Wow, what a ride I had throughout this class! Originally entering this class, I had absolutely no game design experience and only had experience playing them. As a kid growing up, I would always run home to hop on the computer and play with my friends that I haven’t seen in months – it was a way for me to connect with them. We would hop in COD lobbies and chat while we gamed, and it was a sort of relief and break from school. Never would I have imagined that I could actually be holding the reins to design my own games, and this class has really helped me do exactly that. Before this class, I thought that game design was simply a matter of coming up with a novel game idea and executing it. I had no idea of the many steps and hoops that I would need to jump through in order to actually “execute” it. In this class, I was exposed to so many game design principles and techniques that I didn’t even know existed. In my mind as a kid, I thought that game design and creation was just a simple matter of making an idea come to life!
Throughout the course of this class, however, I’ve realized that game design isn’t so cut and dry like that. In fact, we need to constantly reiterate and always keep the end user in mind. In our playtesting sessions, I learned concepts related closely to Human-Computer Interaction and how to optimize for better experiences for the player. I learned concepts ranging from “Types of Fun” to mechanisms for introducing elements of storytelling, narrative, and collaboration to the game. We also learned how to properly architect games, with layers and nuances ranging from the backstory to the way we can balance chance and luck versus skill. It was truly an eye-opening experience, as I didn’t realize that game design could dive into such minor nuances that could completely change the overall trajectory of the game. I implemented these concepts into my work, specifically for project 1 and 2. For project 1, we had to create a party game – we included elements of heart-racing excitement and team collaboration into the game through constant re-iterations through playtesting. For project 2, we incorporated elements of space and narrative into our escape room – the knowledge that space and story could so closely influence our game-playing was a true testament to how this class has improved our iteration design process!
I experienced a lot of challenges in this class, as I did not previously have any experiences with HCI and the design process for the end user, much less in a game setting. Initially, it was challenging for me to see how these concepts learned in class could actually impact the user’s experience, but through constant playtesting and idea brainstorming, I’ve realized that they really do matter! It gives me a lot of appreciation for the product design aspect to project creation, and I’m definitely excited to continue taking HCI classes in the future. I’m also really blown away by how much more sketchnotes skills improved – I really had a lot of trouble initially with it as I didn’t really know how to draw. However, after constant sketchnoting, I definitely see how it has improved my memory retention!
I grew a lot in the class, and the effects of this course continue to persist outside of the classroom. I’m a lot more conscious about how I design products for the end user and I know now to always keep them in mind when designing games. It has also sparked my interest for HCI, and I’m excited to continue taking classes in this department as I have experienced first-hand just how important it is! Next time I do design for games, I’ll be sure to employ all that I’ve learned in this class!