Before taking this class, I didn’t really think of myself as a “gamer” or someone who plays a lot of games. This impression of myself wasn’t even that accurate — I spend ridiculous amounts of time playing games on my Nintendo Switch (mostly Animal Crossing or party games like Mario Kart), and I also really enjoy playing board games with my friends. But I think the primary reason I didn’t particularly like to think of myself as a gamer was my impression of the community: I don’t like playing games that are strategy-heavy or difficult, and it seems like most of the video game crowd is focused on grinding and playing first-person shooters. However, this class showed me that there are lots of different types of games out there (and lots of games that I enjoy!).
I did spend a little bit of time thinking about game design while playing games that I enjoyed (especially the visual design, since most of the games I like have a similar cutesy/wholesome vibe). I wrote my PWR 2 RBA paper on Animal Crossing and why digital socialization over Animal Crossing is so much better than Zoom, and I learned about some game design concepts (like the 8 kinds of fun) through my education classes 🙂 That being said, I really didn’t appreciate how much work goes into creating a game that is fun and honestly just playable! It’s easy to think that a lot of the games we play just “make sense”, but someone had to come up with all that.
One of my biggest learnings from the class was the formal elements of gameplay: I found it incredibly useful to have a framework to think about games, and I enjoyed applying what I learned through the critical plays each week (as a side note, the critical plays were also awesome — I loved getting to play games for homework!). It was really cool to have a more concrete way of thinking about games and their mechanics. Besides that, one specific assignment that I really liked was the talk about onboarding in Plants vs. Zombies. A lot of the takeaways from that talk, like using adaptive messaging and focusing on doing over reading, are also more generally applicable to learning anything (not just games). I’m really interested in educational technology, so it was cool to see those parallels in game design as well.
Another thing I took away from CS247G was becoming more confident in my sketching/doodling skills! I’ve always liked doodling but thought I wasn’t “good” and didn’t do it that often — the sketchnote assignments helped me become more comfortable with sketching quickly in order to communicate ideas. I also became a lot better at doodling people, which was fun (the sketching workshop we did in lecture towards the beginning was one of the highlights of the quarter for me!).
One of the things I found challenging during this class was collaborating in groups, especially for Project 2 (where groups were assigned rather than us choosing). We had some struggles where not all team members were meeting the group expectations we originally outlined when we first started the project. However, I do think that this conflict was an opportunity for me to grow and become more comfortable navigating teams and conflict resolution, as well as feeling more confident voicing my thoughts and needs, and I do think that we ended up coming to a solution that worked out for all team members!
If we keep working on our games, one thing I would like to do is playtest with a more diverse group of playtesters (especially besides just Stanford students). Although our games were made for a specific audience of college students, it would be interesting to see how they fare with different groups and whether we can make them more fun! In addition, for our escape room in a box, I think it would be fun to go beyond a box and work more on the space to set up a real dorm room feel rather than just individual puzzles in a box.
Finally, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the whole teaching team and especially Christina! This class was one where I felt like the teaching cared about our well-being rather than just whether we were getting assignments in on time. I really appreciated having such a supportive environment and I always looked forward to coming to class each week <3 Hope you all have a great and restful summer!