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Nicholas Fortugno
Nicholas Fortugno
Born May 13, 1975 (age 37)
Bronx, New York
Gender Male
Occupation Video game designer,
Nicholas Fortugno (born May 13, 1975) is an American game designer and educator. Fortugno is CCO of Playmatics LLC, a New York City-based game development studio focusing on casual games and cofounded with Margaret Wallace.

Fortugno is perhaps best known for designing Diner Dash, a top-selling casual game developed by Gamelab, and the award-winning Ayiti: The Cost of Life. In addition to his large body of digital work, Fortugno has been involved in the design of numerous non-digital projects, including board games, collectable trading card games, large-scale social games, and live-action role-playing games (LARP). Since 2002, Fortugno has taught the Game Design and Interactive Narrative program at Parsons The New School for Design, and has contributed to the development of the school’s game design curriculum. Fortugno also hosts and writes for the game journal and review site Critical Smack!

Early life and education

Born in the Bronx, New York, Fortugno was raised primarily in Yonkers, New York, where he attended Gorton High School. Fortugno earned B.A.’s in English and Philosophy from the State University of New York College at Purchase in 1997. Between 2000 and 2002, he attended the City University of New York as a doctoral student in English Literature, and then Hunter College as a Master's student, with a concentration on post-war American novels



Fortugno worked at Gamelab starting in 2000, ultimately becoming Director of Game Design before leaving in 2006. Fortugno acted as lead designer and co-designer for many digital Gamelab projects, including:

  • Arcadia - Game Design, Process
  • Arcadia Remix – Designer
  • Ayiti: The Cost of Life - Lead Designer
  • Diner Dash - Lead Designer, Writer
  • Downbeat - Game Design
  • Drome Racing Challenge - Writer, Designer
  • Fate: The Carnivale Game - Level Designer, Writer
  • Inventor Saves the Day! - Lead Designer, Writer
  • Junkbot - Game Design
  • Junkbot Undercover - Game Design
  • LEGO Fever - Designer
  • Miss Management - Game Design
  • Motorbike Blast - Game Design
  • Plantasia - Lead Designer
  • Spybotics - Writer
  • Stack-It! - Lead Designer