Cynthia’s Final Reflection

I had taken CS247G before, but many of the game design frameworks had already grown foggy in my mind, so it was definitely good to reiterate and rebuild those ideas in this group. Formal elements, MDAO, types of fun, and arcs and loops are all more solidified in my mind now after reviewing them. I feel much more comfortable talking about the mechanics of different games, and I find myself trying to identify mechanics now even as I play board games for fun with family and friends.

I guess I wasn’t expecting to think so much about board games in this group – I was actually hoping to make some digital games, to leverage game engines like PlayCanvas. I suppose I could have made my own opportunities to create digital games here, but in the end I think I learned a lot from creating physical board games and writing interactive fiction, neither of which I had done before!

Beyond the theoretical frameworks, I definitely learned the most from the experience of just making games. In 247G we only really made two games, and for the second one I was basically just designing puzzles and drawing pictures. Which was cool! And fun! I love designing puzzles. But I wasn’t thinking about the actual mechanics of the game so much, nor was I thinking about any kind of systems. I was just kind of patching standalone things together (it was a hidden object + picture crossword game …. yeah). In contrast, in this study group, projects like P1 and P3 really pushed me to think about how a game is put together and how it actually becomes FUN through the deliberate and careful choices that the designer makes. I found myself thinking critically about other board games I had played, and taking inspiration from them to create something cool of my own.

A big lesson (maybe even a LIFE LESSON) that I learned from playtesting is to just try stuff out, and don’t get so caught up in your own head!! It doesn’t need to be perfect, and any playtest is a good one because it will give you information that you can use to make your game better. I struggled a lot with this, especially with P2 Interactive Fiction, since showing my writing to the world makes me feel particularly naked and vulnerable. But moving forward, I’m going to try and move fast and show people ugly stuff, because then the end result will be at least less ugly than that first version. 

Something I especially loved this quarter was game nights! They were helpful in sharing ideas, getting life advice, and general mood boosting! I think we gave each other plenty of good ideas. Even when we weren’t talking about our work or even games in general, just chatting about life was usually enlightening in some way, and I always forgot my other worries when I was playing games and hanging out with everyone.

I hope to put the knowledge I have gained here to use by creating digital games in the future! They might be dumb little games, but I would hope to approach each of them with thoughtful mechanics, and a meaningful message! 

Thanks so much to Christina and Maya for making this possible, and for all the fun evenings playing games and chatting. 🙂

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