What Do Great Game Developers Know About Tic-Tac-Toe? I Battled Them To Find Out

What Do Great Game Developers Know About Tic-Tac-Toe? I Battled Them To Find Out

Only one award-winning video game developer got violent when I played Tic-Tac-Toe with him last week.

A few of them were simply convinced I was trying to trick them.

I was not trying to trick anyone. I just wanted them to share some wisdom about one of the most popular games in the history of the world. I figured they would have insights as to why the game is so popular. I figured they would be able to tell me if Tic-Tac-Toe is actually a great game.

I figured I could beat at least one of them in the game. And maybe I’d learn something.

The video above tells my Tic-Tac-Toe story. I was backstage at the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers’ Choice Awards. I pulled aside a parade of creators, people behind such games as Skyrim, Battlefield 3, Fez and… Missile Command!

We played the great game. We learned some things about Tic-Tac-Toe. And maybe about ourselves. (Hmmm. Maybe not!)

Enjoy! And thank you to all the developers who participated. I hope that was more fun than being asked how it felt to win an award.

And my verdict on Tic-Tac-Toe: Great game.


  • also incredibly unbalanced. Whoever goes first has a 100% chance of winning once the opponent has made their first move, depending on where they place their piece.

  • Yeah, if you pick any corner you can create an unbeatable layout for the opponent. It’s a flawed game once you discover how to use this strategy.

  • Yeah, basically, anyone over about 9 has mastered the possibility space of Tic-Tac-Toe. Except Stephen Tolito, apparently.

  • yep, worked out the game was broken in grade 5..so I was a little late 🙂
    Also, got some sweet strats on the dots and lines game (aka cow in paddock)

  • Unless you have a derp moment, you can tell if you’ll win or draw in the first two moves, and even then it’s only down to whether the first person to play will win or draw. I guess that’s why they came up with 3D Tic-Tac-Toe.

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