Before this class, I thought playing more video games is naturally going to lead to you being more capable at designing games. However, after a series of critical play exercises we did in the class, in which I analyze a game through different perspectives, from the balance to the narrative, I discovered that designing really requires a bit of meta-thinking while playing. I am a person who easily gets carried away by narrative and environment, thus before this class, I always found myself remembering nothing but the plot or some cool visuals after playing. Now, I’m paying more attention to the mechanisms of the game, as well as the goals, genres and other related information of the game. I ask myself about the intentions of the designer: what do they want the audience to think/feel when they are designing this? This proves to be extremely helpful in my own designing process.
Another great thing about the critical play exercises is that they really expand my knowledge of different genres of games. Before the class, the games that I play usually emphasize the narrative–so, mostly interactive fiction (a lot of Twine games). Critical play pushes me to experience multiple genres that I had presumed that I wouldn’t like, but eventually it turns out that I like the games I played for critical play very much, including social games, strategy games, puzzle games. The most memorable experience for me is playing “We’re Not Really Strangers” with my partner. Both my partner and I had long been skeptical of introspective social games due to the cultural background of us. I questioned whether individuals could truly open themselves to others or not and had serious doubts over the “revealing vulnerabilities” part of introspective social games. However, when I played “We’re Not Really Strangers” with my partner, I surprisingly discovered that there is much fun in opening up myself to other people and talking about “hard” topics. And the overall experience has proved to be really interesting as well as fruitful. I love the game and I even recommend it to my parents.
In the class, I also learned that game design is a highly collaborative process, and something really surprising could come out of the collaboration between people from different backgrounds with different skills. In the design of the social game, I was exposed to an interesting way of making online interfaces for social games and I found emojis can be really powerful in designs. In the design of the narrative game, my groupmates showed me a new way to look at the audios in a game, thinking about multiple possibilities that could be created using audio only. These are all fresh ideas and new perspectives for me, and I learned a lot through collaborating with my groupmates. I will remember these when designing games in the future.
Overall, it has been a really rewarding experience:)