Before this class, I never thought of myself as a gamer. I always felt like games had a negative perception, and that playing games would somehow mean that I was “less serious” as a person or “wasting my time.” Yet, I found that after taking this class, those misconceptions have changed. I have looked forward to coming to CS247G each and every day. Ever since we made our first game on the first day of class, I felt a renewed joy of life that I had not felt for ages.Before this class, I never thought of myself as a gamer. I always felt like games had a negative perception, and that playing games would somehow mean that I was “less serious” as a person or “wasting my time.” Yet, I found that after taking this class, those misconceptions have changed. I have looked forward to coming to CS247G each and every day. Ever since we made our first game on the first day of class, I felt a renewed joy of life that I had not felt for ages.
In all honesty, this year has been really tough. I took some time off of Stanford and came back wondering if this institution was for me. I felt deeply depressed over the pandemic. At my worst, I often remembered that my main source of social interaction for some days would be playing games with friends or downloading mobile games to play in between long, monotonous days. When I came back to campus, I had thought that it would be better, but found myself deeply frustrated. I came into Stanford wanting to be a designer and to design cool things! But somewhere between the pandemic, I had lost some of my passion and enjoyment in design. Taking this class reminded me to have fun – to take things less seriously. In the midst of all the stressful and terrible things that were going on in the world or in my life, it was a brief respite and deeply beloved joy. I regained my love for design and had so, so much fun throughout both of the projects I worked on. I have also made friends for life through my projects – people I deeply admire, respect, and hope to work with again in the future.
One of my favorite experiences was just being around my team, working on games and testing new things out without any fear. Failing often and not having as “fun” of a first game as I had wanted made me reconsider whether my perfectionist approach to life and games was always the right decision for me. The most important class concept that stuck out to me was Christina’s reminder to try new things even if they fail. Especially for project 2, I approached design and games with a healthier theory of mind that prioritized growth over perfection. I am really proud of both the projects I got to work on – Scooped! and SpaceMail – and hope that somewhere out there, someone will play them and enjoy them too!
Another element of the class that stuck with me was the constant reminder to play new games. Through critical plays, I learned not only how to think like a game designer, but also how to play like a game designer – with an open mind and an inquisitive spirit. Through play-testing, I reveled in amazement at the amazing games and experiences that my classmates created. And through games we played / created in class, I was blown away by the sheer excitement of both playing and breaking a game down into its core mechanics. It truly felt like an inclusive and welcoming community that inspired me as a designer mentally, socially, and emotionally to be better.
My mental health really challenged me at several points in the quarter, but this class helped me so, so much. It has honestly changed my life and how I think about fun, games, and design. It convinced of me the restorative, healing, and social properties of games that can make people feel better and bring people together. In the future, I hope that I can continue to play games and make games – spreading a little joy here and there. A sincere thanks to Christina, Jean, the teaching team, Kyle, Jin-Hee, Michelle, and Sam for making my Tuesdays and Thursdays a little less bleak each week. This has been one of my favorite classes at Stanford and an inspiration for me to keep fighting and living my life!