Before the class I didn’t really think much about the details of creating a game. I liked to play games and I thought creating them was really fun. My parents on the other hand, were extremely against gaming and the idea of being a game designer. They had always discouraged me from playing video games at home. The only game my dad encouraged was chess. They were so against it that they would only give me 15 or so minutes to play over the weekends, which is kind of insane given most of the games I played were multiplayer and could last much longer. This strict no gaming policy in my house made me feel like gaming was more of a sin rather than a somewhat important opportunity for play. I still loved it and would constantly play games on my phone, laptop and many times at school as I tried to sneakily avoid my parents restrictions.
My parents’ dislike for video games also rubbed off on me when I was looking into potential career paths. I enjoyed playing video games so much I really wanted to design and build them but felt discouraged because of my parents sentiment. I didn’t know that there was actual formal teaching regarding this subject.
During the course of this class, my perception of gaming changed a lot. I learned about the importance of games and play in general. The class setting and atmosphere was extremely fun and a lot more open and engaging than most of the CS classes I’ve taken at Stanford.
I also learned a lot from the class. Most importantly I learned about designing games from a more formal standpoint. I learned how to think with a more designer mindset. This is similar to my other passion of creating films. Most of my film knowledge is self taught, but I relate the game designing process to that of creating a film. Films are more than just picking up a camera and filming. Just like games are more than picking up a computer and coding. Films require intention behind each shot and with each edit. Music, lighting and effects are also critical in films. The process of learning about game design was similar to how I perceived the importance of intention behind films. While games have different needs, intentions in game design serve similar purposes.
The most important concepts that stuck with me during the course are the ideas of narrative, mechanics and dynamics, visualization, game architecture and the formal elements. Each game requires different amounts of these topics, but for the most part it is critical to think about these concepts before and during the development of a game.
Aside from the actual topics of the class, I really enjoyed the experience of being exposed to completely different games. For example, genres such as walking simulators or narrative games seemed uninteresting to me before the class. They never appealed to me, and maybe that’s why I never played them before. However, during the critical plays I really enjoyed being exposed to these different genres of gaming. It broadened my view of what a game could be and opened myself up to a new definition of a video game. I feel like I have unleashed a portion of a new kind of creativity when I think about designing new games now. I also feel more encouraged to play new games in more genres now. Cristina really emphasized the importance of playing all types of games and I think I will continue to explore the gaming world.
I also learned about the importance of playtesting. Specifically during the second project of this class. Since our game was built using Minecraft we really had to limit and focus the players attention on the puzzles of the escape room. It was specifically challenging because Minecraft has so many mechanics and dynamics that made a lot of distractions for the player. Our first playtest really outlined this issue, as players would break certain aspects of our game and constantly fall for unintentional red herrings. The process of continually playtesting detailed how designers and players can sometimes have disconnected experiences of the same game.
In conclusion, I will definitely be applying a lot of the formal aspects of games I learned in this course the next time I design a game. I also enjoyed the lecture from Mr.Librande regarding one page spreads and will try to incorporate one page spreads in my design process.