Before this class, I didn’t really think that game design was for me. I’ve never really been a hard-core gamer, and I didn’t know if I had the creativity or skills to do well in this class. I felt that compared to other students, my knowledge of games was really lacking and that I would have a tough time keeping up.
However, throughout the course, I was pleasantly surprised to find out how much experience I actually did have with games. Maybe they aren’t the stereotypical RPG shooter games, but I really enjoy farming and tower defense mobile games — Hay Day, Plants vs. Zombies, Bloons Tower Defense, etc. I realized (and this should have been obvious), but phone games are definitely “real” games too! So much goes into designing and building them, and I personally love how much more accessible and approachable they are.
Throughout the course, I learned a lot about the reasons behind each design choice in the games we play, and it was super eye-opening. After learning about the different types of fun there are, I actually learned a bit more about myself and what makes me enjoy certain games. For example, I realized I really enjoy fantasy and expression — so I really enjoy games that assign me a fictional character or let me decorate and customize things. It’s an experience that almost transports me back to my childhood, I think. I also realized how important (and fun!) world-building is. I was able to work on designing the background for my team’s game “soRRRt,” and I really loved being able to just create a cute setting for our game to take place, adding little decorations and things reminiscent of my own dorm room. The visuals and sounds really do help convey a certain mood. For our game, it was definitely a bit more on the relaxed, feel-good side. In the case of a game like “Dear Esther” — probably the most memorable game I played this quarter — it’s super eerie and scary (to me at least, haha).
Similar to any other class, one challenge I faced in the course was worrying too much about how well I performed grade-wise. I think Christina is so spot on when she says a lot of Stanford students care too much about their grades. I think that’s especially true for those of us who grew up being told that good performance in school is the only path to success. I’m definitely learning to worry less about the numbers and just experience college for the sake of learning. It’s definitely easier said than done, but I really do feel like Christina’s talks helped ground me and remind me that I’m so much more than my GPA.
Besides skills or knowledge, I think my growth mindset did improve quite a bit throughout this quarter. With Christina’s lectures and also the guest speaker who came to discuss this topic with us, I’ve learned to become more aware of the often pessimistic views I have toward myself and what I’m capable of. I found this course really helpful in that it showed me that it’s definitely possible for me to learn about a new topic from ground zero. I’m absolutely not a master at game design, but I’m leaving this course with so much more knowledge than I thought I would.
For next time… there’s so much more I want to do! After taking CS 147, 47, and now this class, I really feel like I have the skills to go out and build something else cool. I really didn’t feel that way during the first two years of undergrad, so this feels super exciting.
Thank you to the TAs and Christina for the great experience! 💛