Before this class, I loved playing games but never thought much about their design or origins. Most of the games I play are games I picked up on family vacations. My grandmother taught them to me, so they were mostly “old people games” like backgammon or card games. I never thought much about how these games were designed because I assumed they had been passed down from generation to generation. I loved games but never questioned how they came to be or imagined designing one myself. Also, as someone who wasn’t allowed to play video games as a child and didn’t have a smartphone until my junior year of high school, I had very little exposure to online/video games. I knew they existed but never thought about playing or building them.
This class opened me up to the incredibly wide and diverse field of game design. It made me question what a game was and what it could do. It revealed how intertwined games, art, emotions, and culture can be. As someone who loves interdisciplinary fields and combining my different passions, this course gave me an amazing outlet to bring my favorite things together in a creative way.
A course concept that really stuck with me was the reading on game architecture. Over the last year and a half, I’ve been thinking a lot about how physical space and surroundings change human behavior and thought processes. The reading pointed out how architecture in games doesn’t need to provide shelter or warmth the way architecture does in the real world. However, it still has the same influential power over players. I love the idea of creating worlds where your only criteria for construction is the way it makes people think and feel, rather than the rules of physics.
One of the challenges I faced in this class was letting my creative vision go and engaging empathetically with playtesting. I felt so, so excited about so many of the ideas my group came up with that it was often hard to hear critical feedback or see the way people were struggling with the games we created. Our playtesting exercises helped me grow a lot as a designer. They showed me the importance of iteration and feedback. They also made me a more aware interviewer. Typically, in interviews, I listen to a participant’s feedback and words. However, when playtesting, I learned to observe body language, attention, eye contact, and energy level as well. These skills will be so helpful as I go forward in my design career.
Next time I build a game, I want to feel more open to the directions it can move in and let playtests carry the game in directions I hadn’t even thought of. I think this practice can teach me so much more about design and invite unexpected ideas into my life. I also want to build a more abstract and creative game. I’d love to play with different senses and thought processes to engage types of fun that I didn’t get to work with this quarter. I would love to take another game design class and hope I have time to at Stanford.