players.
2016. Meu Jardim
In 2016, I had the happiness to publish almost simultaneously a digital and a tabletop version of a game developed originally as a gift for my niece. Meu Jardim is a game aimed for kids from ages 4 and up. The tabletop version is similar to dominoes, but also has a puzzle mode that features over 20 challenges to try. It is currently published only in Brazil by Ludens Spirit, and sold over 1000 copies in 2018.
The digital version is published exclusively for Playtable, an interactive table targeted for schools and children hospitals. Due to the nature of this platform and its context of use, a different take on the original rules was made. It enhances the puzzle mode, adding timer, objectives and score systems. Considering children accessibility, a progression of 10 levels was made, each with three options of difficulty levels, plus a time-attack mode, totalizing 40 different puzzles. The game can be played both competitively or cooperatively.
2016-2020. Academic Research
Between February 2016 and December 2017, I was enrolled at the Knowledge Engineering and Management Post Graduation Program at UFSC for a Master Degree. I have researched how game mechanics may embed cultural values and world views. My Dissertation analyses several game mechanics and their potential meanings, then suggests an analysis framework extended from Dr. Pérez Latorre’s. Related publications:
- Analysis of the Brazilian characters from the Street Fighter franchise: identity and representation in videogames.*Animus — Revista Interamericana de Comunicação Midiática, Vol 18, nº 37, p 253–274. 2019
- The Language of Interaction.Transmissions: the journal of Film and Media Studies, Vol 2 (2) p17–29. 2017
- The War in Games: historical knowledge and representation in digital games.* Cibersociedade e novas tecnologias Volume II. 2018
- Reputation Systems: a case of social simulation in Interactive Narratives.*Interaction South America. 2017. Também publicado na revista eletrônica LOGO — v.6 n.3 2017
- Games in the Knowledge Studies: an overview.*VII Congresso Internacional de Conhecimento e Inovação. 2017
*Translated titles, papers in portuguese.
Since 2018, I am enrolled at the same program, this time for a Doctoral Degree. My current research now aims to frame electoral legislation as game design. The main hypothesis is that by applying Game Design theories to Electoral Design, it will be possible to devise possible causes of lack of popular interest and trust in the democratic process.
2013. LIBRAS online
This was a gamified course on Brazilian Sign Language, made for the São Paulo State Educational Board, supervised by me while working as Creative Manager at MStech, in 2013. The course is target to teenagers, deaf* or not. It is split in two modules. The main content is presented through a series of 16 dramatizations enacted by deaf actors. After completing each module’s exercises, the student will reach the amount of points necessary to unlock the game Senha: Girassol.
This is a first-person point-n’-click puzzle game, featuring a lively bright world where sign language is the basis of communication. The student plays as a couple of siblings, searching for their missing father while unraveling the mysterious darkening of the world. Placing the game as a reward, we could soften the instructional sinde, and make it challenging and fun, because deaf kids deserve it.
With the help of our actors, we could reproduce sign language to the 3D character animations. It allowed us to make Brazilian Sign Language the standard option for most dialogues in the game.
2013. Defesa Civil: a aventura
This was an award-winner gamified course, made under my supervision at MStech, for the São Paulo State Educational Board in partnership with the department of disaster prevention. The main content is delivered through short animations and texts, and at the end of each of the nine modules, students ﬁnd a minigame that puts their knowledge at work. Getting the required points, the student unlocks the 10th module, the big game!
Talismã is a top-down adventure game, where a boy receives a warning from a near future. Now he has to persuade his community to develop risk-avoiding habits to prevent the catastrophe.
2010–2014. Educational Minigames
Between February 2010 to December 2014, I have worked at MStech, an IT for Education company, based in Brazil. I was hired as a graphic designer to the Pedagogical Content team. But a friend developer and I wanted to develop educational games. Later that year we were allowed to start it as a spare-time project. And it paid off.
As soon as we achieved some progress, clients started to ask for it. Our team grew and we were promoted. So for most of my time there I was in charge of managing an artistic department that reached 100 employees and worked on several projects at the same time.
These projects were for public education, requested by Educational Boards. Many involved the development of educational minigames on demand. We then created a successful pipeline to deal with those requests, being able to deliver in two to three weeks, unique minigames, with gameplay suited to their pedagogical objectives. During that time, around 900 minigames were produced.
2000— Present. Board games
I am passionate about making games since my teenage. It’s only natural that permeating these projects I found time time to design my personal projects. I have learned that a tabletop game is a medium where I can rapidly express myself and my ideas.
Some of these were presented to publishers and tested in events. Others were kept to myself, taking the time to maturate. In each of them I tried to experiment with different genres, mechanics and concepts. Always improving my creativity!
The list could go on and on, especially including digital games. But it’s enough now. Thank you for getting here. I am always open to answer any question. Feel invited to send me a message!