Posted in communication and networking, education, physics

Bowling with a crayon

NPR recently aired a story about a new computer game that is fun and challenging for players aged 6 to 106. The game is also a lesson in physics. Called Crayon Physics Deluxe, players of the game start by drawing a box that when completed will drop and hit a ball, which starts rolling and bumping into things, and the game begins. The player earns points by knocking the ball into stars, and the challenges quickly become more complex and involve drawing ramps, balls, and other science tools. The animation of the game looks hand-drawn, as if a child drew it.

Developed by Petri Purho (that’s his name, not the company name) in Finland, the game was originally meant to be a challenge to develop a creative concept game as quickly as possible. Although it took Purho over a year and a half to create it and get it to market, he did win the Independent Games Festival grand prize for 2008, so it was definitely worth his time.

Purho told NPR that he is happy with the game, even if his mother complained it looked like a 5-year-old made it. Purho says that making it look childish was his whole point; the inspiration for this game came from the famous children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” in which 4-year-old Harold literally creates his world around him by drawing it with his crayon. In fact, in the video preview you will notice the cursor leading the action is a purple crayon.

You can download a demo of the game and/or buy it off of Purho’s website, which is in English. According to the comments and NPR interview it is a very addictive game, so you’ve been warned.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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