Before coming into 247G, my knowledge of and experience with games and gaming was casual, and I had never formally stepped into the world of game design. Though games certainly have enriched my life, my attention, in creative endeavors, had always been elsewhere – I never really thought of myself as someone who not only could design games, but should.
As cliché as it sounds, I truly believe that this class has deeply changed my perception about play, games, and how I can relate to them. One large mindset shift that I experienced was, and this seems extremely obvious especially from my background in design, that games have to meet the player where they are. In order to be successful (and more importantly, beloved), a game has to not only connect to its players through mechanics, narrative, and aesthetics, but allow them to express themselves and experience the world around them in a way that feels exciting, authentic, and empowering. Especially at the beginning of the quarter, I felt an ever-present concern about the games that I would work on not connecting with everyone – as I learned more about different types of gaming niches, I was finally able to toss aside my fear of not appealing to everyone and instead was able to focus on the groups of people who would love the types of games that we were making, which felt infinitely more freeing.
One pleasant surprise that I experienced over this past quarter was how much I loved playtesting and watching others playtest. Within a more general design setting, getting feedback on designs, while always helpful, isn’t necessarily a joyous experience. In game design, however, the act of playtesting itself is inherently fun (even if your game sucks), because you get to see people find excitement and intrigue, then hear about how the experience could be made even better. Although this may be very biased due to the group of students within this class, I always felt like playtesting was a highlight of my quarter, and I was genuinely excited to see what other groups were doing. I hope to bring this mentality of excitement and joy back into my other design processes.
In terms of challenges, I would say that the hardest part of this class (aside from extremely meticulous Figma edits) was accepting that I would often have to kill my darlings in order to make something truly valuable. I felt that game design, in particular, can feel extremely personal, and having to part with aspects of a game that feel close to oneself can be very difficult. That being said, learning to be more fluid with my design and make compromises and improvements when needed was a healthy and useful experience.
Overall, I feel that I have been able to grow as a designer through this class, and have found a new courage to go ahead and continue making games, in whatever form I find drawn to. I am extremely grateful for the experiences that this class and its wonderful teaching staff have given me and I will strive to bring the excitement, curiosity, and joy that were central to my experience of this quarter into my future endeavors.