This class opened my eyes to what it feels like to think about games from the inside, and helped me reflect on my relationship with games. I came into the class with a curiosity for design, and a somewhat negative view of play and games, but an open mind. I played a lot of video games as a child. A few weeks into the quarter, I made a mind map of all the games I had played, remembering many games that overwhelmed me with an immense wave of nostalgia, like Virtual Villagers and Rollercoaster Tycoon. However, I gradually stopped playing video games a few years into college, developing a negative view of them as time wasting and associated with childishness and nerdiness. This class helped me re-familiarize myself with games from a more objective lens. Learning about the formal elements of games and types of fun clarified what makes games tick. An aspect of play that has struck me positively is social games. The unique ability of games to bring people together and provide some simplified model of a real world construct is inspiring. The part I loved most about playing games in high school (League of Legends especially) was the social aspect of playing with friends. There are many ways games can bring people together, and that’s a part I would love to continue exploring past this class.
I really loved the first project since it tied into this curiosity about the social aspect of games. Our game, Running with Scissors was like Pictionary except cutting out shapes with scissors. It was exciting seeing the game evolve and seeing players repeatedly have fun. It was exciting people express emotion as a result of the gameplay. That’s rarely something you see when you build apps, websites, even traditional art. But when people played our game, we always saw the gamut: excitement, frustration, confusion, happiness, anger. All that from such a simple mechanic. Social games really amplify what can be evoked, because it’s just letting people be open. It’s like dressing great ingredients – a fresh burrata with tomato slices, that is, people – with some simple toppings – a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You don’t always need to add much with a social game. I also really liked playing “A Fake Artist Goes to New York”. Again, using simple lines unlocked a world of creativity and deduction. I really like seeing how people make decisions when confronted with uncertainty and challenge, even in minor instances like where to draw a line.
The second project, where we made an escape room room (Dicepto Bio: the Escape) was an interesting experience. I do not enjoy puzzles or escape rooms as much as I do social games. However, I did love the idea of creating a narrative inside the game. The reading we did on how to create narratives in games was enlightening. The idea of creating a mood through hints at the narrative, making sure the game mechanics rhyme with the story, was novel to me but made so much sense. Furthermore, the game can hint at narratives the player already knows. For example, the game doesn’t need to retell the hero’s journey; simply using swords and monsters, even in a puzzle game like a swords and monsters themed Jenga, can convey a sense of adventure and combat. This idea evokes a similar realization that one’s own impression upon others (and vice versa) is made up of the collection of small observations and behaviors that are perceived, rather than one single storyline.