Before this class, I had spent my life being entranced by various video games and physical games, from classics like chess to Mario Kart to newer games like Wordle and party games like Overcooked. I enjoyed playing these different kinds of game and seeing the different types of fun they could provide, but I never really had the vocabulary to describe what I liked and didn’t like. In this class, I was hoping to remedy that and become fluent in the language of game design, in theory if not in practice.
During this class, I learned about the many design models game creators use to compare and contrast game mechanics and to understand our experiences of games. I learned the design process of creating games from start to finish, both with physical puzzles and with digital/mobile games. In just five weeks, my team and I was able to put together an entire working mobile game that was not only polished and working but also extremely fun to play — I also discovered the joy that comes with making the exact type of game I myself would want to play.
Later in the quarter we created an entire escape room in the library of the dorm in which I live, and I learned a lot of concepts that apply not only to escape rooms but also many other designed spaces in our world. For example, during the design of this escape room I thought a lot about how experiences are designed to be single-directional — once you pass through a gate or complete a task, certain areas become blocked off to you. In our escape room, once you complete a part of the puzzle you are expected to abandon that puzzle’s materials and move on to the next one. Just like in an escape room, I have noticed recently that other designed spaces like airports, IKEAs, and aquariums are also carefully planned to provide a certain type of experience in a certain sequential order, and they make use of the same tools as escape rooms to achieve that. Every time I pass through security at an airport or nightclub, every time I follow the arrows on the ground at IKEA, I will always be reminded of the designed nature of our built environment. I am very glad that this class has left me with this feeling, and has allowed me to look upon everyday experiences with a fresh set of eyes.
Perhaps most importantly, I was exposed to an incredibly wide variety of games over the course of the quarter that really opened my eyes to the universe of games, puzzles, and experiences that exist and could exist. I have gained a new appreciation for not only how difficult it is to create a novel and fun game idea, but also how vast the space of possibilities really is. This class has really made me rethink and redefine in my mind what a game is and can be. In the future, I want to continue to expose myself to a wide diversity of games and keep my mind open to the plethora of games that are published outside of the corporate and franchised universe.