Pietro Polsinelli

Game designer, narrative designer and software developer

I am a game designer and developer, working on applied (a.k.a. educational) and commercial games, as a consultant in games for health, theatrical performance, and as a University teacher. I am the director of Open Lab. I now have a Substack with my writings.


I have designed, written and sometimes coded 30+ applied games since 2014, presented here. I have also written a book on applied games in Italian. I have worked extensively on games for health, here is an academic publication on Rehabilitation Care, and on various forms of educational games, here is another academic publication: Smartness dimensions in designing collaborative learning activities. I have been awarded research grants for games for health by Milan Bicocca University and Don Gnocchi Research Centre Milan for the years 2021-2024, designing and consulting on several applications for chronic non-trasmissible disease therapy.

I have organized several coding jams for kids in the context of the Global Game Jam.

I have designed (in the sense of game designed), directed and coded (as solo dev in Unity) two commercial games:

Football Drama Roller Drama

and I am now coding the third, Becoming Saint, which has been awarded Italy’s Tax Credit 2023 and Europe MEDIA Award 2024 for its cultural relevance. I wrote a post about some ideas behind Becoming Saint here.

In the course of these developments, I have studied and experimented widely with narrative design. I consulted on several indie games, and I wrote a character (“Jorge”) for the game Flat Eye.

I have designed several board games; one is the base for a theatrical performance, Eutopia, presented here. This was (and is) performed widely, I am writing a second one on a different theme.

I have been teaching a course on narrative design at IULM University and also writing a short handbook titled “A Narrative Design Toolbox”, whose techniques you can preview on the dedicated Homer website.

Few facts about life

I was born in Pavia in an Anglo-Italian family; I have dual Italian/British nationality. I have been interested in programming languages since I was 13 (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 to continue with that.

Logic, linguistics & philosophy

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.

I have practised Shintaido, a body movement art, from 1998 until 2015. I wrote about it here.

I have two teenage kids.

Get in contact

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