Coming into CS247G, my thinking surrounding game design and game play was quite informal. I have always enjoyed games, particularly ones that involved strategy, but never thought about them in a formalized way. As a result, while I knew that I liked poker and Catan much more than gin and Monopoly, I wouldn’t have had the ability to specifically identify what made those games more fun beyond simply the fact that I felt that they are more strategic.
Over the course of the class, the concept that stuck with me the most was the identification of the 8 kinds of fun. I found this to be a fascinating framework with which to evaluate not only games but all activities that humans take part in. Evaluating games first, it is rare at least in my relatively uninformed opinion for a game to generate more than 2 or 3 of the 8 different kinds of fun in a significant way, but it is interesting to see how different games hit on different kinds of fun. Looking back to my example from earlier, poker can be different things for different people. Someone who is addicted to gambling may play poker in order to generate abnegation fun, while people playing with friends may primarily see the game as a way to generate fellowship fun. Likewise, a professional would likely see poker as more of a challenge to be solved. This formalized language is in my mind the biggest thing that I took away from the class, as it has allowed me to take concepts that I can identify in the world and pinpoint what they are in a formalized way that is clearly explainable.
This framework of thinking was critical when developing the escape room my group and I worked on for P2. Thinking about how the different puzzles would be perceived by players and which of the kinds of fun a challenge would likely generate was critical. As a clear example, when we considered the structure of the room, fellowship was a relevant consideration. The structure of the puzzles was therefore designed with this in mind, a clear application of this class concept.
As for the challenges I faced and my ultimate growth, one of the biggest challenges I faced in the class was my lack of artistic skills and confidence. With the weekly sketchnotes, I felt that I was outside of my comfort zone, but ultimately over the course of the class I became much more comfortable putting my notes into a visual format. Additionally, I felt that the extra effort on my part when it came to getting the aesthetic right forced me to engage with the content more critically and as a result retain more of the information compared to what I would have likely gotten out of taking traditional notes.
Finally, looking forward, I will certainly consider developing games in the future — many may be more mundane and limited to cards or social games in some regard, but the tools I learned and developed in this class will be critical in this regard.