Final Class Reflection – Tristan Wang


Coming into class, I’ve played my share of games, be it video games, board games, or physical games. I most often thought of games in terms of genre and utility. Games tickled my brain, engaged my senses, offered me refuge, and helped me bond with friends. However, I was very far from being a competent game designer or a game critic. My vocabulary for what captivated me about my favorite games, or why I’d replay some games over and over again (often despite knowing the plot), was limited. And I was not sure how well I’d do at designing a game that other people would like to play, mainly because I’ve never really tried before. The realm of game design, especially professional game design, was a black box.


Formally, what stuck to me the most from CS247G was the aesthetics of fun. As with other fields, having even a simple vocabulary can be very inspirational and empowering. By examining a wide variety of games through repetitive playtesting, sketchnoting, and mindmapping, I gained the ability to play a game and notice the types of fun it encompassed. This caused me to see the attraction of games in a new light. Games are attractive because they, like works of fiction, are “true lies”. They generate a “magic circle” wherein you can more freely experience the joys of life — it can be a drama, obstacle course, uncharted territory, social framework, place of refuge or self-discovery.

This class also made me appreciate game design more. This is because I realized that good design is the result of iterative playtesting and adjustments. Working with my team on the two projects, I experienced how various perspectives can be combined to generate creative designs for games despite time, budget, and experiential constraints. It also testifies to the wisdom of creativity consisting of drawing upon what you know, and adding your own twist to it. When designing a certain type of game (e.g. social deduction, escape room), I thought about games of the same genre that I’ve played and how I wished they were improved. It’s heartening to know that creativity is not a superpower confined to only a few talented people, but something that can be honed in everyone given deliberate practice.

Finally, being a consumer of games all my life, I realized that being on the other side as a designer of games come with its unique satisfaction. It feels great seeing playtesters discuss strategies for our social deduction game, or figure out puzzles in our escape room.


All in all, I’ve come away from this class as a much more confident game designer. Working on games with my team gave me the opportunity to practice pooling ideas, working through disagreements, splitting up work, and navigating constraints. Examining games in a more comprehensive way helped me appreciate the well-designed games more, and improved my ability to replicate the positive qualities of games. As a CS major, I’ve always seen coding as a means to an end. This class solidified my resolve to find a career that uses intentional design to improve human connections.

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