About Pietro Polsinelli – written by himself :-)

Some applied game and persuasive tools I worked on that form the backbone of my forthcoming book “Explaining With Games”:


Pietro Polsinelli

Pietro Polsinelli: game designer, software developer, entrepreneur, writer

I am a game designer and developer, mostly working on applied (a.k.a. educational) games. Here I try to present the projects I’ve worked on, past and present; I also try to define some features of the future ones, at least, the ones I hope to do; in that section I also briefly present some of my skills and defects.

Play games / Project chronology / Life / Contact / Newsletter

P.S. A simple way to keep in contact with what I do is to join my monthly mailing list about new games, ideas, experiments concerning game design and learning, here.

Running projects

I am a software designer and game designer (web applications, games, in particular serious games), developer (Java, C#, web apps, Unity3d), entrepreneur (started one company and created several products). I also co-authored a book on applied games in Italian, and am currently writing a book on applied games (in English) called Explaining With Games.

My endless chattering

I talk about my work on projects mainly through my Twitter stream: https://twitter.com/ppolsinelli, mainly focused on game design and development. I am presenting stuff I love the most on this blog on indie game design and tools: https://designagame.eu/. I also curate a podcast on game design and a YouTube channel.

Projects I like to do

I found that I’m passionate in projects where I can somehow connect teaching, learning, storytelling with technical solutions. This wasn’t a conscious goal, but if you check the projects I’ve been shipping, that is what they share.

Good at

  • Shipping
  • Keep-it-simple programming solutions
  • Pair development
  • Teaching / explaining technology
  • Integrating technology and culture
  • Fossball (both attack and defence)

Main focus is web app / Unity3D and game design and development; also develops substantial parts of server / client side coding.

Main task in Open Lab is project manager of all phases of product development and release to market (specifics, mockups, modelling, servers side, UX, client side, debug, release, presentations [sites, blogging, videos], press contact) for all software products.

Writing code

  • Server side web development (Java, databases): 17 years experience.
  • Client (browser) side development: HTML plus JavaScript: 17 years experience.
  • Also worked on browser plugins, mobile development (HTLM5).
  • Unity3D development in C#: 6 years experience (current primary skill).
  • In ancient times also developed in Prolog, Pascal, Lisp, various Basics.

Not good at

  • 9-to-5 non creative jobs that don’t solve anything useful (N.B. I am a believer and practitioner of “repetitive” pair working which is highly productive, and done as much as possible “shoulder to shoulder”.)
  • Lying about the feasibility of impossible / nonsensical projects (i.e. I tend to be blunt).

Projects Chronology


2018 November. Publishes second revised edition of the book “Giochi da prendere sul serio. Gamification, storytelling e game design per progetti innovativi”.

2018 November. Creates application to be used during football matches by the public (under NDA).

2018 November. Teaches game design lesson for Politecnico di Milano Design course.

2018 October. Creates application for visitors of the natural history museum of the Pisa University (Calci) for making visits interactive by taking pictures through the aplication and collecting data about the visitor’s impressions.

2018 September. Presents a playable demo of Football Drama at Milan Games Week.

2018 June. Workshop at IULM master in Game Design https://vimeo.com/275274798.

2018 April. Does talk and workshop at Museum Digital Transformation, held in Florence on the 12th and 13th of April 2018. Talk Museums and Learning – an open dialogue through digital transformation, workshop Designing An Applied Game For Your Museum. All slides and info in this detailed post.

2018 March – *. Prototype game development of Football Drama, a narrative game on Football.

2018 January/April. Develops Opera Kidz, a museum game for kids to guide them interactively through the museum. Gameplay video preview here.

2018 January. The Feel Better app goes live on the App Store and Google Play, see here.


2017 October / November. Designs and presents a board-game on Platform Cooperativism: presented at MozFest 2017, as detailed in this featured Gamasutra post.

2017 July. A video with slides of my talk on “Applied and Persuasive: Playful Learning In Museums”.

2017 October. Published a web page which lists the main applied games created in the last four years. These are all playable, either as direct link in the page or by requesting a link, for games unreleased or still in private beta: About Learning With Games.

2017 June. Published featured post on Gamasutra: A curated list of recent writings on games and narrative.

2017 May. Published featured post on Gamasutra: Videogame Dialogues: Writing Tools And Design Ideas

2017 April. Publishes trailer for game Feel Better.

2017 March. Designs trailer for a game in development on offshore safety.

2017 March 25th. Talk at the Museum Digital Transformation conference: Applied and persuasive: playful learning. Slides here.

