I think that by taking this class and CS 377G, I now have a new appreciation for different types of games that I either had never thought deeply about or had not played much of before. Growing up, the only game I invested a lot of time into and thought a lot about was chess. Because of this, I had only really considered the challenge and competitive aspect of games. The hadn’t thought much about the other types of fun (sensation, fantasy, narrative, fellowship, discovery, expression, submission).
I think that one type of fun that really stuck with me from CS 247G was narrative. I had assumed that narrative would mainly appear in story based games like interactive fiction type games. In class, I discovered that narrative can appear in a lot of different and creative ways. For example, when we played Werewolf, there were a lot of interesting stories that came about just from the moderator running the game. On top of that, when we came up with our own twists on Werewolf by creating new characters, I was surprised by just how much it influenced the gameplay. Some people came up with games about COVID, and others came up with funny Stanford-influenced games. Even though the mechanics stayed the same or at least mostly stayed the same, the stories that came out of these games were drastically different. I had a lot of fun being creative with these stories with my classmates.
Another type of fun that I appreciated learning more about in CS 247G was fellowship. Before the class, I had never thought deeply about social games and what makes them so fun. Again, because of my experience with chess, I felt like “real” games worth analyzing all had rigid systems that could not be influenced by outside human factors. However, through the process of playing multiple social games in class, playtesting other people’s games, and making my own social game, I felt like I learned a lot about how games can incorporate a more human aspect to be fun. For example, in social deduction games like Avalon, you can’t just be smart but must also be a good liar, be persuasive, and be good at figuring out when others are lying. For other social games like Cards Against Humanities, it is really fun to get to see another side of your friends by watching them express their humor in a way that they otherwise might not. I discovered that these very human experiences in games are just as worthwhile to analyze and think about as the rigid patterns in chess.
CS247G also gave me the opportunity to further explore working on games with partners, which I did not have as much opportunity to do in CS 377G. It was particularly useful to learn about playtesting in a group and how different roles could be delegated. For example, I found it much easier to get feedback when one person was a moderator and another person was a notetaker because I didn’t have to focus on two different things at once. It made understanding and implementing the feedback much more effective. In the future, I hope to continue trying to playtest with other partners rather than alone to get the best feedback possible.