Before this class, I thought about play reserved for children. I feel that society sets up the word “play” as something only for children to use—if an adult uses the word, I feel like it is frowned upon. I also felt like game design was generally very straightforward and had a very procedural method, as I believed that many of the games we see today have similar play patterns. However, I was proven very wrong about these assumptions throughout this course. In CS 247G, I had the opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of games through academic readings and critical plays, which I could play and write about.
As a result, I felt very immersed in the learnings of the class concepts because I got to experience them first-hand, rather than just listening to lectures or purely watching videos. Specifically, learning about the mechanics, types of fun, and formal elements really stuck with me because I realized that was the common pattern that made up literally every game that I played. In fact, whenever I play games now, I subconsciously try to identify the formal elements. With these new concepts in mind, it also made me realize what kind of games I liked, which is really helpful for me. I actually grew up not playing that many games so I felt my knowledge was very limited. As a result, I never really felt confident in my game-playing skills and also could not really understand what types of games I would truly enjoy. I implemented them into my work by creating games that I knew I would be interested in and the themes. Something that I discovered about myself is that I did not really enjoy playing scary/high-stakes games because I view play as something relaxing and lighthearted. As a result, for the first project, our team created a light-hearted trivia game based on my favorite game show: Jeopardy! What is even more interesting in my opinion is how our team was able to create a fun escape room because those types of games tend to be on the more ominous side. Notably, during the playtests, we received a lot of positive feedback on the unique theme of our game and mentioned that our game was a good introduction to escape rooms This not only affirmed our game objective but also made me feel like I was the only kind of person who was not an avid gamer but could also enjoy the fun of escape rooms.
While I felt like there was not that much academic challenge in the class, I did learn a lot about working with others. Before this class, I hadn’t really worked with strangers—I had always chosen to work with people I was familiar with. With the random selection of groups, I was grouped with three peers I had never met before. It was a challenge for me to get acclimated to their working styles, as a couple of members of the group worked at a slower pace than me. I usually liked to get homework done at a faster rate but I had to compromise so that we could all equally contribute and understand the class objectives together. However, there was one member in our group who significantly contributed less than us and did not follow the group norms we established at the beginning of the project. It was really hard for our group to muster up the courage to confront her because none of us had experience addressing group conflict.
But through this experience, I grew to understand how new groups operate and a better sense of people management. As an aspiring product manager, a large portion of my career will consist of me working with others and dealing with coworker conflicts. I believe that the relevant skills I learned, from managing project checkpoints to organizing team meetings, will definitely be useful when working on real product features in the future.
Next time, when working on games, I would like to focus more on the accessibility aspect. While I feel that our games accomplished our MVP and were successful to a general audience, I am interested in designing games that target a certain demographic but also make them accessible for everyone to play. For instance, in Project 1, our team created a trivia game but when looking at our card designs, it is not very accessible to colorblind people (red and green cards) and the font was pretty small. As a result, I wish that I had paid more attention to those types of small details. Therefore, in the future, I will create games that better address common accessibility issues and create the best game possible for everyone to play.