2017 March 24th. Teaches workshop on applied games at the Museum Digital Transformation conference: Impossible mission: designing and estimating applied games.

2017 March. Published site for a narrative and managerial game on football in production : Football Voodoom.

2017 February. Publishes Autography universal mobile app on App Store and Google Play.

2017 January. Published featured post on Gamasutra: In-between Spaces And Their Design.

2017 January. Designed the game Feel Better for young people in cancer treatment, gets successfully crowd-funded.


2016 December. The sample game The Workplace Challenge is released on Elmec’s site after a successful launch event. A short video on applied games here (in Italian), play the game here.

2016 August / November. Completed several applied games releases for institutions and enterprises: Keep Me Safe in Europe, Redesire, The Workplace Challenge and Autography, all leading to extensions and further developments.

2016 July. Publishes first teaser of a narrative game on football, Football Voodoom https://designagame.eu/footballvoodoom/.

2016 April. Curates a site dedicated to UK youth to learn about the coming EU referendum .

2016 March. An interview on Public Radio where I talk about Autography and playful, persuasive solutions.

2016 March. Graffiti prevention app is successfully released in the Florence Opera del Duomo museum complex, see web site here. Wide press coverage, e.g. New York Times review, French, Spanish, Italian.

2016 February/June. Begins game and support material publications from the Keep Me Safe in Europe initiative web site.


2015 December. Published article on applied games on monthly magazine L’Impresa by Il Sole 24 ore.

2015 December / February 2016. Develops graffiti prevention application for Opera del Duomo Museum in Florence.

2015 December. Publishes a review post on the set of applied games he is working on: Varieties of Game Applications.

2015 December / June 2016. Develops a series of applications (smartphones / tablets) with Alex Neuwahl modelling Leonardo Da Vinci machines for Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours.

2015 November. Actively developing application for kid / young adult neglect and abuse prevention for European university consortium Keep Me Safe in Europe.

2015 October. Creating a puzzle game for mobile iOs and Android on a 3D reconstruction of Da Vinci’s mechanical lion, for French museum.

2015 October. Publishes video tutorial on Creating Match-3 Games in Unit.

2015 September. Post on post-gameplay effects is featured on Gamasutra.

2015 August. Project Once Upon a Tile wins 12.000$ award and is selected for the final Unesco challenge.

2015 June. Project Once Upon a Tile (created with @WeAreMuesli and @DanieleGiardini) gets selected as finalist in UNESCO Gaming Challenge.

2015 Summer. Teaches game design course at NTT Docomo / Buongiorno. and consults on game design of new mobile casual game.

2015 June 12th. Book Giochi da prendere sul serio (“games to be taken seriously”, in Italian) written with Joseph Sassoon and Alberto Maestri is published by Franco Angeli (paper and e-book). Wrote the part on applied games and their design and development.

2015 May 26th. Talks at Media Mutations in Bologna on Videogames Saving and Damning Players. Slides here.

2015 April 7th. Published a tutorial on making a sport game in Unity (2D).

2015 March 28th. Talks at Codemotion Rome on From Web to Game Development. Slides here.

2015 February. Releases Io Credo Che Lassù for RAI, a web playful (responsive) HTML5 application for girl teenagers for contributing writings and ideas for next RAI’s fiction.

Ongoing. Research on an educational app for early approaches to mathematics (age 6-10) with a new inclusive approach to operations.

2014 November – 2015. Works on game design of EU funded game Keep Me Safe.


2014 November. Talks at Codemotion Milan on Hands On Persuasive Game Design – slides.

2014 October. Talks at Better Software 2014 on From Gamification to Game Design.

2014 September. Releases presentation of People in Love in a post and video: Urban life and happiness

2014 September. First releases of templates and theme for gaming sites “My Game” released https://pupunzi.com/myGame/index-video.html and https://pupunzi.com/myGame/index-slider.html #wordpress #HTML5

2014 September. Defines game design for an educational game on consequences of global warming, working with Global Sustainability Institute (Cambridge, UK). #gameDesign

2014 August. Defines game design for an instrumental game for preventing child abuse in its various forms, working with Anglia University, Cambridge (UK). #gameDesign

2014 July. Helps as “pair partner” on the alpha release of Tonzilla, an educational & fun game on the use of voice. #gameTesting

2014 July. Published From #NoEstimates to #YesPrototypes on Medium, on the problematic relationship with estimates in agile projects. Written with Massimo Iacolare. #agile #noEstimates

