Final Reflections Essay- Vicky

Before I came to Stanford, I remember thinking that Designing for Serious Games was a class that would be cool to take. Video games are a big part of my life; I grew up on Nintendo and now watch people play various video games. I’ve been interested in how games like Undertale are able to create such a strong impression on people (including me), imparting meaning and shifting people’s viewpoint from the storytelling and gameplay. I recognized that video games and games in general have a high potential for sharing messages and can be used for a more serious purpose. Before this class, I haven’t had any real experience in creating a game and had a limited view as someone who just enjoys them. Through this 10 week class, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of the framework and mechanics behind games.

With my limited understanding of what a game entails, I was very open to learning about game design in general. There are principles of game design that are sticking with me from the readings. Reading about formal elements of a game was a great foundation. Once I learned about the formal elements, I was able to notice it in games we played and it definitely shaped how I thought about building games. It was eye opening for the Mapping Dynamic Motion talk to consider how the story is designed to make people feel a certain way. I like to consider surprise now, when I think about what makes a game intriguing. The breakdown of intrinsic motivation vs extrinsic motivation when creating games is also something that sticks out to me. We touched on gamification in a different class and this made me think about how we can promote people’s intrinsic motivation instead of relying on short term extrinsic motivation. The concept of loops and arcs confused me at first, but I think it is an important mechanic to think about how gameplay can impact a story and what the structure of a game can be.

The process of making a game is also something that is going to stick with me. One point from Video Game Zinester that resonated with me was when the author talks about getting over the hurdle of starting and getting to create a game. I finally got to do it myself in this class. With the first game project, I got to experience making a formal game for the first time! It was a great experience to learn how to think of a concept and figure out a way to implement it. Developing a concept was definitely the hardest part for me. We had to think about dynamics of the gameplay, how to bring different team members’ ideas together, and test it with people. It was a great chance to think about the terminology and framework of how different components of the game interact. When we went into Project 3, I remember telling my group mates that I was surprised at how the process of designing a game felt more straightforward. It was still hard to make a good concept, but I felt like I was able to think and talk about the mechanics better. Things were moving a lot faster, and we got to test out the game and incorporate feedback quicker.

In terms of thinking about the future, I would love to be able to practice game design thinking into my work and future game projects. Like how to think about what emotions people will feel, their intrinsic or extrinsic motivation, mechanics for the player/user, and so on. It would be great to one day help create a serious video game to be able to shift someone’s mindset or impart a different perspective to empathize with. As part of the P4 refining a game, I chose to add artwork I made as visuals in order for the story to feel more immersive. I would love to continue thinking about graphic design and how art can be used in games.

With the class only being 10 weeks and an independent study, I do wish there was more time to go in depth and discuss the readings. I think being able to process ideas with others is helpful for me to retain information. But I understand that we were making the most out of what we had. I do consider getting to create a game a big win! I used to think that creating games was something out of my reach, so getting the experience of making and playtesting them has been empowering. The game nights we had were fun and I enjoyed meeting and learning from like-minded, passionate people. I hope to carry on this knowledge from this class and incorporate it into my life.

(Feeling a tiny bit sentimental for me to submit my last blog post! Thank you for this opportunity Christina and Maya! :))

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