Games have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my family had regular game nights, and any guests in our house were expected to play at least a round of Taboo or Apples to Apples. My family members (including myself) can all be high strung and competitive at times, but games were a healthy outlet for our competitiveness and always brought us closer. When I got older, I brought my love of games into my friend groups: to this day, I insist on game nights at least once a week in my dorm.
Despite my lifelong love of games – or perhaps because of it, as they were so normalized for me – I took them for granted: I never asked myself what they meant to me or where they came from. I took 247G because it came highly recommended by a friend, but I thought game design meant creating graphics for video games and would thus be irrelevant to my interests. I can happily say that after this past quarter, my mindset has completely changed.
One of the lessons that stuck with me from the beginning was the Types of Fun. I had never thought to qualify fun, but I realized through that lesson that I need many kinds of fun to feel fulfilled. I had always wondered why I sometimes crave mindless games like Doodle Jump and other times immerse myself completely in the strategy of Hearts. Since learning this lesson, I have been better able to identify what Type of Fun I am craving in any given moment and what game to play to achieve that goal. It has also made me appreciate certain games more: I don’t usually find myself craving narrative games, for example, but I understand why someone might and thus the value in having them available.
In addition to better understanding my own relationship with games, I gained a new respect generally for them. Learning about how game designers use principles of architecture to come up with mechanics that will lead to a specific experience made me realize all the work that went into the games I played growing up. I started to think of game design as an art form.
When I worked on my two projects of the quarter, I imagined my games bringing families or friend groups closer together. I found it very challenging at times to predict what people would enjoy, which brings me to another lesson I took from this class: the importance of playtesting. Humans are complex, and no matter how much theory you learn, you cannot predict with certainty how people will react to design choices. This is true beyond the scope of game design: it is easy to get invested in a project or design decision as your brainchild, but what really matters is its effect on others.
I grew in many ways from this class. I genuinely have a deeper appreciation for the role of fun in my life and all the work that has gone into facilitating this fun. In the future, I will continue to think critically about games and the importance of play. I truly believe, now more than ever, that play is a vital part of achieving happiness and fulfillment in life. I am very grateful to have learned this lesson from 247G.