2014 July. Writes AI code for a training app “games for health” (NDA, no details can be published). #gameDesign #gameAI

2014 June. Writes post and video on Unity 2D development and grids.

2014 May – ongoing. Designs and develops a game on urban design and quality of life, People in Love together with Daniele Giardini. #gameDesign #unity

2014 May/June. Design a large serious game in the health field (under NDA, can’t publish details online). #gameDesign #playfulDesign

2014 May. Starts creating a WordPress theme “My Game” specific for games with Matteo Bicocchi. #php #wordpress

2014 May. Completes third part of Melt-a-Plot development (“movie production”) for RAI. #java

2014 May. Talks about Serious Games in Italy at Svilupparty.

2014 April. Talks at Codemotion Rome on Development and storytelling: a many-to-many relationship, slides here.

2014 March. Launches site Genio https://geniogame.com for a cross media project on new ways to teach and learn history and technology. This is about the Renaissance. The project opens with a Kickstarter here, ended on April 29th, 2014, and is also on Steam Greenlight here. The Kickstarter did not succeed.

2014 February. Publishes two short stories (in Italian) on Quintus, a Roman general campaigning with Caesar. Book in Italian here https://www.felicieditore.it/index.php?pagina=prodotti&idElemento=1148&mode=6&catPrec= #storytelling

2014 February. Long video interview by Mark Boas on Genio’s history and game design goes live. #gameDesign

2014 February. New version of social network for movie writing (for RAI) goes online. #java #socialNetwork #playfulDesign

2014 February. The site for the Genio project goes online – preparing for the Kickstarter. #gameDesign

2014 February. Talks about Impact of Technology on Narratives in Rome – slides here. #storytelling

2014 February. Talks about Startups and games for Startup Saturday in Florence – slides here. #storytelling #gameDesign

2014 January. Started publishing a tutorial on Unity 2D game development here. #unity #storytelling #gameDesign


2013 October / November. Created branding (name, pitch, storytelling) for Chinese multinational producing tiles. #storytelling #branding

2012, 2013 Teacher for “Digital Storytelling” (replacing “Semiotics”) in the Florence University Master in Multimedia master course. https://www.mmm.unifi.it/ #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign

2013 November. Developing 2D games on Unity 4.3 new 2D framework. #unity #gameDesign

2013 November. Talked on “Playfied Storytelling” at IA Summit 2013, slides here. #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign

2013 October. Wrote post on HTML5 & SVG & Facebook graph usages for new apps: see here. #html5

2013 July: Talked on “Gamify with SVG / Canvas over Facebook Open Graph”, slides here. #html5 #playfulDesign

2013 May / June: Teacher at the Master in Fashion Communication at Polimoda. #UIDesign #prototyping

2013 May. Creating a gamified “share your mood” HTML5 app for Docomo / Appsfuel. #gameDesign

2013. Pairing with the amazing Pupunzi creating some JavaScript components; e.g. one on HTML5 audio – see this extended report, now (May 2013) one on HTML5 parallax. #html5

2013 March. Talks at CodeMotion on HTML5 game and gamification design from the trenches https://rome.codemotionworld.com/ #gameDesign #playfulDesign #html5

2013 March. Releases beta for Tempesta / RAI of web site for collaborative writing of movie scripts https://www.meltaplot.rai.it/ . Did engineering, support and UI design. #storytelling #playfulDesign #html5 #java #UIDesign #prototyping

2013 January. Releases mobile game in HTML5 “GoodMorning” https://goodmorning.appsfuel.com/ . Invented and did all game design / engineering and part of JavaScript development. #storytelling #gameDesign #html5


2012 November. Creates (writes all code; illustrations by Pino Panzarella) alpha version of The System browser game, a porting of a boardgame; play it online here https://www.ticonblu.it/thesystem/ #storytelling #gameDesign #html5

2012/2013. Created mobile HTML5 online service “EasyReader” https://easyreader.appsfuel.com/ . Invented and did all game design / engineering and part of JavaScript development. #html5

2012 November. Launches Design a Game with Stefano Cecere, a site on game design. #unity #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign #html5 #CSharp

2012 Teaches seminar “Teaching with Videogames” at the Master in Digital Publishing at Siena University https://www.infotext.unisi.it/ #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign #UIDesign #prototyping

2012 Talk on “Engagement by Design” at Better Software 2012 www.bettersoftware.it #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign

