I wanted to take this class because I have always enjoyed playing video games. Video games are an escape from my everyday routine. They’ve helped me make some of my closest friends. In general, games are just a big part of my life. Before this class, I always tried to push myself to play a variety of video games with different genres and mechanics. I liked being able to form my own opinions about the highs and lows of any particular game. I would spend a lot of time talking with my friends about what makes a game fun or how games can improve. None of us had a universal language for talking about games or describing certain concepts even when we were all trying to capture the same idea.
This class has given me the vocabulary and understanding that I need to think critically about the video games that I play and how they’re designed to create fun, convey narrative, and structure engaging gameplay loops/arcs. Recently, I’ve found myself not only enjoying video games as a player but also as a designer. I think about all of the different decisions that went into making a game what it is and how I might improve on the game further. It is certainly a very different experience, but I have always thought of games as things to learn from. Now, I have the tools to do that more effectively.
One part of the class that really resonated with me was identifying the formal elements of a game. We covered formal elements early in the class, and they felt like the fundamental building blocks that we could use to think about how games are built and how they can be broken down. Throughout all of my critical plays, I paid a lot of attention to the game’s formal elements and tried to commentate about how games used these fundamental blocks in novel or interesting ways.
Another part of the class that I enjoyed was the sketchnotes. It took me some time to adapt to a visual form of notetaking, but by the end of the class, I think I found a style that worked for me. The readings and videos for the sketchnotes were always informative, and I liked trying to capture their essence in my own way. I enjoyed the sketchnotes so much that I started creating them for some of my other classes this quarter.
Working on the second project was certainly a challenge for me. It was a technical challenge because I had very little experience working with Unity prior to the class. Over the last few weeks, I feel like I’ve gained some familiarity with the platform and am eager to try to use it for some personal projects in the future. The second project was also a social challenge because I needed to collaborate with a person who had very different opinions from my own. One thing that I’m taking away from the experience is the understanding of how important it is to stand up for yourself, demand the respect that you deserve, and work on projects that are meaningful to you.
Looking towards the future, I want to continue building my design sense and developing a better intuition for what will and will not work. I also want to learn more about narrative in video games and how we can find new and engaging ways to tell stories through games. Lastly, I want to think more about representation and diversity in video games, particularly about how the norms of game development may lead to games that are detrimental to marginalized groups.