Initially, I took this class because I heard and thought it would be a fun experience—we get to play and talk about games, and I like to play games! For some reason, before finishing P1 I had never really processed that this was not just a class about games but about designing games… And likewise, I had never considered myself interested in game design at all; I always had the perception that game designers solely consisted of video game designers building digital games, which was something I didn’t really have much affinity towards because I don’t consume many digital games. Upon finishing P2 and reflecting on my class experience, however, I realized that game design is and encompasses so much more than I ignorantly believed it to, and that this process was one of the most fun, satisfying, challenging, rewarding, and educational parts of my quarter.
I learned how much I (hate and) love the ideation, constant iteration, and execution processes of building a game. And perhaps most importantly, I really enjoyed doing it all as part of a fantastic team.
With such open-ended projects, we naturally were able to exercise a lot of creative freedom. Creativity is something I’ve always wanted to intentionally work on, and I’ve noticed myself definitely developing this skill while observing some of my awesomely creative teammates beside me too. I remember during the beginning of P1 when my group decided to do a Crazy 8 brainstorming exercise, and I could barely produce anything that I felt was truly substantive or meaningful. Gradually, I watched myself feel more comfortable with trying to think and express myself out-of-the-box, and by P2, I could tangibly see and feel proud of my ideation contributions in our final product, especially around narrative premise and embedding narrative with puzzles. Obviously, this is a skill that I will take with me to any and everything I work on in the future.
With this freedom comes challenges, however. Particularly in P1, our group struggled a lot with attempting to match our product with our vision. We were passionate and excited about blending narrative and fellowship and had solid ideas on exhibiting this in a murder mystery role-playing game, but this proved to be very tricky. We put in a lot of effort to try to seemingly get the best of both worlds, but it felt like we would always run into some edge case and some lack of cohesion. We learned that managing scope is important, and this helped us a lot in P2.
My greatest learning experience was probably the iteration process. In both P1 and P2, we made attempts to implement our visions, realized dead-ends of flaws from internal discussion or playtesting, and then had to reiterate. This happened many times. I was constantly impressed by my teammates’ abilities to take what we observed, diagnose the issue, and propose an alteration, and I believe this is a display of both good understanding of game design concepts and superb creativity. I loved how our team was able to carry out these discussions and analyses, and I loved how we all committed to open-mindedness. This really paid off, and it was incredibly gratifying to watch our P2 involve from a bare, disjoint puzzle hunt to a full-on, immersive art heist escape room puzzle hunt game.
At the end of the day, watching our playtesters have fun playing the game we designed from scratch is one of the most rewarding things ever! It’s like the feeling of your own code or program finally working, but maybe even better because there are people on the other end sharing their positive emotions with you 🙂 This course and quarter have been a pleasant journey, and I am grateful to have gone through it with my wonderful teammates and new friends—Alahji, Ji Hong, Jialin, and Kathleen—most of whom I had actually only met through this class. I know that in my future endeavors, whether professional, technical, or personal, I will take away and remember a lot of what I have experienced in 247G—from encouraging myself to be imaginative and innovative, to staying focused and centered, to respecting the process of refining and improving an idea or product. Thank you to Christina and our TA Khuyen for guiding us all!