Before taking this class, I did not know much about game design. I love games and wanted to learn what goes into developing a good game and how individuals can design for rich and rewarding game experiences. I also knew that I enjoyed some games more than others – for example, I really enjoy Destiny 2 while Call of Duty not so much – but lacked the formal education that could provide a framework that articulated why some games were more enjoyable than others.
This class has provided exactly that and provided me with terms and mental models that I can apply to all games. This is the most valuable thing that I have taken from this class is the models that can be used to break down games to first principles, and then rearrange elements to improve a game. Starting with learning game mechanics and design, the types of fun, and visual design elements established what I think of as the building blocks of games. Then we learned about using these elements in different combinations or manners to develop narrative loops and arcs, balanced games, designing for different types of fun, and creating a good onboarding process. I have learned an incredible amount of knowledge over the past weeks, and now feel like I have the formal language necessary to describe, develop and play games.
Over the course of the last 10 weeks, I have played a lot of games, and my experience playing these games has changed. Previously, I would generally approach a game either with the intention of a) having fun, or b) winning. I didn’t really know what made a game fun (but did know when it was!) and would try to learn mechanics that could be used to win but didn’t extrapolate how mechanics in one game could be very similar to mechanics in a different game. This class has opened my mind up to see parallels between many games and realize that there are often nuances in games that are revealed through many iterations of playtesting. Game design requires a high tolerance for receiving constructive feedback due to the iterative process, and I realized that having a growth mindset is incredibly important for game design.
Outside of learning about gameplay, a main core concept that I have taken from this class is to prioritize for childish fun. Fun is at the core of this class, and it helped me re-realize the importance of doing things just for the sake of doing, and not because there is some goal or reward. I am very grateful for this and am fortunate and elated to take this class – thank you to Christina and the teaching staff!