2012 Design and develops Melt-a-Plot for Tempesta Film and RAI Cinema – a social framework for movie script ideas. #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign #html5 #java #UIDesign #prototyping #socialNetwork

2012 January. Begins as student in Bottega Finzioni – videogames and consulting TiconBlu (Bologna) for videogame marketing / production. #storytelling #gameDesign


2011 November. Storytelling and video games

https://gamamoto.com/2011/11/08/storytelling-and-video-games/ #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign

2011 September. Creates and launches a new experimental “social browser game”: Adslife https://adslifegame.com #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign #html5 #java #socialNetwork

2011 May. Gamamoto releases Storymoto (MIT licensed) free engine for JavaScript game story design https://storymoto.gamamoto.com/ #unity #storytelling #gameDesign #html5 #prototyping

2011 February. Creates Gamamoto https://gamamoto.com

on “games, stories and browsers” https://gamamoto.com/2011/02/16/hello-world/ #unity #storytelling #gameDesign #html5 #prototyping

2011 June. Held a workshop at Better Software 2011 on “Storytelling for software marketing”


https://pietro.open-lab.com/2011/06/29/story-tell-your-software-product-2/ #storytelling #branding


2010. Begins self taught studies of game design. #gameDesign

2010 Summer. Short stories (mainly in Italian) with fellow Semicerchio student Massimo Capitani su https://bencotto.wordpress.com #storytelling

2009-2011. Student at Semicerchio creative writing course https://www.unisi.it/semicerchio/ #storytelling

2010 July – today. Creates, launches and supports the social bookmarking service Licorize https://licorize.com/ #projectManagement

2010 November. A reflection on gamification (presented at UX Florence 2010): Game mechanics for thinking users https://pietro.open-lab.com/2010/11/09/game-mechanics-for-thinking-users/ #storytelling #gameDesign #playfulDesign

May 2010. Talks at Better Software 2010 on “Get visitors to read and remember your home page” https://pietro.open-lab.com/2009/10/19/get-visitors-to-read-and-remember-your-home-page-the-principles/ #storytelling #branding

2009 and before

2009. Creates blog Homo Surfens covering various aspects of web workers’ anthropology. #storytelling

2007. Awarded in 2007 with “17° Productivity Jolt Award” at SD West, Santa Clara (CA) USA (for Teamwork / Twproject) #projectManagement

2003-today. Creates and develops Teamwork https://www.twproject.com version 1-4 in Open Lab, creates the totality of documentation, site’s contents, indexing, blogging and marketing. Still does support and boot camps. Teamwork is sold all over the world with more than 500 installations in production. Did and does boot camps in Europe, USA, Brazil, Africa. #branding #projectManagement

2001- today. Creates Open Lab with three friends, and all four of us are still working in it. Supplies various custom web solutions to companies and corporations. https://www.open-lab.com

nopedal pedal superNoPedal

Few facts about life

A note: by 1998 I was a badly aged, embittered and arrogant 31-year-old teenager, who could actually do little. Very little. I realized it suddenly, and got working. Somehow I understood that I had to put it together, by myself, and somehow did it as you can read above:-)

Before 1998

I was born in Pavia in an Anglo-Italian family. I was interested in programming languages since I was 14 (it was 1981), at the time I was in London and I discovered the existence of accessible computers, the Sinclair ZX 80-81. Since then I have been interested in programming languages, recursion theory, mathematical logic, models of natural language, axiomatizations of mathematics, and studied mathematical and philosophical logic at various universities. I also tried to work at theorem proving in set theory as a pure mathematician, but at the time I was too confused. Took years to clear the fog.

Logic, linguistics & philosophy

1 year grant for foreign studies from Florence University to Carnegie Mellon University.

1988-1995. Studies in Philosophy and Mathematical Logic in the University of Florence; thesis in Mathematical Logic on “Y. Moschovakis. The formal language of recursion. The Journal of Symbolic Logic, 54, 1989”. Researches done for University of Ghent (Belgium) in Artificial Intelligence and computational models (European degree in Mathematical Logic, 1992). Post graduate fellowship from University of Florence granting one year in Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA, USA), and Universitè Paris VII (France), Department of Mathematics, for studies in Logic.

After 1998

Worked in software development for enterprises and games, doing a lot of stuff as you can see above.

I currently live in Florence with my partner Laura, a graphic designer, and our two children.

I have practiced Shintaido, a body movement art, since about 1998.

Get in contact

You can follow me on Twitter @ppolsinelli. You can write me at ppolsinelli@gmail.com.

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