Initially, I thought I wasn’t going to get into this course because it had filled up on Axess when I went to register (some 30 minutes after it opened up) D-: As I was abroad, I was lamenting over not being able to enroll in a class I had heard such good things about, especially with Christina. Luckily, the heavens opened up, new spots became available, and here I am, grateful that I’ve been able to take such an awesome course!
Before this class, I had informally designed a game or two, but I had never thought about the actual mechanics of them nor had much domain knowledge. From different stories I had read and encountered, I knew it was a popular industry, but I didn’t really know too much about the field. I pretty much imagined game design being an iterative process where you did some design stuff, edited it, talked about it with some people, and then sent it out to the world. I never envisioned that such a technical yet artistic community of game designers could exist, passionate about various elements of game design from the tutorials that players start with to how the music sets the scene. But when we started that first class with the tic-tac-toe variations, I knew we were in for a fun and yet informative ride. I could feel the creative juices flowing, as well as the desire to learn about what game design actually entailed.
This class gave me a lot of new vocabulary and paradigms with which to think about the games I play. There’s a certain type of magic that is gained (and also lost) when one understands more about a particular subject. As for the magic gained, it was cool being able to look at games through new perspectives. Seeing the narrative architechture behind an ASCII game like Candy Box or trying to understand how games I played as a child can be reduced to one simple loop was enlightening to say the least, and definitely an interest tool to look at games I play moving forward. It’ll be interesting to see how this new perspective influences my perception of games I play in the future. One concept I really loved was the different types of fun. Of course, fun is a concept virtually everyone is familiar with, but to have new categories to expand and understand that with was a cool mental framework. Thinking of how to incorporate narrative fun in addition to some spicy kinesthetic fun can really add to not only games, but events and activities; this is coming from someone who loves to design fun experiences.
I also enjoyed all the exposure to new games through the Critical Plays and Sketchnotes. Games such as Cheese v Font, Herstory, Dear Esther, and Monument Valley really inspired me to expand my mind on what constitues a game or how a game can be played. Monument Valley was absolutely gorgeous and its narrative and puzzles expanded my mind about what could be possible with a simple puzzle. Walking simulations provided a simple and yet immersive way to explore a fabricated world. One idea brought up was that of taking spaces you are familiar with and incorporating that into game play; in both games, the team I was part of explored the Stanford space. One talk also inspired us to make the narrative of the Stanford family central to our escape room; i.e. you had to understand the narrative to understand the puzzle in a similar way to Herstory.
I also enjoyed Daniel Cook’s talk about building friendships in game design. I serve as a class president and one of the questions we always have is how do we unite people from different parts of the class? One framework from his talk that I have used is how to create “repeat, serendipitous interactions”. In trying to design events and expereinces for the class, many game design prinicples such as that have been a joy to apply. Indeed, much of the job is designing these “repeat, serendipitous interactions”
Taking this class was also a stretch artistically and socially. Working with team members, one has to work on one’s discipline, communication and ability to compromise. In addition, this class relies heavy on visual thinking and while it was fun to express myself in this way, it was a challenge sometimes figuring out how to visually translate certain concepts. In those respects, I definitely grew. How to create with compromise and write with images are two huge takeaways from this class.
Next time, if I’m creating a game, I definitely will take the principles of playtesting to heart. I didn’t realize how valuable it was in uncovering unforeseeable problems. Even with designing future experiences, I will take these lessons learned into account.
I loved CS247G :)! Thanks for a great year Eugene, Christina, and the rest of the teaching staff.