Long before this class I had always loved games and even as a kid loved making arbitrary games with my siblings.
I realize today that as a child inventing games with my siblings on long road trips we essentially came up with our understanding of what games were. And honestly that understanding likely carried up until this class. To us, games were a way of creating sorts of rules to enable fun in a specific environment. To draw out the road trip example, this meant taking what was interesting about our environment (the outdoor scenery), factoring in the constraints (not pissing off my mom), and then forming some rules to have fun together. This structure actually enabled me to have a bunch of fun playing and making simple games with my siblings and friends throughout my life. Even in college there were a number of times my friends and I created random little games using just the things we had around. Pennies, and small cups dice etc, all as the basis to invent rules and objectives to make a fun game.
Now reflecting, it is clear that my rudimentary understanding of games would never have allowed my thinking to scale to think about bigger and more complicated games. And so the key learning I have taken from this class is to recognize how larger, more complicated games rely fundamentally on core mechanics, and build off of those more simple ideas to grow with the player. Ultimately creating a complex system that can feel like an entirely new world for an exciting game.
Now, when I think about or play a new game, I can avoid being entirely overwhelmed by the massive scope of a game. I can think about what key elements make it playable, and what themes and mechanics make it so enjoyable. I can think about how story or puzzles are driving this fun, and I can understand how I was taught to play through a clever onboarding experience. This to me is exciting because as I play more games throughout life I will be able to more finely tune my understanding of what I enjoy, what I don’t enjoy, and importantly, why.